Matt Baker sat nervously in a chair opposite Mr. Ankletoe, owner of the repair shop on Hensfine Lane. He fidgeted as Mr. Ankletoe looked at him, skeptical. “Name?”
“Baker, Matt Baker,” fumbled Matt.
“16 years, seven months, and five days,” replied Matt, trying not to sound too desperate.
“Work experience?” asked Mr. Ankletoe.
“Well, I don’t have any, yet….” said Matt, trying to stall what he knew was coming, “but I’m good at fixing things….. generally speaking….. most of the time.”
“I see,” said Mr. Ankletoe, rubbing his temples. “Well, I have your home address. If we ever need you, I’ll let you know.”
Matt sighed. “I understand. Thanks for your time.” Matt stood and shook hands with Mr. Ankletoe, knowing that they would never work together. As he left the repair shop, he looked up at the sky full of storm clouds. Bringing his eyes back down, he saw a stray cat whose desperate appearance reminded him much too much of himself. “Trust me. You're better off far away from me,” he said. “I’m probably not even qualified to pet you, knowing my track record.” The cat cocked its head, as if trying to understand and then walked off.
Matt made his way slowly around town, watching all the other boys his age running errands and working in shops, and wishing he could be one of them. Without meaning to, he eventually found his way to the edge of town. As he walked, a sign caught his attention. Eagerly he read it. “In need of mapmakers, sailors, explorers, writers, interesting and desperate individuals willing to gamble safety, and handymen.”
“Handymen!” he said again, brightening. Maybe there was a job he could do after all.
If Matt Baker had been paying better attention and wasn’t so desperate for a job, and was perhaps just a bit brighter of a person altogether, he might have realized that having employers who wanted people desperate for a job wasn’t the best idea. However, Matt Baker was not brighter than Matt Baker, so he didn’t consider it.
As he walked into the building, a little bell rang on the door. “Hello?” he said to an empty room and a vacant receptionist desk.
Out of a door popped a short jolly man as thin as a stick and as perky as a rabbit. “Oh, hello!” he said, making an enthusiastic bow. “Welcome to Franklin, Franklin, & Smith, Enterprise of Unusual and Extraordinary Events and/or Conquests and/or Business Deals and/or the Buying and/or Selling of Exotic and/or Downright Interesting Objects, or as we have affectionately called it because the full name is much much too long, Franklin, Franklin, & Smith. My name is Mr. Tickleten. How may I help you?” said Mr. Tickleten with a sing-song voice and a friendly smile that brightened the room.
“Hi, I am Matt Baker, and I noticed that your sign said you wanted help from a….”
“Oh yes!” cried Mr. Tickleten delightedly. “You have come just in time to meet your possible employers! Please follow me right this way.”
“Um, thank you,” said Matt, slightly confused. “Mr. Tickleten, am I meeting….”
“No, you are not meeting Mr. Tickleten. There is only one of me!” said Mr. Tickleten, leading him through the hall with a spring in his step. “And in case you never studied grammar, or just don’t remember it, or possibly you don’t care and I am just rambling, which I do all the time anyway, the correct way to ask is: Am I meeting Mr. Tickleten, not the other way around. As it is, you are meeting Mr. Franklin, Mr. Franklin, and Mr. Smith, the founders of Franklin, Franklin, & Smith.”
“The founders!” said Matt surprised. “But Mr. Tickleten, I’m just a handym...”
“Here we are!” piped in Mr. Tickleten, flinging open some double doors that led into a meeting room. At a table in the middle of the room sat three men. One was old with a grumpy look on his face, another looked like a younger version of him, also with a grumpy look on his face, and the other was between their ages and seemed rather bored. “Gentlemen,” said Mr. Tickleten, bowing again, “This young boy is interested in being a mapmaker here.”
The bored man stood up with a sparkle in his eyes, “Indeed! A fine looking young man and just when we needed him most! My name is Mr. Smith.”
Matt’s face went pale, “Mapmaker?”
“Yes he is and a very good one, too!” added Mr. Tickleten proudly.
“What?” hissed Matt into Mr. Tickleten’s ear. “I said I was Matt Baker not a map...”
“You look like a nice young man,” said Mr. Smith. “As I said, my name is Mr. Smith, and those two happy-go-lucky gentleman are Mr. Franklin and his son. So, how do you feel about sailing?”
Matt’s eyes opened wide. Sailing! he thought, excitedly. He remembered rowing with his father years ago on a little boat. Those were by far the happiest memories he had.
“Now you must understand the possible dangers of this trip….”
But Matt wasn’t listening anymore. He was far away on a beautiful ship, riding the waves and feeling the sun on his face, and best of all, getting paid to scribble some drawings on paper! “I’ll do it!” he said as soon as Mr. Smith stopped talking.
“A boy after my own heart!” said Mr. Smith, clapping his hands together. He handed Matt a contract. “Read over this tonight, sign it, and be at the docks tomorrow morning. We set sail at dawn!”
That night, Matt could barely sleep he was so exhilarated. The next day, he hurriedly signed the contract without having time to glance through it and made his way to the dock. When he got there, Mr. Tickleten, the young Mr. Franklin and Mr. Smith were waiting with the crew. “Good to see you, lad!” said Mr. Smith, smiling. “Do you have the contract?”
“Right here!” said Matt, handing it over.
“I can’t wait!” cried Mr. Tickleten, bouncing up and down in excitement. “And now, away we sail, to the Isle of Dread!”
“The Isle of what!?”
Written and Illustrated by Sabina B.
Edited by The Flabbits
Copyright © 2018 by The Flabbit Room
Welcome to The Flabbit Blog! Here you will find writings by the many members of The Flabbit Room, most of which will be set in the world of Ildathore.