The Wizard of Portsmouth, Part 1
by Ruth Christian and Sarah E.

The women of /Monstrous/ give you this silly parody to lighten your
day. This is Part 1; be patient, the Hornblower characters do show up!

Sarah stared at keyboard in front of her; insomnia keeping her from
the sleep she so desperately wished for. Still, she could not summon
any inspiration to write her beloved Hornblower fan fiction – her
thoughts preoccupied by the incident in town just that morning. She
gazed down at Zenny lying faithfully at her feet, kicking out
occasionally in some type of doggy dream, perchance chasing an
elusive rabbit. A smile stole across Sarah's face at the image of
Zenny chasing anything more than her own tail.

Which made her all the more angry that the Captain of the tall ship
had refused to allow her and her Aunt Maria to bring Zenny on board
for the harbour tour. He had even gone so far as to threaten to have
her thrown overboard if she set one paw upon his deck. Why the nerve
of that man, believing that sweet, gentle Zenny would even think of
chasing one of the seamen. Well, she wouldn't hurt them if she caught
them, maybe lick them into submission, but that was all.

Sarah exhaled an audible sigh of exasperation and leaned back in her
wonderfully comfortable chair, letting her head rest against the
back. How she wished some sort of inspiring visions would come to
her, something to take her mind from all this. The computer screen
suddenly went black, as did every light in her home. A power outage,
another storm must be moving into the area; even Mother Nature was
against her tonight.

She allowed her thoughts to wander, invoking images of the Hornblower
men on their tall ship – the sound of the ocean slapping happily
against the side of wooden ship; the wind ruffling the hair of the
men and filling the sails like wings on an angel; and the laughter
and occasional ribald joke of the men. As romantic as it all sounded,
she knew those men led a hard life. But, the grass is always greener
on the other side, she thought. It reminded her of the `Somewhere
over the Rainbow' song –

"Somewhere, over the rainbow, skies are blue, and the dreams that you
dare to dream really do . . . come true"

The booming of thunder startled her from her daydream; it was getting
closer, but she liked storms so she wasn't worried. She closed her
eyes and hoped the rain would soon come, perhaps that would lull her
to sleep. She directed her thoughts once more to the Hornblower men,
the rain finally came, and Sarah drifted off to sleep. In her dreams
she heard a wicked laugh.

***************************

The room tilted wildly beneath her and she was suddenly thrown to the
floor. No, it wasn't her carpeted floor - it was wooden. She heard
Zenny whine and forced her eyes open. The sun was shining hotly upon
the deck of the . . . ship? She slowly stood and looked around her;
there were other women on the deck just waking, also.

"Oh, my head," said one of the women. She was holding her hand
against a scrape on her forehead; a trickle of blood had run down her
cheek. She looked around her and then at Sarah; she was just as
shocked.

"How . . .? Where are we?" she asked.

Sarah shrugged her shoulders, "I really have no idea, and I only
awoke myself. My name is Sarah."

"Ruth," the woman said as way of introduction, "Ruth Christian."

Sarah's mouth fell open – the accent was American. "Ruth, from
America, First Lieutenant of the /Monstrous/?"

Ruth looked at her warily, "Yes . . . ? Good heavens, you're that
Sarah . . . the Sarah from Australia."

"Who's Sarah from Australia?" Came a voice behind them.

They turned in unison to look at the young woman.

"Who are you?" asked Ruth, eagerly anticipating the revelation.

"Well, I'm Sarah, too, only I'm from the UK." She yawned and
stretched.

"Ah, the Doctor Who expert." Ruth said, smiled fondly, and then
winced from the pain of the scrape. "This has got to be the strangest
dream I've ever had."

"I think we're all dreaming." Said UK Sarah.

Ruth smiled wickedly at her, "How about I just call you Sarah Who?
That way, I can keep you two separated."

"The others are waking; let's see if everyone else from the Monstrous
Group has made it." Sarah remarked and walked over to the others.

Sarah Who and Ruth stepped over to assist – Tracy, Claarijke, Kam,
Bronwyn, Mary, Pixie, and Kathi – all had awakened to find themselves
aboard the ship. After realizing that everyone was OK - very confused
and disoriented, slightly bruised and scraped, but fine - they began
the process of trying to discover there whereabouts.

"Does anyone know how we got here?" Tracy ventured.

"Well, it depends upon what you mean by `here'." Ruth replied as she
gazed over the side of the ship. "At this moment, `here' is on what
appears to be a sailing ship, which has run aground." Everyone ran to
the side to look over.

Sarah Who was already venturing down the ladder. "I say we find out
exactly where we are."

"Wait just a moment, ladies." Sarah said and walked over to stop
Sarah Who. "We need to stay together. If one of us goes, we all go.
Agreed?" There was a general nodding of heads, and they made their
way down the ship's ladder to the sandy beach.

Zenny bounded through the sand, kicking up plumes into the air and
barking happily. Ruth knelt down and beckoned her. Zenny came to her
and gave her a friendly lick on the cheek. Ruth ruffled her fur and
rubbed her glossy black head affectionately.

"I've written a story with you in it." She said as she held Zenny's
big head between her hands and looked deeply into her sweet brown
eyes. Ruth gave her a quick kiss on the snout and stood.

As Sarah looked around at the ship, the beach, and the others, an
absurd thought came to her, and she laughed outright. "I don't think
we're in Australia any more, Zenny."

Snickers erupted from the bushes farther up the shore; they all
stopped to listen. Zenny turned her head from side to side. Sarah
continued, "We must be in-" giggles came from the direction of the
bushes again and there was movement.

A woman dressed in odd clothing glided out from behind the trees and
stepped confidently towards the group. "Are you a good ship, or a bad
ship?" she asked.

"We're not, that is, we don't own that ship." Ruth stammered. "We
don't have clue as to how we got here."

The strange woman looked very confused and remarked in a huff, "Well,
I'm very confused, now. The Munchkins called me because a new ship
ran aground over top of the Wicked Witch of the East. So what those
little people want to know is, is you a good ship or ain't ya?"

The group of women all exchanged confused glances and then noticed a
pair of boots and the remnants of a small boat sticking out from
beneath the bow of their ship. They walked over to examine it further
and saw odd pieces of red cloth.

"Who do you think that is?" murmured Claarijke.

"Not sure," responded Sarah Who, "but we could be in trouble for
this."

Ruth stopped in her tracks as the realization of what the strange
woman had said suddenly struck home. "Munchkins?"

Sarah walked back to the woman. "You look oddly familiar. Who are
you?" she asked.

The woman put her hands on her hips, and said grandly, "The Duchess
of Wharfedale, the Good Witch of the North."

"No, no you're not." Kam said as she stepped up. "You're Kitty
Cobham."

Kitty sighed and threw her hands up in the air. "Alright, so I'm not
a Duchess. Just don't tell these blokes, they think I'm the bloomin'
Good Witch of the North."

With a slightly bemused yet resigned expression, Sarah
exclaimed, "Good Witch, Duchess, Kitty, it doesn't matter, we're more
concerned with how we came to be miraculously upon that there ship
and more importantly standing upon the beach having this
conversation . . . Take us to your leader . . ."

At the tortured groans and profusion of eye-rolling emanating from
her companions, Sarah simply smiled sweetly, silently apologizing for
such a droll line; an opportunity that couldn't be ignored.

Becoming just a little impatient (not to mention concerned), Sarah
Who chimed in a little nervously, gazing down upon her shoes, "Ehm,
Kitty, Witchie . . . I'm not really sure how to address you . . .
though we have absolutely not one clue as to how we all arrived here,
let alone how that old worm-infested hulk has seemingly landed slap
bang on top of the poor individual now obviously departed – his boots
being the only things showing, we're sincerely sorry for this turn of
events".

Fearful of finding themselves in deep trouble, charged, locked up, or
worse, Bronwyn, Ruth, Sarah Who, Kathi, Pixie, Kam, Claarijke, and
Mary nodded in agreement, murmurings of sympathy directed at the
strange woman before them.

At that point, Claarijke piped up mournfully, "This is so unnerving,
I don't know where I am - we don't know where we are; we're far from
our families and friends...all we wish is to get home. I have a
wedding to plan."

Tracy added, "This seems like a dream, but how can it be? We're all
here, all we ladies who have only ever met over the computer; linked
by our mutual love of the Age of Sail. If it is a dream, then why was
Ruth left scraped and bleeding upon landing on the deck of that ship?
And why is it all so real, the feel of sand beneath our feet, the
glare of the ocean, the heat of the sun, and scent of salt spray
carried on the breeze? And why was Zenny transported also?"

At the mention of Zenny's name, Sarah looked around nervously, only
now realizing her dog's playful ruffling of sand and chasing of
butterflies had ceased. "Zen?" Zen!" Looking up and down the beach,
the little black monster had obviously taken it into her lil' doggie
head to go exploring - a trail of unmistakable paw prints leading to
a tiny gap in the bushes near to where Kitty had come from. "Oh
wonderful," she sighed, realizing returning when called was right at
the bottom of Zenia's list of talents - getting into trouble being
right up at the top. Good grief that dog would have them all jailed
before the day was up.

Smiling wanly upon the group of women assembled before her, Good
Witch Kitty simply reassured them everything would be just fine, and
no one would find themselves in trouble due to the soul now expired
beneath their vessel.

"Ha! Be not sad, but full of gladness, as the good folk around here
are now finally free from Wolfe's grip."

At that point, much commotion could be heard from the direction in
which Zen had vanished, laughing, joy, and merriment. The Good Witch
Kitty turned back to the tree line and yelled, "Alright you sorry lot
of drunken, stinkin', seamen, haul your arses out here."

A great crowd, jubilantly led by one whose voice sounded eerily
familiar indeed to Sarah as one very recognizable figure, cheerful
and smiling, his blue eyes sparkling. They cut a path to the beach,
the girls, Kitty, that boat and those boots followed by a great many
people, some small folk, but most seamen. Yes...seamen! Landsmen,
seamen, powder monkeys, you name it . . . from every AoS movie ever
filmed. Hornblower, Master and Commander, and other pirate flicks –
good, bad, and ugly. As if this weren't enough already, the Band of
Sisters couldn't miss an unmistakable trio - none other than Styles,
Oldroyd, and Matthews; Styles with a tankard of grog in one hand as
if it had been a part of him for life.

Looking upon the good-natured leader of this motley crew (Zenny
trotting along at his side), Sarah immediately recognized him! "Oh,
Goodness, no, this is impossible," she exclaimed excitedly. Mr.
Bracegirdle caught her eye and smiled mischievously in her direction.
Before anyone was the wiser as to anyone else's identity, an
overwhelming flush of so many emotions tumbled through her mind as
her surroundings began to spin just a little before she fell in a
dead swoon. Ruth and Sarah Who caught her before she hit the ground
unceremoniously.

Kam walked up to Styles, took the tankard from him, and stepped over
to the unconscious Sarah to splash the contents in her face. She
grinned mischievously and slightly apologetically, "That's what
Squintyboots would have done."

Sarah sputtered and sat up; she looked around anxiously for the
source of her faint. When she saw Mr. Bracegirdle, she sighed
contentedly. The entire group, including the Good Witch and the men,
rolled their eyes. He knelt down beside Sarah and gently took her
hand.

"I need a little explanation about something," Ruth began and
directed her comment to the Good Witch. "Did you refer to these men
as the `Munchkins,' as in `The Munchkins'?"

"Yeah, this is Munchkinland you've sailed inta, and in thanks for
doing away with Wolfe, the Wicked Witch of the East, they want to
make you all their new officers."

"But, Munchkins are short." Bronwyn replied and nodded towards
Styles, "Some of these men are huge."

"No we're not," Styles protested, "we're tiny, all of us, we're
Munchkins." The rest of the men mumbled their agreement.

Mr. Bracegirdle stood and assisted Sarah to her feet. "We thank you
all so very much for removing that blackguard, Wolfe, from our
presence. He's gone where the devil goes – below."

In accord, they all began to sing out of tune: "Ding, dong, the
traitor's dead . . ."

"No, no, oh, heck no." Ruth shouted and waived her hands about,
attempting to stop them from torturing them further with their
bellowing.

Sarah Who stepped forward to Mr. Bracegirdle and ventured, "Don't
tell me, I suppose you are the Mayor of Munchkinland."

"Why, yes, I am, Madam." He replied.

Matthews stepped up to Mayor Bracegirdle, "Aye, sir, he's dead
alright, and about bloody time. How `bout we do three cheers for the
new officers?"

"Oh, please, that won't be necessary," Mary interjected. "We don't
wish to be cheered for the demise of another human being."

"How `bout a song instead?" Matthews said and smiled. He, Styles, and
Oldroyd joined arms and began, "We represent the Lollypop Guild, the
Lollypop Guild, the Lollypop Guild . . ."

"Ouch!" Sarah Who yelled and looked accusingly at Ruth. "Why'd you
pinch me?"

Ruth shrugged, "I was hoping to wake you up so we'd get out of this
nightmare. Please, it couldn't have hurt as much as their singing."

The singing stopped suddenly when a man dressed in a Captain's
uniform strode angrily up the beach towards them.

"It's the Wicked Witch of the West." Someone mumbled.

Sarah placed a hand on Mayor Bracegirdle's arm and quietly asked, "I
thought you said the Wicked Witch was dead?"

He looked deeply into her eyes and patted her hand, "That was the
Wicked Witch of the East; this is the Wicked Witch of the West,
Captain Hammond. I'm afraid he's much worse than Wolfe."

"Who killed my underling?" Hammond demanded as he spun about for
someone to accuse. "It was you women, wasn't it?"

"Leave them alone." The Good Witch Kitty insisted.

"So, it was the lot of you." Hammond said in disgust. "Well, I know
how to deal with your kind." French soldiers began to file out of the
bushes towards them.

"Oh, I want to go home, now." Pixie pleaded. The group of women
banded together for protection; Zenny snuggled closely between Sarah
and Mr. Bracegirdle.

"Ain't ya forgettin' somethin' Captain?" asked the Good Witch. "The
Ruby Sails . . ."

"Aye, the Ruby Sails . . ." He paused, just remembering. He walked
over to where Wolfe's body lay just beneath the bow of the
ship. "They're gone, where'd they go?"

The Good Witch Kitty laughed and pointed to the masts of the ship.
Styles, Matthews, Oldroyd and the other seamen were busy bending the
Ruby Sails to the spars.

Hammond rounded on the group, "Give them back to me, they're mine.
They don't know how to use them – they're just ignorant women."

"There they are, and there they'll stay." She smirked and flagrantly
waved her silly, sparkly, wand at him.

"You stay out of this Duchess or I'll fix you! As for you women, I'll
get the pretty lot of you, and your big dog, too." Hammond spun and
marched back down the beach, the French soldiers following closely
behind.

The Good Witch Kitty yelled a slur at his parentage and
shouted, "Yeah, you'd better get out before someone sails a ship
overtop a you!" She then turned to the group of women and smiled
benevolently. "Well, dearies, you probably need to sail out of here
as quickly as possible – the sooner the better."

The women of Monstrous exchanged baffled looks. Sarah spoke up, "We
would love to get out of here and back to our homes, but which way is
the way home? We're all from different countries. Besides, we don't
know how to sail. Certainly, we write about it enough, but to
actually accomplish such a monumental task . . ." She turned pleading
eyes towards /Mayor/ Bracegirdle.

He took her hands in his own. "Now, now, fair Sarah. Never fear, I
will gladly Captain your ship and see you home. It's no less than an
officer of His Britannic Majesty's Navy and Mayor of Munchkinland
would do for a damsel in distress."

"Hey, we'll come, too." Remarked Styles, Mathews and Oldroyd nodding
in agreement. The entire island of `Munchkin' seamen volunteered in
accord.

Ruth shook her head and commented to no one in particular, "This will
only end in tears."

Bronwyn remarked, "That still doesn't resolve the problem of finding
our respective ways home."

The Duchess thought deeply for a moment, "Oh, dear, that would be a
problem for ya. The only person who could possibly help would be the
Wizard . . ."

Sarah Who mumbled to the group, "Oh no, she's going to say it . . ."

"Do you want to know or don't ya?" rebuked the Duchess.

Sarah cast a stern glare at the trouble makers and asked the
Duchess, "Please, won't you tell us where to find the Wizard?"

"The Wizard of Portsmouth is the only one who could help you find
your way home – Admiral Edward Pellew."

"Ugh, she said it." Claarijke moaned.

Sarah turned pleading eyes to Mr. Bracegirdle, "Do you know how to
get to Portsmouth, and can you help us find the `Wizard', Admiral
Pellew?"

One of the Munchkins handed him a large piece of paper, "Of course I
know how to get to Portsmouth. We simply follow the line on this old
yellowed chart."

Kam smacked her hand against her forehead, "Someone please wake me
up . . . `follow the yellowed chart line'."

"Why, yes," said Mr. Bracegirdle as if it were a matter of logic, "we
simply follow the yellowed-chart line."

Ruth walked towards the ship, saying very loudly, "Alright, everyone
aboard, let's get this party started, and the first person or
`Munchkin' who starts singing `that song' will join the Wicked Witch
Wolf underneath this ship."

Mr. Bracegirdle took command of the seamen, "Matthews, Styles,
Oldroyd - the tide's coming in fast, get two boats on the water
attached by ropes to the /Monstrous/ so she can be pulled loose from
the sands. With those Ruby sails, we'll get to Portsmouth twice a
quickly."

All of the women stopped where they stood or in the middle of
climbing aboard - had he just called the ship the /Monstrous/?