“Maybe if you had shown up on time,” the words of Phil’s sociology teacher rang in his ears. Petrified as he took his test, Phil couldn’t seem to find the right answer. He had an overwhelming sense of loneliness even though the Lockett basement was filled as far as the eye could see. “Hurry, Phil, there isn’t much longer,” the teacher reminded him as wave after wave splashed against the doors almost busting them open each time. Phil was already in a panic, and now he couldn’t keep his focus from off of the twin doors that would give way to the tremendous pressure at any moment. The room began to sway as Phil went down his scantron marking all the answers “B” in a faint hope to get any small number of points. But just before he could finish, the waves finally crashed through the door. Enveloping the whole room as Phil tried desperately to escape them. However, he couldn’t seem to run perhaps due in some small way to the back-and-forth motion of the entire room. The water somehow crept slowly and yet intensely towards him as he held his scantron high above his head so that he could still turn it in if he could find a way to escape. And just then he slipped while trying to head higher up the room towards the back exit. Turning around to meet his fate, he noticed a boat that only just entered the room on the back of the roaring current.
“What will we do with a drunken sailor? What will we do with a drunken sailor? What will we do with a drunken sailor? Early in the morning!” sang the boat. Before any confusion could set in, Phil was engulfed by the raging sea.
“Woah!” gasped Phil rising from his makeshift bed. Still breathing heavily as if he actually had been drowning, he looked around making sure he really was still alive. “Just a dream,” he thought to himself as he tried to catch his breath. And as he was pinching himself, he began to hear that Mitch was singing the same song as the boat. He walked towards him only to find that Mitch was fishing with a weaksauce fishing rod. “So,” Phil readied his next sardonic commentary only to find that his previous dream still had him short of breath. “How’s the fishing going?” is all he could muster given the circumstances.
“Phil, you’re awake,” Mitch seemed happy to no longer be alone in his search for fish. “The fish aren’t biting just yet, but they should be waking up soon.” Phil knew that Mitch’s statement was complete nonsense, but he had bigger fish to fry in the way of questions.
“You fell asleep last night before I could ask you something. How did you know that dragons were afraid of water? That’s never been said by anyone ever, and quite frankly, it just doesn’t make any sense.” Phil’s question was valid, but he had made a mistake in asking the world’s shortest business major.
“I’m glad you asked that Phil,” Mitch pretended as though he was readying a legitimate response. Fortunately for Mitch, as well as Phil’s ears, Mitch got a strong tug from his weaksauce fishing rod just then. “We’ve been hit!” Mitch shouted while tightening his grasp hoping to bring in breakfast. Despite his best efforts, Mitch seemed to get nowhere. And amidst his great struggle with the catch of a lifetime, the winds and sea around him started to calm down.
“Hey, dragon expert, why did everything around us just stop?” Phil inquired as a now familiar sense of trepidation crept over him. As Mitch considered their plight, he decided to drop the fishing rod whose quality was equal to that of both his majors. After a quick exchange of looks of uncertainty they both gazed towards the sea as they watched a person emerge with both arms raised – one slightly longer than the other.
“Nemo?” Mitch thought aloud as the being continued to rise until she was hovering at eye level with Phil – and therefore well above Mitch.
“Not Nemo,” she spoke with authority, and yet with a smile that seemed to diffuse any worries of her being a threat. “My name is Ellen, and this is my lake.”
“And we were just talking about how nice of a lake it was,” Phil spoke trying to stay on her good side. “But we really should be going, so if you could just point us to the nearest exit,” Phil trailed off pointing aimlessly while Mitch nodded in wholehearted agreement.
“I’d be glad to show you guys the exit,” Ellen responded, “but that’s not why I’ve stopped you today. The water told me all about your quest to retrieve your Tiger Card from Queen Brit.”
“It did?” Mitch interrupted as he received a quick elbow from Phil for doing so.
“It sure did, Mitch,” Ellen replied showing that she knew their names, “and you’re not yet properly prepared for what’s to come on this lake. There’s a siren that lives near hear. Her name is Dana, and she is far more dangerous than what you’ve encountered before. She plays Veggie Tales music with the volume turned up to 11 as her self-described mermaid hair blows in the wind created by the speakers.”
“Does she actually have mermaid hair?” Mitch asked the important questions as Phil looked at him like he was an imbecile.
“Why does she play Veggie Tales music?” Phil questioned Ellen still looking at Mitch with his disapproving glare.
“I suppose she does, Mitchel,” Ellen answered. “And, Phil, she had a troubled childhood where she grew up listening to nothing but Veggie Tales. The songs were never her favorite, but soon they began to haunt her dreams until she couldn’t take it anymore. She woke up in the middle of the night when she was still in her teens screaming in terror as she left town. Haunted by the music that played endlessly in her head, she ended up on the rock where she resides today. Her mission in life is to have others suffer via Veggie Tales music the way she has suffered due to them.”
“So, then how can we get by her unscathed?” Phil inquired as they both looked on in horror at the thought of what lie ahead of them.
“I’m going to give you this,” Ellen said as she handed them noise-cancelling headphones. “All you both will have to do is not remove them, and stay on course. I’m going to have the current push you in the right direction. As long as you both don’t change course towards the music, you should be fine.” Ellen then descended back into her lake as the winds and sea began to move again. Mitch and Phil, both happy at the thought of being completely prepared for their next bout with danger, looked onward in anticipation of where exactly the siren set up shop. And just as Ellen had said, it was not much further along before they began to see rocks off in the distance.
“I think we should go ahead and put these on now,” Phil told Mitch.
“What?!” Mitch holla’d as loudly as he could because he already had them on.
“Never mind!” Phil holla’d back while giving Mitch the same look of disapproval as always.
“What are you saying?” Mitch asked with his voice still raised slightly as he removed his headphones.
“I said we should probably put the headphones on now,” Phil responded realizing how ridiculous this entire conversation had become.
“I just had my headphones on,” Mitch said as he now looked at Phil like he was crazy.
“I know,” Phil said aggravated that they were still talking about it. “Just put your headphones back on before this Abbott and Costello routine gets us killed.” Just before each of them could get the headphones on, they began to hear the roar of the instant classic “The Hairbrush Song” from off in the distance. They enjoyed it for a split second before remembering its dangers and promptly putting on their headphones. The closer they got to Dana, the more they realized just how dangerous the situation was. And as they got closer still, they began to actually feel the songs vibrating throughout their bodies. Before they knew it, they were exactly one stone’s throw away from Dana. They both watched on as she seemed to be singing along, or perhaps just yelling obscenities at them, they couldn’t tell. What they could tell was that she did indeed have mermaid-esque hair, and Mitch tapped on Phil’s shoulders to charade this fact to him. It took Phil a couple of minutes to understand Mitch’s hands’ nonsensical gyrations, but then he nodded in agreement. Just as quickly as it came, they were out of sight of Dana and landfall ahead began to take shape. They each removed their headphones, as they both felt a great sense of pride for the relative ease with which they handled this danger compared to those previous. Just as always, however, they were still unaware that the journey would become tougher still. Readying themselves for impact with the shore, Mitch and Phil felt rejuvenated ahead of their next mission still unaware that their every move was being watched.