This is the tale of a small watercraft with big dreams.
The first memory the little Explorer 200 could recall was on the shelf at a department store. He had heard stories about being transported there with hundreds of his brothers and sisters over land, a long, dark journey over water and again over land passing through a string of warehouses. He was now separated from the main herd. There were only about 20 of them now, stacked neatly on the shelf by a bespectacled lady who wore a bright blue vest.
“Hey, where do you guys dream about spending the rest of your life?” asked the little Explorer 200, breaking the silence with a voice muffled by his cardboard box packaging.
“Oh, I’m hoping to live in a pool, just like these happy folk!” exclaimed one, gesturing to the photo on his box.
“I want to live on a boat and explore the world!” said another.
The little Explorer 200 felt so inspired.
“I think I’d like to live on a lake, with views of the mountains and...”
“Stop it you fools!”
The harsh words came from the back of the shelf from a box with a tear in its side, clearly older than all the others.
“I’ve been here for months listening to all your stupid fantasies. Don’t you get it? We’re disposable. We’ll all be in a dumpster in a couple of months. Or worse!”
The little Explorer 200 couldn’t believe his little ears. Was this really their fate?
“Quiet everyone, they’re coming!” said one from the bottom of the stack.
A group of shoppers filed in, their feet making flip-flopping sounds with every step. The little Explorer 200 whispered to himself: “Pick me, pick me...”
“Oi Macca, this’ll do ay?” The man asked his friend in a peculiar accent as he picked up the little Explorer 200 from the shelf. He then held up the box and declared:
“I’m gonna call you Floaty McFloat Face.”
The little Explorer 200 was over the moon. Not only was he the first of his group to move out of the department store, he had been given a name! Floaty peered out of his box during the car journey to his new home, spying the mountains from his dreams. Surely they were on their way to the lake.
The car parked and all of a sudden Floaty was torn away from his box. It was scary at first, leaving the only home he’d ever known, but he finally stretched out and soaked in all his surroundings. The bright sun in the blue sky. Mountains reaching toward the heavens. And just a few metres away were the shores of the lake. Finally!
The box was cast into a pile of other boxes just like it. It was next to a receptacle that Floaty somehow knew wasn’t the right place for them.
Breath from the man filled Floaty’s lungs. It smelled like the rear end of a nearby four legged creature that wouldn’t stop barking. But Floaty felt so good finally growing into his true size, just like the photo he had seen on all the other boxes.
The weight and odour of his owner took Floaty some getting used to, but after a while he was rejoicing about finally living his dream of living on a lake surrounded by other Explorer 200s, staring up at the mountains.
But then the surroundings changed. Floaty was all of a sudden surrounded by trees and plants that looked menacing. His owner didn’t seem phased though. After all, the man had trusted Floaty with keeping safe his metal tubes filled with cold liquid. All the Explorer 200s joined together as they entered the gauntlet, their owners nonchalant about the dangers on the banks of the river.
Then, out of nowhere, a spindly branch struck Floaty in the side. His lungs were losing air rapidly and filling with water. The metal tubes sank.
“Piece-a-shit!” growled Floaty’s owner as he abandoned the little Explorer in the middle of the river and climbed into one of his friend’s watercraft.
“No, you can’t leave me here! You can fix me!” cried Floaty. But the sounds were but a gurgle under the flood of water enveloping him.
The last thing Floaty saw were the majestic mountains he had always dreamed of. But the last thing he thought to himself was why the smelly man with the peculiar accent simply abandoned him to die.
And so ended the life of Floaty McFloat Face.
Vince Shuley dreams big. For questions, comments or suggestions to The Outsider email firstname.lastname@example.org or Twitter @vinceshuley.