Day after day, young Rasheed would follow his father’s orders. He didn’t mind a fisherman’s life, in fact, there were parts of it that he quite enjoyed. He loved looking out at the ocean and daydreamed about what lay beyond, and he also loved fish. He’d often look down at their days catch and marvelled at the iridescent colours of such beautiful creatures. Sometimes he felt bad about pulling them out of the sea and disturbing their lives, just so he could eat something, but that’s what Rasheed’s family had always done, and probably always would do.
One balmy evening, when the sky had turned a golden, amber colour and the water sparkled as the sun began to set, Rasheed noticed something on the horizon, drifting silently towards him. At first, he thought it was a cruise liner that would pass by in the distance every so often, but as it got closer, Rasheed could see that it was an old, magnificent, wooden ship that had sailed straight off the pages of one of his pirate story books. Rasheed couldn’t tear his gaze away from the ship and then watched in amazement as it disappeared into thin air. Rasheed was so dumbstruck that he could do nothing else but stand there for a moment, stunned in silence and gawping out to sea. He finally finished reeling in the fishing line and then ran to find his father, whom was sat drinking tea with a neighbour in the street.
“Papa! Papa! You’ll never believe what I saw!!” Rasheed cried as he draped himself over his father’s shoulder.
His father laughed softly as he looked into his son’s wide eyes. “What is it babu?”
“I saw a ship papa, a great, huge ship!”
His father chuckled and gave his son a bemused expression “Rasheed, you know that sometimes those tourist ships pass by, it’s nothing to be alarmed about..” he rationalised.
“No papa! Not one of those! It was a proper ship, an old, wooden ship, like pirates have!”
“Were there any pirates on it?” his father quipped as he ruffled his son’s hair.
“I’m serious, I saw it!” Rasheed exclaimed.
“Well lets go see!” his father cried as he stood up, along with the neighbour.
“You can’t....it disappeared” Rasheed trailed off quietly.
His father and neighbour exchanged glances, and then looked down at Rasheed whom was lost in his thoughts.
“Are you sure it disappeared son?” his father asked suspiciously.
“I’m sure, it just…vanished” Rasheed replied.
A wide smile spread across his fathers face as he looked over at the neighbour, and with a glint in his eye said, “That my boy, was the Flying Caribou! You will have good luck for the rest of your life now!” he exclaimed as he hugged his son in a fit of joy.
Rasheed looked at the two men, confused to say the least.
“Ahaha! Look how confused the poor boy is! the neighbour cried. “Haven’t you ever told him about the Caribou before?!”
Rasheed’s father spluttered as he realised he hadn’t ever mentioned anything about the Caribou to his son. “My boy! I’m sorry! I never told you did I?!”
“Papa, what’s a flying caribou?” Rasheed asked his father.
“The Flying Caribou is a ghost ship my son. Legend has it, that a long, long time ago, a tea merchants ship sank not that far from our island. Pirates did indeed take it out! And ever since then, it as been spotted sailing these waters by the few lucky men who have seen it.”
Rasheed thought for a moment before looking up at his father with his crinkled expression.
“Papa, why are the men lucky to see a ghost ship?”
“Because my boy! Do you know how rare it is to see a ghost ship?! And those who have spotted The Flying Caribou have had good luck for the rest of their lives!”
“How do you know?” Rasheed asked.
“Because they are the happiest men you could ever meet. And now you will always have good luck too my son.”
“You will!” the neighbour cried as he leant down to impose an enthusiastic hug onto Rasheed still confused, rigid stance.
“Quick! Let’s go tell your mother the news!” his father cried as he took hold of his son’s hand and they rushed off down the street.
That evening, the family celebrated by eating a feast of everything they had in the kitchen. More neighbours joined them, eating and drinking and congratulating Rasheed.
The next morning, Rasheed’s father was in the best of moods, whistling as he worked. Rasheed was happy that his family was happy, but he didn’t feel lucky just because his family said that he was. As the sun began to set, Rasheed took his time reeling in the fishing lines. His father called out to him as he began to walk home from the harbour, “Rasheed! You’ve worked enough today, come home!”
“But I haven’t finished yet papa, I have to tie the boats up, I think a storm might be coming”
“You have luck on your side Rasheed, you don’t need to worry anymore! Come home for dinner”
“I just want to finish up papa, just incase! I won’t be long!”
His father chuckled and shook his head “Suit yourself, come back soon!” he called back.
Rasheed finished reeling in the fishing lines and tied up all of the boats. When he had finished, he took a seat on the edge of the harbour wall and looked out to sea again, thinking about the ship.
“Ghost ship…?” he whispered to himself as he gazed out at the water.
After a short while, a mysterious black shadow appeared across the water, as if a huge whale was swimming close by. Rasheed quickly leapt up and peered down into the water, excitement rushing through his body. Without any warning, the enormous shape launched out of the sea, causing streams of water to rain down onto of Rasheed’s head. He cowered down until the crashing noise had settled and the water had stopped pouring down on top of him, and slowly lifted his head to peer up at the huge vessel.
There it was! The great wooden ship that looked as though it had been sat at the bottom of the ocean for hundreds of years. Even though the ship was covered in seaweed and barnacles, Rasheed still found it to be even more beautiful than he had first thought. The barnacles had transformed it to look as though it was made from stone, preserved in all of its magnificent glory, until the end of time.
He scoured every inch of the grand ship with his transfixed eyes. Rasheed felt something that he had never felt before.. it wasn’t necessarily good fortune, or normal excitement even though he was sure he had never been so excited in all of his life! It was a yearning feeling, pulling him towards the boat as if his life depended on it. He slowly walked towards the ship, still scouring every crevice. When his eyes finally reached the mast, he stopped in his tracks as he discovered he was being watched. There in the crows nest, a strange creature looked down upon him, lips pursed into a smug smile as it lifted a teacup to its mouth to take a sip.
Rasheed had lost his voice again it seemed, as he could do nothing else but stare at the peculiar creature. Its face was long and similar to a horse, it had great, big antlers crowning its head and was covered in dark brown fur that was itself covered in a fine brown and yellow tweed suit, similar to the clothing of an Englishman that Rasheed had once met with his father.
The creature looked down at Rasheed and yelled “Come aboard my boy!”
Rasheed gulped and walked to the edge of the wall. “I…How?”
“Ah yes, I almost forgot!” the creature laughed as he rose up from the crows nest and floated through the air over to Rasheed. Without landing onto the harbour, the creature held his walking stick down to the Rasheed and called out “Hold on!”.
Rasheed did as he was told and reached up to grab the stick. He held on as tightly as he could and was lifted into the air. Before Rasheed had time to believe what was happening, he was placed gently down onto the ship, with the creature facing him.
Rasheed took a step back from the creature and after a moment of shock, asked “Excuse me but…what are you?”
“Me! I am The flying Caribou.” the creature replied.
“But I thought that was the name of the ship?”
“It is! The ship is mine and I am the ship’s.”
“I, am a caribou! And what are you?”
“I am Rasheed.”
“Indeed.. And why have you summoned me here, Rasheed?”
“Summoned? I didn’t. At least I don’t think I did?” replied Rasheed, in yet another state of confusion.
“You did my boy, that you did. Not with your mouth, but with your…You know..your you.”
“I don’t understand. I mean, my parents said that I was lucky now, but I don’t know what they mean..?” answered Rasheed, a little embarrassed that he couldn’t follow the caribou’s riddles or that he couldn’t explain himself clearly.
The caribou looked at Rasheed blankly and took out a teacup from his pocket and started sipping from it, as if it was the most normal thing in the world.
Rasheed watched the caribou intently, not knowing how to react as such a strange sight.
“Hmm?…Oh! Excuse me, I haven’t encountered another for quite a while, my manners seemed to have forgotten themselves.” The caribou then pulled out a saucer from the other pocket of his tweed jacket and placed it under his teacup, again not registering that anything was out of the ordinary for Rasheed.
Rasheed continued to stare at the caribou.
“My boy, is there anything you wish to ask me?…” the caribou asked as he took another sip.
“I…uhh….” Rasheed wracked his brain for any questions he might have for the caribou, and of course he knew deep down there were many, too many to count even, but right now, his mind failed him and he couldn’t think of a single thing.
The caribou cocked his head to one side and then said “Well, I should be on my way then.”
The caribou took a final sip of tea and placed his teacup back into his pocket, without spilling a single drop.
As he turned to walk away, Rasheed finally found his voice. “WAIT!”
The caribou stopped and turned back around.
“Where are you going?” Rasheed asked curiously.
“I don’t know. I will go wherever the wind takes me.” The caribou replied nonchalantly.
“Alone?” Rasheed wasn’t even sure why he asked.
“Not always alone my boy, I meet new creatures all the time. Many fish of different breeds, and other creatures, like Rasheeds!”
Rasheed giggled and then asked “What’s it like? Out there…”
The caribou smiled and replied “Why don’t you see for yourself!”
Rasheed grinned and then looked back down at the harbour. “But..what about my parents?”
The caribou looked down at the harbour and then looked out at the town in the distance.
“I thought your parents said you were lucky?”
“Then they will not worry about you my boy, for you are free to fly now, to do what you do! Now listen to me, as a member of crew. We will see all there is, and we’ll conquer the sea, we will run the ship well, and drink gallons of tea! We will travel and laugh, and I’ll teach you a lot. Now it’s time to set sail, Henceforth and quiver not!”