The Burt Kristbaum Adventures

by P. M. Kalayeh

2. The Albatross

Burt Kristbaum designed the Albatross himself. It was a much better ship than The Pelican, or The Harold. It was built to withstand the inclement weather conditions, which had destroyed the other ships. There were seventeen thick bolts lining the bottom of her hull, an extra layer of polyurethane, and a series of F-423 torpedoes installed for special circumstances.

The upper deck was composed of several viewing rooms. One for the captain’s chambers and another for the bridge. Both had wall to wall carpeting, microwaves, and the latest in navigational technology. Probably the most impressive was a recently installed Tube Screamer C-4126 and a Flu Hickey; Phipps Inc. inventions, that when used in unison, could pinpoint the Albatross’s location with 99.998% accuracy. The other devices were industry standards for any sea-bound vessel: a Mach 24 Wind Propeller, 16 Heliotropes, and an automatic steering wheel, with ABS capability.

In accordance with the new policy passed by Explorers of America, a subsidiary of the POA, a reading room had been installed to prevent the usual psychotic episodes of claustrophobia some interns had experienced on past adventures. Other amenities, available on The Pelican and The Harold, Mr. Kristbaum’s previous vessels, were also installed on The Albatross. These included three cafeterias, a decontamination chamber, and a stockade of oranges and limes to avoid scurvy and other gastrointestinal complications.

In order to maintain a vessel of this magnitude, a selected group of Kromagnums were commissioned, expressly for the journey. Known for their unusual vegan lifestyle (mostly carrots), these capable seamen were indispensable, according to Burt Kristbaum. They understood the necessity to follow orders, maintain a clean wreck room, and rarely divested the crew of its fresh meat supply – all the qualities an experienced explorer hoped for in his crew.

Max Flicker, Mr. Kristbaum’s engineer, on past expeditions to the Congo and Northern El Salvador, was to oversee this group of ragtag individuals. He was the direct line of communication between the Command Center and Engineering. His duties included: maintenance of the SKY-Lab; various X-Ray and sonar devices, and the safekeeping of all collected antiquities.

I was hired as Archeological Consultant. It was my job to make sketches of all artifacts, and provide dowsing information on all digs. If there was a debate as to where a site should be, or in what direction we would travel, it was up to me to lead the crew.

Klaus was the Morale Supervisor. It was his job to make sure everyone felt good. If someone looked a little seasick, or needed an extra pat on the back, he would tell them about the little things that made life worth living: mimosas, a pretty girlfriend, you name it. This usually worked with most of the crew. There were a couple of people who needed extra attention though. They were interns straight out of the Archeological Institute. They hadn’t lived the tough one. They didn’t even know there was such a thing. They were always complaining and lowering morale.

His approach was different with them. He usually gave them ice cream. It seemed to make them feel better. If that didn’t work, he would hold up a life vest. That usually did the trick.

We weren’t half a league into our journey, before Klaus sent someone overboard. Her name was Francois. She was this really annoying girl in Navigation. I think she had done most of her training on land. She kept vomiting on her control panel. She wasn’t fit for sea travel. Klaus didn’t think twice about the situation. He told her to get her things and leave quietly.

“Get your things and leave quietly,” he said.

“I don’t understand,” she said.

Klaus kept his cool. He told her the success of the expedition was impingement upon preparation. A good explorer rarely allowed weaknesses to be tolerated. This could lead to errors and eventual setbacks. In an archeological expedition, prevention was the name of the game, and at the moment, her weak stomach was placing that priority in jeopardy.

“Just think of the ramifications,” Klaus said. “If I let everyone who had a weak stomach parade around the brig? We could be on the verge of the greatest discovery in archaeology, and for what? So you can place that in jeopardy? No, Miss Vaughan, we aboard the Albatross believe in prevention and stand by it.”

I could see where Klaus was coming from. Just yesterday, I was about to put a protein shake on my desk, when I realized it might spill on my papers. That’s when I moved it to a cup holder instead. If I didn’t think about prevention, I would have lost all my notes. Prevention was a real life saver.

“That’s right,” Klaus agreed. “It’s the name of the game.”

“But I don’t understand,” Francois said again.

Klaus held up a life vest.


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Preface by Fifth Wheel