On a perfect spring morning with flat seas and clear blue skies, Captain Eli P. Cooke made a terrible mistake when he decided to go alone to look for an island he had dreamed about a few nights before. Eli had taken his little fishing boat further out than he’d ever been before, and he’d not even bothered with calling his crew mates out. He was doing this alone, or else he thought his mates would call him mad. In his dream he had found an island that was a perfect paradise, with mermaids draped over the rocks, calling to him. The island was just beyond their usual fishing area, one they had never seen before. Something about the dream made Eli feel like it was real, so he just had to investigate.
After two or three hours searching further and further around the area, Eli had suddenly spotted a low lying cloud, just hovering above the sea. He sped his boat towards the cloud and when he broke through it he was in a sunny lagoon, with the island he had found in his dreams lying before him. There were no mermaids of course, but there were some naked girls sunbathing on the rocks, where the mermaids had been in his dream.
Where the island had come from he had no idea. It wasn’t there the day before when he had headed out around the bay. He wondered how an unspoiled paradise such as this island could have remained totally undiscovered up until now. But he knew he liked it here, and it was here that he wanted to stay….forever.
The girls were waving to him. Eli beached his boat on the shore and walked over to them.
“Hello” he said “Do you speak English? Where have you all come from?”
“We come from here. We’ve been here forever,” said the girl nearest to him.
“And where is here? I’ve never seen this island before.”
“This is heaven.”
“What do you mean? How can this be heaven? I know it is very beautiful, but if it really were heaven, we would all be dead.”
“We are dead. And this really is heaven.”
“I am not dead,” argued Eli. “Look, there is my boat over there. I’ve only just arrived. If I were dead, I would know about it. I would have had some sort of an accident.”
“You did have an accident,” said the girl. “You were looking for this island in your boat, and you missed seeing the rocks. Your boat hit the rocks and capsized. You tried swimming, but the current was too great for you and you drowned.”
“How could I have?….. What about my boat? It’s over there – look!” Eli motioned towards where he had moored his boat, but the boat had disappeared and there was a turtle in its place.
“What the…..” started Eli. “Where is it?”
“There was no boat,” said the girl. “You just suddenly appeared from out of the sea. You were swimming.”
“So I am not dead then,” retorted Eli, feeling totally bewildered.
“Yes you are, but you can do anything you like when you are dead. Look…. I can fly.”
The girl stretched out her arms, and sure enough she started flying. “Come on, you try it. Just close your eyes and imagine you are flying!”
Eli spread his arms and closed his eyes. He felt his body rise up and he was flying, just like she had said. He was amazed. This really could be heaven.
“There you are,” said the girl. “I told you that you could fly.”
“Well, that’s all very well,” said Eli. “But what happens now?”
“Well, you can fly off anywhere you like. Where would you like to go?”
“I’d like to go home,” said Eli, suddenly feeling very homesick for his family.
“I’m afraid that is not possible,” said the girl.
“But I thought that you said that I could do anything?” said Eli.
“Well, anything within reason. You can’t go back home, though. That would be back on Earth.”
“Well, on Earth is where I’d like to be,” said Eli.
“Not possible, unless………….”
“Unless what?” asked Eli.
“Unless the Guv’nor decides to send you back.”
“How can I get him to do that then?” asked Eli, getting more concerned.
“Well…it’s not easy. Have you done anything on Earth that was bad?”
“No, not really…………well……….maybe a little bit bad. I did have an affair once when I was younger.”
“Oh that won’t count,” said the girl. “Everyone does that! Have you murdered anyone?”
“No, never,” replied Eli.
“Well, you won’t get sent back to Earth unless you have done something really bad. I’m afraid you are stuck with us here, unless you can think of something.”
Eli racked his brains, but try as he may he could not think of a single thing he had done that the Guv’nor would regard as really bad. Did drowning kittens at birth count? What about shooting pigeons? Oh, and he had stolen some marbles from Woolworth’s when he was ten. Did that count?
Then he looked at the naked girls again, and looked at the lush green island. “I think I was always a very good boy on earth,” he said smugly. “I don’t really think I mind staying here with you after all. Now is there a pub or anything on this island? Let’s go and have some fun.”