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Dawn of the Decaffeinated

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The sun was setting over a little pirate ship on the mighty Saskatchewan River. And on deck, a solitary pirate was sitting and relaxing, happily contemplating his lot in life.

Tractor Jack took another sip of his rye and bran cocktail and sighed. Indeed there was a lot to commend the pirate life. The peace and quiet for one thing…

(“Aah! No! No!”)

Jack glanced briefly towards the shore. Yes, the peace and quiet. He smiled to himself. Except for the amount of noise involved in attacking other boats and making off with their grain! He furrowed his brow. Not many boats on the water today, it had to be said… But he could afford the odd day with slim pickings.

(“Oh, my God! Get away! Don’t push me in! Please!”)

He frowned towards the shore again. Some kind of celebration going on today? He had kind of lost track of the date. He returned to his thoughts. Naturally, the odd day with slim pickings was fine. To be honest, it was nice to get a little rest from all that fighting. He shook his left hand and winced a little. All that throwing his fists around and all that screaming…

“Aaaaaaaaaaaah!”

He nodded. Yes, exactly like that. And having to throw the farmers overboard… It’s not as though he liked hearing all that splashing around—

“Oh, God, please let him be there…”

Jack paused. He shrugged and took another sip of his cocktail. And it wasn’t as though he was a complete jerk. He certainly didn’t enjoy hearing those cries for—

“H-e-e-e-elp!”

He nearly dropped his glass.

“Jack? Jack, are you there!” The cries were accompanied by desperate banging on the side of the hull.

“Are you there? Please!”

Jack relaxed. He recognized that voice. He set down his cocktail and went to have a look over the side.

“Mountie Bob! I’d wondered where you’d gotten to. How are you today?”

Bob looked up from where he was treading water. “Um. Fine, fine.”

“Excellent,” smiled Jack.

There was a pause. In the distance, Jack thought he could see some more swimmers sluggishly coming towards the ship.

Bob glanced back over his shoulder at them. “Do you think…?” He gave a tentative smile. “...I could perhaps come on board…?”

“Oh, of course! Where are my manners?” Jack turned to reach for the rope ladder, and then stopped. He turned back, grinning and waggling an amused finger at Bob. “Not so fast there, Mountie! You almost got me!”

Bob was smiling weakly. “Jack, I’m not trying to arrest you.” He coughed out a little water. “And it is quite urgent that I come on board.”

“I bet it is!” said Jack. “Do you have a warrant?”

“Oh, for God’s sake—” Bob threw his head around to look at the other swimmers. He took a breath and looked back at Jack. “Let me up this minute! Let me up! Let me up this minute, you… goddamn, felonius stubble-jumper!”

Jack’s eyes widened. Things must be really serious if he was getting that kind of language from Bob. Not a single please or thank you in there at all.

He let the ladder down and Bob began hauling himself up. As he reached the top, Jack helped to pull him down onto the deck.

Bob just lay there and panted for a bit.

Jack looked down at him. “So what’s going on, Mountie?” He looked closer at Bob’s face and torn sleeves. “Are those teeth marks?”

Bob groaned a little, and got up into a sitting position. “They’re after me! All of them! They want this!” His tunic was half-unbuttoned and bulging, and he pulled out its contents to show Jack. It was a silver cylinder about twenty centimetres long.

Jack stared at it, puzzled. “Your… thermos?”

Bob nodded despondently. “It’s all that’s left now.”

Suddenly there was more banging on the hull but accompanied this time by unnatural moaning, rather than cries for assistance.

Bob paled. He struggled to his feet. “They’re here! Get the ship moving, man, or we’re done for!”

“But who’s here? Who do you mean?”

Jack went to have a cautious look over the side. Many blank faces stared back up at him, while hands scrabbled at the hull in a fruitless attempt to gain purchase.

“C’feine!” moaned one of the swimmers.

“I… beg your pardon?” said Jack.

“Caffeine!” howled the swimmer.

“Cappuccino… espresso… latte…” slurred another of the swimmers.

“An’ a box o’ Timbits to go…” added a third.

“I see…?”

Jack smiled awkwardly and returned to Bob.

“Perhaps you could explain from the beginning?”

Bob shivered and hugged the thermos to himself. “What is there to tell? Everyone has lost their mind and turned into the walking dead! Armageddon has come! The end of times is here!”

Jack glanced towards the side of the ship and then over at the shore where things still seemed reasonably stable. Nothing on fire. No explosions. He frowned. “I still feel I’m missing something important though?”

Bob stared at him with haunted eyes.

“The local Tim Hortons. Has run out. Of coffee.”

“Oh.” Jack stared back towards the swimmers, furrowed his brow and looked back to Bob. “To be honest, I was expecting something a little more drastic than that.”

“It is damn well drastic!”

Bob moaned piteously.

“At first there was unbridled violence. Everyone tearing the town apart looking for coffee! Then after several hours without caffeine they thankfully started to tire. Now most of them are just wandering around aimlessly.” He shuddered. “It would be pitiful if they weren’t quite so chompy.”

Jack regarded Bob’s bites again. “But… you haven’t succumbed? Become one of the… Uncaffeinated.”

“Not while I’ve still got this!” Bob held up the thermos, and then narrowed his eyes. He shoved the thermos back into his tunic. “Hang on, though. Why haven’t you succumbed?”

Jack raised his hands reassuringly. “Don’t get yourself wound up. I weaned myself off caffeine ages ago.” He gestured at the crate next to his chair, filled with an array of bottles. “Grain-based beverage, Bob?”

“Not while I’m on duty—” Bob’s eyes widened. “And I am the only one on duty now. My own colleagues turned on me and tried to take my thermos.” He shook his head. “What on earth am I going to do?”

Jack turned to listen to the banging on the hull. He reached out a tentative hand and patted Bob’s arm. “We could… go get some more coffee for everyone? From another Timmies?”

Bob yanked his arm away with a sneer. “Oh, why didn’t I think of that? What an amazing suggestion!”

Jack stepped away hurt and Bob took a deep breath.

“I’m sorry. But once the violence started, the surrounding towns all secured their borders to protect the coffee supplies at their own Tim Hortons. Even if I could get through, they’re only selling to local residents. And in the last phone call before all communications went down, the Tim Hortons head office stated they wouldn’t send out any more supplies to us until everything was back to normal. And things can’t get back to normal unless we have coffee!”

The banging on the hull was beginning to get a little more insistent. Jack looked worriedly at Bob.

“Yes, hang on one moment.” Bob went and leaned over the side.

“Is that a Tim Hortons delivery truck on the horizon?” he yelled.

There was a painful gurgling sound that roughly approximated cheering and then the swimmers started heading back to shore.

Bob rejoined Jack. “There we go. That’ll keep their befuddled minds occupied for the moment.” He shrugged. “Poor devils. Futile hope is all they’ve got left now.”

“But…” Jack still wasn’t sure that he’d grasped the full situation. “We could get them coffee from somewhere else, couldn’t we? I mean, somewhere that isn’t a Tim Hortons.”

Bob stared at him. “Somewhere… else…?”

Jack nodded cheerily. “I’m almost certain they sell coffee at other places too.”

“Jack!” Bob grabbed him by the shoulders. Jack flinched but Bob was beaming at him. “You are a genius! But where would we go?”

Jack prodded the thermos, half-hidden in Bob’s tunic. “How long do you think that will keep you going?”

Bob touched the thermos protectively. “A couple of days, if I’m careful.”

“Well, then,” said Jack. “Let’s do a coffee run up to the Co-op in Saskatoon. Buy up all the stock they’ve got, come back, and restore everyone to humanity!”

Bob’s expression was full of cautious optimism. “You know, that could really work.”

“Of course it will work!”

Jack smiled at Bob, and sent him down below to change into some dry and unripped clothes, while he himself moved the ship a little further up river in case the Uncaffeinated decided to come back.

Then the two of them settled down for the night, reasonably sure of their safety and both filled with growing hope for the next day.

 

 

Early the next morning, Jack made oatmeal for their breakfast. Then Jack had a refreshing glass of lentil juice and Bob carefully sipped half a cup of coffee.

Jack watched him cautiously. “You still feel all right?”

Bob looked pretty grey and Jack knew he hadn’t slept particularly well. But Bob nodded with determination. He put the thermos inside his borrowed shirt. “I’m fine. Let’s go to the Co-op!”

They set off, Jack in charge of navigation and Bob on look-out. And everything was calm and quiet until they approached the first bridge.

“Look,” said Bob with resignation.

In the distance, Jack could see five or six of the Uncaffeinated leaning over the bridge, staring thirstily towards the ship.

Bob groaned a little. “There must still be vestiges of intelligence and planning left somewhere inside their heads. We’ll have to go back.”

Jack shook his head firmly. “We’ve got to keep going forward. This is the only way we’re going to reach the Co-op.”

Bob laughed hollowly. “So what are we going to do? Fight all of them off?”

“Why not?” Jack shrugged. “They’ll be suffering from the effects of poor sleep and poor concentration, and judging from their clothes they’re just office workers. And it’s not as though the two of us don’t have any experience in fighting.”

Bob hesitated for a long moment, then nodded. “Okay. Let’s keep going.”

It was a tense journey as they covered the remaining distance to the bridge. When they reached it, the Uncaffeinated clambered over without any hesitation and dropped one by one onto the deck with a thud. Jack swiftly counted. Six in all. He took up a fighting stance, fists raised. But the Uncaffeinated didn’t even seem aware of his presence, focusing solely on Bob and his thermos.

There was a definite leader among them and with moans and gestures she directed the others to join her in closing in on Bob. There was a worrying mixture of determination and resignation on Bob’s face, and Jack tried to reassure him with a brief thumbs-up. This was absolutely a situation that could be turned to their advantage.

Jack sized up the leader. She seemed to have been a smartly dressed business woman in her caffeinated days and he could well imagine her having a natural ruthlessness even in her old life. But he had a few inches and several pounds on her, and even regular trips to a gym couldn’t compete with the active life of a pirate.

Jack took a deep breath. “I’m really sorry, ma’am.”

He rushed straight at her and pushed her away from the group and towards the side of the ship. There was a brief struggle, and a fair amount of attempted biting, but in the end Jack easily pushed her over into the water. He looked behind him. The remaining five Uncaffeinated seemed uncertain what to do with their leader gone, and Bob was attempting to fight back against them, with increasing confidence. Jack grinned and went to join in the battle.

In the initial confusion, the first two Uncaffeineated went over the side easily. But then the real struggle was with the three remaining. The Uncaffeinated concentrated equally on Bob and Jack at first but then instinct and those last vestiges of planning seemed to come back into play. The three of them switched their focus entirely to Jack, isolating him from Bob and forcing him down onto the deck.

Jack felt himself lapsing into unconsciousness, too tired to fight back anymore. Far away in the background he thought he could hear Bob yelling, and then a small splash. Immediately all pressure was removed from his body, and he could hear the Uncaffeinated following the splash into the water.

Then other hands were on him but these were helping him up. “Are you okay, Jack?!”

“I’m fine. Fine.” Jack shook his head and tried to focus on Bob. “I’m glad you’re all right too.” He smiled awkwardly. “For a moment there, I thought you’d gone into the water to make them chase after you.”

Bob wasn’t meeting his eyes. “No, it wasn’t me in the water.” He glanced quickly at Jack before averting his gaze again. “It was the thermos.”

Jack’s eyes widened. “Bob, what have you done?”

Bob looked back at him. “I didn’t have a choice! They were going to kill you!” He shrugged. “Look, it’s only a few more hours to the Co-op. I can make it.”

Jack looked at him warily. “Are you really sure…?”

Bob laughed mirthlessly. “Yes!”

So they continued on, Jack trying not to flinch at every twitch and minor show of grumpiness from Bob.

 

 

It was a blessed relief when they made it to the Co-op just before closing time.

Jack looked at Bob with concern. “Do you want to stay on the ship? There’s no need for us both to go in.”

Bob’s eyes were beginning to look somewhat glazed. “Do you have any way of paying?”

Jack shook his head.

Bob shrugged. “We’re going to have to use my credit card then. I’ll have to be there.”

Jack stared at Bob’s fingers. They were twitching badly. “But Bob—”

“I’m fine!” Bob closed his eyes and took a deep breath. He opened his eyes again. “I’m fine, Jack. Honestly I am. I can last without coffee for these last few minutes.”

“If you’re sure.”

Jack felt very uncertain, but he let down the rowboat and he rowed the two of them to shore. He had to support Bob a little as they walked but they made it to the Co-op.

They entered the store, going straight to the beverage aisle.

A young woman with Rebecca on her name tag was tidying the shelves. She looked up at them with a smile. “I’m really sorry but we’re just closing. Is it just one thing you need?”

Jack felt Bob tense a little next to him. He glanced at him. Bob was starting to glare at the clerk, so Jack jumped in. “We’ll be very quick, I promise. We just need to buy up all your coffee.”

Rebecca’s eyes widened. “I’m sorry? All of it?”

Jack nodded. “It’s an emergency. We’ll take all your instant coffee, all your coffee beans… Everything!”

Rebecca looked doubtful. “That sounds like it’s going to take a while to sort out… And I really need to speak to the manager to see if it’s okay.”

“Oh, for God’s sake!” snarled Bob abruptly. “We just want to buy stuff. This is a store, isn’t it?”

Jack looked at Bob nervously, while Rebecca frowned at him. “Look, there’s no need to be impolite. You have to understand it’s been a long day. I stop being paid in a few minutes and I want to get home to see my family.”

But Bob just sneered at her. “God, you’re so stupid and lazy. No wonder you’re a store clerk.”

Jack’s jaw dropped.

Being rude to people in the service industry… There was the indisputable truth in front of him—the last part of Bob’s humanity had vanished and he was one of the Uncaffeinated. Jack backed slowly away until he reached a bag of coffee beans. He ripped it open and grabbed a handful. Then he took a deep breath.

“Bo-o-o-o-o-o-o-ob!”

The creature that had once been Bob turned slowly and growled at him. Jack ran at him and shoved the beans into the Uncaffeinated monster’s mouth. But he simply spat them out, and then attempted to bite Jack.

“No, Bob! Friend! Not bagel!” Jack detached himself and retreated.

Rebecca had been watching all this with some concern. Jack smiled weakly at her. “He’s suffering caffeine withdrawal.”

“Right…” Rebecca shook her head in some bewilderment. “Look, would you like me to have a go at getting him to behave?”

Jack stared in desperation at the Uncaffeinated Bob and then back at Rebecca. “I think he’s beyond the reach of good service and politeness now.”

Rebecca raised an eyebrow. “Who said anything about being polite?”

She turned away from Jack and slowly started to approach Bob.

“Now this is for your own good, sweetheart. Me enjoying it is purely a bonus.”

She selected a jar of coffee from the shelf and held it up to attract Bob’s attention. Then she slowly moved it to one side, Bob’s eyes never leaving it. With Bob thus distracted, she suddenly swung a punch with her other hand and got him clear across the face.

As Bob staggered, stunned, she got behind him, and kicked his legs out from under him. And after calmly putting the jar back on the shelf, she grabbed some cable ties out of her pocket and knelt to secure his hands and feet.

Jack was astounded. “Where did you learn to do all that?”

Rebecca twisted around to look at him and shrugged. “I work in retail.” Bob struggled to sit up, growling and snapping at her. Without looking around, Rebecca elbowed him back into a supine position. She stood and gestured behind her. “I’m just going to grab a cup of coffee for your friend from the staffroom.”

She was back in under two minutes.

“Here we go. If you can just get him sitting up…” Kneeling on the floor, she carefully spooned the coffee into Bob’s mouth, blowing on every spoonful and waiting for him to swallow each one before continuing.

It wasn’t long before Bob’s face started to clear. “What… What’s going on?”

“He’s back!” Jack beamed at Rebecca. “I don’t know what we would have done without you!”

“Pleasure to be of service.” Rebecca returned his smile cheerfully. “Anything else I can help you with today, sir?”

 

 

Rebecca sold them a few jars of instant coffee for Bob’s personal use, and then after a good night’s sleep to let Bob recuperate, they returned to the Co-op in the morning. They discussed things with the manager and once she understood the full situation, she offered them a discount, throwing in a couple of manual coffee grinders for free.

With a ship heavily laden with coffee, they began their return trip down river.

 

 

“Well, we definitely know our solution can work. As soon as we get some coffee into them they’ll be back to normal.” Jack was ruminating as he steered his ship. “But how can we get the coffee into them? They’re all beyond reason—we can’t sit them down one by one and make sure they all get a cup.”

“I don’t think we need to.” Bob was grinning at him. “I believe the emergency services may be able to help us.”

 

 

They docked in a secluded spot and made their way ashore using the rowboat. Once on land they encountered a few scattered Uncaffeinated here and there, who all reacted to them with instinctive aggression. But they seemed to have little energy left, and lost interest in Bob and Jack as soon as the two of them ran away. So, keeping a low profile, Jack and Bob reached their destination with no real difficulty.

“The fire station…?”

Jack looked doubtfully at the building.

“Surely there aren’t going to be any firefighters here. Won’t they have succumbed like your colleagues?”

“We don’t want a firefighter. We just want one of the trucks…” Bob tried a door. It was unlocked and Jack followed him inside. After a careful sweep of the building they confirmed the place was abandoned, the canteen completely trashed in a desperate attempt to find any coffee.

However, they also found something important that had been left behind.

Bob lifted it in triumph. “The key to the fire truck!”

 

 

They drove the truck back to the shore. Using the rowboat, they gathered all the necessary supplies from the ship and then they set to work.

They let some of the water out of the fire truck’s tank into Jack’s iron bathtub and heated it up on an open fire. With the manual grinders, they ground up all the coffee beans and added them to the boiling water, and then dumped the instant coffee in too.

“That’ll have to do,” said Bob, looking at the murky mixture. “Let’s use the truck’s pump and get this back into the tank. Then we can spray it at everyone we see from a nice, safe distance. Some of it is bound to get into their mouths.”

Jack felt a little doubtful. “But can we really pump scalding coffee at them? Someone may get burned.”

Bob looked doubtful too. “Yes... Yes, I suppose you’re right.”

“Hang on, though.” A grin spread slowly across Jack’s face. “I’ve got it! We go back to town and to the Tim Hortons. They’ll still have the ice and the other ingredients—throw those into the tank too and it’ll be nice, cool Iced Capps all round.”

Bob returned the smile, and nodded approvingly. “Perfect!”

 

 

They parked in front of the Tim Hortons and entered the building cautiously. Inside, at first glance, it was a scene of utter devastation but the door to the back stockrooms was still closed and didn’t appear damaged. Jack was hopeful that the supplies had been untouched.

Bob hesitated with his hand on the door. “Do you know what ingredients we need for Iced Capps though?”

Jack furrowed his brow. He hadn’t considered that. “Well, not precisely. But it doesn’t have to be exact, does it?”

Bob looked worried. “If it doesn’t taste right, they may just spit it out.”

Jack smiled weakly at him. “It’s coming out of a fire truck’s water tank. I don’t think it’s going to taste that good in any case.” He shrugged. “Come on, let’s get the crushed ice and see what other ingredients we can find.”

They pushed the door open and stepped into the back area.

And were immediately rushed by two women, one in her teens and the other rather more mature.

“Aaargh!” screamed the teenager, thwacking Jack with a broom.

Jack involuntarily joined in with the screaming and attempted to fend off the broom. “It’s the Uncaffeinated!” he shouted, as simultaneously the middle-aged woman yelled, “It’s the Caffeine-less!”

Bob waved his hands.

“No! Hang on! Wait! None of us are suffering from caffeine withdrawal!”

The fighting came to a gradual halt and the two sides stared at each other, breathing hard.

Jack took a proper look at the women, and at their uniforms. “You’re Tim Hortons employees?”

The teenager nodded. “And you’re…” She looked a little closer at Jack and Bob’s outfits. “...pirates?”

Jack nodded proudly.

The two women exchanged a significant look, and the middle-aged one shrugged.

She addressed Bob and Jack.“I’m Hélène and this is Kishkedee. We’ve been hiding out here and living on donuts and soup.”

“We’re Jack and Bob,” smiled Jack.

Bob raised a hand in greeting. “And the two of you haven’t succumbed to caffeine withdrawal?” he asked.

“Clearly!” Kishkedee grinned. “Neither of us drink it. Well, when you’re around it all day, you get kind of sick of it.”

“So why did you come here?” asked Hélène. She narrowed her eyes at Jack and Bob. “Are you two about to succumb to caffeine withdrawal? Because there is definitely no coffee here. And you can leave now if you’re about to become dangerous.”

“No!” said Jack. “Honestly, I assure you we’re fine. I don’t drink coffee either.” He turned to gesture at Bob. “Bob does, but we have a good supply for him. We won’t need any more for weeks.”

“So… why are you here?” asked Kishkedee.

Jack smiled awkwardly. “I wonder, would you know how to make an Iced Capp…?”

 

 

Under Hélène and Kishkedee’s guidance, Bob and Jack added the necessary ingredients to the water tank and then took the fire truck for a fast and bumpy ride around the block to try and mix everything up.

They came to a halt again in front of the Tim Hortons.

“Well,” said Jack, “I suppose this is it.” He looked at Bob. “Should we go out from here in a rough spiral, spraying every time we spot someone?”

Bob looked at Hélène and Kishkedee. “Would you be prepared to come with us? One of you driving and one spotting the Uncaffeinated? Then Jack and I can work the hose together.”

Hélène looked puzzled. “Yes, of course we’ll come but…”

She looked at Kishkedee, who nodded and finished the thought. “Wouldn’t it be easier just to try to attract them all here? And operate the hose while the truck is static?”

“Yes! Of course it would!” Bob shook his head at himself and gave them an embarrassed smile. “Thank you.”

Jack was already rummaging around in the cab. He held up a bullhorn in triumph. “Come on! Let’s tell those Uncaffeinated that a new shipment has arrived!”

 

 

Bob and Jack took their places at the hose and Hélène and Kishkedee took it in turns to use the bullhorn.

“The coffee is here! Tim Hortons has coffee!” Kishkedee lowered the bullhorn and checked her watch. “It’s been twenty minutes now.”

Hélène looked at Bob and Jack. “Maybe I was wrong. Perhaps you should go looking for them instead.”

“Don’t doubt yourself, ma’am,” said Bob grimly. “They’ll be on their way soon.”

As if given her cue, the first of the Uncaffeinated lurched around the corner and headed towards them.

Jack’s eyes widened. “That’s the leader! The one that attacked us on the ship.”

Hélène nodded grimly. “Mary MacMhùmùgh. The first victim to turn. The first of the Caffeine-less.”

“And the first to turn back!” Kishkedee rushed to the truck to turn on the coffee supply.

The coffee spurted out. “Get her!” yelled Jack, and he and Bob directed the coffee directly at Ms. MacMhùmùgh.

She staggered back at first but kept on coming. Gradually though she slowed and then stopped completely. She opened her mouth wide and a smile began to appear on her face.

“She’s coming back!” yelled Hélène happily. “She’s coming back! It’s working!”

More of the Uncaffeinated were arriving now from all directions.

Hélène called out to Bob and Jack, pointing out newcomers so they could aim the hose at them. Kishkedee attracted the more confused Uncaffeinated by waving donuts at them and then running back to the shelter of the truck.

Hélène’s expression darkened as one particular member of the Uncaffeinated arrived. “There’s Dan.” She looked at Bob. “Our manager. He’s the one who forgot to reorder the coffee in the first place.” She hesitated. “I wonder… could I help with the hose for this one?”

“Oo, me too!” called Kishkedee happily.

“Our pleasure,” smiled Jack.

There was a slightly awkward handover of the hose from the men to the women, and then Jack and Bob stood back as Hélène and Kishkedee whooped and directed the hose at their manager, soaking him thoroughly. Then as he started to come back to himself, Hélène and Kishkedee discreetly ceded control of the hose back to Jack and Bob.

“Nice to see you back again, Dan!” called Hélène. Kishkedee had a hand before her mouth trying not to giggle.

After that, more and more of the town’s inhabitants arrived to get their coffee. And after about fifteen minutes it was all over.

Still panting, Jack looked around the dazed townspeople and grinned.

“Ha! Take that, Uncaffeinated! You’ve all been served!”

Bob leaned over. And punched him firmly, but affectionately, in the arm.

 

 

It was the following morning.

And back on his little ship on the peaceful Saskatchewan River, Jack sipped his wheat and barley pop and sighed with satisfaction. It had been a job very well done. Naturally there hadn’t been a lot of thanks and celebrations from the townspeople—they had all needed to recover from their ordeal. And Jack hadn’t wanted to hang around too long after the local police officers had come back to themselves. But Bob had given him a big hug and promised that he wouldn’t try and arrest him for the next month at least, and Hélène and Kishkedee had shaken his hand and promised to do everything in their power to get him free Timbits for life.

And they had managed to get through to the Tim Hortons head office, which had agreed to send out new supplies of coffee! Everything was back to normal.

Now Jack could get back to his piracy too. There was a whole new day ahead of him. A fresh day for everyone, a new beginning and— He paused. There was something niggling at the back of his mind. Something important...

Abruptly there was the sound of screaming on the shore. Jack nodded solemnly. Ah yes, of course. He sighed and set his drink down.

He stood and watched as three swimmers made their way rapidly towards the ship. Once they were close enough he let down the rope ladder and assisted Bob, Hélène and Kishkedee in getting aboard.

“We forgot that one dose wouldn’t be enough!” panted Bob.

Jack nodded. “So the effects have all completely worn off?”

“Yes!” said Kishkedee. “And the new shipment won’t be here until tomorrow!”

“So,” said Hélène. She smiled awkwardly. “We thought…?”

“Absolutely.”

Jack grinned at them all.

“Come on, shipmates. I think there’s another Co-op in Martensville!”