I'm a Captain and You're Not: The Memoirs of Tyler J. Quirk
Based on The Captain Quirk Logs by M.P. Solo
Enjoy, but don't copy
My name is Quirk. Tyler James Quirk. I'm the greatest space captain that ever lived, having flown hundreds of missions aboard my personal spacecraft, the P.B.S. Dinero. How can I say I'm the greatest? Well, you're reading my memoirs, aren't you? Nobody can write a memoir unless they are great. So there you go.
I don't remember much from my youth. I was born a long time ago, though I forgot when; I mean, when you get old, who wants to remember HOW old? After that I spent a couple years honing my skills: talking, walking, eating solid foods…you know, the important stuff. My parents were…a man and a woman. They were pretty tall, and they were a lot older than me. I wish I could remember more about them, but I moved out when I was twenty-five, so there wasn't a lot of time to rack up memories.
My goal in life was always to be a space captain. After I moved out of my parents' house, I enrolled at the Space Academy in Lancaster, Pennsylvania, where I began my long, harrowing quest to become a space captain. I spent the next few years training with an old man named Saliverus Nyatpak, a former space captain who made a living training others in his craft. Nyatpak was a good guy who knew a lot of stuff, but the thing I remember most is how he liked to give nicknames to his pupils, often in line with his opinion regarding the student's abilities. He used to call me "End of Hope." I think that meant I was killer awesome or something. He got killed by a Martian Sloth while we were on a practice mission, but I'll never forget his last words to me: "My eyeballs my eyeballs it's trying to suck out my eyeballs." And then he screamed a lot before the thing ate him. Our time together was too short, but I owe a lot of my abilities to him; well, the ones I didn't teach myself, anyway.
I spent four years at the Academy before they realized my mad skills and sent me to get certified. I took the test, using my vast knowledge of space and commandeering to persuade the Elders to pass me. It seems that ability alone wasn't enough to persuade them though, but with a little help from Ulysses Grant and Ben Franklin, I soon held before me the shiny new plaque certifying my status as a space captain. All my hard work had paid off; now, I could hold up that piece of hardware and proclaim to the world that I, with the blessing of the Space Academy of Lancaster, Pennsylvania, was Captain Tyler James Kwirk. Student Admissions sent me a corrected plaque a few weeks later.
Of course, no captain is complete without his ship, and the bigger the ship, the better. I checked out all the big dealers – Ford, Pontiac, Honda – before I realized that those are all car dealers, and they don't sell ships. I eventually tracked down this guy in Idaho who sold space vessels, and within a few weeks bought myself a real nice cruiser to give the honor of being my first ship. The payment was what really confused me…something about the bottom of my shoe…anyway, he told me not to worry about it. I got it registered with the P.B.S. Association, named it Dinero, and with my new ship in tow, I was ready to begin my captaining career.
Now, I'll be frank: I didn't expect business to be booming as soon as I got Captain tacked onto my name. I mean, it sounded real cool, but I guess people still need to see credentials and all that. So I took some odd jobs: ran deliveries, bussed for tours, rescued cats from trees…though that last one is really hard to do when your ship is the size of a small football stadium. It took a few months, but I finally managed to rack up enough brownie points to move away from all that and into real jobs. People have asked me over the years if I ever miss my roots in captaining. Most of these conversations ended with me chasing them out of the bar with a shotgun, but I won't bore you with the details.
I was only six months removed from the Academy when I received my first, true mission. I know they say you always remember the first time, because it's so momentous and everything, but it was actually pretty lame, so I never really thought about it much. I've had guys tell me that I have to remember something from that mission, or have some kind of souvenir or whatever, but what's the big deal? Does a guy who chops down his first tree embalm the stump in gold? There's just no point in dwelling on these things…especially if I can't profit off of them in my memoirs. Waste not, want not, and I've got a lot of other cool stuff to talk about.
I think the first memorable mission I got – as far as I can recall anyway – came about three months later, while I was doing…research…on the female society of Kitsinevosh-Alpha. It was a planet called Blokonia, where the people lost – get this – a penguin. It was supposed to be this thing that brought the people prosperity, and without it, they were doomed to destruction. Well, I had no clue where the real Penguin was, so as a little test, I brought back a plain old penguin and passed that off to them as the Penguin they hailed as their salvation. I don't really know what happened after that, as I never received a call for another mission from there. I'd visit, but I can't find Blokonia on the maps anymore…seems to have been removed from all the maps. Oh well.
After Blokonia I did a bunch of other missions. They were mostly to fill my resumé, so I didn't give much thought to remember what they were, either. And I know they have those Captain's Logs that you can record every day to reflect on or store thoughts regarding missions and stuff, but I can't sell those, so what's the point? Eh, you didn't miss much, anyway.
I never gave much consideration to a personal life. I thought about marriage for a while when I was younger, but monogamy is so restricting, and polygamy can get a bit expensive. Besides, I had my research on Kitsinevosh to keep me occupied, and let me tell you, that never got old. I didn't even need a life outside of that place, and I'm pretty sure I didn't have one, either. Over the years I kept getting letters from this woman named "Betsy Quirk" though…she kept telling me how she missed me, and how much our children had grown while I've been away. I think she was a stalker.
I've had a long, illustrious career, but there was one mission I'll never forget. I was having a nice break from action when I received a call from the President of the Soofnok Republic. His son had been kidnapped by the Lotimad Empire, and if the matter wasn't resolved peacefully or by some neutral mediator, the two nations would erupt in an all-out war. Now, I'm honest when I say the whole situation sucked, but I was in the middle of this really nice glass of tequila-flavored vodka at the time, and you just don't pressure a man with these things when he's drunk. I mean, I don't go over to anyone's house while they're sleeping, pick 'em up by the hair and start serving them a sales pitch, do I? Of course not; long story short, I ended up helping Lotimad take over Soofnok, and arranged a marriage between that kid and the Lotimad leader. It was a really nice ceremony, though…I took some pictures, but I sold them on Ebay a while ago to cover my income taxes.
(And if you're the one that bought them, I am so, so sorry for the tenth picture on that roll. I can't be blamed if Soofnokian cuisine doesn't agree with everyone...)
I didn't know it at the time, but the Soofnok mission proved to be my last. My space captain certification expired a little while after the wedding, which meant I needed to return to the Academy to get it renewed. That just didn't sit well with me; I mean, I didn't mind the thought of having to fly back to Lancaster, but those lines can be so long sometimes, and the people you have to stand there with…what a bunch of egotistical blowhards. I gotta tell you, there just aren't a lot of space captains out there that have earned the respect I have…they just hold up their certification and flaunt it in people's faces. That just won't do…that's why I have a book and they don't.
As I approach the final days of my life, I look back on the years that have passed, and wonder if there's anything I could have done differently…anything that I could have corrected or done better. But to do something like that would be to admit that I wasn't a good space captain, and I didn't give my all in doing the job I work for and committed to all my life. So I say I did a perfect job, and can die with no regrets…except that I never did get to complete my research project on Kitsinevosh. Why did people always have to bother me while I was there? Even my wife…anyway, that's all I've got. Live long or don't, and remember to always aim for your goals, because to aim at anything else sorta defeats the purpose of having them.
(Thank you for buying my memoir. And if you stole this, I hope it was from someone who already paid for it, because I don't like lost profits. I mean seriously, how would you feel if I stole YOUR memoir?