Nara Dubai bit her lip. "Ouch," she said subsequently, because if you have ever bitten your lips while riding on a boat on the high seas in the early 1300's, then you are not reading this because you're dead.

Kamilah rolled her eyes at her twin sister. "You idiot," she grumbled, still sore from mental anguish, never mind oral pain. "I told you it'd never work. Pianos haven't even been invented yet!"

"You and your incessant nay-saying," Nara shot back with an air of injured dignity as she dabbed at coincidentally equally injured lip, "is starting to get on my nerves. What have you got against anachronisms, anyway? What have they ever done to you? Anyway, it's irrelevant. It would've worked if it weren't for Arkansas." The girl made an obscene gesture in the direction of the offending state, which didn't get the message, but wouldn't have been overly upset if it had.

Ho hum, Arkansas would say, if it was a collective conscience, another obscene gesture.

Kamilah spit over the side of the boat. "I told you America had too many laws," she muttered, choosing not to mention that there currently was not America and there was no Arkansas, not yet anyway, because she had just been there and she had definitely seen the same sign Nara had.





And it had been erected right next to the friendly light-up sign informing them that this road was under construction and they apologized in advance for any delay.

In case you are interested, it might be pointed out that the twins were pronouncing 'Arkansas' phonetically. Also they happened to speak English.

"Anyway," Nara cut in because the exposition was getting to be too much for her, "we have to figure out a way to get Boreas off the boat."

"Boreas! Boreas! That's the straw that breaks the camel's back!" They pause in their repartee to exchange high-fives. "You and your crazy schemes! 'Oh, Kamilah, let's sneak Boreas on the ship with us! He'll be useful! Don't you know that a camel is a horse designed by a committee?"

"Ye-es," Nara conceded meekly, "but a horse is a horse, which is not a camel, and Boreas has been useful, you have to admit."

Kamilah sighed. "All right, so he's sped up the camel-carnage-removal process... but honestly, a horse..." She trailed off as she ran out of immediate arguments and settled into a comfortable, worn but much-loved glare.

Nara settled back against the boat railing, stars tintillating in her eyes. "Killing that last one was such fun..."

"Yeah, yeah," Kamilah muttered, because when she was really exasperated she spoke in modern American slang, "I guess we'd better go get the backup piano..."

On the way back to their cabin, a passing mushroom informed them he was a fun guy.

HAR! said Arkansas.

Perhaps it had better be explained precisely why Nara and Kamilah Dubai, aboard the S.S. Short Cut on its way back to Arabia, felt it necessary to obliterate the planet of camels. It's very simple really: when the pair was very young, their parents were run over by a herd of j-walking, rabid camels. So they vowed that they would kill every single camel in existence or commit hara-kiri with a rusted out nail. There were quite a few of these holding the S.S. Short Cut together.

The other thing that primarily held it together was barnacles. Nara had a conversation with one once; she said all it did was whistle. Kamilah had informed her that most likely the noise she had heard was a nearby whale. Nara had then said, with a thoughtful look on her face, that she didn't know whales could affect such a soulful rendition of 'Danny Boy.' Kamilah said they couldn't, but Nara refused to listen to her sister on the grounds that "You're the only person I know who has every changed keys inadvertantly three times in one verse!" That was the barnacles.

Right then, Nara was not thinking about the barnacles. She was thinking about the spatula, without which she couldn't lift the piano. With a start, she realized she had left it in a bus stop in Topeka, Kansas.