Bård trailed his hand in the now placid water of the Pacific Ocean, watching the sparkling reflections of the sunrise flow past his hand. “Why do I let you talk me into these stupid things?” He took off his black T-shirt and dunked it into the seawater lapping against the yellow and orange rubber of the lifeboat. "I could be home right now in my garden."
Vegard glanced up from the lifeboat’s bright orange emergency bag and frowned at his younger brother. “You can’t blame this on me.”
Bård squeezed the water out of the shirt and laid it over his head. He peeked out and his blue eyes caught the sparkling light reflected from the dawn. “I’m going to get sunburned if we're out here all day. For once I wish I were a Turk like you.”
Vegard smiled, his white teeth a striking contrast to his tanned skin, dark brown eyes and the loose jet-black curls of his hair. “You’ll be okay, Bård. If I were worried, Calle would be the one I’d be worried about. He’s so pale he’s almost transparent.”
Calle grunted from beneath his own shirt and gave Vegard the finger. “If I die of sunstroke it’s on you.”
Vegard squinted at the sun and then back at the emergency beacon. “I don’t think you’ll get sunstroke this early in the morning. Let me be sure this transponder is activated and we’ll unfurl the canopy.”
Bård looked at Calle. “How can he be so calm?”
Calle shrugged. “He’s happy when he’s prepared.”
“Actually I’m surprised he isn’t giggling. Look at all the gadgets he can play with now.”
"The situation will inevitably lead to an embarrassing gadget boner."
Vegard smiled but muttered, “I can hear you, you know. I’m right here.”
Bård asked, "How do you know how to work all that stuff anyway? Or are you just faking it?"
Vegard reached to his side and held up a laminated sheet. "Instructions." He put the sheet down and turned the beacon over again.
Bård sighed and looked around at the empty horizon. “Where do you think the others are?”
Vegard shook his head, frowning. They’d scheduled a week long June trip to Tokyo for a segment for their show. They'd had an interesting week showcasing some of the weirder entertainments to be found in Japan and their host, a Mr. Hirata, had arranged for a short cruise south along the coast. Last night was supposed to be their last night in Japan and their crew and their sidekick Magnus had elected to return to Tokyo for a final night of karaoke and drinking. Calle and the brothers had taken up Mr. Hirata’s offer for a night cruise on his 90-foot yacht. Vegard had been eager to learn about the workings of the ship and had spent the first few hours badgering the small crew about details of the boat. Later he'd joined Bård and Calle on the open deck and they’d relaxed under the clear night sky drinking sake with their host.
It had been around 3 am local time when a strange bright blue light had appeared in the water off the port side. Mr. Hirata had been extremely alarmed at the sight and had cautioned them to put on life jackets as he’d run off to the bridge. Vegard ran for the life rafts and Bård and Calle had barely enough time to slip on their vests when their ship had been hit by a huge black wave, knocking them both overboard.
When the wave had hit, Vegard was at the starboard life raft stowage and had almost been knocked overboard as well. When the ship heaved back down he’d looked behind him, expecting his brother and Calle to have followed him. But they were gone. So he took hold of a raft valise and dove out into the water. He’d inflated the raft, lit the signaling lamp and had found Calle almost immediately. But they’d spent a frantic ten minutes looking for Bård before they finally saw his vest's light. It was lucky that the turbulence had gone as quickly as it came; Vegard didn't think they would have found Bård at all if the waters hadn't been so placid. Regardless, Vegard had been so terrified for his brother for those ten minutes that he was sure the experience had shortened his life by at least the same number of years.
The three of them spent the next two hours sitting quietly, stunned by the whole situation and isolated in the light of their raft's lamp. The night was moonless and the waters around them were dark and silent. They'd spoken only in whispers until dawn.
The most upsetting thing, however, was that the sun revealed no trace of the yacht. In the dark Vegard had thought they surely would have seen the ship’s lights, or the ship would have sounded its horn for their benefit, and so he feared the worst. The ship had disappeared as completely as the freak wave and the blue lights in the ocean. Vegard had liked the crewmen immensely, and he feared the ship went down with all hands.
Vegard reassured himself again that the emergency beacon was working and then got up to unfurl the canopy of the four-man life raft, ignoring Bård and Calle's conversation and friendly taunts. He was thankful Calle was keeping up Bård's spirits while he worked. He and Bård had been friends with Calle since they were young and Calle knew how Vegard worried about his little brother.
Vegard smiled and finished tying off the lines that tied the canopy over three-quarters of the raft's floor and then turned to see Bård and Calle both unzipping to urinate into the ocean. He immediately backed up under the canopy slammed the flaps together to shield himself. He called out, "Oi oi oi! You have to piss downwind!" Almost simultaneously the two men began vigorously cursing.
When it was safe Vegard peered out and saw both men had jumped in the water, presumably to wash off. They were hanging onto the rope fastened to the side of the raft. He frowned at them. "This isn't a party, you know. You both know better."
Calle looked up at him, grinning. "So, Father, are there sharks in these waters?"
Vegard raised a disapproving brow. "Get back in the boat and save your energy." He held out a hand to Bård and pulled him back aboard. "Now you're all wet again."
Bård flopped into the boat and slicked back his dark blond hair. "Yeah, but at least I won't die out here covered in my own piss." He turned and the two of them dragged Calle back aboard.
Calle pushed back his short platinum hair and stretched his wiry, muscled arms. He was two years older than Vegard and the tallest of the three. Which he felt meant he should probably be in charge. But the Ylvisåker brothers were both so ridiculously stubborn that he had to be devious if he ever wanted to get his way. Right now all he really wanted was a cigarette. A far distant second on his list of concerns was survival. "If I don't get a smoke in the next few hours you are welcome to kill and eat me."
The two brothers responded in English accents and in unison, "Urghhhh! With a gammy leg?"*
Calle squinted at Bård. "You two creep me out sometimes."
Bård scooted back under the canopy and peeled off his soaked khaki pants revealing neon blue briefs. He handed his trousers to his brother. "Would you dry these out for me? I'm going to take a nap."
Vegard rolled his eyes. Bård could sleep anywhere under any circumstance. It was a talent Vegard envied tremendously. "Sure. Probably best to sleep in the day; it will get pretty hot. I'll dry these out while I keep Calle from dying of nicotine craving."
Calle frowned at Bård. "Why is your underwear always so bizarre?"
"Why are you looking at my underwear?" Bård put his hands behind his head and closed his eyes. "Wake me if we get rescued. Otherwise, fuck off." He drifted almost immediately into sleep.
* * *
"Bård, Bård! Wake up."
Bård squinted into the bright light streaming through the canopy opening. "What's happening?"
Vegard shoved his now-dry shirt and pants into his hands. "Get dressed. Something strange is happening." He left and Bård struggled into his clothes.
A minute later Bård was peering out of the canopy at the dense fog surrounding the little raft. "What in hell is this?"
Calle shook his head soberly. "Don't know. We saw it coming at us like a wall and suddenly we were in it." He was shrugging into the white button-down shirt he'd been wearing when they were swept off the yacht. "Suddenly got colder too."
Vegard frowned and picked up a life vest. "You should put your life vests back on. We could hit something or get knocked over without any warning."
Bård took the proffered vest and buckled it on. "Any sign of rescue?"
Calle looked around at the fog, tapping his fingers on his thigh nervously. "We haven't seen any. A whole squadron of fighters went overhead a hour or so ago."
Vegard added enthusiastically, "I'm pretty sure they were F-15 Eagles. Very cool."
Before Vegard could answer, all three men jumped as the air was suddenly filled with a high pitched shriek. It abruptly ended, leaving them in stunned silence.
Calle whispered, "You guys heard that, right? I'm not delirious yet from nicotine withdrawal?"
Vegard put a comforting hand on Calle's shoulder. "We all heard it."
The fog suddenly cleared and they were about a half a kilometer from the shore of a volcanic island covered with lush plant life. Beyond the jungle there was a mountain or volcano peak, perhaps five kilometers in. Vegard immediately pulled out a map from the boat's supply bag and frowned up at the sky. "I must really be confused about where we are."
Bård muttered, "First time for everything." He grabbed a paddle and started making for shore.
*Quote from: The "Lifeboat" sketch, Monty Python's Flying Circus, Season 2, Episode 13, 1970.