Deal 1296: Fishy

As the play says, “there’s something fishy in Denmark”.

Perhaps only metaphorically, of course.

Probably as long as humans have been catching fish, their slippery nature has been emblematic of the elusive. We have always had stories of the one that got away, and tall tales of the ones that caught but for various reasons never shown to a reliable witness.

The I almost caught fish was huge, no matter how you measured it. And huge fish are old fish, and old fish are clever fish. At least clever as fish go.

But even an old clever monster of a fish can get played.

Playing this one took the right lure, of course. None of those fancy store-bought expensive things, either. Just an old spoon tied to the line so that it wiggled in the current, with a cork to keep it from sinking too fast. Dipped the cork into some dark rum too, but that may have been an accident. It was the second bottle of rum last night, and my memory is a little fuzzy.

So there I was, hung over the transom, and hung over too. Hung over the transom trying to untangle my line from the tiller after being hung over from the rum that I might have mentioned earlier. While delicately balanced, that is when the old bugger struck the spoon.

Yanked the line right out of my hands.

Or would have done, if my hands weren’t somehow both through loops collected while trying to untangle the tiller.

Next thing I know, I’m in the water with the monster, and we’re heading for the falls where he knows he can dive deeply enough to try to lose me.

Strong swimmer, dragging me and the boat against the current.

And there I was, tied to the boat like a sycophant to a politician, and both of us hitched to the tail of the monster fish, having the ride of our lives.

I would have caught the monster too, if it weren’t for the other wrecks in that Sargasso sea of a fishing boat graveyard he drug me through. It cut me up some, then cut the line setting me and the boat free.

With the tension off, it only took another few minutes to get free of the tiller.

Never saw my favorite spoon again. Someday some lucky stiff is going to catch that monster and find my lucky spoon.

Maybe that will be me tomorrow!


Deal 1268: Loca

A singing fish hovers before me, silent at the moment; the last notes of Livin’ La Vida Loca are still ringing in my ears.

The fish blinks slowly, and turns as if swimming lazily. It is a rich brown shade, with bright red stripes and even brighter red lips. It glistens in the light, which seems to be coming from everywhere and nowhere at once. It just hangs there, waiting for another request. I’m afraid to ask for more.

The space I’m in is cavernous, with faintly purple walls far enough away in all directions as to not be sure which wall is closest. The ceiling, too, is far above, and shines a little like the surface of a pond on a bright summer’s day.

But this is no pond: there is no water.

There is gravity, and it feels normal enough. The floor is down, and covered in some sort of smooth, shiny, nearly black material. It has just enough texture to look like the surface of a pond on a still day. And yet again, it is not water.

This doesn’t explain the fish.

It also doesn’t explain how I came to be here.

Or why the fish has such a good singing voice and stage presence. Not to mention where the backing orchestra is hiding.

It is just a fish, and I seem to be trapped in its nightmare.


Deal 1206: Teahouse

He sipped the fragrant tea and let his mind wander.

There was a time when he couldn’t have let it go far. But he’d come a long way in his practice of tea shop meditation. He found it easier each time to let go of the present and wander more freely in other times. The past came easiest for him, as it does for most aspirants. Learning to trigger memories of future events is a more advanced skill, one that might come with time and practice.

He sipped the tea, and remembered.

He remembered a child that was always careful to get the last cookie. A young man that easily manipulated circumstances to get the better seat in class, the better seat on the train, and the first pick of the box of kittens.

Wait. That bit about the kittens wasn’t actually his own experience. He never had a kitten, it was always dogs. Wasn’t it?

He sipped the tea.

He sipped the tea and wandered into the cloudy corners of his mind.

No, he never had a kitten.

But there were fish. Endless fish. Fish with large, lidless eyes staring at him while he did his homework. Watching him as he read. Staring at him as he slept. Everywhere he looked there were fish watching.

He took a deep breath, and sipped his tea.

Eyes. There were always eyes.

And occasionally a tentacle.

He dropped the cup and hurried out of the shop. Perhaps a walk through Ipswitch would clear his mind without calling attention of any old ones…


Deal 1198: Mars?

Mars was more than met the eye. On the surface the cold, bleak, rusty, and windy landscape was a challenge for any living thing. But find the way underground, and a different picture emerges.

The air is, of course, still thin. But the temperature is usually well above freezing, and several varieties of luminescent lichens keep the tunnels lit just brightly enough to permit exploration in relative safety.

The real surprise is the vast underground sea, filled with wonderfully weird creatures.

The lighting under water is always shifting as flocks of lightbirds drift in giant schools. These are large creatures, flat triangles with brightly glowing undersides and long trailing tails. We still aren’t precisely sure what they eat, but they don’t seem to threaten anything large enough to be visible.

The water is cold by Earth’s standards, but sufficiently above freezing to permit inhabitation. And most importantly, it has enough dissolved oxygen to breathe with only a simple gill structure to extract it. The first colonies were established with unmodified stock. And since then modifications both legal and illegal have been tried that give the colonists greater freedom of movement underwater.