What lurks under the water should by treated with caution, but what danger lies above?
Are you being too productive with your time? Then read this!
The quiet seaside town of Ennisstopia hung listlessly under the mid-afternoon summer sun. If the townspeople weren’t still sleeping they were elsewhere, absentmindedly bustling through the nearest business district, trying to earn a modest wage and do something with their valuable time. The three large men on the St Lathouras jetty slumped lazily in their camp chairs. Two of them occupied themselves by chatting the day away about cars, beer and women. The third one was not saying much at all.
The jetty was grey and splintery. Along with being decorated with old rubber car tyres, it was coated with a thick layer of black sand. Fetid seaweed was strewn across the rocky seaside beneath the tangle of gangly trees. A row of fine, strongly coloured rural houses sat behind them and the worn gravel streets were devoid of life. The warm day was quiet, aside from the chirping of birds and the sloshing of water. From where they sat they could see all around the bay at the white sand, small grey hills, houses along the water and the rickety bridges over the creeks.
John Warford was a beast of a man, with skin as white as a pearl, sandy blonde hair and eyes as blue as the sea. Despite his size, he was fragile and often victimised, though he had an unhealthy talent for internalising his anger. A lifelong friend of Michael and Hubert, he was quiet and kept much of his life private. Nonetheless, he sat around with his companions every time they gathered, silently watching their conversations and only speaking in riddles to mystify those around him.
Hubert Hibbert was a thin, 6’7” smooth-talker. Sporting a green suit and a purple comb-over, he nursed a harmless drinking habit. He was rather charitable, yet seemed to frighten the townspeople and the orphans by the irregular brown mole on his iris, his tiny baby ears, hairy nose and penis stench.
Michael Stanton was a fisherman, which brought him out to the jetty this Tuesday. He was a taut, firmly built black man, with a crisp, deep speaking voice and a heavenly baritone singing voice. Once his bait was gone he would always pull out his ukulele and play until his fingers stung, smoothly singing old classics that they never played on the radio anymore such as Somewhere over the Rainbow and Tiptoe Through the Tulips.
“Aw shit son, gonna catch me up some grub! Yeah boy,” Michael grinned, reeling in his spastic line and flicking water up on to the jetty. After a long, epic battle of legends he reeled in a beautiful adult scale king fish, “I got my dinner tonight son. She’s the beautiest kingy, baby girl.”
“That’s a flathead,” Hubert piped, his chair squeaking beneath his thin frame.
“Hell no,” Michael rolled his eyes condescendingly, “Shit, you must get the willies up you.”
“I don’t know what you said, but that’s a flathead. See, it’s all silver and shiny.”
“Gee, it ain’t got no flat head you turkey. Look at this shit!” Michael grumbled, squeezing the fish’s head between his fingers and wobbling it about.
“Well what do you think, John?” Hubert spun to face John, his hands on his hips.
John lowered his head gingerly and seemed to reply in a hushed feeble whisper.
“Pardon me?” Hubert leaned in to hear him better.
“It’s a secret,” John wheezed, placing his left palm next to his mouth to accentuate his voice.
“John, you have got to be the most useless waste of space in the world. I don’t even know what you still come here for,” Hubert caved, “Look, you don’t know anything. I’m a genius; I studied for three years at the Ennisstopia sanatorium. I’m so sure that’s a flathead, God strike me down if it isn’t.”
At that, a vast grey shape rose from behind them. As a tidal wave of water slashed over them, Hubert was clutched around the waist in a pair of mighty, man-sized jaws. The shark landed with a crunch on the jetty, making the wood buckle and crack.
“Aw hell no!” Michael cried over Hubert’s screams. Grasping on for dear life, the world turned and span around them until the end of the jetty collapsed into the water, with the only thing keeping it afloat being the tyres underneath. The smell of iron filled Michael’s nose and the end of the jetty rocked violently on the ocean.
Once the water was done fading from red to blue, the makeshift barge floated into the middle of the bay. The sun began to set and John and Michael stayed where they were; Michael unable to swim and John appearing paler than usual. John’s hands shook uncontrollably as he finally sat, cross legged on the barge, never taking his eyes off the shark while it swam and swam around and around the barge. The menacing fin cut through the thick air like a cleaver.
The sun moved across the sky until it was directly above the two, burning their skin. Michael sat and sang the day away, his voice quivering and pitchy. As he strummed the final notes to Wrecking Ball, the grey shape once again splashed from the ocean, clasping around him and dragging him backwards off the barge. All John could do was grab the chair and save it as Michael screamed and roared while punching at the shark’s lifeless eyes. Soon the struggle was over.
A dead silence filled the air. The water slowly faded back to blue, and the barge seemed to rock slowly. The whole world went quiet and an explosion of adrenaline resonated within John. He began gasping for air.
Minutes later, the shape slowly emerged, its head just outside the water; the black teddy bear eyes directly on John. John let out a sigh and knelt down beside the barge, gazing intently into the shark’s eyes. He stroked his hand tenderly along the beast’s back.
“My secret,” he smiled, taking off his shirt and slipping into the calm water. After he climbed atop the shark he pressed a hidden button beneath one of the gills. The shark buzzed and the gears inside it cranked. The end of the tail deployed and a jet of fire burst from the end. The shark flew from the water and John, on its back, screamed with joy. His mission was done and he and his robot partner were free to live their lives in the soulful embrace of the world of romance, flying towards the sunset forever.