This is the first part of a story based closely on a dream I had last week which I’ve been writing up for my morning pages – I’m tidying it a bit and putting it up in roughly 600 word chunks. Enjoy!
Tales of the Ultrashark had drawn us to the tiny port town of Mongolith which lies on the tip of the Northern continent where it projects into the steamy waters of the Aberrian sea. The town was the link to the popular Holiday Archipelago which sprouted in a chain of beautiful tiny islands dotted with hotels, chalets and beach camps. Fear of the Ultrashark had kept us on the mainland for days, like the holiday-makers not already in their bathing suits on the islands. No one wanted to take us across the water with a genuine sea monster on the loose, indeed there was much grumbling from those whose vacations were being spoiled. Instead we absorbed the local gossip, examined the remnants of boats and the terrifying images captured of the creature.
That it was real we had absolutely no doubt. Dozens of small fishing craft had disappeared, as had the larger fish. Until the town finally prohibited swimming there was a steady stream of fatalities. The clearest picture of it, taken by a man on a fleeing vessel, showed a huge maw chomping through the hull and cabin of a fishing boat. We were eager to get closer to it, but still no amount of money (what little we could afford in bribes) would take us to sea. Of course, if we’d still had the university’s research ship we would have been out there already. But the Spirit of Inquiry lay in pieces at the bottom of the Invex Gulf. The creature was disappointingly elusive and we suspected it was prowling the (belatedly) safety conscious waters between the islands.
After six days of frustrated pacing of the beach and half-glimpsed fins our search was ended. A fisherman was found suffering from an hysterical fit. The constables followed his footsteps back down the beach and discovered the decapitated head of a gigantic shark specimen. They assumed it had been washed up with the morning tide. I mused that the enormous head – with a mouth wide enough to drive an omnibus through without scraping the roof on the cleaver-like teeth – had been tossed up the beach, since it lay some fifty feet beyond the tide’s reach. The fierce predator’s head had been severed by something even larger. The brief relief that its death brought was overshadowed by a very real fear of whatever had pushed it down the food chain. There was little doubt that this would be quite bad for the tourist industry, but for us this was gold. We took our measurements and records before the locals whisked the evidence away and transformed it into a gruesome tourist attraction.
We determined to charter a flight instead which could put us in the heart of the fragmented peninsula. Finding a suitable pilot and plane was difficult: you see, I travel always with my two companions, they are friends and colleagues from the university. The first, Harvey is a giant sentient millipede from the Southern Continent (professor of Diverse Biology) and the second is Maxwell, my black and white cat. Cramming the three of us in is often a challenge, though I admit that Maxwell is not the one who presents the problems. Our former aircraft (its lifespan was sadly too short to achieve a christening) had been destroyed while we escaped from the Bitter Forest. As with the Spirit, our employers had been lax in its replacement. Maxwell successfully found us an alternative, a somewhat reluctant gentleman predictably named Bob, whose aquaplane had sufficient space for Harvey to coil within.
Part 2 coming soon….