Wednesday, March 6, 2013
The Legend of the Fisherman
There once was a vast mountain range with high, snow-capped peaks and deep, fertile valleys. Flowing through one of these valleys was a wide river; and, on the shores of this wide river, a small village of straw
huts made its living fishing through net and line, pulling succulent fish from beneathe the water for trade and food.
It was a poor life, but fulfilling. Those in the village lived long, happy lives, blessed as they were by the
river and the mountain peaks that fed it.
Still, there were those who dreamed of more. One in particular, a child named William, son of Andrew, dreamed of a world where people did not wear the rough garments of his village and do the filthy work of a fisherman; a world beyond the shadows of those high peaks.
His father told him that everyone dreamed of such things; that this would pass in time. During long days on their small craft he would speak of the virtues of patience and extol on the value of order.
This time did not come to pass. As the years flew by, he wanted more and more to leave for what he considered a better place; but like all others in the village, he was bound to the river; and, also like his neighbors, he knew of no other way to live.
And so, he bided his time.
His opportunity came as a young man. One day, while out fishing, he pulled a very small fish up from the river. He began to throw ir back; but he noticed a slight glow about it, an unusual coloration to its pale-blue scales. Recalling old tales of spirits from his distant youth, he decided to keep it. He took it home and put it in a small, wooden bowl, hidden in a cabinet where no one else would think to look.
Every night the fisherman would open the cabinet, look at the fish, and demand a wish; every day, the fishermen would go fishing and bring back less and less.
Soon, they brought no fish at all.
It wasn't long before Andrew's yelling brought the attention of a wife and a screaming child, just woken
from a night's sleep. When they saw what he was yelling at, they knew what he had done and demanded the fish be placed back in the river.
But it was too late. The spirit being placed in the river would not replenish the fish; for there was something
else, something deeply wrong with the balance of that lost river.
The next night, a light appeared over the river, hovering over it like the full moon. Those who saw it were drawn to it; and those who were drawn to the river never came back.
Andrew knew what had to be done. One night, when his wife and child were asleep, he grabbed a spear from beside the curtain that served as a door in their hut, and walked out to the shore where their boat waited, careful not to look at that bobbing white light. He put his rod in the water and shoved off, never looking back at his home for fear that he may lose the strength to do what needed done.
At last, he looked at the light, steering toward it as instinct guided him to do. Approaching closer and closer,
he saw what had happened to the fish and the villagers.
The light hung from a tendril sticking out between two beady eyes like a fleshy horn. Its mouth took over
half its body, filled with teeth that stuck out as spikes,as tall as he. It reared its head, striking forth on a neck that seemed as long as the river, disappearing into the dark depths of the starlit water, striking the boat and shattering it into splinters, sending the young fisherman into the water and breaking his contact with the lure.
The creature struck again, sending a wake forth from its jaws and pushing him away before opening its maw, the water rushing in, drawing him in as he frantically swam against the current, to no avail. As it snapped closed he grabbed frantically for something; anything.
His hand happened upon a broken fishing pole, lit by the light of the lure as the teeth closed in front of him. He cast wildly, the line getting trapped between those monstrous spikes.
Inside that cavern, he laid still and contemplated, feeling it move and afraid to move himself. He reached down to his wist, grabbing the small knife at his waist, and did something the that he considered incredibly
He thrust up, into the palate.
He could feel the thrashing of the beast, and the rush as he was thrashed with every whip of that giant head, the sharp knife cutting deeper and deeper into the roof of its mouth, eventually flinging out and falling for what seemed like an eternity before hitting the stinging water. Stunned, he only opened his eyes when he heard the screaming.
The creature had reared up on its long neck and was beginning to attack the town itself, large, stumpy legs
resting on the shore. It stretched forth, snatching one villager up at a time, angered by him and his willfulness.
He began swimming, going toward the screams and the sounds of crunching wood and stomping feet. He scrambled up the back of the beast, unsure of what to do, finding handholds along its spined back and scales.
When he reached the top of the beast, he clung, flat on its head as his hands grasped the eye ridges. Unsure of what to do, they say something happened in that moment: a strange kind of calm settled over him as he stood up, walked to the center of the beasts head, ignoring its thrashing, and cut the lure from its head.
To this day, that fishing village still stands and is known for the quality of its trade, and the quantity of fish in its river, with their strange diversity.
On the longest dock, in the center, a strange lamp glows atop a fleshy pole. These words are written on a monument at the head of that pier, and legend has it that on nights when the moon is full, you can see a small,
luminous fish swimming lazilly in the river...
...And, below it, a large, baleful, ridged eye.
I wrote this, purposefully, without dialogue. These old tales rarely have a lot of dialogue. It was a challenge.
This will be getting re-written, eventually; and it is backed up. There will be details added, and chances are, it will be much longer by the time it gets done.
There is a lot more story to be had here.