Collaborative speculative fiction part 4 is the last photo prompt for our shared story. Below is the last contribution from last week and my addition for this week. To read all parts of the story, click here. On July 11, I’ll post the entire story. If you haven’t played yet, please feel free to add your inspiration to the the story in the comments.
The creature glided toward the light, its long body leaving a slow wake. My jaw open, I watched it too. Then a gentle splash to my left caught my attention. I stared for a minute and then realized that a second creature like the first was making its way toward the light. I quickly looked between the two animals, and then glanced back at the distant light. Clearly I had been forgotten by the enormous and mysterious creature. Had I also been forgotten by the hurt people back in my house? Now that I wasn’t about to be torn apart by teeth the size of my arm, I had a chance to go back and apologize. I blew out my cheeks, dropped my head, and took two steps toward home. Another thought crossed my mind. Now that I wasn’t about to be torn apart by teeth the size of my arm, I also had the chance to find out what that animal was. And who the person with the light was. And what they were doing. I looked back to the light and counted four distinct swells with tails cutting through the water. I turned my face toward home and heard the door slam. That was enough to make up my mind.
I strode down the pier, the only sound the slapping of those tails and a gulping sound. Through the mist, I saw a white head illuminated by a lantern. The elderly person was pitching something from a garbage can seated on a dolly.
I had the strangest feeling I was interrupting something but cleared my throat.
The person whirled to me, an old man, his face seamed from age and weather. “What’re you doin’ out on a night like this?”
“I-I-I–who are your…pets?”
His eyes narrowed. “You’ve seen the animals?”
“Yes.” I stepped closer, and the stench from the garbage can pushed me back.
“And you didn’t run away?”
I decided to be honest. “I thought one was going to eat me, but then it swam out here to your light.”
“Ain’t my light.” He dug a short shovel into the garbage can and heaved the stinking meat into the sea. “They smell the rotten fish. They can smell it on still nights.”
A thousand questions swirled in my mind like the mist. As I was trying to choose one, the old man stiffened. “That shouldn’t be on the water at this time of year.”
I peered at the sea. The boat that took tourists on pirate cruises in the summer chugged toward the pier.
The old man rummaged through items in a box beside the garbage can. “It’s gettin’ so’s a man can’t have any peace with a few friends any more.”
My eyes focused on a gun in his hand, so I took a slow step backward. “Y- you’re going to shoot the pirate cruise ship?”
His dark eyebrows lowered. “Course not. Ya’ think I want me AND the boys to wind up behind bars?” He took aim at the water and I heard a pop, not as loud as I braced myself for. “I just shoot a pellet into the water, in the direction of danger. Just enough to warn the boys without drawing attention.” Immediately the animals changed direction and turned toward the open sea.
“They’re all males in this pod. Won’t join the ladies until next month. Then I don’t see of ’em for awhile.”
Pod? So are they some type of whale? Afraid that question was too stupid to ask out loud, I asked another question, a safer question. “So are you a researcher?”
A throaty chuckle rumbled out of the mysterious man as he propped the shovel back in his nasty garbage can. He grabbed the handles of the dolly and looked at me with dark, serious eyes. “No. And you best not mention any of this to anyone.”
He wheeled the dolly two steps when a beam of light landed on him. “POLICE! STOP! You too!” Another light blinded me.