Sunday, August 7

Indirective

This is a work of fiction. Copyright © 2005 Rumba Creative. All Rights Reserved.
No portion of this work may be copied, retransmitted, reposted, duplicated,
or otherwise used without the express written approval of the author.

Indirective

There was but one directive. Although she could not know it, it was the overriding necessity of her mother, and her mother’s mother, and so on into the depths of time unacknowledged and unknown. One thing, and one thing only, was the point of her existence. To consume was important, to understand your shoal mates was important, to understand each rock and each phase of the sun and moon was imperative. All this she knew instinctively. Yet there was but one directive: multiply.

She wriggled through the tough eggshell that had encased her, allowing the water to carry her beneath the protection of the smooth stones in the nursery cove. She absorbed the sack from her abdomen, easing her stomach, but not her tongue. Within days, she was chasing the minute shrimp that shared her stony lake bottom. It was good to stalk them, to watch them, unaware of her presence, until her strike and the pleasant wriggling feeling in her gullet. When small crustaceans were unavailable, she feasted on the remains of her unborn brothers and sisters.

Soon her fins were strong enough to venture into the heights of the water column that splashed the suns rays into kaleidoscope patterns. With her relatives she learned to ride these shifting shadows, to hide herself and confuse her enemies. Feel the motion of your brethren! Anticipate the movement of the currents! Know your place and grow strong! Only then would she be worthy of passing on her skills to the next generation.

For months she swam, and gulped, and lived among the thousands of her kind, swirling among the shafts of light, hiding among the rocks at night, avoiding the larger of her kind, and devouring the smaller. Her strength, and those of her kind, was the mass and confusion of the shoal. It was the time of testing. It weeded out the weak, and made the strong stronger. Only the remaining few would survive to multiply, perpetuating the shoals that darkened the wide, warm lake that was their ancestral home.

On the third full moon after the warmest of the waters, the shoal began to fragment. The males who, until now, had mostly escaped her attention, left the safety of numbers and headed to shallow waters. She and her sisters migrated to the deeper, colder areas of the lake, searching out the minnows grown lazy on the free-floating algae and invertebrates blooming in the warm sun of the lake’s surface. For perhaps a half moon they gorged themselves on this field of plenty. Their appetites were insatiable, and they themselves grew fat on the tasty morsels and the unfertilized life growing within them.

On a morning bright with the receding sun, her hunger waned. For a while she and her sisters lolled in the rippling shafts. Within hours, the directive was upon them: Multiply!

With the fever of the annual cycle, they sought out the warmer shallows of the shore, reuniting with the males. She searched the submerged rocks, deadwood, and castoffs of the surface world for the perfect place. The males were dark with aggression and lust, darting at her, teasing her, locking jaws with their rivals. None would do.

In a cove shallow and warm, she saw him. The charcoal stripes on his sides and the flush in his gills were in defiance of predators. His fins rotated with confidence and vitality. His shuddering dance and caress against her scales were irresistible. The depression in the sand, surrounded by carefully placed pebbles, was perfect. The surges within her were undeniable.

In unison, they darted to toward the surface, beginning the intertwining of the mating ritual. Before the dash back to the safety of the sandy bottom, the sky fell in on her. She was hauled into a dry suffocating place where the sun burned her eyes to blindness, and her tail flailed helplessly against an insubstantial atmosphere. Caught in a nasty abrasive mesh for which she had no comparable experience, she gasped and died.

The directive to multiply would die with her.

* * * * *

“And they say unto him, ‘We have here but five loaves, and two fishes.’ He said, ‘Bring them hither to me.’ And he commanded the multitude to sit down on the grass, and took the five loaves, and the two fishes, and looking up to heaven, he blessed, and brake, and gave the loaves to his disciples, and the disciples to the multitude. And they did all eat, and were filled: and they took up of the fragments that remained twelve baskets full. And they that had eaten were about five thousand men, beside women and children.”

4 comments:

test said...

Ok, call me an idiot....the masses shout "IDIOT"...I thought she was a turtle then realzied she was a fish. Is she a trout? A bass? A kingfisher? Help? I liked it until you brought the bible stuff in...

~crazy

Kingfisher said...

Does the type of fish matter? I thought "her fins grew stronger" would clue in the reader pretty early, unless Middle East turtles have fins? Indirectly, she did multiply, just not in the way the reader expects. Hence the title "Indirective."

I purposely tried to lead the reader in a specific direction from the POV of the fish. She doesn't know she's a "fish," just that she exists. So I never mentioned "fish." It was an attempt at a trick ending, a play on words, and (ab)using a sacred belief as an example of how humans screw everything up in their arrogant self-importance.

Kingfisher said...

Sorry, CSGirl, if I sound a little acerbic. It's just my jerk nature.

I'm getting back into writing. I am learning my craft again, and its attendant critical comments. This is a good place to practice. I do appreciate your helpful criticism. Thank you.

tiff said...

KF - so so so late to the party am I, but had to comment. I was moved, and transfixed. I am stunned by the closing. Grand good work!!