Jack found a tiny hook by the edge of a small pond. Tying a piece of string to its end, he threw it into the water and in short order, the pond offered him a fish. Impressed, Jack bought up a hundred tiny hooks and threw them into the pond. Not a single fish was caught. Puzzled, he asked the captive fish why the others didn’t bite. The fish replied that its siblings were young and haven’t yet lived out their lives. Not believing the fish, Jack bought a large hook and rowed out to the center of the pond. As soon as he dropped the line, three rows of giant teeth sprang from the depths and swallowed him and the boat whole.
Entry to this week’s 3LineTales! Image courtesy of Inma Ibanez.
Sumptuous red. O you sweet little thing.
All eyes drawn with carnivorous intent.
But the trick’s on them.
Scribbles and scrawls. Sado’e journal deteriorated with each passing week. Three days he wrote, without sleep nor rest, switching hands every hour to ease the paralyzing grasp of the pen. Candlelight flickered with dire urgency as time withdrew its loan and his bargain turned treacherous.
Clairvoyance, the reward for his “deeds”, had a price for it promised no remembrance. Only fragments he could record in a journal, and always in a form removed from the immediate percept. The advantage however remained great as portents turned futures were capitalized with the ruthless efficiency of unfettered ambition. Visions of his enemies gave him preternatural initiative. Images of fame and fortune became self-fulfilling. The voices of revelation commanded obedience.
But alas, all such powers ultimately turn on their wielders. Years flew by into old age until a singular harbinger appeared before him. The date of his death he witnessed but only the circumstances he recorded. Gruesome was the depiction accompanied by an unspeakable terror. Again and again, he would return to the harbinger, begging it to reveal more of his fate. The pen however would only scribble and scrawl.
“But no one approaches The Lagoon by broadside. Four tiers of guns, two hundred in all. Furnishes holes in both ships and coastlines. It is suicide!”
“She’s a formidable Galley. Fended off five sloops one time and they were no small fish. Now I hear rumors of Spanish gold. A quarter of the King’s vault emptied.”
“A quarter! And you suppose she’s fetching the full haul. What a mighty weight to bear!“
“Too much weight me thinks… Less she plans the crew to push. Would probably still see port by day’s end.”
“How much did she shed? A hundred tons? Two hundred?”
“More. Probably had to toss the essentials. Food, water, and … guns.”
“Guns? We counted the two hundred this eventide.”
“Aye, guns for show. Who points a gun in both rain and shine?”
Clark heard a whisper in his right ear. He had been climbing the rock-face of the Yosemite for seven days straight, hardly getting any sleep under the mountain’s shadow. With his head turned, he heard another whisper, this time from his left and a bit more coherent.
“Turn back. This is not your time.”
The mountain then rumbled as several loose rocks tumbled down the cliff side.
“No!” Clark hissed. “Not after that wench left me!”
A jostle of voices now rang between his two ears, almost making him convulse under the strain of his weight. He gasped for breath as sweat evaporated off his forehead. Then he heard it. Her voice rang from up above, beckoning him to come in jest.
Anger seethed from every pore as he tore his pickaxe into the overhanging rock. The mountain however would have none of it. The pickaxe broke off a piece that sent both Clark and the rock-face rolling. When the dust had settled, the tears of rage were no more. They found their peace in the murmurs of the cold-water stream below.
Joey hung onto the cliff’s edge. Hurricane gusts threatened to blow him right off the mountain like a bad sneeze. His hands started to numb as snow and sleet peppered him from three sides. To top it off, a pack of wolves on the ground below howled for his downfall, eager to break the winter doldrums with some entertainment. Joey had enough. He took off the virtual reality headset and directed his voice at the coordinator.
“I’m not totally convinced. I can see the desolate mountainscape, taste the ice and cold frost on my tongue, and hear those damn wolves jeering at me. Even my hands are a bit sore from gripping those controllers. But… I don’t feel my life is in danger or really on the line.”
The coordinator listened and then pointed to a mirror lying on the ground. Joey gasped when he saw his own reflection. The headset was still on his face.
The fishing line yanked far to the right. “Looks like we got a live one Jimmy! There she goes!”
“Careful with the reel Buzz. The line could snap if you’re too quick with the handle.”
“I know I know! But at this rate, the spool is going to run out. Lemme add a bit of resistance.” Suddenly, the reel stopped spinning. Jimmy and Buzz stared at the slack line for about a minute. The sound of ocean waves sloshing against the dinghy’s stern filled the silence.
“Crap, you think the bait came out? I thought they swallow these things whole like babies with candy.”
“Just reel it in slowly. Don’t want to startle it.”
After several minutes of winding, the end of the line resurfaced. Jimmy and Buzz jerked backwards in shock of what they had caught… A human skull dangled from the ends of the fishing pole. Wedged between its jaws and teeth, the silver-dollar lure remained intact.