Note: To read The Wishing Map from the beginning, click here.
The Wishing Map
Chapter Twenty-One: “Hey-fah for the Sea!” (Continued)
Previously: What could be worse than capsizing in a storm? Sea monsters!
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The dark, slick figure emerged right next to Zack and Gina, its long fin scraping the sky. Then a second creature broke the surface!
“Oh, crud!” Zack began kicking the water in front of him.
A five foot swell submerged them. That was when they saw the two whiskered muzzles with powerful tusk-like teeth—and yet there was an intelligence in the monsters’ eyes.
The sea caved in, suspending Gina and Zack above the surface for a moment, but then hove back up and recaptured them. They were being tossed like toys, but somehow managed to hold onto the edge of the boat.
“What were those?”
“I don’t know!”
“I know. They looked like they were trying to—ahhhhhhhhhhh!” The copper colored creature slid up beneath her, jerking her away from the edge of the boat, and began to glide away with her.
The larger, darker creature slid up under Zack and pulled him away from the edge as well. He tried with every muscle in his body to push away from the creature’s back, but his saturated trousers clung as if they were glued to it. Each time he managed to slide his leg up, the creature lurched, causing his leg to slam back into place. Each time he leaned backward, it bucked, causing him to fall forward onto its neck. Whatever else this thing might be, it was determined. And smart. It anticipated his moves like a chess player.
Exhausted and aching from the cold, Gina gave up fighting. Her only hope was to gather her strength and try one final escape before whatever it was the creature planned to do.
Fortunately, the creatures stayed near the surface, which, assaults from ten foot waves notwithstanding, allowed Zack and Gina to breathe. It also allowed them to nearly freeze to death, but then each separately began to notice that the slick short fur was warm, so they clung close in order to absorb as much as they could of the creatures’ body heat.
For all they knew, the monsters might be taking them to some gala human-roast. But they gradually began to believe this was not the case. Neither said anything—they were too exhausted and too fixed upon staying warm—but over the course of the next half hour, each began to believe this was a rescue, not a sacrifice.
What about Maerith and Shelcor? Had they drowned? Had they been rescued as well? And where were they now? The animals were much faster than the boat had been, and yet they were not unlike it. In fact, Zack was certain the selchie boats had been modeled after them. Their bodies were muscular and aquadynamic, their split seal tails strong and graceful; their sinuous flippers had all the flexibility of human limbs, but ten times the power. They moved as if water had been made for them, and not the other way around.
Gina had reached another conclusion: these were the animals Maerith and Shelcor’s slick hooded coats were made from. She’d been certain that the kindly fisher folk would not kill intelligent creatures, yet there was no denying that these water-repelling, heat-retaining hides were the same.
Thoughts: Have you ever had an encounter that permanently altered your perception of animals?
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