1. Lemex

    Lemex That's Lord Lemex to you. Contributor

    Oct 2, 2007
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    Northeast England

    Contest Winner! Winner of Short Story Contest 139, step forward! Theme: Fish

    Discussion in 'Monthly Short Story Contest Archives' started by Lemex, Aug 25, 2013.

    Well done winner, whoever you are, PM me the theme for the next one and let's get this show on the road! - Lemex


    “Don’t be a chicken, Larry.”

    “I’m not,” Larry replied.

    “Well then get in the water already.”

    Larry turned to Stu. They were standing on a dock that poked into the Ottawa River. “How about you get in, since you’re so eager and all.”

    Stu sneered, but underneath the roll of his eyes, Larry saw unease. “Fine,” he said. “That’s the job of big brothers anyway. Show their little baby brothers how it’s done.”

    “Oh, screw off,” said Larry.

    “Laramie . . .”

    Larry turned around and rolled his eyes. He knew Stu would be leering at him. He looked over. Stu was leering at him. Larry shot Stu a dirty look, which made Stu’s leer grow into a grin. “I’m going in now,” Stu said, “I actually have some balls.”

    “Stewart!” cried his mother, lowering her sunglasses.

    But it was too late for any reprimanding. There was a big splash, a ripple across the glassy, indigo water, and then Stu’s head resurfaced. Larry could see Stu’s arms and legs flashing and shimmering as he tread water. “Come on, chicken-boy!”

    Larry rolled his eyes but smiled and then jumped in. He saw Quebec, on the far side of the river, then he was eye-level with his raft, and then, just as he heard the splash, and felt the cold water swallow his body, he shut his eyes, and there was nothing but a buoyant blackness. Bubbles fizzed by him. He resurfaced and took a deep breath.

    “See, not so bad,” said Stu, who was doing backstroke.

    Larry saw his brother and grinned, and he felt love stir within him. Even though they squabbled, and sometimes sulked away from one other, all pique and pouts, they were siblings, sharing the same naive perspective of reality, and any conflict didn’t take long to defuse.

    “You know,” Stu said, grinning impishly, his eyes shifting side to side, “I hear that down in Constance’s Bay, last week, one of those fishermen caught a sturgeon!”

    “What’s a sturgeon?” Larry asked. Whatever it was, he didn’t like the sound of it. It made him think of a programme he had seen on Discovery Channel, Monsters of the Ancient Deep, which had shown the basilosaurus, a fifty to eight-five foot long ancestor of the whale, save it had been sinuous and reptilian. Larry, just for a moment, imagined one of those twisting through the water, its brown eyes blazing, its snout full of jagged teeth.

    “They’re these really big, really ancient fish,” Stu said, his eyes dancing. “They can be up to fourteen feet long, and--”

    “Oh, shut up!” Larry said. “I’m going to the raft. Screw you.”

    “Laramie, I just thought I’d inform you that sound waves travel especially well over water,” said his mother, not looking up from her Cosmopolitan. Concealing her face, some sexy starlet with glossy lips was promising to reveal twenty-six sex secrets to drive your man wild. Larry thought of his parents doing it -- squeak squeak squeak -- and shuddered.

    “They said it took three guys to haul it up,” said Stu. “And that when they finally drug it out of the water, one guy nearly lost his finger.”

    Larry scowled at Stu, who giggled, and then Larry began swimming to the raft. As he drew nearer to the bed of wooden planks resting on two pontoons, he gazed over it at the Quebec mountainside, a sweep of green and blue, and behind that, the setting sun, spilling across the water, making it peachy and orange and

    -- bloody --

    -- no, stop it, it’s not bloody --


    “And apparently, that guy who owns that convenience store,” Stu called, “he said that it was a girl sturgeon, and that it’d just birthed a bunch of babies, and he said those things grow fast, and that when their mom’s not around, they get really mean against humans!”

    Larry shouted back, “That’s bullshit! Fish aren’t smart enough to get mad at us!”

    “Laramie, watch your tongue or you’ll--”

    Larry’s foot brushed against something.

    He shrieked, and started thrashing. “Oh my God oh my God,” he squealed, slapping the water, peering down and seeing nothing but the gradient’s gradual shift from visibility to an opaque green. “Something stroked me! Some fish hit my foot!”

    Stu was cackling, and Larry’s mother was on the dock. “Stu, get out of the water, and Larry, it was nothing, baby, it was just seaweed.”

    But Larry was already clambering onto the raft.

    “Mom,” Stu whined, “why?”

    “Because you’re being a horror to your brother. Now go upstairs and help you father prepare for dinner.”

    “But mom--”

    “Stuart,” she said, sliding her sunglasses down her nose. “Now.”

    He muttered and started frontcrawling towards shore.

    Larry sat shivering on the raft, staring into the murky water. Surely there was nothing down there, save maybe some catfish and bass, and at worse a pike or a muskellunge, and even those weren’t anything to be afraid of. Larry started to feel silly, and couldn’t help but simper. And he probably hadn’t even touched a fish -- it had to have been seaweed, like his mom said, if it had been anything at all -- didn’t his kicks sometimes cause the water to swirl around and brush against his foot?

    “Baby,” Larry heard his mother say, and he looked up. She was watching him. “Are you okay?”

    “Yeah, mom,” he said. “I just got a little freaked out is all.”

    “Well don’t listen to Stuart, he’s just trying to scare you.”

    “Yeah. He always does.”

    His mother smiled. “Well just ignore him, honey.”

    Larry stayed on the raft a while longer, not afraid anymore. The Ottawa River had cast its soporific spell on him, as it had so many other times, and now he was relaxed, his feet in the water, listening to the calls of birds . . . the occasional splash of a jumping fish . . . the rustle of trees. He smiled, and slid into the water. It was cool, and inviting. He began to swim back towards the dock, and as he did, he thought about what he and his family might do that night. Would they have a fire, and gaze at the stars? Or would they curl in front of the small television and watch some cheesy action movie? He didn’t know, but he decided that having choices like that to make was a good kind of problem.

    And as he laid his hands on the dock, he smiled to himself. Nothing had touched his foot. There was no scary basilosaurus lurking in the depths. He pulled himself onto the dock, grabbed a towel, and started drying off.

    “So mom, when did dad say dinner would be ready?” Larry asked, already beginning to feel a little peckish. Just because I’m a young growing boy, he thought, and giggled.

    But his mother didn’t answer.

    Larry dried his hair, swaddling the towel round his head and scrubbing.

    “Mom?” he asked.

    She remained motionless, face lost behind the Cosmopolitan.

    “Mom? Hey, mom?”

    He took a step forward. Suddenly Larry didn’t feel peckish anymore, nor did the prospect of him being a growing young boy make him giggle. It had become too quiet, and too still. He became very aware of the vast expanse of the Ottawa River, now dyed

    -- bloody --

    -- no, stop it, it’s not bloody --

    crimson, the peach and orange faded away, and . . . and why wouldn’t his mother answer him?

    “Mom!” he said, but still, nothing.

    He walked forward and reached out and put his fingertips on the magazine. He lowered it, slowly. He saw her sunhat. He lowered it more.

    His eyes widened. So shrill his screams were, and so loud, they echoed all the way to Constance’s Bay.
    After all, sound waves travel especially well over water.
  2. JJ_Maxx

    JJ_Maxx Banned

    Oct 8, 2012
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    @Lemex - it's been almost a week, is there going to be a new contest?
  3. Lemex

    Lemex That's Lord Lemex to you. Contributor

    Oct 2, 2007
    Likes Received:
    Northeast England
    I'm putting the contest on hold for this fortnight: to better lubricate the transition between my handling of it and the next master. They have been picked, and they know who they are. There is method in my madness, and madness in my method. :)
    mbinks89 and JJ_Maxx like this.

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