Thursday, 6 December 2007


She gripped the rail. She could not think about letting go the rail. The sea thrashed and quaked like the end of the world. She held on for her very life. The deck would tip alarmingly, and heave back, and forward again; and she would grimace and nod. He was still talking. She struggled to pay attention to him. To pay him attention. She had to bear in mind. He was telling her she had to bear in mind.

‘Bear,' he yelled. 'In mind—is—they’re—not,’ and he jabbed a thumb at his own brow, tapping the forehead between his straggleweedy eyebrows, ‘thinking beings. Not like humans.’ And the deck angled angrily, and both his hands went back to the rail to steady himself.

'You say so,' she shouted, trying to make herself heard above the cacophony. She had no idea if he could hear her.

His hands, clasping the deckrail, were blue and white. The sea blew torrent after torrent of spray over him, over them both, like clouds of wet sparks. Foam sloshed across the deck and sucked out through the drainholes.

Away below them both down the metal cliff-face of the ship, where the waves frenzied, she could see the winches tightening the net’s mouth. Within, shrieking so piercingly that it could be heard even over the boisterous noise of the winds, was a crowd of seapeople; a mass of them. A clutch of them. They tangled together, clasping one another, struggling, a confusion of arms and faces and scaled muscle; of slick white skin; of muscular grey and purple and black tails.

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