In the Sea

First Part of the Story

Second Part here

The place was swarming with people and life, when he went ashore. The wooden docks were full of fishing ships, sailing boats, food stands and the smell of marine salt. The ocean roared of hunger but the sound of the waves was covered by the bustle. The market discussions, the scent of fresh fish and the sun beams that fell strongly.

He must be around thirty and he hasn’t had eight full hours of sleep throughout the trip. He left the intercontinental ship behind and he lost himself in the crowd. He was carrying a heavy suitcase full of rocks and hidden gods in his clothes. They were memories of lost and forgotten religions, but that is what the traffic was about: it doesn’t matter how forgotten it is it’s well paid whatever is rare and old.

He stopped in a food stand, the owner gave him a strange look to the man who was wearing an overcoat on summer, and he continued his way. He left the port and entered into the city, which stank of people, of relaxed tourist, of smog produced by the cars and of rust of old signs, streets with continuous movement. He walked until the town’s centre was far away and he interned into a dark passage. He knocked the door, he left his overcoat and he walked away lighter and calmer.

Only when he arrived home was when he noticed that one of the gods had refused his original purpose and it was resting careless in his pocket. He thought about returning it but he lost himself looking at the shape of the god, its face with lost glance, its mouth in a big smile, the body carved in complicated patrons, the aquamarine colour of the malachite stone. He smiled and let it rest on his nightstand. It didn’t take him long to fall asleep.

He woke up two days later. Someone was knocking the door while calling his name hoarsely.

-Open the door! You promised me to pay the rent. I took care of your flat, do you remember? – He dragged himself out of bed with a sloppy body and opened the door –You look pretty bad- The other character reacted.

His hair was a mess and the eye bags were deep in his pale skin. He lent him the money and closed the door after he groaned some complex sentences. He had slept thirty hours; it was hard to adjust to this. But the sleep had been refreshing, constant and deep, he felt like he floated on the dark empty space.

He looked through the window. At the horizon he could see the sea and if he concentrated enough he could imagine the sound of the waves in the coast, the laugh of a child that jumps them in the shore, the scream of a man and a woman while they are being dragged by the current. But nothing of that really mattered, the man turned his back and went out the room. The god smiled at him from the nightstand.

 

The fisherman was humming a song that morning. It wasn’t still dawn, but the sky had this light of the sun that was just about to rise. He waved to his co-worker who was at the other side of the docks and he walked through the house-boats where you could see some people sleeping through the windows. The morning had this kind of beautiful aroma that relaxed him and predicted him a good day.

He got in his own boat; he arranged the bait and the nets. The catch was so plentiful these last few days that he could imagine himself coming back at midday with a full boat. He started the motor and sailed offshore. It was in that moment when he heard that strange sound. Well, it wasn’t exactly strange but it had something that didn’t fit in it.

Without stopping, he looked around and everything he could see was sea and more sea. Not even a drop of fresh water. The noise became stronger and clearer, and he put his head out the border. Below him, the sea water was nothing more than a starless black pit. He gasped when his co-worker made his own boat bell rang. The boat engines stopped; drown and overheated; the coastline looked like a fine thread in the distance. He sailed too far away, too much for what his boat could bear.

An unexpected multitude started to gather in the dock, attracted by the shouts and sirens. The fisherman made some flag signals, everything was okay. He could fish and he could fix the engine, that wasn’t a problem.

-I shouldn’t have been so distracted- He complained to himself while he arranged his tools and threw the bait into the water.

-I shouldn’t have been so distracted – He complained to himself while he arranged his tools and threw the bait into the water.

The noise came back even louder, closer, and a cold chill went through his spine. He leaned out the boat again and his eyes were not lying him. The sea was pitch black, like he was floating in the space. Neither stars nor the just awaken sun were reflected on it and suddenly the man felt the need to escape to the coast. But the voice was calling him and it was something irresistible about it. He took his shoes of and the stood up on the border of the ship.

And from far away the crowd watched how the shadow, not much bigger than a thumb, jumped and disappeared, swallowed by the water.

 

The news has no feet, it has wings, and it was printed on the newspapers by midday. The man looked at the paper while he put the milk box and some vegetables on the counter. He thought it was curious; they shouldn’t put a suicide case on the front page.

-Have you seen that? – The store manager asked –My wife knew him. He was a normal person, without problems, as common as you and me. And some morning he goes and let himself drown at sea. Simply madness-

He left the money on the counter and greeted.

It was just a few steps later when he realised there was something odd in the street that he had just returned. To get started, it was empty. The road was completely empty, of tourists, of inhabitants, and of cars, only covered by a thick layer of sea salt. The buildings looked at him like hollow giants about to fall over him, white and burned by solar light, eaten to the marrow by the salt that worked from the inside like a termite cemetery.

The white landscape was burning his eyesight.

He recovered consciousness when he felt a violent shake on his shoulder. The sound slipped into his ear, the constant murmur of people, the sudden brake of some unaware wheels, and the barks of the dogs. He turned around to meet the face of the store manager that looked at him with black eyes, like two holes in the darkness.

-Hey! Are you okay, man? You stood there for ten minutes-

He got rid of the hand and nodded heavily.

-Everything is alright- He slunk off into a group of people. The middle-aged man didn’t come back to work without saying something about the drug problem that it seemed to attack the city.

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