There’s No Such Thing As Fish By D.I. Jolly

The first time he saw a fishing trawler pull in its catch, The Warrior thought that the ocean would run out of fish within a year. So that night, he slipped through the darkness and cut their nets, disabled their engines, and then started walking along the coast. Intent on doing the same to any other trawlers he could find.

As he walked, he started to ponder the effect it would have on the world if there were no more fish. What would his nephews eat if there we no fish? Then he countered his own argument by asking himself how would they eat that fish if there weren’t ships to catch them? Then by the time a fourth voice had joined the argument saying, was it even fair to eat something you hadn’t killed yourself? The Warrior decided that he had, perhaps, been walking for too long and had begun to stray not only from the path, but from his sanity. With the consent of the four other versions of himself, he turned to walk inland, to try and find a village, some freshwater and some real people to talk to.

After a few hours, the sun had turned the sky coral and gold, and he found a small walled-off community. His imaginary selves scattered to take up defensive positions in case of an attack, while the version of himself that seemed the most real, started walking along the wall. Until a voice reached out to him,

“Hello, traveller!”

The Warrior turned to look at a man standing on top of the wall, dark blue sky behind him with the first few stars just beginning to glitter, and what looked like a nice sandwich in his hand.

“What brings you to our small encampment? Are you a friend or foe?”

The Warrior’s other selves discussed the questions and quickly come to a consensus. Which was rare.

“Friend.”

“Do you plan to stay long?”

“No, a few days at most, enough to regain some of my selves, and rest.”

The man on the wall smiled at the strange turn of phrase but thought nothing more of it.

“Are you armed?”

The Warrior’s selves again quickly began discussing what the man could mean, since it was clear that he had arms, but decided that maybe he wasn’t being literal, and so lifted his sword.

“Just this… and my arms.”

The man on the wall wondered what kind of skill The Warrior must have to declare his arms as weapons, but he seemed to come in peace and thought that perhaps it was better to have a man like him on good terms.

“Then you may enter, wait there I shall come and fetch you.”

A few moments later an unseen door opened and the man who had been on the wall stood on the ground. Smiling he invited the warrior in and led him through a dark hallway and into a small and quaint looking village. Without prompting the man who had been on the wall, but was now on the ground, started explaining how their village existed out of time to the rest of the land. How they farmed their own food, made their own furniture and hunted their own meat. All the while The Warrior wondered if his sudden fatigue was because of his journey or because of the boring story he was being told… or perhaps both. The man on the ground then led him to a small house and said with a smile.

“This is my home, and you may take a room in it. If you would like some food, I invite you to help yourself to my storeroom, but ask that you always leave enough for me.”

The Warrior and his selves then bowed and entered, found a spare room and for the first time in what felt like a lifetime, crawled into a bed. It took a few minutes for his selves to all find space and settle, and two of them decided to go find rooms of their own, but eventually, his eyes closed.

Many hours later the sun rose, turning the sky from ink black and full of stars to a pale blue with warm golden light shining down, but still, the warrior slept. Then as the sun began to set again the man formally of the wall stepped into the room and tried gently roused The Warrior, nervous that something might have happened to him or that he might have brought some illness into the village. It took a few shakes until The Warrior opened his eyes, sat up quickly and grabbing the man by the shoulders.

“Is it too late, are there still fish?”

“Fish? Yes, I have a few left in my store, but…”

“No, not store fish, ocean fish! Are there any fish left in the ocean?”

Unsure what the warrior meant but sure of his answer the man said.

“Yes.”

The Warrior then breathed a sigh of relief, thanked the man and went back to sleep.  The following morning, he woke, thanked the man, accepted some new supplies, filled his water bottles with water that wasn’t from the sea, and continued on his quest to save the fish from trawlers.

Wondering if he’d see his selves again anytime soon.

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