IT is not that I am vengeful. It is not that I want these humans to pay for what they have done. Although perhaps if I am being honest, and if I cannot be honest now, with you, then when can I be, I do want them to feel a little of the suffering they have wrought upon me. But truly, it is that I can see no other way. I have given them so many signs, shown them what might happen should they not heed my warnings, and even the warnings of some amongst themselves, but they do not, and so I must take action.
The Water Dwellers
There is a tribe of humans I like to call the water-dwellers, for that is where they live. Not under the water, as you should know, for that would be impossible for a human, but on it. They have proven most ingenious in the way they have formed their community which is made up of raft-like crafts attached to one another by ropes, or rope-ladders in many cases. They spend their days fishing, talking, swimming, eating, the things most humans do but the difference with the water-dwellers is that they live in complete harmony. How they have achieved this when most other humans today cannot, I do not know, but they have over the years proven themselves worthy of being one of my favourite tribes and perhaps the only one to be saved.
It started many, many years ago with a man named John Hudson who took to the water in his yacht, a very large and extremely expensive and lavish craft, for he had so very much of the currency these humans deemed valuable. John had made his fortune by designing buildings, tall edifices which towered over the cities in which they were placed, windows looking down on the insect-like figures bustling past on the sidewalks below.
In the early days he had been proud of his many accomplishments, had gloried in the praise heaped upon him, the awards which now sat, dust-covered in the attic of one of his four homes. But as taller and taller buildings were demanded of him, bizarre designs expected, he had come to despise all that he had accomplished, had seen it as just one part of the ruination of mankind.
And just as he had four homes so too did he have four ex-wives, and he despised them also, for their hunger for the fame associated with him, their grasping natures, always asking for more. More of his time, more of his money, more of his body. For all of them had wanted children but this was a point on which John was adamant: he would sire no child to be brought into this increasingly decaying world, and so, when still married to his first wife, the beautiful Evelyn, he had made his rule of always wearing a rubber when copulating; because copulating was one thing, but propagating this species was quite another. He knew all the tricks some women had, those who were desperate to have a child – or desperate to have something which would make the man stay – and so he kept his condoms in his safe, which every wife found strange, even laughable, and every wife tried to talk him out of using them, would even attack him at the least intimate of moments, latching onto his body and his cock, wanting him to take them then and there, no need for precautions they each whispered in turn, there was no danger of pregnancy, they were not ovulating.
But John held fast to his rule, and it served him well. When his third wife, Beatrice, had become pregnant she had said that one of the rubbers must have been faulty, but John knew this was not the case, for did he not purchase the sturdiest protection, did he not check them regularly; and so he knew the child was not his but he waited until she had pushed it out of her once luscious body then had his own test carried out to confirm what he already knew. The divorce papers were served on Beatrice the day she returned home from the hospital.
This gives you an idea of the type of man John Hudson was. A hard man some might say, but I prefer to think of him as an honest one. And it was after the dissolution of his fourth marriage that he began to grow more introspective, to ask what he had really accomplished, other than making huge piles of money, which he could never spend, no matter how many things he bought. What was it all for? Was he happy, he asked himself, and the answer came to him. No.
He decided on a vacation and as so often before he took to the sea with a small crew. He loved being on the ocean, he felt a part of something bigger, and far away from those nightmarish buildings of a future he wanted no part of, and yet had helped create. He felt such shame when he looked upon these constructions and heaped upon himself more than his fair share of the proportion of blame.
And so, realising finally that it was only while at sea that he felt real peace, that it was there he knew he was not a bad man, he had simply made bad choices, and haven’t most humans? It was there, gazing out upon the endless expanse of blue-grey water that he began to hatch his plan. It was to be 27 months before this plan began to shape itself into a reality.
John Hudson’s Plan
John Hudson was a meticulous man and so, although he was eager to begin his new life, he waited, watched, observed those around him while meeting up again with old acquaintances, weighing everybody up, deciding who would fit in with his plan. I don’t want to bore you with all the trifling details of what he went through over the next two years and more; it was a hard time for him, difficult knowing he would be leaving people, some of whom he loved, without a goodbye, but deep within him, in some dark but warm place, he knew it was his only hope of peace.
As he measured up other humans, so also did he begin to store things. Not canned food, as you might expect for somebody planning to be away from what others call civilisation indefinitely, but items which he knew would be of use in the many years he hoped would come. He knew they would need books, for he intended there to be breeding, indeed how could he stop it if he intended to take humans of both genders, and he did. The children would need to learn, but he did not want them to learn of this culture he was abandoning, and so he chose only books written many hundreds of years earlier, before any mention of industrialisation; books of philosophy, many of those, but also books for entertainment, the early novels, for he wanted above all for his companions on this journey to be fulfilled in every way possible.
He took large pans for cooking which he knew would not succumb to rust from the humidity and water, and only wooden cooking implements and some knives chosen specifically for skinning and filleting fish or anything else they may be fortunate enough to find, but no forks or spoons, for what is wrong with eating with your hands – other cultures consider it to be usual, so too would their new culture – or indeed from having to think how to fashion a utensil you may need.
He had studied map after map after map, taking note of flight paths, shipping paths, sea currents, coral reefs, everything he could think of, and was confident he had settled upon the perfect place at which to berth. He had settled on the Pacific and after considerable thought was pleased with this decision.
And many other things were loaded onto his yacht: planks of wood, reams of paper, rope, some of the most basic of tools, and his one concession to modern life: matches. Many boxes of matches, for he was unsure as to how long it would take them to master the lighting of fires for cooking, and warmth if the need arose, but he had copied diagrams and was practising lighting fires with wood. Everything that was placed onto his yacht was done by him or one of those he had selected to accompany him.
He had finally settled upon six people, and himself of course: one couple, the woman already with child, plus two men and two women, unknown to each other until the point of departure. This was how he wanted it, this was the only way he believed it could work. It had taken him more than 18 months to engage them and more in conversation about what they expected from this crumbling world, what they hoped for, what they dreamed of, and he believed he had as near perfect a selection of humans as was possible.
And if there was trouble from any person, well, he had planned for that also. I told you humans are a ruthless lot, and John Hudson had not made his fortune by being one of those nice beings, so he knew he could clear any obstacle that arose; if it meant the death of one of them at sea, then he did not perceive that as a difficulty. The most important thing was his plan.
And so it was that on a March morning about eighty years past, John Hudson and his crew of six set off from the harbour, after first giving their co-ordinates – wrong ones – to the harbour master as was always the case. His colleagues and friends, and those of the people accompanying him had been informed that they would be heading in a quite different direction to the one they intended and that they would be at sea for at least six weeks. John had given the impression he was near to a nervous breakdown, and he may very well have been if not for this plan of his, and many of his acquaintances, for he found not many he would call his friends, were glad he was taking the time to get himself together.
So when, after two months of no word from John Hudson or his crew, search parties were sent out to sea, and planes flew over the vast expanse of ocean I had created, they found nothing. And soon the search was called off and all were presumed to have perished at sea. There was great mourning amongst the humans who had known the six adventurers, but that too did not last long. A plaque was placed on one of John Hudson’s buildings, his finest, and then he was simply a part of history, a once great human who was no more. Or so those stupid city-dwellers thought.
But he and his legacy was far from dead.
To watch the families descended not from John Hudson himself, but from the people who had accompanied him to this new world he had envisaged and then created, is a rare treat for me. Oh how they enjoy themselves, every day exploring the sea and the reefs or telling stories, some of them very tall ones indeed, but does that matter when their imaginations are clearly being exercised to their full potential.
There are two children I have taken a particular liking to: Sam and Jon. They do not share the same parents which is as well as they are becoming very close and are into what humans call puberty. They are the grandchildren of the settlers of the sea, there are more of them, but these two intrigue me for they are forever asking questions, often finding their own answers, and they take such delight in the sea creatures around them.
They have read many of the books which were brought with their grandparents, and most of the ones written since then, for one of the settlers began to write tales many years ago and then two of the next generation also discovered a liking for setting words down on paper. They ran low on paper many years ago and now use bark from the trees on nearby islands to leave their marks on, for each generation wishes to leave a record of their lives here, to share their knowledge and to tell of their discoveries. Sam and Jon already know more than most about the world that surrounds them, although they remain untainted by any knowledge of the so-called modern world that exists far beyond their horizons. They have their world, it is the only world they have known, and they are content. What are they up to now?
Both boys are naked, nothing unusual in that; some of their parents and peers wear clothes at times and others do not. They have no shame about their bodies and only a little curiosity when young and they notice not all children are the same. But it is explained to them simply why this is and they accept it and go on to something else. But back to Sam and Jon.
– Y’think Duggie’ll be roun’ today?
– Hope so. I luv watching him crawl along t’ bed. Y’know Mags said he was ’ere when she was a girl. How ol’ y’reckon he is?
– Ol. Ol. Oller than we’ll ever be I reckon.
– Nah, you’re kiddin’ me. Can’t be more’n 50.
– I dunno. He’s old f’sure. I know that.
The boys are sitting on the edge of one of the rafts that border their world and Sam slowly slips into the sea.
– Wotcha doin’ mate? ‘Avin anuvver swim then?
– Yeah, too ‘ot up there for me mate.
– ‘Key dokey. I’ll come in wiv ya.
Jon is rowdier than Sam as he splashes into the calm seas then proceeds to chase after Sam and begins to dash him with water. Sam tolerates this for a few minutes then dives down deep, eyes wide open so he can spot anything new on the reefs or further down on the sea bed. He loves the colours that surround him, the feel of the coral and the rocks, he’s such a tactile boy, and appears to have an interest in, and a love for, every single thing he sights, no matter how familiar it may be to him.
Sam stays under the water for as long as he can hold his breath and then surfaces to take in another gulp of air before immersing himself once more. As he dives deeper he almost finds himself in collision with a shoal of fish but he pauses as they swim by. Tiny, white and silver fish, of they type they sometimes eat, but Sam now just lets himself be held by the waters and marvels at the spectacle, all heading in the same direction, seemingly with a purpose. He has seen this before, of course he has, he has grown up spending most of his days in the water, but now, today, when his head is once more above the sea and he is breathing in fresh air, he is in awe of these tiny creatures.
He knows much of their habits and, where they go and from whence they have come, but he is always curious for more knowledge, and I pray this does not lead to his undoing. I have seen what curiosity can do to some humans who will never be at peace until they know everything – and they cannot know everything – about a certain animal, plant, one of their mechanical inventions. A desire for more knowledge can be a wonderful thing, if it is only knowledge you should seek, but if it is knowledge of a being so that you can then tame that being into submission, then it is evil. From all that I have seen of Sam, and the other water-dwellers, I do not think their curiosity will ever lead to such wickedness as I have seen, but I am ever fearful. During my musings, Jon has sneakily drifted up behind Sam and he finds himself smashed with seawater once more. Sam is in the mood for fun now and slaps his hand across the surface towards Jon, as a prelude to their almost daily games in the waters.
I have seen them playing thus for hours at a time and it reminds me so of the communities of long ago, when the people’s only pursuits were those of hunting for food, tending to their crops and learning from their elders of the times before them. I remember the days when the poorer humans, and these were generally the most honourable amongst them, would trade foods with one another, one giving vegetables for eggs, or, if they were fortunate enough, for milk. The wealthier humans, those who believed they owned part of me, would use the yellow gold or other metals to purchase the supplies they needed. But of what use is a piece of metal to a hungry man or woman? Of course, and you must surely know this, as time went by every human began to use these bits of metal to purchase their necessities, and this is what I saw as the beginning of the madness that was to overtake them all.
But now, what are Sam and Jon doing? Still diving under each other only to appear at the other’s back and push him under, their giggles and squeals lending a melodic, almost liguid, tone to the air about them. Then they appeared to tire of their playing at the same time and with not a word they began to swim towards the collection of rafts which surrounded the old craft they had grown up exploring, for it was full of strange treasures. It was onto this boat that they clambered just now, calling out.
– Senior, senior! Weazu?
A body raised itself from the deck, and as the greying-haired man stretched, he smiled at the boys and gestured them towards him.
– Come boys, it is time for your lessons.
– Ooh, wazzit t’day Senior?
– Oi! None of that. You know to speak properly when it is lesson time.
You might have expected the boys to be downcast at this almost stern reprimand, but they looked at each other and grinned, for they knew only too well the language they must speak. They liked having two languages, and had read books in which many strange tongues were written. Some they had learned and some they had not; it was their choice, as soon as they were old enough to choose, as to whether they wanted to learn these ancient languages. It was not considered important. More important were the books about the earth – me – and the nature that surrounded them, the birds and fish they were familiar with, the strange animals that they read had once roamed the earth, and might still do, the plants which nourished them and cured their ailments.
– And today you will begin to learn of a tribe who lived on a large land very far from here.
–Is it the Americas, Senior?
– It is indeed, but not the tribe of which you are thinking, for I have taught you all I know of them. No, this is a tribe further south, whose circumstances were very different. Come. Come.
And as the boys took their places, cross-legged in the sun, Senior began with the tale of Santiago’s tribe. Of course he knew nothing of Santiago the individual, and all of his knowledge had come from books and his father, for he too had been bred upon the waters, but he had a fair knowledge of the clan and was eager to begin to share it with the boys, who enjoyed learning more than he had done at their age.
Soon you too will earn of Santiago and his brethren. And a fascinating and tragic tale it is.
Socialist always. Journalist and ESL teacher while travelling the world in better days.
Times change, my values have not.
I am grateful to my comrades at Critical Mass for giving me the opportunity to write for ‘the masses’ once more. and it is such a pleasure. During difficult times it has giving me something to focus on while also contributing as part of a very, very good team.
And you can also read my blogs on https://revbluessusie.blogspot.com
Thank you all for your support.