Today was a somewhat abnormal day for me. I woke up at dawn as usual and gathered my supplies for the morning’s catch.
Outside my driftwood shack, the air was pleasant. In fact, it was the exact same air that flowed freely inside the shack, which was fortunate because I might already be ill if it was unpleasant.
My tiny island home of Stensland was just as
alive with birdsong and lapping waves as it normally is this time of year. I looked at my dog, Zebi, and smiled. We both knew the fishing ahead of us would be successful. So much so that if there other people in Stensland, there would likely be enough for them too. Oh well. Being a professional hermit has its advantages as well, I thought to myself as I put on my ancient and thoroughly begrotted cap.
Zebi and I headed down to the beach. The shore was only three meters from my shack, but we traveled very slowly so reaching the end would feel like more of an accomplishment. We had walked almost two feet when Zebi began barking and dashed ahead. I followed her increased pace to see what she had found. It was like nothing I had ever seen before.
Lying on the sand in front of me was an emaciated, but otherwise completely vital young man, fast asleep. His head was completely covered by what appeared to be a sort of jellyfish, though his chest rose and fell with the indications of normal breathing. His clothing, as well as being understandably soaked, was overgrown with algae and patches of seaweed. Looking back, I’m not sure why I wasn’t more afraid, especially since he was the first other human being I had seen in four years. Curiosity, maybe.
Anyway, I dragged the man up to a point where the waves could not reach him, put a blanket over him (the one I wasn’t using as clothing), and went on with my day.
Against my expectations, I caught only one fish. Oddly enough, it was a freshwater salmon, which are not native to the middle of the ocean. I sat down and puzzled over this for some time, but was interrupted. The man who had washed ashore that morning was standing right behind me and screaming unintelligible gibberish.