“You damn monster!” Hid cried, as he wrestled with the huge creature on the end of his line. “You’re going to kill us both!”
The fish leapt out of the water and then Hid could have sworn he saw the thing wink at him before it dove down again into the opaque purple. It was the biggest murkmarlin that Hid had ever seen, or even heard of. Murkmarlins weren’t supposed to get any bigger than three or four feet in length, though some could stretch six. But this beast, it must have been ten feet long. Maybe even twenty.
Hid thought back to that morning, when his friend Brown backed out of the fishing trip they had planned months ago, something to do with his wife’s birthday. Wasn’t her birthday the same day every year? Why didn’t Brown think about that before? Hid could really have used the help, but now he could only blame himself if the beast was not reeled in.
The murkmarlin churned up foam as it taunted Hid, popping up here with a wink and then there with a great flaunting leap. The nervous sweat on Hid’s hands made it hard for him to hold fast to his pole, which distracted him from following the fish’s movements, from ever hoping to discern a pattern by which to outwit it.
Rool Lake was legendary for monsters such as this murkmarlin. From the time he was a young boy, Hid had listened to stories of the leviathins that lurked below the glassy surface of the lake. A four-hundred pound cayall, a three-headed brinebast. But never had he heard of a thirty-foot murkmarlin. Catching it was sure to earn him the respect he knew he deserved, that the other fishermen in Nowhere refused to afford him as an outsider.
If only he could bring the shimmery thing in, he could prove Cal Waine wrong. This was one of Hid’s life goals. Cal Waine was the most boastful, arrogant, successful fisherman in Nowhere, if not on all of Aelioanei, and it made Hid sick. He had actually run into Cal earlier that day, when they were both arriving at the lake. Cal had said something about Hid showing up to be spanked again, which Hid tried very hard to ignore. It would do Hid great pleasure to land the murkmarlin and slap Cal across the face with one of its fins.
But this didn’t look like it was going to happen. Hid was tiring, and the murkmarlin seemed only to be gaining strength. When the fish next rose up from the water in a bubbly spray, winked, and dove again, it took Hid’s fishing pole with it. The fight was lost. Hid’s only hope now was to escape the lake without Cal seeing his meager catch: three tiny beentz and a seven-pound drout.
As he rowed his little fishing boat towards the lakeshore, Hid cringed when he saw Cal Waine already there, with a few of the other local fishermen. Trying his best to go unnoticed, Hid failed.
“Hey, Hid Hidli!” Cal called out.
“Cal,” Hid said under his breath, while offering a half-hearted wave to his nemesis.
“How’d you do there, let’s see,” Cal said with a self-satisfied smile as he met Hid on the shore.
“Not great, just…,” Hid grumbled, reluctantly holding up his catch bucket for Cal to see. “But I almost brought in the biggest murkmarlin you have ever seen. Must have been forty feet long.”
“Oh? Couldn’t handle it though, could ya?” Cal asked with a knowing smirk. “I don’t blame you. Like I’ve said time and time again, the fishing here in the North isn’t for everyone. Don’t take it too hard, city boy.”
“Listen, Cal, you couldn’t have brought it in either. The thing was a monster, a whale! I nearly died!”
“I couldn’t have brought it in either, eh? That’s funny…,” Cal said. “Hey, fellas!” he then called out to his fishermen friends nearby. “Bring her over here!”
And then Hid was shamed even further, when he saw the other men carrying the very murkmarlin he had lost.
“Is this the fish you were talking about?” Cal said, trying to hold his laughter in.
Hid shuddered, stalked over to the fish, and tore his line and pole free from its toothy jaw. He didn’t say anything to the other men, he simply frowned his meanest frown at Cal and headed towards the trail back to town.
“Forty feet!” Cal howled after, as the other fishermen fell about the muddy shore with laughter.