Sunday, November 6, 2011

Justice (Story Sunday)

Dedicated to all the animals suffering from mankind's indifference.

 "How much?"
"Almost 60,000 barrels a day."
"Worst in history."
"Won't matter. It's what insurance is for."
"It's what we're for."

 The voices carried easily in gusting shore winds and those listening unseen, felt the hate grow deeper in their hearts.
"We report it's not that bad, that it's breaking up, people start to relax. Stocks go back up."
"And then its business as usual, right?"
"Yep. Ain't nothing money won't buy."

Their snickers and indifference marked them as the enemy, even if the yellow vests and clipboards had not, and the investigators moved toward the narrow sea cave like foreign invaders surveying their loot.

"How much you think the insurance will cover?"
"Most. It's cheaper to pay premiums than to develop the technology to handle spills. British Petroleum is paid up for the next decade."
"Wish they'd pay those coastal fishermen so the reports would stop winding people back up."
"Me too."

The oil inspectors reached the cave as the next swell rushed in and their boots were covered in a thick layer of rainbow sludge.

"It's still coming in."
"It will for a long time. Remember to wipe those off before you head back."
"You too."
"Yeah. Don't want any proof it's gotten this far yet."

The men moved into the dim, sludge lined cave with uneasy glances and the sound of the water rushing in grew louder, hungry. They began to measure and collect samples and neither of them noticed the shadows getting closer as they talked.

"Guess the new cap’s holding."
"Pictures look good. You think they're real?"
"I doubt it. The government only shows people what it wants them to see. Once we say it's staying out there, the news will grow bored with it and find another story."
"Hard to hide all those bodies, though."
"It's just fish. The birds'll clean it up."
"But won't it be another big story?"
"No. In case you haven't noticed, there's no one on these beaches now. Tourism here is gone for a long time."
"Still, the residents have taken pictures and the camera crews fly over all the time."
"Won't matter. Money shuts people up. Just have to find the right price."
"Can't argue with that."

Between tides, the rising water levels in the narrow cave were unusual but the inspectors were trained in oil, not the ocean and the tugging, rainbow sludge was up to their knees before either of them noticed.

"Water's up. Let's hurry."
"Wonder if that has anything to do with the methane. Put it in the report."

Well paid, the two men stayed to finish their observations and collections and the water continued to slowly rise, rolling in but not going back out.

"Did you feel that?"
"I’m not sure. Sort of like a vibration under my feet."
"Probably just the water. It's still coming up."
"Maybe but I'd swear..there it was again!"
"I didn't feel anything."
"Something moved by my foot!"
"Stop it."
"Really, I... what was that?"

Both men turned to see a shape under the hip high water, one that caused their mouths to dry and their hearts to thump. A shark fin.

"Back off, nice and easy."
"Don't move!"
"Look out!'
"Behind you!"

The oil covered shark tossed his head viciously, reveling in the gush of fresh food, and then he was being pulled back by the stingray.

"Stop. There must be proof." Denied a much needed meal, the angry shark snapped at the ray and then whined in pain as the manta stung him brutally.

"Enough!' They both looked to the old, jellyfish floating in the oil stained water.

"Man is our enemy, not each other. Drag them out and the crabs will bring them to the shore so they can be found beside the black poison they unleashed." The huge Jelly was obeyed without argument and the water in the cave slowly lowered, allowing them to wash out with the wave.

"What comes next?" The Manta Ray asked the Jelly and neon lights of concentration flashed under the waves as the centuries old keeper of the water struggled to form thoughts through the rage.

"Call the whales, the orcas. Any that are left will come. We have to gather an army and drive man out of the oceans. After that, we’ll talk to those on land, make a deal if we can. Surely the air breathers are dying as fast as us."

"Can we fight so many?" The Jelly flashed uneasily.

"I don't know. Until now, our world has been unreachable but every day brings them closer to our homes, our families. If we don't fight back now, we may not be able to later and I would have justice!”

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