[WP] Tell the story of an underwater civilazation terrorized by talking sharks.

It was the 31st day of Pulsa, in the season of migrations, and I had been preparing for the festivities with my spawnmate. As I recall, the currents had been quite warm that day - and we had decided to take the supplies out of our reefhome and into the sandy patch that rested between our house and our neighbors'. The sky let in torrents of bright, beaming light, marking the border of the world and on into the great beyond.

Being as it was the season of migrations, the mate and I would regularly see the other creatures of the world as they passed by, the dolphins, whales, and school fish, all on their way to their seasonal homes in other waters. Their journey seemed a charming vestige of the travels our people once made, long before the discoveries of insulation and temperature control. Perhaps that was why we still took the time to hold our celebrations this time of year.

It was even so that some of them might stop in for the festivities this evening, entranced as the lesser races always seemed to be by our innovations of central heating ducts and non-biological light. I thought back to times when my fertilizing parent had once offered some food to the passing fish, against the wishes of the elder. I smiled as I thought of that now, and recounted it to my spawnmate. She smiled as well, and we continued with the task at hand.

That evening we all gathered in the settlement's center. In this particular settlement, there were a few dozen of us. I had heard tales of the main cities, populated by hundreds of thousands strong, but had never made the journey to see myself. I think that I preferred it the way this way.

As was tradition, we stood in a circle surrounding the Great Heating Duct that marked our city center, the font from which all our homes' heat was diverted. It was on this day that we gathered to pay thanks to the great gift of Heat, that was unraveled and tamed, and that it gave unto us the blessing of Permanence. That we may stay in one place, indeed, that was why we celebrated.

I had noticed that there were unusual movements off in the dark of the deep, those untapped lands that lay beyond our homes, but had resolved not to pay it any mind. It was not difficult to be distracted, of course: I saw across the circle where my spawnmate stood, she clad all in those colored kelps that we had so elegantly weaved together this afternoon, the fruits of our labors. Of course, it was so that everyone was clad in these clothes, but I had a vested interest in hers.

We had reached the lengthy speaking portion of the ceremony when my patience started to wane, and it was then that I heard it - "Hey, buddy." I ignored it; Who would have the audacity to speak in the middle of the ceremony? But then I heard it again: "Hey, buddy." I turned to look from where the sound came, but saw only the faint impression of a moving figure.

Looking around, I contemplated breaching my silence to reply. But there was something strange about this speaker; they wouldn't stop moving! I watched the faint figure gliding through the shadows beyond our circle, and finally dared to speak.

"Hey!" I spat, in a hurried whisper, "Would you stop moving already?" More movement in the shadows.

"Sorry buddy." I heard in reply. "Can't stop swimmin'."

My patience was beginning to fade into a restrained rage. "What do you mean, you can't stop?" I said, my voice growing dangerously loud.

"Well," came the reply, the figure seeming to dart closer towards us, "I really can't. I'm a shark." With this, it finally swam into the light of the circle, floating above us all.

In a moment, we were shocked, panicked. It was well known that sharks had no interest in bony creatures such as us, but to talk? It was unbelievable! Speech was a power that belonged exclusively to our people!

The shark swam around over head, absentmindedly singing songs to itself as it soaked up the heat that poured from the great heating duct. Down on the ocean floor below, however, a very different scene was unfolding.

Our people crowded around the village elder now, abuzz with questions, pleading, disbelief; and the one sentiment that towered above them all was, "What does this mean?"

Certainly, it was so that our elder had no clue. On his face he bore the look of a fishman who had absolutely no clue what he beheld or why he beheld it, and his flipperlike appendages seemed to lose their solidity as they quaked, staring past the concerns of the village and up to the singing shark beyond. We all cowered there, for a while, for as long as we could.

It was a stolen few moments that we had, denying this affrontery to our nature. For a time, I held on to the notion that it was illusion. Cruel reality, however, had designed otherwise.

"Guys, you look pretty freaked out. What is the deal?" The shark swam about with intent, words pouring incomprehensibly from a mouth that contained no tongue and only the rudiments of a jaw. His beaded eyes eventually settled on me, their sheer simplicity reflecting nothing of a thinking, feeling creature.

At first, I thought to swipe at him. Or to swim away, perhaps. I didn't know. For now, I sunk to the floor, and wept.

"Whoaaa, man, fuck. That's not good!" the shark span devilishly on the others of the village. "Guys, is he ok?"

The village elder was the first to crack. With an aplomb that is given rise only by madness, he propelled from the floor and began to swim, at wild speed, for the great heating duct. Some reached out, and some gasped, but we were all helpless. He swam to the duct, and then straight within. We could hear his screams for minutes as the descent towards the bottom of the earth melted his body, cooking him alive. And yet he must have remained swimming against the current all this time, because not a minute later his disfigured, ruined corpse escaped the duct and floated helplessly up towards the great beyond.

We watched this in silence, punctuated only by his final vocalizations. And as he corpse emerged, once again there was silence. We said nothing as he escaped the boundaries of our world and began to bob against the border to heaven.

The silence was punctuated, then, by the demonic shark. "Hooooooly shit." it said, the malice evident in its every word. "This is very bad. Charles, Charles, come here man! Bring help!" He swam even more excitedly now as he circled about, seemingly taking a perverse pleasure in our misery.

More figures emerged from beyond the shadows, all of them with their hungry, wretched words - "Are you guys OK?" "What was that body just now?" "Can we help?" The jeering of a thousand monsters, those that surrounded our lives and our homes.

My spawnmate was the second to break. She, too, swam for the great duct, speeding as she went with an expression of reckless terror. I like to think that she turned to look at me, in that last moment before she reached the duct. But with no more resistance than my outstretched finhand, she disappeared into the duct, screaming shrilly, fading into gargles, and then to silence. When her body floated back out, the colors of the kelp robes were as they had been, though perhaps, a bit darker. A myriad of colors and melted flesh, I watched her escape up to the great beyond.

It was bedlam then, as my people all rushed for the duct. I had tried to move, to follow my mate, but I was detained by the sickening speaking sharks. His flippers pressed firmly into my shoulders, I heard him speak:

"Don't do it man. You've got things to live for." The bitter wretchedness of his sentiment taking home in my heart like a rot, I once more sunk into the sand, and wept. I wept for my people, and for our existence. I wept for my mate, and I wept for myself. There that day that the talking sharks arrived from beyond the veil of shadow, they brought the ungodly notion of their illogical speech, and took with them the integrity of our hearts and minds.

I take solace in knowing that my spawn were elsewhere, off in the main cities in the large celebrations. Surely, there would be protection there. There would be safety. And if there is a Sea God, then there would be no sharks.

I tell you this tale now because it is the legacy of my life, the thing that I experienced that split the comfortable world of my people. It has been mine for as long as I can remember, and if it were up to me, I would have it live on forever. After the sharks came, I tried to tell those people in the big cities, but they wouldn't listen. They said, as I would have, that talking sharks sounded as harmless as they did impossible. I wish I could make them see, but I've given up that task.

As for now, I have some business to attend to.

Bring my story to the great beyond, stranger.

/r/WritingPrompts Thread