The Foreigner

The Foreigner ch. 3: Feeding Time

A note from the author: For anyone reading, sorry there has been a delay in posting part 3. I have been conflicted over which characters and elements from the original draft I should include here in order to keep the finished story meaningful and consistent. The original draft has large chunks of comprehensive prose interspersed with just crazy rambling ramblingness. That’s kind of how Nanowrimo works–you write anything and everything you can, because please god please let me finish this 50k words in 30 days. I wrote the first part of the story without knowing there would be a second part. So the question “Where am I going with this?” comes up a lot. There are also some characters that were added way late in the game, so their insertion into the story is jarring, giving me a lot of bumps to smooth out unless I just want to delete large sections of my story (and I already have.) Anyway, if you are reading, thank you! Please remember this is an experiment and also my first novella.

*~*~*~*~* On with Part 3! *~*~*~*~*


The misty harbor is home to boats of various size and color. They hover around, bobbing, waiting to be taken somewhere. Each one seems to be a little different–some with a flat bed, some with a large bed and small drivers cabin, others with a rather boastful drivers cabin and upper deck. They are all adorned with painted titles, proudly displayed on the helm of the cabin or across either side where they are sure to be seen; “Sea Mistress,” “Ol’ Nessa,” or “McConnally.” Mostly middle-aged men with hooded slickers stand around, sipping cups of coffee, shootin’ the shit before they have to get to work. The occasional shouts are heard from boat hands who are getting an early start untying boats from the dock.

Benny and his small son stroll by at a safe distance, Cecil’s eyes always wide, taking in every detail, as if he hadn’t seen the docks a hundred times before.

“Thank God it’s my day off,” Benny grumbles. “Oy!” He returns a wave from a fellow fisherman before veering toward the coffee stand. It is perched right off to the side of the harbor–a modest little stand nestled between houses which face the harbor and shops that run along the street leading into town.

“Benny! What’ll it be?” The shop’s main function is to supply fishers with much-needed caffeine in the wee hours of the morning.

“A coffee please.”

“Aye!”

The fish market is further into town, still on the edge, but more accessible than the docks. With two large bags of fish, Benny and Cecil make their way back home, just as the sky is lightening.

A lanky, skinny woman, lollops past them with drooping shoulders, her back slightly curved, her legs like sticks, her arms like spaghetti. Her face is pretty, but pointy, and covered in dark make-up. Her ears have several piercings and her hair is black and spiked upward.

“Who is that, da?” Cecil whispers when they are several paces past the strange woman.

Benny chuckles.

“New in town, I ‘spose, son. Looks different, eh?”

“Yeaaaaah,” Cecil says breathily, turning back to stare. His father yanks his little hand.

*~*~*~*~*

As the morning marches on, the sun is rising and the air is warming, lifting the mist from their comfortable resting place amongst the hills. The mists, like everyone else, must get up and get on with the day.

Little feet make small, muffled noises as their owner pitter patters through the house. They carry him through the kitchen, but it is empty. They carry him through the hall to the garage, but it is empty, the large work station oddly silent and lonely. The boy ponders for a moment, and then turns back into the house, crossing the hall to the old junk room.

“Da?” The boy finds his father sitting on the old maroon armchair, staring at the spectacle encased in glass walls.

“Oh ‘eya, son. How are yeh? Did yeh come to look at the creature?” He beckons his son to sit in his lap.

They peer at the tank together for a moment before Cecil twists around to look at his father.

“Are we gonna keep it, Da?”

Benny ponders a moment before answering, “I’m not sure, son. This could be yer father’s big discovery! Your da could have a species named after ‘im!” He smiles and ruffles Cecil’s hair, but the boy does not smile.

When Cecil continues to look worried, he adds, “Tell yeh what! We’ll go an’ feed it today, an’ you can watch it eat.”

Concern melts away and leaves confusion in its wake; “How do you know what it eats, da?”

Benny pauses.

“It’s from the ocean, Cecil. It probably eats fish.”

*~*~*~*~*

Dangling from his fingers is a squirming, brightly-colored minnow, before Benny drops it in the tank.

PLOOP.

Benny props his son up on his lap, and they sit in the old armchair, backs strait, eyes intent on the strange, silvery creature.

“Where is its mouth, Da?”

“Guess we’re about to find out,” Benny mumbles thoughtfully.

The creature, with its shiny skin and worm-like billowing tentacles, floats but does not move. The small fish, likewise, has stopped swimming and also stays motionless, save for some small movements of the fins to keep it from dropping to the bottom. The two seem to be having a staring contest–though the foreign creature has no eyes.

“What is it doing?”

“I don’t know, son.”

“Is it going to eat it?”

“Jane!” Benny yells, ignoring his son, and leaps to his feet, stumbling in a mad rush through the living room to find his house mate.

“What? What?”

“Come here! Look!”

The two of them hurry back to the junk room, Jane looking totally perplexed. They come to a halt in front of the tank, squatting down, staring into it.

Now it is Benny’s turn to look perplexed. Jane folds her arms and stares at him.

“Seriously, what?” she asks.

The creature floats in the tank, its many graceful appendages dancing about it. There is no fish.

Benny whirls around and looks at his son, who stares zombie-like at the creature.

“Did it eat it, Cecil?”

“No, Da,” he says, giving his father the same shocked, wide-eyed stare. “The fish is just gone! BAM!”–he hits his little fist in his other hand–”with a flash of light!”

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