Whale's Tale

''Yeah, they are going to try and catch it today'' Zack looked up from his table. A bunch of boys were excitedly jumping up and down in the middle of his classroom. ''And then they will cook it. My dad said he will get me a tooth for my collection.'' Julian, the most popular boy in Zack’s class was in the center of attention. Julian’s father was a businessman, which made Julian the richest boy in school. ''You'll see, I'll bring it to school and maybe I will let you touch it.'' A couple days ago a news article was posted, that the Dragon bay was not occupied just by lonely beaches and empty shores but also an orca whale. Zack never saw a whale. His parents weren't rich like Julian's. He was never able to go on a family trip in the middle of ocean. And now the whale came to him. What a coincidence. He was longing to see it but many have gone down to the bay and came back claiming there was nothing there. 

Zack grew up exploring the ocean. When he was four, he already knew how to dive to the very bottom. His parents made sure that he was, just like the rest of the family, excellent at swimming. Zack's father was an oceanographer and after school he and Zack were spending time together exploring the waters. Jack, being great at drawing as well always brought his sketchpad and drew whatever he could. Sometimes he was amazed by just the steady rate of waves thumping at the shore. The white and blue mixing together to create a pallet of colors. Zack loved colors, especially blue. But he has never seen an orca whale. When exploring with his father, he was always limited to the swimming and diving zones as they did not have a boat. One day. One day they will have a boat and go out in the open to explore what lies there. Zack was sure of it. His father was already working to buy one. 

Julian spent the rest of the school day explaining how they are going to catch the whale today. His father and some other men were going to go down to the bay later in the afternoon to try and capture the ''beast'' as they called it. Zack detested their ways. They never knew the beauty of ocean, how could they. They knew how to swim but they rather kicked the fish than observed them.

 

 

As soon as school ended Zack ran back home, already preparing a speech for his father to save the whale. When he got home, he rushed in his father's office. ''You HAVE to stop them!'' His father turned in his chair and looked at him under his glasses. ''Otherwise, they will kill it. It's already lonely and scared and now they want to make it suffer more. We can't let that happen dad!'' His father patiently waited for him to finish and then began: ''Now, of course not. I am just getting ready to go down and talk to the boys. I made a call to the mayor's office so hopefully they can do something about that too.'' He looked at the boy who was standing at the door, drenched with sweat. ''But I need you to stay here Zachariah.'' Zack already started talking again when his father interrupted his pleads. ''Promise me you won't go down today. I don't know what will happen there but you have my word I will do everything I can. Perhaps we can even go down to see it together afterwards.'' He said that looking intently at Zack and the boy knew his father's word was final. It was one of those moments when he could see that his father is regarding him as mature. He always wanted to prove himself to his father. And so, he promised.

His father left and Zack waited for hours, sketching the whale. He has seen an orca whale in pictures his father has shown him, but it was not moving. Soon he stood up, no longer willing to just accept the fate. His father wasn't always able to do things either. Zack long ago realized his father wasn’t invincible. Zack couldn’t just wait around while the whale might be in danger, rare as it is. He quickly put on his diving suit, covering it with a hoodie. His mother was making a cake in the kitchen and he carefully stepped by. The front door was so close but she has seen him. ‘’Where to, Zack? Your father isn’t back yet.’’ Defeated he stopped. She would know if he lied, so he told her the truth. A few moments later she spoke again. ‘’You’re a good boy Zack. We are both very proud of you. Do you know there’s a chance the whale will be caught?’’

‘’Yes, mom. But I need to try too. ‘’ She looked at him carefully. He was a complete image of his father. Zack was growing up fast and she could see that he understood what was happening down in the bay. ‘’Alright. But take a sandwich and be back soon. Try to find your father.’’ He gave her a kiss and hurried along.

 

 

A large group of men was standing by the bay. Many came to spectate but children were not allowed. He could see his father from far but Zack would have risked being seen if he came any closer. Upon looking at nets getting prepared, Zack knew his dad was unsuccessful. He crawled behind men’s backs, unseen, to try and find another way to the water. He knew many and was happy to see that they didn’t. Bushes hid his figure as he ran down to the beach. He took out his scuba mask and threw his clothes into his backpack laying on the sandy ground. He was now very close to one of the piers and he took a run for it, risking exposure by the group. Looking back, he saw the men were still occupied with spreading out the nets. They were tying it to the boats and were planning to set out for a hunt. Zack reached the end of the pier and waited. He could see the deep blue below him, spreading into familiar blackness waiting for him to uncover it. He couldn’t jump, they would hear it. He came to the edge of the wooden boards and crouched. Reaching down with his right foot, his toes touched the water. Zack lowered himself further and let go off the boards. He was finally home. He dunked his head and looked around. All he could see were a couple of fish swimming past his feet into the now brighter ocean. Coming back to the surface Zack focused on the men again.

He could hear a big splash. Nets were in the water. The engines were now running and their big roar was like a sound of nightmare. He needed to hurry. He has swum for hours with the growls of the true monsters above him. Neither of them found anything. Zack was only now aware how small he was and that he could barely do much. He didn’t have slightest idea what he would do if he does find the whale. He looked behind him as he thought he heard a sound. Something was coming towards him. It was bright and shiny and he had to cover his eyes. Suddenly he was grabbed by his arm and pushed upwards. Zack was terrified. Reaching the line where ocean met the sky he grasped for air and looked around wildly. Then suddenly a form of his father emerged next to him. He knew he was in trouble but his father looked relieved. ‘’I told you this is no place for a boy.’’

‘’I am sorry dad. I needed to do something.’’ He looked at his father sheepishly. He must have been mistaken but he could swear he saw pride flicker in his father’s eyes. ‘’I know. I couldn’t convince them. We can just hope they don’t find it first.’’ His father looked determined now. ‘’Come on, we need to look more.’’

They swam further, every now and then taking a short break. Both were sure of only one thing. They need to find the whale first. They were going to try and lead it out in the open. His father has gone to the car and brought floaters for them in case they get tired. It was starting to get dark and they turned on their flashlights. So did the men on the boats. More time passed and the whale was nowhere to be found. They saw the boats retreat one by one and they started to do the same. 

 

Zack went down one more time, his father right by his side. He saw a flickering light in front of him and swam towards it. When he reached the source, he spread out his fingers and picked up a pebble. It shined in an unusual color. He was just about to turn back when he saw an eye. Looking at his father, they both knew they have found it. It was the most beautiful thing Zack has ever seen. His father reached into his waterproof backpack and pulled out a bag of fish and squids. Opening it the food spilled out and the orca gratefully took it. It seemed just as needy of their help as they were of its company. They started swimming out, giving it more fish as they went. When Zack went up to check for direction, he saw the light coming towards them. They were far from the beach now but they were not alone. The monsters have followed. He went back down and looked at his father. On his writing pad Zack informed his father of what has occurred and a concerned look showed on their faces. They needed to hurry. Zack was to swim forward with the whale and his father went towards the light in attempt to distract them. Zack pushed as hard as he could but the whale swam towards him allowing Zack to touch its fin. As Zack held on the whale swam faster than Zack ever could. They were now very close to the freedom, but they could hear the engines above. 

At the mouth of the Dragon’s bay, they stopped and Zack gave the remaining fish to the whale that playfully bumped into him, thanking him. When swimming forward though it got caught into a net that was laid down to prevent the whale’s escape out in the open. The water was very deep on that end and the net reached the very bottom of the ocean floor. Panicking, Zack tried pushing the net but it did not give. He hurried up and down, looking for a hole but there was none. The monster’s roars were closer and closer as Zack found a sharp stone. He began cutting through the net but he was slow. He has almost forgotten the knife he always carried with him but at last he reached for it, cutting the ropes faster. Just as the boat has reached them the hole was big enough for them to swim though it.

The whale’s eyes knowingly looked at Zack and Zack could see an entire ocean in them. After a minute its fins disappeared in the mysterious waters.

Submitted by: Leona Salmic

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