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Bewildering Stories

Andreas Androutsellis-Theotokis, Nannion


Author: Andreas Androutsellis-Theotokis
Publisher: Amazon Digital Services LLC
Date: January 11, 2017
Length: 277 pages
Size: 848 kb

Chapter 8: Nannion’s Birthday Present

Nannion did not know her age. Not even in the ballpark. But she felt young in the sense that she could tell her difficult and lonely existence could potentially go on for a long time. So she could not have predicted that on a particular June day, soon after Frank had left the island, while a small bunch of marine biologists from around the world were preparing to research her home, she had just turned one!

In reality, she was about a year old - approximately. Claire had taken her exactly six months ago, to the day, and when she did, the cat was around six months of age.

Her day was like most others. Warm, dry weather, bluest skies, waters on her left and different waters on her right, a few walks to the shores, hanging out with Octopus.

But at night, she received a gift. On her customary nighttime walk to the Aquarium waters, a few tens of feet before the shore, she heard uncharacteristically loud noises coming from the Aquarium waters. There was no wind, there were no birds at that late time... This was not justified.

She stopped and turned back, taking a safe stance. She sat where she was for a while. Giving it another shot, she got up again and moved towards the Aquarium.

That noise, again, she thought, stopping at her tracks. I am going back to Octopus.

But a noise from the back made her postpone action.

Noise behind me and noise in front of me. That was not an optimal situation, for her.

But boredom, a degree of desperation, and a negative outlook for her future helped her to overcome her self-preservation instincts and allowed herself to be driven by curiosity.

What is coming?

It sounded like small gusts of wind over tall grass, pushing it left and right, forcing leaves to slide against each other. But there were no such plants on Dioptra, a dry island in southern Greece. Besides, the noise was getting louder - something was rapidly coming closer.

Oh, it slithers.

Nannion saw a two-meter long creature emerging from the dark, moving directly and fast towards her. Had she ever seen a snake, she could have thought it was one. But it wasn’t. It looked like a serpent eel, a particularly snake-shaped eel, a fish.

It had scary teeth but non-threatening eyes. So much that Nannion didn’t run or even get out of the way. The fish went past Nannion who simply turned around to follow its path with her eyes. The eel reached the Aquarium waters and the cat assumed it would take a big dive into them. She wanted to see that. But the eel stopped just short of plunging in. It curled its body like a snake and raised its head to stare at Nannion. Eels don’t do that but how could have poor Nannion known?

She followed it and only when she was close to it did it let itself drop into the water. Nannion leaned to try and see it but it had gone. While she was still scanning the waters for a sign of the serpent eel, she saw those bioluminescent sparkles that were so impressive on Dioptra. It wasn’t caused by the eel, though. Instead, it was caused by a massive fin that was gently breaking the surface of the water.

Right there by the shore, the fin went left and right several times, giving Nannion a memorable bioluminescence sight. It was the equivalent of a fireworks display but so much more gentle.

The fin was clearly attached onto something much, much larger. She could infer this from the way the water surface curved around it and by the planktonic light that was illuminating a sizeable portion of the curved back of the beast. This might have been the same shark that Nannion and Frank had independently observed.

She was so excited that she took a little jump onto the beast’s back, but only for a couple of seconds. This giant’s size did not inspire fear to her. Her feet balancing onto the shark caused a few additional bioluminescent sparkles.

Afterwards, she jumped straight back onto the shore, a few feet further down. She looked at her feet but they were not glowing any more. They were just wet. She shook them and started walking back to her usual spot, where she had previously embarked onto the shark.

As if she hadn’t had enough sparkling surprises, Nannion noticed a new one, placed where she was just a few seconds ago. A shiny, still wet, wonderfully fresh fish had been evidently placed exactly by her standard spot on the edge of the Aquarium shore. Its scales were so glossy that they would have made a Greek fishmonger proud to handle it.

Greeks like to cook their fish well and they are excellent at it. But life on the island had made Nannion a bit of an expert on uncooked fish. She could tell this fish had been alive just a short while before. But the ones she caught herself were tiny ones - this was big enough to satisfy a grown up man’s appetite. She approached it, sniffed it, looked around, sniffed it again, and dipped her teeth into its flesh.

With her canines still into the fish, she let out a sigh of satisfaction. Just like a seasoned grilled fish lover who tries sashimi for the first time. She proceeded to eat all of its flesh. She then had a drink from the rain water containers and retired to her room to sleep with Octopus.

She didn’t know what she had done to deserve such luck, on that day. But after such a heavy and delicious meal, all she wanted to do was sleep.

But Hypnos wouldn’t come and take her.

Her little, hard-working noggin was processing more and more information as each day passed. For a cat, anyway. What had just happened? Who left the fish there?

Sitting on the bed with her plush toy next to her she stared at the dark skies through the window.

The long creature. The large creature. The food, left for me.

She gave Octopus a little head rub.

That is when a loud bang coming from the window startled her.

She quickly turned her head towards the window but couldn’t see anything. Did something fall on it? After a moment of hesitation, she jumped onto the window sill to take a better look. Nobody was there. Maybe a bird had hit the glass.

Nannion noticed an impression onto the window. She was standing so close to the window that to take a good look she traced it with her face.

A human front paw? I shall investigate the waters.

Moments later, Nannion was by the Aquarium waters, full of energy, curiosity, and even a dose of frustration; her confusion had caused that.

She meowed louder than she ever had. She meowed towards the waters, to the left, to the right, and towards the buildings. She reasoned someone was trying to attract her attention. And they had succeeded. The gift, the bang. But then, where were they? Why not reveal themselves?

Hoping for a sign, Nannion scanned the horizon with her eyes but there was nothing for her. She stared at the Aquarium waters, clearly a key to this mystery. She sat down, waiting and watching. She stood up when she saw the waters move just fifteen meters or so away from her. Light sparkles appeared and she was able to guess who was agitating the dinoflagellates.

It was, indeed, the shark’s back disrupting the routine existence of the plankton as it broke the surface.

Maybe I will get some information about what is going on, she thought.

But the shark was not swimming towards her, evidently not planning to bring anything new to her. It swam gently away from her, took a dive into the waters and disappeared.

Nannion watched until the last bioluminescent sparkle vanished. She interpreted the shark’s gesture as a call to go home.

“Nothing to see here, cat”, is what she got out of this show. With that she finally got up and walked, disappointed, back to her quarters. She jumped straight onto the bed, knowing that there would be nothing to see through the window, on that night.

The big one, the one that makes the water around it glow... That one is not scary, although it is so big, she thought. It looks like the dead one; why did that one die? Is the big one going to die, too? The long creature... did it bring me to the waters and the big animal? And what happened to my window? Who is calling me and bringing me delicious gifts?.

Copyright © 2017 by Andreas Androutsellis-Theotokis

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