boredom games

General fiction short stories not related to Science Fiction, Fantasy, or Horror.

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waytanblee
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boredom games

Post by waytanblee »

I was watching a current affairs show tonight and got inspired to write this,



The wind whipped tumble weed across the shore and chopped the waves. There were no people on the beach, just the two men in wetsuits and free-diving gear. Dustin, one of these men, stood on a rock that overlooked a deep blue hole in the reef. He glanced to the shore, looking for any sign of tourists braving the trek off the beaten track. There was no one. As there shouldn’t be. This spot had been chosen for its remoteness. There was nothing for miles of this place; nothing remarkable about the scenery, no surf, no pretty beach—just rocks and crags and those piles of seaweed that cliff-faced on the edge of high tide. He squatted down and placed his hand on the slimy rock for balance, then hopped himself down into a sitting position. Mark was off to his right somewhere, Dustin could see him flippering along slowly—face down, snorkel up—searching the surfaces of the boulders that lay on the ocean bed growing coral.

He slipped into the water and ritualistically ducked his head under the oncoming white wash. He popped to the surface and whipped his hair around. The cold southerly wind bit at his face. He mouthed a bit of seawater and rinsed his teeth. It was midwinter, not the usual time for hunting abalone, but then again there was nothing legal about what they were doing today.

Abalone hunting was lucrative at the best of times, but for their purposes it was more lucrative than selling drugs. At seventy dollars a kilo they needed only go out once a week. Of course, that was on the sly rates, but they were in no condition to bargain with the strait faced asians they sold to. “Seventy dollar or no buy,” they would say. Or, if haggled with, “you go some other buyer, seventy dollar, final!”

They’d take their beat up car up the coast every Wednesday and plunder some unremarkable beach that no one ever went to. After a few weeks, they’d out and drag their trailer further up the coast and set down there for a few weeks, surfing the local breaks, smoking the green and milling with the locals. They called it “Living off the land,” but what it was was illegal.

Dustin fitted the mask from his forehead down to over his face and fitted the snorkel. He lowered his face to the water and let the water rise around his head. The water was a deep blue, that way because the sunlight was mostly just refracted and reflected. It was about a two square meter hole, then below the surface of the reef it bowled out quite a long way under ledges and outcrops till Dustin couldn’t see where it went as it disappeared into murkiness. He blow holed some water out of his snorkel. It was all coral castles and sea anemones down here.

There are three types of abalone. The most common type, the ones that leave mother of pearl shells along the beach, are called roe’s abalone. They can be found anywhere that there is a rock and some water. The next kind are brown lips. A bit bigger than roes, these can be found just a short way off the coast and at about five meters depth. The next type, Green lips, are to be found far off shore and at depths of up to twenty meters. Today they were going for Brown lips. Dustin had yet to see how the going was.

He sucked in air through his snorkel and submerged. The deep blue turned into shapes, which then turned into coral and seaweed. A sea anemone wavered in the tranquil ocean current. He touched his abalone net at his hip, then his knife, then pulled out the knife. There was not much breath left in him now and he hadn’t spotted any abalone. But there, what was it?

It was a large snail really. There was brown and baize pattern on it. It was large. He immediately begun to appraise what it would be worth, out of a boredom game he usually played with himself over these hour long hunts. He was keeping down against his body’s better judgement, his diaphragm was kicking like a baby. When he was wondering about if it was sellable, turning the thing over with his hands, his diaphragm started flapping like a bird so he pushed off to the surface. But whilst flipping his net caught on something and tore free.

“Damn,” he spat as his head broke out of the water.

At a quick glance he could see that Mark was on shore. He was standing up, pacing up and down a little, he handsignalled their danger signal. His net wasn’t with him. There was a voice.

“Hello there.”

He was calling from a far, standing on the rocks by the car park.

“*beep*,” Dustin breathed.

The man was walking awkwardly across the rocks and stopped about ten meters away from where Dustin was milling around in the water, holding the giant snail.

“I’m just from fisheries, just checking licences. You abaloneing today?”

It wasn’t season, so of course not. This guy was playing games with him.

“Nope, just checking out the reef.”

“This far out?”

“Yeah, we got told there were some pretty nice reef around here.”

The man was nodding. “Can you get out of the water please.”

Dustin got out of the water and stood on the rock, his heart was racing.

“What’s that you got in your hand there?”

He was looking at the snail.

“Oh, this? I dunno. Just found it down there.”

“Your not allowed to touch those, they’re protected.”

“Oh, sorry.”

“That’s alright, I’ll let you get off with a warning this time.” The man rocked back and forth on his feet a while, looked across to Mark on the beach who was sitting, watching, looked back to Dustin, then he just waved, “See you."

Dustin looked across to Mark at the beach who shrugged at him. He heard the sound of the car starting then driving off. He stood there a while, taking it in, the breeze biting his face. It was a $20 000 fine if you were caught with bulk abalone, if you were even caught sniffing an abalone off season and without a licence they’d take you to court about it. Something washed up onto the rock and onto his foot. It was his net. He kicked it off with petulance and started walking across the reef back to the towels. He'd had enough for today.
Last edited by waytanblee on Thu Sep 11, 2008 10:40 pm, edited 2 times in total.

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Ariel
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Re: boredom games

Post by Ariel »

Well done!!!

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waytanblee
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Re: boredom games

Post by waytanblee »

Thanks :mrgreen:

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