Angus embarks on the last leg of an epic journey - written for "Rhythms & Writing".
This story was written specifically for "Rhythms & Writing: Official WDC Contest"
If you would like to listen to the prompt music (which is very good ), this is the link:
The Final Leap
Angus gazed into the distance, his dark eyes taking in the image of the vast tunnel of water that lay ahead. The stream was calm that day and he swayed gently in the light current as the early morning rays of the sun cast a sparkling mosaic upon the surface.
This was it; the final day. They would make that ultimate leap and descend in to the big wide ocean where they would go their separate ways and begin their exciting lives as fish of the sea. Angus felt the water shift beside him and turned his face slightly to see his best friend, Brave pull up beside him. Angus smiled at him and his companion returned the gesture. They had been friends since they were small fry, up in the mountains as they were just embarking on their epic journey. Brave wasn’t his real name, but everyone called him that because of the increasingly daring stunts he had pulled as they travelled downstream. He could jump at least a foot higher than anyone else in the school and would risk being eaten alive by a scavenging bird or otter in the name of exploring some unknown nook of the riverbank.
“Ready for this?” Angus asked his friend lightly.
“I was born ready,” replied Brave without skipping a beat. Angus laughed and shook his gills. Some of the other fish were starting to surface and the calm began to dissipate. A few of them called out to the two friends – generic encouragements like “Good luck!”, “See you on the other side!” or “Let’s go have some fun!”
Angus and Brave took their places near the front of the rabble. They had vowed to try and stay close to one another, as they had done along the length of the stream they were born in and then the river itself, but this last leg was swimming in to the unknown. If Angus lost sight of Brave he hoped that they would be able to find each other afterwards. The ocean was supposed to be a big place.
Angus tried to remain calm. The meander was full of the bodies of fish, squirmy with a mixture of excitement and trepidation.
“Let’s hope there are no fishermen out this early – they’d have the catch of the day,” Brave whispered to Angus with a snigger. Angus shushed him, flicking him playfully with the end of his tail. The last thing he wanted to think about on a day like today was being netted!
Suddenly, everyone fell silent and Angus felt the sensation of a great surge.
“We’re off!” he shouted to Brave, feeling the current push against his body and the two of them whooped as they led the school of salmon down the last length of the river. Faster and faster they sped as the current became stronger. The water rushed against Angus’ scales. Brave had pulled out in front of him and was turning and spinning in the water like a crazed acrobat and Angus had to use all of his strength to keep up. There were fish everywhere and the water churned in front of him, making it difficult to see where he was going. He had to keep an eye out for predators or he might never even see the ocean. As he had the thought, he was suddenly aware of a shadow above and a sharp orange point – a beak, jabbed at him angrily from the surface. Angus dived down deep hoping the others would have the sense to follow his lead. Had that been a seagull? If so then they must be near the ocean.
Suddenly he heard a deep rumbling which made his body vibrate. The water started to froth and bubble around him – it must be the waterfall. “The Final Leap” thought Angus and then his small, lithe body was tumbling through the sky and existence became a mass of air and water and rock and fish as he fell down in to the pool below. In front of him and slightly to the right he spotted Brave and grinned. They were going to do it – not just talk about it. Right now, they were here, making the final leap. The air became thick and turned to liquid as Angus hit the surface of the water, face first. The pressure from the waterfall propelled his body forward and he shot out in to the centre of the pool. The taste of salt was both overwhelming and sickly and for a moment Angus felt like he was choking and couldn’t breathe but as he slowed down, getting his bearings, he felt an odd sensation come over him as his body adapted to the new conditions and the salty water began to flow freely through his gills.
The water cleared as he moved away from the waterfall and the froth subsided. The wide lake he found himself in spread out even further in to the delta, where the ocean and river mouth collided. He floated slowly, scouting the lake for Brave. Where was he? Angus had lost sight of his childhood friend just before plummeting in to the lake. What if he hadn’t made it alive? As he stared in to the distance, contemplating entering the ocean alone, he felt something bump against his side and a lump of what must have been seaweed slopped over his face.
“You took your time,” quipped a familiar voice, peppered with laughter.
“Brave!” Angus shouted, shaking off the slimy weed and bumping him back. Then, quieter, “We did it. We’re here.”
The two fish looked at each other for a moment and then shifted their gaze to the ocean. It looked vast and dark, and was no doubt full of bigger things waiting to eat them but for now, it was home.
Slowly, tail to tail, they swam boldly towards their new life…..