The Blackfish

Jocelynne’s hairline was messy with blood. Usually when a person falls they extend their hands as a natural reflex to protect the head and face. Jocelynne did so, she thought, but somehow managed to crack her head against the secluded road. She lived with the feeling that she’d find herself helpless one day; working in hospitals didn’t make her feel any different; she didn’t feel related to the doctors and medicines, and didn’t think they’d be around to help her when the time came.

An unusually cool wind blew over Jocelynne’s arms, legs and face. The lick of raw nature made her think about being in the same predicament come nightfall. It was reason to panic.

Blinking blood, Jocelynne dragged herself to the thin strip of grass between the road and the wheat field. Once cushioned by the green layer, she tried to get up, but her knees refused the weight and she relapsed onto her back again. Droplets of salty, warm fluid ran into her mouth; the taste gave her another fright. She heard someone call. Wheat fields stood on both sides of the road; she turned her head to the left then right but could see no-one in the jungles of ripening stalks.

Jocelynne looked up to the sky with a faster beating heart. The voice from the wheat refused to believe she didn’t know who was talking to her and asked her to look again. She rotated her teary eyes to the right. The crop presided over her with menace; she was a captive, but still no figure or face emerged from the stalks. The messenger repeated that she could see if she really dare.

The last time Jocelynne spoke to the blackfish she was standing on the edge of drift ice, looking down at the creature’s head bobbing in the freezing water. It wasn’t unkind to her then but it was persistent and wanted to know the real reasons behind the things she did. As she cried out her confessions, it moved its jaw and rocked back and forth like a performing dolphin. Her mentor waited for her weeping to dry up before slipping beneath the blanket of water and letting itself be pulled into the dark.

Jocelynne cringed to think the blackfish had returned for her – it had the power to swallow her whole. The beast wanted too much from her, its demands for things that she did not know or did not want were unbearable. She shook her head and cried in anticipation of the creature’s stare and expectations.

The side of Jocelynne’s face was licked by the blackfish’s icy breath. She welded her eyes closed. It told her that it had been looking for her. She denied trying to run from it. The animal circled her. She tuned in to the sound of splashing arctic water.

A dry, uneventful air took over Jocelynne’s senses. She opened her eyes to a sphere of brilliant light. Her former workmates looked over her; she sensed their attention and heard their voices but couldn’t make out their faces. The blackfish had dumped her off again. She closed her eyes and tried to take herself down to the animal’s deep lair.

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