If we can find them…

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I suppose I had about eight winters the day it happened. It was between my eighth and ninth winters, anyway. 

About three months earlier, Dad had suggested we break away from the pod and set out to find our own feeding waters. The pod had grown to such an extent by then, that there were times when the shoals of fish we found were simply not big enough to feed us all. Breaking the pod up into smaller units was the only sensible solution anyone could think of. There were more than two hundred of us before we broke away, and it needs an immense shoal of small fish to feed two hundred hungry dolphins as well as the others that follow us, knowing our ability to track down mega-shoals is unmatched in the oceans. If we could agree to split in half; two pods of a hundred members; our ability to find food would quadruple. That’s according to Uncle Gr’nant’sk’s calculations, anyway. And he should know – he’s the smartest dolphin any of us has ever met.

But the council didn’t agree. Strength in numbers was the only mantra they’d ever subscribe to.

So, Mum and Dad agreed that we’d leave as a family. Including siblings, aunts and uncles, there would have been twenty-seven of us. That’s enough to satisfy the strength in numbers requirement as well as increasing prey availability fifty-three-fold (again, according to Uncle Gr’nant’sk’s calculations).

Uncle Gr’nant’sk fell ill whilst we were making the preparations to leave the pod. Being weak, he fell behind and got himself caught up in some nets that the uprights were using to catch tuna. He didn’t survive that encounter.

That really shook everyone’s confidence. The entire family, excepting only Mum and Dad, decided that strength in numbers was everything. They knew that the feeding opportunities were limited and becoming more so by the season but chose to accept a small number of losses through malnutrition rather than, as one elder put it, leave themselves open to who-knows-what in a smaller group. There was a discussion, which turned into an argument which turned quite nasty. Dad said something I didn’t hear clearly (because Mum stuffed a flipper into each of my aural orifices) and managed to earn us what they called a temporary banishment.

Now, anyone who knows anything about large, and I mean really large pods will tell you that one of their chief characteristics is that they are always on the move, always on the hunt for those shoals whose membership can be counted in millions because that’s the size the pod needs to feed adequately. So, when they say temporary banishment, they should really add, “and good luck finding us when your exile ends.”

We left. Just the three of us. Evicted from the pod, ejected from the family, shut out of all our relationships. 

At first, it was good. Okay, perhaps not-too-bad would be a more accurate characterisation. We played on the waves, raided groups of fish that were probably too small to be termed shoals and generally had a life that may not have been described as actually comfortable, but which was okay. We rarely went hungry for long and we had each other for company.

We found ourselves near an area where, according to Dad, the uprights were trying to find shoals large enough to feed their voracious appetites, and we should move away. Trouble was, Mum and Dad couldn’t agree which way we should follow. I’d never heard my parents argue before and it was frightening. Dad kept saying that his logic told him we should go one way, but Mum said her gut pointed her in a different direction. In the end, Dad followed his logic and went off towards the east, whilst I chose to follow Mum and her instincts heading south. We agreed to meet up in this same place after a few days to compare notes.

That was the last time we ever saw Dad.

It’s just Mum and me now, condemned to spend our days searching for our old pod and our family, hoping they’ll take us back.

If we can find them…


This was written in response to Kreative Kue 343 published on this site.

 

The camera never lies

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They do say, don’t they (whoever they refers to), that the camera never lies.

I have two observations on that.

Firstly, whoever asserted that had no knowledge of digital cameras or familiarity with… I don’t know… Photoshop, PaintShop Pro, GIMP or any of the plethora of image manipulation software, free and paid-for, that make up the photofinishing market these days.

My second observation is that, even were it impossible for a displayed image to show anything other than what was directly accessible to the lens at the time of capture, it has always been open to the photographer to arrange the scene in a way that will convey the impression that he or she wants to convey. In other words, the inability of the camera to lie – were such a concept true – does not preclude and has never precluded the ability of the composer of the image to deceive, to create a reality other than that which is immediately apparent.

Take this image as an example. We see an elderly gentleman holding his dog. The dog is on its back, supine; its eyes closed and its mouth in a relaxed position. What are we to infer from this scene? It is a still image, so we aren’t given the opportunity to observe whether the animal is moving, twitching or even breathing. Is it possible that he is dead? We certainly don’t have enough evidence to exclude that. The man’s face is giving nothing away. We can probably assume, from the expression, or lack of, on the man’s face, that the dog is still alive. Were he dead, we would expect the man to show signs of distress. Unless, of course, the poor pooch had gone to doggy heaven some time prior to the photograph being taken, in which case his owner (can we safely assume the man to be the dog’s owner?) would have cried himself out and would now be merely sad, resigned to the loss of his pet.

Do we believe, then, that the dog is asleep? Let’s look at the evidence with that as our hypothesis. The dog’s position is as consistent with sleep as it is with death. If we suspect, therefore, that the man’s expression leads us away from the assumption of death, then sleep becomes a very real possibility. I’m certainly heading rapidly towards sleep whilst writing this drivel.

Before I go, though, I want to offer an alternative – and we can call it your homework for the week. Consider the attitude of the two characters. Is it within the realm of reason to speculate that the man may have hypnotised the dog?

Or has the dog, perhaps, hypnotised the man?

Discuss.


This was written in response to Kreative Kue 342 published on this site.

 

Not a mere cat.

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Come camping with us, Trevor, they said. You’ll love it, they said. There’ll be lots of long walks, new smells, new places. You’ll probably meet some more dogs to sniff around or play with. You’ll really have the best time, they said.

That’s what they said, anyway. That’s how they sold it to me,

The reality? The blighters have gone out again and left me. We’re leaving you in charge, they said. Same as they always say. You’re a good little guard dog. You won’t let any bad people come in and steal our stuff will you. And don’t worry, we’ll bring you back a doggy-bag. If you’re really good, there might be some best steak in it.

And I wag my tail and slobber over them, not because it’s what I feel but because it’s what they expect. And it’s true, they’ll be back after two or three hours, and they’ll have a bag of leftovers with them. And they’ll fawn all over me as they give it to me because, of course, I won’t have let anyone in. Nothing will be missing, nothing broken and – not that I’m not tempted at times – nothing chewed. The place will be as clean and as tidy as when they left.

Admittedly, that’s in large part due to the fact that I spent most of their absence sleeping. Well, it’s about the only avenue open to me to stave off the interminable boredom, isn’t it? Oh yes, and the nagging feeling that always gets me, no matter how hard I try to suppress it, that they may never come back, and I’ll be stuck here for the rest of my life.

I did some thinking once. What actually goes into these doggy-bags? Do you know what it is? No? Then I shall enlighten you, I shall add to your education, your knowledge of what’s what, your understanding of reality.

It’s stuff they don’t want!

That’s right. They go to these fancy places and stuff themselves full of all their favourite things. Anything they can’t eat or don’t like, they put in a bag and give to me. What does that say about how much they value me and what I do? And before you say anything, I’ll believe their protestations of love and respect and all the other BS they come out with when they do what they say they’ll do.

What am I talking about?

Where are the long walks, the new smells, the new places they promised? 

What they ask me to do doesn’t need an intelligent and active dog – it could be done by a mere cat!


This was written in response to Kreative Kue 341 published on this site.