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Fish Stocks Limited

The third night came and now Ambrosius' thinking had beco me increasingly
eccentric and weird. The rhythm of the Fish seemed to make his thoughts ebb and
flow, themes repeating in monotonous freakishness as the line paid out and in, out and
in. He was hypnotised. The Smug, when it came, was not so welcome any more, for it
blinded Ambrosius' sleepless eyes and made him blink. Each blink was a quantum of
sleep, from which he jolted upright disconcertingly, once more to the Fish.
The fourth night came causing waves of fear and anger to almost consume him.
Almost. With some previously unknown reserve of strength he mastered the peculiar
chemical imbalances that his sleeplessness had induced and fished on. Day crawled
up the horizon and laughed at Ambrosius, so serious and brow-knitted where he sat. A
Hookbeetle crawled across his legs and continued its own mission unthinkingly as it
trundled mechanically onwards. The same animal mechanics kept Ambrosius
functioning; this was excellent for Ambrosius as a machine is just what he needed to
be.
The fifth night was terrify ing. Dark shapes flitted about at the edge of our
determined Fisher's vision, taunting him. Things from other dimensions started to
impinge on his consciousness. Dawn rose somehow from the sepulchre of night, but it
was a cold and windy day without cheer. The Fish seemed perhaps to have tired a
little, for it pulled out with slightly less vigour, but it was by no means beaten.
The sixth night. Shapes and patterns. The image of a Fish, smiling and laughing,
taunting the Fisher, telling him of his weakness. Blackouts. Daylight. Some last inner
reserve of strength. Yes, Ambrosius had strength. He would see this through. All
through the hours of darkness he fished, all through the night he meshed with the
thoughts and struggles of his quarry; he was one with the starlight, one with the
endless black of space. He was free, he was free...
He was told about it afterwards, after sleeping for a full three days. He had tapped
an inner reservoir of strength and skill, and with an impossible burst of energy had
renewed his efforts. The Fish was struggling away from him, the Line taut, but no
more taut than it had been so many times before. There was no reasonable cause for
worry. Ambrosius' conduct was impeccable, textbook, expert... yet it still happened.
Ambrosius was pulling to one side, trying to turn the Fish. Had he succeeded? The
tension in the Line had certainly dropped, and now he reeled in faster than ever. He
reeled in. Was the Fish finally beat? He reeled in some more. Sleep could wait just a
few more minutes. He reeled in. He reeled in. He reeled in. The line came up the tree.
But it felt light. How light and how absolutely, undeniably, irrevocably devoid of a
fish. The precious Hook was gone too, snapped off in the great fish's mouth, no doubt.
Ambrosius looked up to the rising Smug, that Smug that had risen non-judgementally
seven times on his one and only chance to become fishful. He shook his fist and he
screamed like a dying creature, and the crowd cried and mumbled to themselves and
left him. He reeled. Sank down in a flood of tears and sleep, he fell; sleep came
washing over him like a Stone addicts long-anticipated fix. He was like a corpse, but
still he breathed the summer air, still his heart beat and his blood rushed and his brain
fired. All through this black repose he could see nothing else but a great white Fish, so
breathtakingly beautiful and sleek, standing out impossibly bright against the blood-
ebony backdrop of his eyelids.
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