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Fish Stocks Limited

then hunkered down to another uncomfortable night in the Mist with the cold and the
insects.
****
Chapter 8 – Caught
The ground shook. Small twigs and leaves fell from where they had been resting
amongst the creepers and vines that interlaced the air above Ambrosius. His bowels
churned with the presence of danger before his eyes had chance to open. A familiar
clank and terrifying hum echoed around him. He sat upright, breathing heavily. It was
coming for him. He scrambled to his feet and his legs moved automatically,
propelling him through the night, branches and vines whipping and clinging to his
clothing. Blind panic enveloped him, and suddenly all his lesser woes were forgotten.
How he wished he had stayed in the safe ty of the land above the clouds, free from the
threat of mist and monsters. But here he was, now stumbling, now running, now
gasping for breath, and all the time the terrible noise getting closer. He snatched a
look behind him and there it was: Fish Stocks Limited. He plunged headfirst through
a thorny bush, his skin puckering as the cruel needles pierced it. He didn't even notice
the pain. He skidded over the slippery leaf mulch that blanketed the floor, weaving
between the trunks that loomed like tombstones in the foggy air. O n and on he sped.
Now he knew what it felt like to be hunted. Suddenly he was nothing but an animal,
his higher mental faculties dissolving in panic. Wee, sleekit, cowrin, tim'rous
beastie...
When it happened it happened fast. Hurtling along at top speed, Ambrosius' foot
got caught on a tree root and he was sent sprawling to the ground. He got to his feet,
but before he could move something struck him from behind, taking his legs from
under him. Everything went very slowly. He struggled with his arms, but something
entangled them. He kicked with his feet but they were similarly ensnared. He felt
himself being pulled towards the yellow beast. Blackness swallowed Ambrosius and,
cowardly as he was, he fainted.
Odd noises filtered through Ambrosius' faint to reach that thin sliver of mind that
his perception occupied. There was the all-encompassing chugging of the monster,
but, sounding small and tinny compared to it, there were voices:
“Aha, matey, we seem to have caught a right strange bass today! Come on, get
him untangled from the net.”
“Let's make fishmeal of 'im, nobody'll notice.”
“You're only half joking aren't you Mungo?”
“Har, har, only 'alf!”
“You ever heard of a catch like this?”
“Aye, I heard a skipper down the Cannery Arms once tell of a monkey man
caught in his nets. He was a cruel 'un that skipper, gave 'im a knock for messing up
his nets and threw 'im kicking and screaming back overboard. Some say that there's a
whole load of 'em living in the trees a few clicks east of here, past the desert, like. It's
true I reckon – I was over there once with some crazy skipper who thought the fishing
was better there. There were all these hooks, like, that dangling from the trees. I even
saw a fish bite and get hauled aloft.”
 
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