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Fish Stocks Limited

“This one must have fell out of his tree or such like, then. Hairy little urchin, I'll
warrant. What say you we put him on the end of a pole and swab the deck with him?”
“Har har, we could do an' all.”
“But I'm not such a bad man as that, a real softy I am. We could cast him back
overboard but he's not going to last long in that jungle. There's things in there that'd
have you for breakfast. No, I say we take him back to the City and leave him there.”
“He'd probably be as well in the jungle, Jerry; the City's as dangerous as it for the
most part. Har, har, a funny lookin' thing like 'im - he's got a tail and all.”
“You felt your back end recently, Mungo? No, on second thoughts don't answer
that. What I'm trying to say is that stump is there for a reason. I reckon we were like
this bloke once.”
“Monkey men? Har, har, you reckon? It'd explain my fleas I suppose.”
“Again, you're only half joking, aye, Mungo.”
“Har har.”
“Look, he's opening his eyes.”
“Where am I?” Ambrosius croaked. “I don't feel too good.”
“Mist sickness, that'll be. The names Jerry,” said Jerry.
Through Ambrosius' swimming vision he discerned a man of about forty years,
skin grizzled by long contact with the mist and an air of simple wisdom about him.
“This here's Mungo.”
Mungo gave a slovenly salute, raising one grimy hand to his red-spotted bandanna
and then back down to his waist. He was a short, paunchy man of about thirty who
looked like... well, lets just say the name “Mungo” oddly suited this jolly, hairy,
swarthy fellow.
“Ambrosius,” said Ambrosius. “How did I get here?” he asked, sitting up.
Ambrosius surveyed his surroundings anxiously and saw little to reassure him. Below
him were roughly hewn planks, full of knots and splinters. These rude floorboards
were awash with condensed mist and something else more disturbing: blood. The
deck was pooled liberally with this watery red mixture, and it scared Ambrosius.
“You were caught in the nets,” said Jerry. He saw Ambrosius eyeing the gore
beneath him. “Nothing but fishblood, don't worry yourself. You get used to it in our
line of work. We gut some of the bigger, better quality fish on the way back to the
City, that way we can put them onto the market whilst they're still extra fresh.”
“You're Fishers?”
“What? You stress the word like its something holy. We're fishermen, yes.”
“So this is what the yellow monster is for? You catch Fish with it?”
“There you go again, stressing your words odd. We catch fish. Nothing special
about them. This yellow monster is a mist boat. Yes, if you can call that there mis t a
pea-soup then this is a yellow sub-tureen. Uses fish swim-bladders to keep it
floating.” Jerry stamped his foot on the deck. “That and a petrel engine to drive it
forwards.” (Yes, petrel as in the bird. These poor creatures are driven beak first into
the stern of the ship, so that when they flap their wings they drive the ship forward.
They are controlled by a throttle – a piece of rope like a lead that can be pulled tight
round their necks to cause them to fly forward.)
“So that's what the noise is?”
“The noise? That's the rendering plant we got down below. Smug-panel powered,
very efficient. We use it to process some of the smaller, lower grade fish as we go.
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