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Fish Stocks Limited

of rock had first coalesced, cooled and given birth to life, the Infinity Fish dove gladly
into the new shrouds of steaming hot Mist and deposited its roe at the base of the
progenitor of the Hook Tree. The Infinity Fish grew in numbers until the sea of mist
was full of darting shoals, as numerous as the stars in the sky from where their mother
had journeyed. The fish wallowed and bucked, the pisconification of joy.
The aeons passed and from the primordial mist emerged the first animalcules
indigenous to Expiscor. Billions of years saw these microscopic movers and shakers
grow until they were big enough to scale the rough trunks of the Hook Trees and
proudly crawl the branches. And to crawl branches takes skill and a large brain. So
the Piscadors became clever, and with cleverness came inextricably the ability to fish.
So the Infinity Fish had a predator, yet a sensitive one. The Piscadors fished only
what they needed to cook their favourite dish, a sort of gumbo made with a good
strong stock and thickened with the pulped starchy fruit of the Hook Tree. The stock
was by far the most important part of the dish, and competitions have been and are
still held each year to see who can make the best. It is said that the longer a fish takes
to catch, the better the stock, and good fishers would deliberately spend hours teasing
a fish to try and make the perfect ingredient. Perhaps they deceive themselves and the
whole thing is a myth, but in a treetop world above the clouds without the slightest
hint of science, myths are a form of truth. Whatever. The belief that a long battle with
a fish leads to a good stock meant that for most of their history the Piscadors caught
fish at a relatively gentle rate, for they savoured quality over quantity in their culinary
endeavours. A balance emerged.
So the Infinity Fish still enjoyed its asymptotic freedom, the Piscadors were well
fed, and Hook Tree seeds were spread far and wide by the discardings of the gumbo
makers. It seemed that everyone was happy. It seemed this way, that is, until one
young Piscador fell out of a tree.
This is his story.
Chapter 2 – The Fall
It is said that when you are about to die (or very nearly so), your life flashes in
front of your eyes. This was indeed the case for a young Piscador called Ambrosius
Codwich as he fell from a branch of one of the tallest Hook Trees after slipping on a
carelessly discarded rotten Hook Fruit. And what better place to take up his story, for
we can use his fall and its associated recollections as a kind of slide-show of his life.
An excellent way of becoming acquainted with him as a character.
As Ambrosius started his fall he was overwhelmed by terror and his mind did a
sort of very fast rewind until he was in the womb again. He was given the unique
experience of being able to replay his very first thought. Bizarrely, this was “I deny
absolutely everything.” It occurred to Ambrosius that perhaps he had committed acts
of such scurrilousness in a previous life that his embryonic musings were still centred
around escaping their consequences. This would explain a lot, in terms of bad karma,
about the misfortunes of his current life, and perhaps about the unfolding of its end.
But more on both of these in a short while.
Passing the utmost branches of the Hook Tree, Ambrosius' mind jumped forward
several months to the day of his birth. The labour was a long one. O n the birthing