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Fish Stocks Limited

“Erm...” said Ambrosius.
“Har, har!” cried Mungo. “Told you that you would be surprised. A merry caper
we're in for and no mistake.”
“Do we have any idea where this fish might be?” asked Stan from his position by
the taffrail, eyes closed and a look of utter despair making his features incredibly
calm.
“Not a clue, matey, not a clue,” cackled Fishmael. “We shall have to sniff him
out!”
Stan swallowed back another mouthful of vomit. “Well, I see that you have it all
figured out,” he said serenely.
“And I swore an oath on this?” asked Ambrosius.
“Aye, you swore to chase the fish to the ends of the earth with me, your bosom
friend.”
“Oh,” said Ambrosius.
“Our voyage will take us well beyond the normal fishing grounds. T'will be a
perilous journey, no doubt, but think of the glory!”
“Yes, the glory,” said Ambrosius numbly.
Fishmael turned to where Jerry stood at the helm. “Set a course north by north east
and don't spare the petrels!”
The nameless ship planed along the mist, tufts of green-white spraying up to her
bowsprit as she plunged through the foggy waves. The light of Xiphias galvanised
her, anodised her, bathed her in quicksilver. Even her wake shimmered as the millions
of tiny phosphorescent animalcules that inhabited the mist were stirred up by her
passing. How like the passing of time was the passing of this demon ship – the ground
already covered shimmering out to aft, the course ahead a mystery and dark. Fishmael
would change tack erratically, “following my nose,” so he said. And so began the
final mission, to find the Infinity Fish of Fate.
****
Chapter 24 – The Taffrail
“I suppose it doesn't really matter, being as we won't catch the fish in the next
several millennia.” Ambrosius was stood by Stan at the taffrail, watching the horizon
as it paled in anticipation of Smugrise. There were no colours banding the sky this
dawn, only a gaunt light, as if the rays themselves were thin and moribund for lack of
fish.
“So that's the best scenario,” replied Stan, his voice broken with tiredness and
nausea. “We're on a completely useless mission on a ship that, if the captain’s record
is anything to go by, is bound to sink. The worst scenario,” he croaked, “is that,
against all probability, we actually find this fish and then we destroy the last great
embodiment of goodness on this whole rotten planet.”
“Nonsense. Face it, Stan, all but one of the fish are already dead. What's one fish
going to do? As a species we've really messed up badly. We've pretended the present
is the past is the future for too long, now we're being given our just desserts. There's
nothing supernatural about it, it's just the way things go.”
 
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