Fauna and flora
Published in blackbox manifold
Near my childhood home was a deep quarry filled with menace. We were warned to steer clear of the pit's stamp. Nana explained that children who disobeyed and swam in its black Vaseline were liable to be ravished by tentacles and drowned. My best friend's grandmother told her that electric eels patrolled the shore. Another pal knew for a fact that the quarry was bottomless and filled with a clan of mutant plesiosaurs who had a soft spot for the bones of young humans.
All our grandmothers agreed – a dead child's only recourse to free their souls from the abyss was to lure a substitute to take their place.
When I passed by this quarry – and I went out of my way to pass by this quarry – I was deliciously frightened. I especially enjoyed parking my dirt bike near the escarpment and pissing into the gulf.
Once I heard my name rise from the quarry like a bubble. Once I threw my bicycle at a log that I mistook for a green sucker. One time I saw a black bowler floating, moving toward me. I thought it was the ghost of a disobedient child and I ran like hell.
Now I know why our grandmothers told us those stories.
Perhaps this is why I have become a plumber?
And, of course, now I know, that the bowler belonged to a fish, a semi-formal fish.