This story comes with a really cool, 2-sided, glow in the dark painting. I have other glow in the dark paintings and stories, you'll find them on my portfolio. You can check out the youtube there.
I once had peace and harmony, before this horrid tragedy. it's no more than a memory, a dream buried beneath the sea. An underwater paradise, a place without catastrophe. A place so full of life and colour, it would brim with vibrancy. There was no better place for me to swim and let my tail go free. Just 90 feet below the surface, you would find this coral reef. It sheltered many living things, so many, you would not believe. I'd see hundreds of fish a day, or thousands any given week. Saw everything from Manta ray to Marlon fish and Manatee. This place belonged to them and me, we shared the waters equally.
Imagine for a minute,the cleanest reef you'd ever been in. Mollusks, sponges, sea worms, seaweed. jellyfish coming and leaving. Sea turtles, bobbing and weaving. Lost of colour, lots of space. Sand so soft and white, and tan, it glared and glistened in your face. The rainforest, we called it, i think about it everyday. I'll tell you all about it, and what happened on that tragic day.
These are the last and lost remains, plant life will never grow down here. The slopes and mounds have disappeared, the rest could never be rebuilt. I've been reminded many times of all those species that were killed, the flash i saw that scared them all, the reefs' demise, and blood that spilled. This loss was far beyond compare, the reef- destroyed beyond repair. There's nothing else but hardened sand with cracks, and ruble everywhere.
Beside those burnt fragments of rock were stones as high as seven feet, with crevices and corners where all the smaller fish would meet. So many species, by the hundreds, swam where now you see debris. Sunlight shone here everyday, it looked exactly like a dream. Those shreds of rusted plants were seaweed once, where we played hide-and seek. It was all here one morning, then, in moments, nowhere to be seen. Just disappeared without a trace, blown in a blaze of kerosene. it all went black, then after that, i faced a grim reality.
Though now its but a barren wasteland, hopeless, with no remedy, believe it or believe it not, it was the best part of the sea for me and those that lived amongst this coral reef community. Was more than just a home to us, more than a place to live and breed. The best times of our lives were here, before this horrid tragedy. All i see now is nothingness, compared to what it used to be, but it was paradise to us, a garden in the deep blue sea.
Ten years ago, that morning, began like any other. There were fishing boats above us, some would sail, while others hovered. Fishing lures moved back and fourth, in circles, and around another. Few were tempted by the bait, some bit the hooks, but others scattered. One boat left, and then the next, before long, there were only six. Five minutes later, there were four, three minutes later, two were left.
Only the smallest boat remained , i sensed it had a bigger plan. Something in me just knew they'd try to take as many as they can. These fishermen were overwhelmed, it seemed their patience thinly ran, and all they had to show for that entire morning was a clam, two small fish, a large mouth bass, and one big chunk of muddy grass. For an hour, they had fished, till finally, they called it quits. Hooks were drawn, all of them-gone. For minutes, there was not a sound. i thought they would've left by then, it was an eerie kind of calm.
As i waited, with my doubts, i recall looking around. I remember details from the surface, to the coral ground. There were many shades of color that my eyes grew big and round. Rainbow fish with so much yellow, orange, purple, red and brown. Neon fish that lit the sea, and lion fish that scared them all, Rabbitfish too weak to swim, and baby snails too young to crawl. I remember arrow crabs descending toward a coral mound. Sea horses with pointy noses, starfish and their thorny crowns. There were many other species, so many, that i lost count. Silver dollar fish kept changing routes and scarring tiger trout.
From 90 feet below, i had a stunning view before my eyes, a picture perfect paradise, with lots of fish and lots of life. If we knew what that boat devised, we would've said our last goodbyes, i never would've known it, but that morning would be their last. Suddenly, i heard a splash. A dozen fish began to dash. At first i saw the ripples, and thought they'd thrown a rock perhaps. Until i saw this object, its' roundness and its' burning fuse. I knew this thing was no good news, something that we could not defuse. A million nightmares formed from stories stored in my subconscious. My heart was beating through my chest, because they'd always end with death.
It dove past mist and bubbles, then sank right through a school of bass. Swept through large-eyed feather dusters, cut a path through lemon sharks. It landed on the ground and started speeding down a narrow mound. Each time the burning fuse would hit the sand, it'd set off clouds of dust. Four-eyed fish were forced to flee as it came down their sandy path. Catfish swam right for the grass as this thing slowly rolled right past. It bumped into sea turtle shells, and stopped by one big pocket watch that had been there as long as i have, stuck between a set of cracks.
I saw the turmoil in the face of every fish that roamed about. Tunnel vision pulled me in, that's when i saw the bomb go off.
Suddenly, for just one second, everything began to rock. Stones began to shake, the ground to tremble, and the pebbles hopped. An overwhelming kind of force spread and made the water hot. it swallowed every bit of breath i had, felt like my heart had stopped. A current traveled through my body, i was paralyzed and shocked. After that, it turned into a nightmare that could not be fought.
I was blinded by the flash, deafened by the roaring crash. Those nearest to the bomb received a shock that split open their chest. A half a second later, i saw many things destroyed in half, vaporized, or torn to shreds, some vanished in a second flat. Shards of stone and flaming pebbles, lobster claws, and spinning clams. Everything came flying towards me, i could hear it clash or slam, bouncing off the hissing sand, and rocketing toward where i swam. I then, was thrown against a stone so hard that everything went black.
I blacked out for a minute, then woke up next to blood and stone. The next thing i remember was the white from countless skulls and bones. Fishing lures and fishing jackets, tackle boxes, boots and coats. There were ankles next to limbs and lost anchors from fishing boats. Wrists by broken pocket watches, fifty bombs that once were blown. Who knew how long these human beings had been buried beneath our homes? They must've been dead fishermen decaying on the ocean floor. The blast must've uncovered them, from some decades ago or more.
Side by side, beside these humans- jellyfish, flat on their sides, right beside a butterfiish. Toasted, done for, with no life. Torn blood vessels, bloodshot eyes,ruptured bladders, broken bones. I saw rubble, ash and stone, but not the reef that i had known. The saddest shreds of rusted plants were dying where seaweed had grown. Beside it was a pile of rocks that just before, was solid stone. The only source of light came from a sun ray shining from above. This had become a black and grey seascape with crimson shades of blood.
I thought it was a bad dream, a nightmare, or a bit of both.
Until i looked up toward the surface, saw those fish around the boat, floating lifeless all around it, most were dragged by nets and rope. Some alive, some slowly dying. I would see them try to move. Particles of dead sea matter floated, sunk or hit the floor. My paradise was just a hole, a grave sight and a killing zone. Nowhere near recognizable to how it looked minutes before. Each second after this, was only darker, as it filled with smoke. It covered everything except a circle right around the boat. I saw no other choice but to ascend, as i began to choke.
I started swimming toward the boat as blood and tears ran down my throat. Seemed like i swallowed every soul from every fish i'd ever known, the life of every plant that's grown, and pieces of our broken home. While in my mind were faces of the fishermen i saw below, the flash from the explosion, and how violently those fish had flown. I'd see the boat approaching, as the reef was buried in a hole. I felt like i was all alone, lost all my friends, my life, and home.
Somewhere along my way up to the surface, it happened again. This time, it happened from above, as darkness started setting in. I heard the crash, and saw the flash illuminate the bouncing waves. A couple dozen lightning rays, a set of arms, a pair of legs. In just five seconds, more or less, i saw the bones of sinking fish flash but i could not see their flesh, the rest was white with blueish specks.
As the flashes started dying, i saw many scary things, all of them were dead or drowning, skinless or without their fins. Strangest thing, a pocket watch, sank to the bottom of the reef. It ran backwards, from nine to six, then three to twelve, continuously. That counterclockwise pocket watch that counted numbers wildly- its' spinning metal hands have plagued my mind for ten years,vividly. It was the last thing that i got to see while i was undersea. Although i watched it for a second, its' haunted relentlessly.
I reached the top with eyes wide shut, frozen in fear as time ran slow. Slowly, i opened up my eyes. The water then, was freezing cold. Nowhere around was there a boat. The sea was red and charcoal black, with nothing there but wooden planks and paddles,everything else sank.The clouds were grey, the sky was dark and i was staring at a moon. I waited, and i waited, wishing this nightmare ended soon.
I knew that any second i would snap back to reality. This reef would disappear along with everything in front of me. I'd be back in my bed where i belonged, back to reality. I told myself it was a nightmare, i just knew it had to be. Still, i just could not wake up, this nightmare had a hold on me, it held me till the morning, that's when i finally broke free. I must've tossed and turned all night, squirmed around relentlessly, my alarm clock took a fall, and broke to bits apparently.
On that morning, in the village, when i woke up in my bed, i knew there was something wrong, not just in my rattled head. I saw sun rays through my window, realized i had overslept. I lept out of my wooded bed, muddled, worried, and upset. Quickly i put on my beaten sandals, grabbed a slice of bread, took my pocket watch just for good luck, placed it around my neck. it had never let me down, once, it saved me from a wreck. I had won it from a bet with the best cards on the deck.
I had four others to meet that morning for a fishing trip, as i left, i thought they'd be across the sea, aboard the deck. When i stepped outside, there was a crowd, not very far ahead. Mothers, wives, and children cried, families were filled with dread. Throughout the village, news was spread, once again, another wreck. Miles away, a boat had blown up. Two were injured, two were dead. One of them lost both his legs, the other had bled half to death. Seemed a true nightmare had happened while i dreamt all this in bed.
As i stood there hearing this, we saw a speeding pickup truck. It raced down with lights and sirens, from a road not often trekked. The two survivors from the wreck were lying on the cargo trunk, i caught a glimpse of both their faces, and that's when my heart just sank. I was shocked to see it was my neighbor, and another friend, i knew then, i'd lost my uncle and my favorite nephew, Fred.
I remember feeling numb, staring blankly at the sun. Then i passed out on the gritty ground, where i stood down and slumped. When i woke up, minutes later, my whole face was cold and wet. I was just so devastated, many things ran through my head. They had splash my face with water, took me to a neighbors' shed, where i sat for several hours, with a guilt trip in my head.
You see, my uncle Sam and i had always been joined at the hip. Once he even saved my life when i fell off a fishing ship. Hungry sharks with open jaws would've torn me limb per limb, but he grabbed the pocket watch around my neck and pulled me in. My nephew Fred was also there when i really needed him. He was there through thick and thin, if i struggled, he'd step in. When my stomach rumbled, it was he who came with bowls of shrimp. I just wish i could've saved them, stopped them as the boat came in. Told them of my premonition, maybe then, we'd all rethink.
Till this day, i think about this nightmare and this fishing trip. How the night before, we talked about the fish we'd surely get. All with just a few explosives, and a sturdy fishing net. All our families, and all our stomachs would've gotten fed. Or at least that's what they told us, that's what those two others said. It's hard to admit, but to this day, it hangs over my head, maybe if that grisly nightmare hadn't kept me in my bed, they'd still be here, ten years later, with their spouses and their kids.
It's been a decade searching, i've scoured the boat throughout the sea, but finally i stumbled upon findings in this coral reef. Pieces of a fishing boat, clumps of seaweed and debris, burnt fragments of rock and stone, where surely this place had to be. Sunlight shines down here just like the reef i witnessed in my dream. It glistens off the blackened sand, with cracks and ruble in between, a counterclockwise pocket watch ticks slowly right in front of me, it runs backwards from nine to six, then three to twelve continuously.Perhaps this is another nightmare, i just hope i'm still asleep. Perhaps one day i'll wake up to a much better reality.
Tragic times at sea, this is a story about a tragedy with two points of views. This story takes you to the bottom of a coral reef. What it looked like before the bomb dropped, after, and ten years later. Then, you get to see the reality of it. This is something that really happens, and some people get killed, lose an arm or a leg over it. Why? Maybe cuz people gotta eat, survive, feed their kids. For some, it's either do or die, so blast fishing is just something they do.
So, a little bit about blast fishing- This happens in some countries. It's outlawed in most places, but people still do it, mostly out of poverty.This is where fishermen take some dynamite, or whatever type of explosives they wanna use, light it up and toss it to sea. It explodes, then a bunch of fish pop out of the ocean, you grab 'em, take em home, eat em, sale em, whatever you gotta do to survive.
Here's the thing though, some are chewed up from the blast, some are unusable, a lot of them just sink to the ocean floor. You really can't tell what you're gonna get, or how much of it. On top of that, that whole area gets destroyed for decades, or even longer, which doesn't make sense in the long run.
When i put this story together, i wanted the reader to get a clear picture of a coral reef with a lot of color, fish, plant life, and sponges. Coral reefs are refereed to as "the rainforests of the sea", so that's the picture i wanted to create. For that reason, i incorporated the most recognizable fish i could think of, so you might've noticed there are salt water and fresh water fish during the dream. Most people know how jellyfish, sea turtles, and starfish look like. You may not have seen Rainbow fish, but you know it's something with alot of color. All of these things in this story, plants, fish, and everything else, live in reefs, when the bomb drops, there is no telling what you're gonna hit.
When i first started reading about blast fishing, i thought it would be a good story to tell, but as i started learning more, i thought about what else is down there. There are things in the ocean we use on a daily basis. I'm not just talking tuna sandwiches and fish tacos, but undiscovered findings, rare things, with medicinal purposes that can save millions, or even billions of lives. What if these things disappeared one day?
Why are coral reefs so important? Here's a other few reasons:
*Fish and plants with economical, and medical importance rely on these reefs for protection, survival, and as a spawning ground. New medicines, some pain killers, arthritis, heart disease, and even some HIV and anti-cancer medication are found from sea creatures in reefs.
*Fish and Mollusks found in reefs feed 30-40 million people a year. They also provide millions of people around the world with billions of dollars worth of revenue each year. Pet shops, aquariums, restaurants, grocery stores, and anything else you can think of.
* Without coral, carbon dioxide in sea water can rise dramatically and affect all living things on earth. Animals and plants start dying, people start passing out, you get the changes in the temperatures, and who knows what else can happen? Not even scientists can predict.
*Coral reefs protect coasts by providing a sort of of barrier that slows down strong currents and violent waves from coming into coasts and shorelines. It does the same for storms, hurricanes, tsunamis and floods.