Wednesday, February 12, 2014

How Jaws was Born

      Tom Johnson found himself in a graveyard of finless bodies, piled on top of each other in pale sallow colors, swaying gently in the current. Various bottom feeders had gathered to the epic feast coating the ocean floor—it would feed them for weeks. The water was a hazy pink, with bits of flesh and gore speckling everything in sight and beyond. Tom Johnson had heard of the Finning Graveyard, but he was not prepared to see the sheer number of his mutilated fellow brethren.
      As a 16-foot Great White Shark, Tom Johnson or “TJ” was no stranger to violence and gore. That was the way of life for sharks, and TJ had the scars to prove it, but rarely did sharks see one another dead. They were the top predator of their respective food chain. However, TJ was one of the leading members of a growing food fad of sharks who didn't kill their prey. They didn't go full vegetarian by any means, either. They weren't like Tiger Sharks, eating any old garbage that crossed their path, but they preferred to live the life of a scavenger, eating what had already died.
      It seemed like a ridiculous idea at first, but when TJ thought about it, he realized that despite the perfectly normal nature of their hunting and killing prey, they had gotten a life-threatening reputation placed on them unfairly for it. And in his opinion, the best way to fight violence wasn't with violence, but with peace. So as an effort to protect his species, TJ became a scavenger rather than a killer, and recruited a few other sharks to follow in his wake.
      But there was only so much a handful of sharks could do to sway the minds of the doughy, bipedal murderers. The numbers of shark deaths rose into the tens of thousands per hour and didn't seem to be slowing down. And TJ had finally found the physical evidence of all the monstrosity in the shadowy trenches of the Pacific, a massive genocide forgotten and left to rot. The sight of bodies layered one on top of the other, taken from them the most defining feature of their bodies, was too much to handle. They looked like bloated eels, and gave off a concentrated death of scent that made TJ want to flee in the other direction as far away as he could go.
      Well a scavenger no longer would TJ be. Peace was no longer an option. The dirt-walkers were a threat that couldn't be allowed to exist any longer. They could not be reasoned with, even though TJ and friends had taken the time to show humans on multiple occasions their calm and docile nature while cruising by the metal cages the humans liked to swim in. No, the shark-finners had taken advantage of TJ's peaceful nature for far too long. They were to be banished from the oceans and go back to the land where they belonged. From this day forward, Tom Johnson would be a man-eater.

Author's Note:

      This is a 2014 piece I did for my Hybrid Narrative class that made me happy with its success in being both serious and funny simultaneously. However, my classmates brought up a good point that I should add a scene where Tom Johnson is talking to a friend in order to break up the exposition with some dialogue. I agree with that, so at some point I'd like to go back and put in a little more effort into the piece. Since this story was inspired by a combination of a quote (from The Absent City by Piglia) and fact, I'll share them with you. Here's the quote: “There were all sorts of terrible things in there, bodies piled up, remains, even a woman all rolled up, sitting like this, her arms across her legs, hunched over, you could tell she was young, that woman, her head sunk into her chest, her hair hanging down, barefoot, her pants rolled up, and above her there seemed to be another person, I thought it was also a woman, fallen with her hair forward, her arms twisted backwards like this, it seemed, I don't know, it was like a dug-up graveyard, the effect of what was in there, in the mirror, the light it gave off, like a circle, I would move it and see the pit, in that mirror, the shimmering remains, the light would reflect inside and I saw the bodies, I saw the earth, the corpses.” And here's the fact: Approximately 12 people are killed per year by sharks. 11,417 sharks are killed per hour by people, adding up to a little over 100 million per year. This is almost exclusively because of finning.

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