Friday, February 12, 2010

The Australian Crest Shark

Floor-to-ceiling windows on the hallway's north end show a half-panorama of the city, forty floors below, with only three or four of its many skyscrapers climbing past my vantage point and into the clouds. Moving to this city was a good move after all, I assure myself - just looking out on the countless city blocks spread out ahead is almost as worthwhile as the exploration that is no doubt soon to come.

A woman, one of the other guests at the absurd cocktail party from down the hall, approaches me, inquiring about the door I am leaning against. "Excuse me, is this bathroom in use?"

"It is... but, not in the way you mean," I shake my head cryptically. "Tell me, have you ever heard of the Australian Crest Shark?"

Bewildered, she shakes her head no. "Sorry, I haven't..."

I nod at the bottom of the door, where water can be seen leaking onto the carpet beneath our feet. "You see, there's one of them in there right now. She's flooded the entire room - swimming laps, most likely."

The woman squints, surprised. "Well, isn't that the craziest... what does it look like?"

"She's slimmer than most sharks, and has a head which moves separately from the rest of her body, unique among all fish. She also has a long crest extending from the back of her head, like that of a Pteranodon." I use my hands to clarify, just in case the woman is lacking in dinosaur knowledge. "But the strangest thing about her is the way that she eats. You see, her own jaws are relatively weak, but she uses the sharp end of the crest to cut out the jawbones of larger sharks, like a Great White, which she then wears over her own mouth, like a sort of headgear. The larger jaws and sharper teeth enable her to attack even larger prey..."

"How strange..." the woman shakes her head. "But... well, how is it able to remove the jaws from such a large creature? I think a Great White would kill it before it got a chance..."

"Well, she only removes the jaws temporarily, and the larger creatures let her take it peacefully." I sigh and shake me head. "But nobody knows exactly why they allow this - it leaves the larger shark defenseless, not to mention it's completely against their predatory nature. Coastal Aborigines had a theory, though. They called the crest shark a witch of the seas, and believed that she used magic, or psychic powers, to seduce larger creatures into giving her whatever she wants. They also thought that, by using the jawbones of other creatures, she could see into the dreamtime and read the future. A strange theory, but interesting, no?"

"Very interesting..." the woman says. "Though, I don't think I want to be here when that thing comes out of there. The bathroom downstairs will have to do, I suppose." Insufficiently hiding her nervousness, she wanders back down the hall, blending back into the crowd beyond the door.

Turning, I can see that the water has stopped leaking under the door, the bathroom now empty of water. I step closer and tap lightly. "Are you all done."

"Yes, you can come in now," a woman's voice says.

I open to door and see her standing in a puddle at the foot of the sink, returned temporarily to her human form. Around her face she still wears the twisted jawbone of a Tiger Shark, her own red lips smiling between the serrated teeth, her slim nose and catlike eyes peeking out above the lips. Strangely, it fits with her long black gown and her deep red hair, the macabre smile less a mask than a vision of what lies inside.

"What did you see, when you were swimming?" I ask as I close and lock the door. "What did it show you?"

She grabs my tie, and pulls my body up against hers, the teeth of her outer jaws snapping just an inch from my nose. "Come closer, and maybe I'll tell..."

No comments:

Post a Comment