NATURES SILENT CALLING
The Pacific Ocean lay calm and serene once again heeding a silent calling that had governed her actions both violent and majestic for millions of years. The rhythmic gentle lapping of her deep cool waters created a musical backdrop for the sound of a lone cream colored gull screeching his complaint over the lack of surface fish with which to fill his empty and aching stomach as he rode a cushion of air high above, as yet unaware of his close proximity to the pod of sleeping, black and white killer whales that lay submerged in the pre-dawn darkness below. As the moments passed, along with the heavy saturated air, it came as no great surprise to the gull when a golden shaft of light began to unfold from behind him. The birth of a new sun-cycle was now upon him.
The hungry gull, encouraged that the increasing warmth might help to lure the elusive fish below to the surface, watched and waited as the darkness began to slowly erode and fall away. It wasn’t until the sun had risen to full view behind him that he heard the sharp popping burst of gas escaping from a killer whale’s blow hole below that he began to understand what his instinctive mind had been trying to tell him all along, and that was, that there would be no fish in this seemingly empty abyss for quite some time to come as he spotted the black saddled whale break water below him. Soaring upward, the gull caught a brisk easterly current of air and faded into the brightening sun.
The first member of the pod to break the oceans surface was the female Bright Night. Unlike the rest of the pod she was wide awake. She had spent most of this rest period watching the moon cross from one distant horizon to the other. The very same spherical moon that had provided her parents with the inspiration for her signal call some thirty-three cycles of the seasons before. As she lay on the surface, she couldn’t help but wonder if there wasn’t something of significance that bound these two nights, separated by time, together? The answer to her question came far too swiftly for her liking.
A shudder from deep inside her body reminded her to blow her expended air supply. As she did, a small plume of deoxygenated gas, interspersed with tiny droplets of salty acidic ocean water, spiraled upward into the crossing breeze above her thinning, black saddled frame. The extreme pain that had accompanied this exchange of gasses had been a severe reminder to her of the disease that grew within her body, a disease that she now realized would accompany her to her end.
The second member of the pod to break the surface was the pod leader Great Hunter. Her massive dorsal fin, no longer supported by the buoyancy of the water bent with gravity’s force back in the direction from which she had just arrived. Only in viewing her immense girth and length could one totally appreciate the mountain of a fin that now lay, sagging atop her back. There had been a time when many of her own species had envied her awesome and powerful horizontal structure, though now the old pod leader knew they would not feel so envious if they were her. Her size, combined with her age of sixty-five plus seasonal cycles, had worked in tandem to strip her of all her former grace, beauty, and speed. What was left, the old one considered, was little more than a shell filled with a mucus-like material that weighed heavily on her joints made worse by the hot stinging arthritis that surged unabated through her huge jellyfish like body.
Great Hunter found the chore of becoming fully awake more difficult than she had anticipated though the reason for her lethargic semi- conscious state was not hard to pin point. The sudden storm of a few sun cycles now past had been one of both immense size and intense power. In many ways she was surprised that the entire pod had survived this enraged demon from the skies that had set down upon them. More amazing still was the survival of the sick female who was her oldest son’s lifetime mate. It wasn’t often that she misjudged another’s will to survive. But in this case she was more than willing to acknowledge that her intuition and second sight had not been totally accurate. Unfortunately, she also realized that, The Silent Calling of Nature would wait only so long before it would intercede in their lives and take the daughter that was rightfully its own in the first place back to the waters of a far different ocean.
Great Hunter found these thoughts to be much too burdensome to consider for the moment. And besides, there were equally pressing matters that had to be considered for the well-being of the whole pod, the most urgent of which was reaching their destination. And the chill of these waters, with their deep swirling arctic currents, gave more than enough information as to just how close they really were to achieving this goal. Great Hunter let the cold water stimulate her memory of what lay ahead. Slowly, almost imperceptibly at first, an image behind a shrouded foggy veil began to form within her mind.
The image she reconstructed was of two distinct land formations that had, millions upon millions of cycles of the seasons before, reached upward from the waters of her own watery universe until they sat surrounded by the sky above. The smaller of these two land formations sat out by it self separated from the larger one by a small strip of water that flowed briskly through and around its shores. This the old one knew of as Rock Surrounded by Water, a piece of land that the old had easily circumnavigated on many occasions in the past. The other formation, the larger one, was an entirely different story. It was so massive in its structure that the old one imagined the ocean herself screaming for mercy from the stars above as it bore out from her womb. The old pod leader felt her body shuddering at the thought of the ocean’s pain as it was split down the middle by this monolithic giant before she finally dismissed these thoughts altogether.
Great Hunter’s attention traveled back to the strip of water that separated these two land masses for this was the only reason for making such a treacherous journey up from the warmer water’s that now lay at a great distance behind her. And, actually, this tiny strip of water meant nothing to her for three of the four seasons in the cycle of the sun. The one exception was the season that separated the very hot from the coming cold. When this little strait could support more of her own hunger ravaged kind than it ever possibly could at any other time in the rotation of the seasons. This the old one knew as, Great Schools of Fish, A place that was magically blessed one time a year with the prize, a prize so sought after by her own species that many were willing to take on the risk of death to claim it.
A searing blast of nearly intolerable pain stabbed unmercifully into Bright Night’s midsection causing her body to become instantly rigid as she attempted to fight off the internal attacker. The pain, despite her best efforts, continued to grow toward its climax. Having no real way of escaping her tormentor, Bright Night did the only thing she could, and that meant focusing her thoughts on something else until the wretched beast inside of her was willing to release its grip on her. Using her keen sense of feeling vibrations as they flowed through the water, she was able, with some difficulty, to form a picture of what was taking place below her.
The pod was nearly at the perigee of its sleepy dive and soon each would sense a silent signal telling them to bring their heads upward causing their backs to arch and their massive hind flukes to fall beneath them. It would appear as if the formation was controlled by one single thought process as they rose upward toward the surface in near unison. Bright Night longed to be among the pod and their sleepy tranquility. That thought, unfortunately, brought only more pain, although this kind of pain was of a far different nature than what emanated from within her.
As the moments crept excruciatingly onward, the pod of nine other black-backed and white bottomed whales, apart from her self and Great Hunter, began to break water around her. Within their ranks were five males and four females of which one from each of these two groups was little more than a new born calf making their first trip into these frigid waters. Among the last of those to reach the surface were two bulls who Bright Night felt were two of the three most important and integral parts of her life. The first of the two to breach the surface and blow his expended air supply was Deep Waters, her chosen mate of eighteen seasonal cycles now past.
His powerful, streamlined body reminded her on many occasions of what Great Hunter had looked like in her more youthful days, when she had first joined the pod. A better more considerate mate she was certain she could not have ever found in any ocean. His bold and fiercely determined hunting expeditions to find food for the pod had always been superior in contrast to the efforts of all of the other members of the pod. And yet, contrary to his fierce hunting nature, his passion for her was resolute throughout both the brightest and bleakest of times. Bright Night wondered how her mate’s passions would hold up as the darkest of their times together approached, a darkness that she was certain would separate them very soon. And the answer came, almost as if it had been brought to her on the frothy tip of the cresting swell that was just now spilling over her back. The pod would have to see him through his grief until he was once again ready to seek out another mate to take the empty place that she would leave vacant. The prospect of this thought was far too bleak for her to dwell on for long.
Only a moment had passed from Deep Water’s own arrival upon the surface when the last member of the pod broke the plain between water and sky. Bright Night considered him carefully as he prepared for another sleepy dive in his still lethargic state. He was a son who had been generously endowed with intelligence, grace, and speed, to mention only a few things. At least, Bright Night considered respectfully, the monster that grew inside of her had not robbed her of her pride, or perhaps more precisely, her ego as a mother.
These qualities she vowed to always retain no matter what lay ahead. As she considered this, she also reminded herself that not all of her memories of her son had been good ones. As a calf he had been far too pudgy for her liking made profoundly more noticeable because of a slow, almost lazy, reluctance to learn what was expected of him. Why he had resisted these lessons of life that both his parents and older sister had tried, with little success, to sound into his growing thick skull, remained a mystery. A mystery that only the old pod leader Great Hunter seemed able to come to terms with and eventually break through.
Adding even further to the mystery was the strong bond that had developed, over the passing of seasons, between the two of them. It was a bond that all of the members of the pod had come to accept but one that none truly understood. In fact, the only clues that Bright Night had ever had was when the old pod leader named her very young grandson with a signal call that was both highly symbolic and seemingly inappropriate for one so young. How the old one had known what Visus was capable of, before it became apparent to the rest of the pod, had defied all of their combined intelligence and logic. And yet, not long after this, Visus began to live up to his signal call as he began to display his unique and even bizarre abilities of being able to see at far greater distances, both above and below the water, than any other of his kind should have been able to see.
And Bright Night’s second clue, which was more of an abstract theory than anything else, had stuck with her from the night of her son’s painful birthing, Visus had literally entered the world right in the midst of a small, but incredibly intense storm. The waters surrounding them had vibrated and tingled as the skies hurled their bright flashing long coral tentacles at the watery universe that lay beneath it. Even at that time Bright Night was aware that an ocean magnetically charged in this manner could easily disrupt the super sensitive balance of her species navigation, as well as his or her thoughts, and overall perceptions of what might be taking place around them. But was it also possible for these charged waters to bring something else, as yet not understood by her, to one that was only a few moments old? Bright Night had realized long before that she may never know the answer to that question, but the possibility did intrigue her.
Great Hunter sensed a different vibration within the water that surrounded her massive body, though it was not a vibration she was totally unfamiliar with. It had emanated before from the sick female Bright Night as she desperately tried to shake free from the ghastly beast that she knew grew unrestricted inside of her. Great Hunter had echoed the unnatural growth on many occasions, noting almost every time its increased size from the previous time. This was not a growing beast that she did not recognize. She had seen it several times before but in almost every other case, including her own father, the beast had only attacked the very old.
It saddened her to think that one so young and with so much to live for had to face such an unrelenting adversary as the one that was now growing to massive proportions inside of her. How unfair Great Hunter thought, that with her own life so nearly completed, she could not change places with Bright Night and provide her with the extra time she felt she deserved in this ocean. She had searched long and hard for a way to help her but had come up empty with every heartfelt attempt. The best she could do for her daughter in-law was to keep the pod at a slow but steady pace so she could keep up. If it weren’t for the fact that the two calves had had little, if any milk, for far too many sun cycles, Great Hunter would have extended this rest period on her behalf. Unfortunately the pod’s overall needs always had to come first. However that still didn’t make her decision any easier.
Bright Night released the images from her memory that had aided her through her turmoil now that the pain had receded back to a more tolerable level. With extreme care she let her stiffened body relax always aware that her tormentor might unleash another attack on her beleaguered body, though for now, it seemed content with the damage that it had already inflicted. Slowly she flexed her muscles just behind her head in an effort to scan the waters both around and ahead of her. She found that she had not really needed to look, the vibrations in the water had already alerted her inner senses as to what was about to come.
Great Hunter, knowing that the entire pod was once again on the warm brightening surface, raised her giant black flukes as far out of the water as her pained rear spine would allow her, before letting them crash explosively downward slamming the water with incredible force. The old pod leader knew that this was not the most polite way of being aroused from a sound sleep, but it certainly was the most effective. The pod quickly aligned themselves into their traveling formation even before the foggy shrouds of their dreams had totally dissipated. As a further incentive Great Hunter began channeling back a series of chirps and whistles as a reminder to the pod of what this trip was all about. The picture that developed in the minds of all the older members of the pod was that of Salmon, the most sought after food that they could imagine.
Enthusiasm grew quickly from the nearly empty stomachs of those that witnessed this vision. Even the young calves felt the sudden rush of ecstatic energy that was to propel them onward.
One, however, didn’t care! She was ready to die!