To Face the Tide

Middle Torch Key FL

Photo via Google Maps streetview

The fishermen drove the first kaloosh back underwater.

An isolated encounter, perhaps. Still, Mamma Joo forbade me and my sibs from clam-digging.

Then several came, eating two fisherman and injuring more.

We were scared, sure. But nobody abandons their life-home after one disaster.

The third time, two uncles died, and my sister-friend’s mamma.

Mamma Joo insisted on leaving.

Mamma Enke said her portents didn’t make sense. “Can’t run from fate. Always follows you.”

We moved upland. “We’re safe here,” Mamma Joo said. “Too shallow for kaloosh.”

Trouble is, I can sense them, inside my head. They’re getting closer.

My fate, following me.

No longer. I paddle quietly through dark waters. I’ll reach the kaloosh before they hit shore. Before they eat anyone else.

I don’t know what I did to deserve this. Hopefully this sacrifice will wash my sand clean.

Sorry I couldn’t explain, Mammas. Until the final wave, farewell.

Word count: 150. Written for this week’s What Pegman Saw challenge. Big thanks as always to Karen and Josh for hosting this great prompt! This week Pegman takes us to Middle Torch Key, FL. Click on the link to read the other stories inspired by this location — and feel free to join in and write one of your own!

World notes / gratuitous exposition dump: The characters in this story live in a fairly small and isolated society who worship yet another version of the ocean deity. The narrator naturally believes that any monster coming from the ocean is a punishment from this deity, or perhaps a challenge. The “final wave” saying refers to their religion’s eschatology: they believe that at the end of time, one great wave will cover the world, scouring all evil and sin, and washing away the dead and the living. Only the true believers will be saved, swept to the last island, where they will be reunited with their loved ones and live in harmony.


30 thoughts on “To Face the Tide

    • She really is, yes. And like so many teenagers in YA novels, she’s decided to go off and solve the problem on her own without telling the adults. I hope she’s right!

      Thanks for stopping by, and for the comment!


    • Thanks Rochelle, glad you enjoyed it! And yes, if the narrator’s correct, the disaster is following her, so it’s going to keep repeating until she deals with it. The more I think about it, the more *I* want more, too.


  1. I appreciate the notes – a nice fleshing out of back story – but didn’t feel them necessary. You’d included all we needed to know in your tiny but perfect story and I deduced the rest from the context. Lovely, sad, and a wonderful voice and language you’ve captured there. Have you read Cloud Atlas by David Mitchell? The voice reminded me of the middle section of the book, where we see a post-apocalyptic which has been reduced to a pre-industrial state. Really very good – as always 🙂
    BTW, how are you doing Joy? I’ve been ‘away’ from the blog a while. Hope you’re doing okay, that work’s not too demanding. How’s the long form writing going?

    Liked by 1 person

    • Thanks Lynn — I’m glad to hear the story stands on its own without the additional background. I do enjoy sharing those snippets though, especially as I can’t get much world-building across in this micro-fiction pieces. I’m flattered to be compared to Cloud Atlas, and yes, that was one of my favorite parts of that book.

      I’ve been away too, between too much job-work, catching up on much-needed together time with friends, and then spending 10 days in Germany and France earlier this month. The vacation was marvelous, but unfortunately work is back to being super-demanding and stressful. In fact, I have a report I have to work on now instead of getting any personal writing done on this Sunday, which has been the case for a while now. Which means the long-form writing isn’t going well at all; a few notes here and there, that’s it. Hoping to find more time to write once we finish up a couple key projects, but then, I think I’ve been saying that since last September…

      Liked by 1 person

      • You are always soooo busy! And fitting in trips to Europe too? wow, impressive. I’m lucky enough to not-quite work full time (long days when I’m in but they leave me two days a week to write). I know how very, very fortunate I am. Fingers crossed things will calm down for you and some spare time will come your way – before next September! 🙂

        Liked by 1 person

      • I keep telling myself I just need to be better at time management, and maybe that’s true. But then also, if I haven’t gotten better at time management by now…? LOL! Well, making the best of it.


    • Yes indeed — “monsters be here”! But then when they come right up to your village and start eating people, it’s time to relocate to another part of the map. Funny, I had one outcome in mind when I first wrote it, but the more I think about it, the more I wonder if the girl will try to fight back — or perhaps has some as-yet-untested power to control the kaloosh. Could be! Thanks for the great comment.

      Liked by 1 person

    • Just like the sky god worshipers “naturally” believe that everything falling from the sky is a sign, yep! Glad you enjoyed it Karen. I can’t help myself with these “extra” explanations. It was all I could do to restrain myself and not explain the whole gender norm / family structure of the society, lol!

      Liked by 1 person

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