This is the sixteenth part of a fiction serial, in 729 words.
Glen’s voice could be heard, normal volume this time. “Don’t give it that knife, ‘Nita. Show it the bag of gifts, give it some tuna”.
Anita turned and unhooked the bag from the side of her belt. Taking out a large tin of tuna, she pulled the ring at the top, showing the contents to the smaller creature. Leaning forward, it sniffed the tin, showing a side view of the long whiskers on its snout. Then its mouth opened, it grabbed the tin in its teeth, and moved back a few feet. There was a crunching sound as it bit down on the tin and its contents at the same time. Anita was shaking her head.
“No, no, not like that.” She reached forward to try to take it back, but the animal was already spitting out the contents of its mouth, it’s face screwed up in a look of distaste. Glen could be heard giving advice.
“Try the sardines, but take them out of the tin first”. Mel sat hardly breathing, as he witnessed the magical moment of the young creature taking sardines from Anita’s hand as she smiled uncontrollably, savouring the connection with this new species. Seconds later, it spat out the sardines, and slid back into the water at speed. Anita looked round at Glen, and raised her eyebrows. Mel was wondering why it was spitting out the food, when Glen answered his question.
“I’ve got it! It’s not fresh. These things eat everything fresh, alive in fact. They don’t cook anything, or preserve anything. The tuna and sardines probably taste spoiled to it.”
Before he could say anything else, one of the larger ones slid out of the water, and almost knocked Anita over with the backwash it created. She reached into the bag and produced a small hand mirror. Holding it to her face to demonstrate it, she offered it to what Mel presumed was a very large dominant male. When it didn’t take it, she placed it on the ledge, mirror side up.
Seeing its own reflection so clearly, the huge male reached down and grabbed it, turning sideways to show it to the others. Then it made a noise like a lot of short barks. When the intonation rose at the end, Glen called out to his wife. “It’s talking to one of the others, that’s definitely language. Activate the voice recorder.” Mel watched as Anita removed the small device from a waterproof pouch and placed it next to her leg on the rock.
One of the creatures that was in the first group to arrive dived underwater, and could be seen swimming back along the entrance to the sea cave.
The one with the mirror looked directly at Anita, and made another series of barks, and some of the high-pitched noises that sounded almost like yodelling in the large chamber. She stared at it for a while, and then turned to Glen, visible tears running down her face.
“It’s talking to me, Glen. It’s communicating with me. It’s so wonderful”.
The office door flew open, and Mel closed the laptop with a bang. He recognised old man Mayhew from the TV News, his face the colour of walnut, with a lifelong outback tan. Despite his age, he moved fast, and looked fit. He also looked ready to punch someone in the face.
“I’ve just flown all the way here to sort you out, you bugger. Now you tell me what you know about my boy and his wife, or you’re going to need an undertaker, and I’m going to jail”.
It wasn’t the first time Mel had been threatened, and he doubted it would be the last. It was usually about money though, not missing film crews. He pointed at the chair opposite, told Mayhew to sit down, and buzzed Tamara to bring them both some coffee.
A natural negotiator, Mel soon convinced the old man that he had already told the world what he knew, and that if he had any clue as to the whereabouts of the pair, he would not hesitate to inform the authoritites, and the media.
After the best part of an hour, they shook hands, and he promised to contact Glen’s father in his London hotel if he heard anything.
Then despite feeling more tired than he could ever remember, he opened the laptop again.