I’m working on a big overhaul of the fish story (now The World Beyond Eels) and just finished up Act I. It’s around 20,000 words, 50 or 60 pages. If you’re interested in giving me some feedback (and, of course, reading it!), send a message to theworldbeyondeels at gmail dot com. Let me know who you are so I know you aren’t some kind of robot Russian identity theft plagiarist.
Here’s the new prologue.
On Tuesday, just before noon, the last fish was caught. It was a mahi-mahi. It was unceremoniously thrown off the gaffe and onto the deck of the boat, where it was beaten to death with an unremarkable baton and then gutted with a machete. The fisherman hosed it down afterwards, and the bloody water poured out of the scuppers and into the sea. It was, he would later report, delicious.
Nobody learned a valuable lesson about overfishing or climate change, or had an epiphany about coral bleaching or any of that ‘responsible’ stuff. Nobody tried to start a consciousness-raising group for kids about taking care of Earth better than their parents had.
This wasn’t because humans aren’t a clever and adaptable species. We are. We deal well, if not always wisely, with changing circumstances, with quick changes and with gradual ones, too. Think about the miracles you can pull off just with duct tape. You can look down at the jacket of your friendly neighborhood gutter punk, or all the way up to the space missions that we thought were doomed, to see all the things we’ve managed to rescue with that stuff.
No, we didn’t learn any valuable lessons about the environment because, for once, this particular fuck-up had nothing to do with the environment—on Tuesday, every living fish on the planet simply disappeared. Poof. Gone.
Just because we didn’t learn much didn’t mean that this wouldn’t bring civilization to its knees, what with all the ecological and cultural devastation. Of course all of that happened. And don’t worry, you’re going to hear all about it. I suppose most people would probably start by telling you about the tsunamis. But we’ll start somewhere a little more pedestrian. Eastern Colorado, to be specific.