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The Driftwood


by shadih_temporary

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"I'm telling you, Joey, you're going to love fishing!" Matt, a Red Shoyru assured his friend, a Red Wocky named Joey.

      "Yeah, right." Joey scoffed. "Just like the time you said I'd enjoy throwing eggs at Mrs. Dooley's house."

      "Hey, she had it coming."

      The two pets laughed together as they walked down the grassy hill behind Matt's home, heading towards the beautiful lake where they would fish. They had their fishing poles in one arm, resting against their shoulder, and a bucket full of worms to use as bait. It had taken a lot of convincing to get Joey to come down to the lake to fish with Matt. Two weeks of convincing, at that.

      Joey and Matt stopped down by the lake and set down their buckets of bait. Matt kneeled down and reached into his bucket, removing an earthworm and attaching it to his fishhook.

      Joey gagged at the sight. "Yuck! What are you doing?"

      "You expect me to catch fish with a bare hook?" Matt replied. "What did you think the worms were for?"

      "Nice, reply to my question with another question." Joey scoffed.

      Matt stood up and picked his bucket off the ground again, heading towards the dock and letting it sit beside him. He pulled his fishing pole back and thrust his arms forwards, casting his line into the water.

      Joey could only stare. He felt so awkward, just standing there, not knowing what to do next.

      "What are you waiting for?" Matt called to his friend. "Bring your bait over here!"

      "Right, right. The bait." Joey picked up his bucket and tugged it over to the dock where Matt was. He set it down beside the Shoyru's and sheepishly when Matt turned to look at him.

      "Along with your fishing pole." Matt rolled his eyes.

      A good fifteen minutes went by and neither Matt nor Joey got a bite. Not even a nibble. The two were about to give up and head back to Matt's house when suddenly, the Shoyru felt a bit of a tug on his line.

      "I've got a bite!" Matt exclaimed, hopping up from his sitting position and frantically reeling in his line. Matt pulled and pulled and pulled on his pole as he tried so desperately to reel in his catch. Finally, a nice, fat Butterfish exploded out of the water and flew towards Matt, landing on the dock with a wet thud and flopping around like crazy.

      Joey stared in amazement at the Butterfish as Matt danced around in triumph.

      "Took you long enough." Joey snickered.

      "Ha ha." Matt rolled his eyes and picked up his catch by the tail, admiring its glory. "Let's see you catch a fish as good as this."

      Suddenly, Joey felt a very strong yank on the end of his line. He yelped loudly and hopped up, trying his best not to be pulled into the water by the unbelievably strong creature on the other end of his line.

      "I think I might be doing just that!" The Wocky exclaimed, laughing heartily as he began to reel in his catch. "Help me out, Matt! I'm starting to slip!"

      The stunned Matt could only stare in wonder as Joey tried to bring in the large creature.

      "Help me out!"

      Matt snapped out of his trance and rushed behind his friend, grabbing hold of his waist and pulled on him so that he wouldn't tumble into the water and lose his catch. The two pets strained as one pulled on the fishing pole and the other pulled on his companion.

      After what seemed like forever, Joey's catch was flung out of the water and landed on the dock behind the two. Matt and Joey flew back when their catch so abruptly allowed itself to be pulled to land. Joey eagerly turned around to see what he had caught, and what he saw made no sense at all.

      "Ahahaha!" Matt roared with laughter at the sight of his friend's catch. The hysterical Shoyru's eyes slammed tightly shut and his sides felt as if they were about to split as he convulsed.

      Joey could only gape as he approached what he had been trying to reel in all this time: a piece of rotting driftwood.

      "This-this doesn't make any sense!" Joey cried. "Driftwood?! That can't have been what was on the other end of my line! That's impossible!"

      Joey spun around and eyed the hysterical Matt. "Dude, shut up! You and I both know that driftwood can't do that! Whatever was on the other end of my line was not this piece of wood!"

      Matt wiped away the tears of laughter from his cheeks and looked up at his friend as he lay on the dock. "Oh, so now there's so highly intelligent fish out there that's messing with your mind?"

      "Don't be stupid!" Joey snapped.

      "Don't be jealous," Matt said, smirking. He then burst into laughter again.

      Joey tuned out his friend and kneeled down on the dock to examine the driftwood he had caught. He picked up the rotting object and eyed it carefully. There was nothing unusual about it. Just a piece of wood. Joey sighed and tossed the driftwood back into the lake.

      He walked over to the end of the dock and sat down, allowing his feet to hang off the edge. "C'mon Matt," Joey said. "Let's just ignore the fact that I freaked out over some rotting driftwood and carry on fishing, okay?"

      Matt ceased his laughter and inhaled deeply as he lay on his back, staring up at the sky. The Shoyru sat up and grabbed his fishing pole. He sat down beside Joey and nodded. "Okay. But don't think I'll ever forget that."

      Matt nudged his friend playfully, and the two cast their lines into the water and waited for the ever-pleasing jerk, signaling they've caught something.

      Hours went by, and Joey didn't catch a single thing. Matt, on the other hand, managed to catch a great deal of fine, well-fed and energetic fish. A pile of all sorts of fish, ranging from Blandfish to Lesser Spotted Fish, was placed behind Matt. While Joey only had the rotting driftwood that he'd already thrown back into the lake. He was beginning to feel as if fishing just wasn't for him.

      "Matt, it's getting late," Joey said. "The sun's setting and it will be dark soon. Maybe we should head back home."

      "Eh, you're only saying that because you haven't caught anything all day long," Matt retorted as he kicked his legs impatiently, waiting for a bite.

      "Yeah, really," Joey replied, sarcastically. "It's getting late and I'm going home. If you wanna sit out here all night catching all these amazing fish, be my guest."

      Matt chuckled. "Jealousy."

      Joey scoffed and stood up. He pulled his line out of the water, but only to find something stuck to the end of it.

      "What is that?" Matt asked, eying the shadowed object on the end of Joey's line.

      "Uh… I dunno," Joey said as he set his fishing pole down on the dock and examined the item caught on the fishing hook more carefully.

      The Wocky gasped. "I don't believe this. It's another piece of rotting driftwood!"

      Matt snickered. "Congrats, man. You managed to catch something after your 3-hour streak."

      "Very funny," Joey put on a fake smile. He picked up the wood and scanned it, examining all the details. Joey then flipped the driftwood over to find something rather disturbing.

      The word "SOS" was written on the back of the driftwood in big, black paint. Furrows appeared in Joey's brow as he brushed his paw over the wood, causing bits of paint to chip off.

      "Matt, come have a look at this." Joey motioned for his friend to come closer.

      The Shoyru did as told, and looked over Joey's shoulder.

      "SOS?" Matt read the word aloud. "Save our souls? Joey, did you just write that?"

      "What do you mean?" Joey looked at his friend in utter shock. "Matt, this is written in black paint. Do I look like I have a paintbrush on me? And look, it's not fresh. This was written some time ago."

      "Well, what do you think it means?" Matt continued with the questions.

      Suddenly, Joey and Matt noticed something dark float to the surface of the lake. Joey looked over the edge of the dock to find that yet another piece of rotting driftwood had washed up. Another one popped up. And another! Soon, at least twenty pieces of driftwood had floated to the surface, and they weren't stopping. There were many more that still hadn't quite made it to the surface yet.

      Matt and Joey exchanged glances, and then snatched their fishing poles off the ground. Joey dropped the piece of driftwood he was looking at and the two darted back inside Matt's home.

     ***

      The next morning was even more confusing than the night before. All the driftwood Matt and Joey witnessed appear out of nowhere was gone. It was like it just showed up, and vanished right afterwards. Joey couldn't help to think that there was something out of the ordinary going on here. Stuff like that doesn't just happen.

      Joey sat on the end of the dock with his feet hanging off, like he had done yesterday. He eyed the water of the lake skeptically, the driftwood with the words "SOS" carved in it sitting in his lap. There was something so mystical about the lake. It didn't seem like any other lake out there, to Joey. There was something different about it. But he just couldn't tell what.

      Matt approached his friend and sat beside him. "Ready to go fishing again?"

      "I don't think so." Joey shook his head. "How can you even think about fishing, Matt? Don't you care at all about what happened last night?"

      "You mean where all the junk floated to the surface? Joey, what's to care about?"

      "Well, it just seemed so weird… it was all there last night, and now it's gone. And how do you explain the words painted on the driftwood? Hm?"

      "I don't know. Maybe some diver found it and felt like writing it on there to scare some kids?"

      "That's got to be the stupidest thing I've ever heard."

      But then, Joey got to thinking about Matt's statement. The word "diver" rang in his head as he looked away from the Shoyru and faced the glorious lake. Joey let the driftwood roll out of his lap and land on the dock as he slowly began to stand up.

      "Joey… what are you doing?" Matt questioned, looking at his friend, and then the lake.

      Joey bent his knees a bit, hesitating for a moment. He then outstretched his arms and dived headfirst into the lake. Matt brought his arms to his face to shield himself from the splash of the water, and then stared in shock at the lake with eyes the size of coins.

      "Joey?!"

      But Joey couldn't hear the cries of his friend. He had already swum a good fifteen feet below the water, and wasn't stopping there.

      What am I doing? Joey thought as he approached the bottom of the lake. Why am I doing this? I'm going to drown down here if I don't go back to the dock! But yet… I want to see where the driftwood is coming from… I have to know.

      Joey then noticed a large kelp forest not too far away from where he was in the water. It was so beautiful; he just had to swim to it. Something was drawing him towards that kelp forest.

      Joey tore through the water, heading for the forest. He was become rather frantic, for he really needed to breathe. But he couldn't leave just yet. Joey had to explore that forest. The Wocky grabbed hold of a piece of kelp and pulled himself inside the forest, looking at the foliage around him with a gaping grin.

      And that's when he saw it. A piece of rotting driftwood was hidden behind the leaves of a giant brown kelp plant. Joey eyed the driftwood, and then looked ahead of him. In the distance, he could see something rather enormous. Whatever it was, Joey felt it was the source of the driftwood.

      The Wocky frantically pulled himself through the kelp forest, pushing aside all sorts of unique plants until finally, the large object came into view. Joey was staring at a sunken pirate ship.

     ***

      "It's terrible, isn't it?" Joey spoke to his friend, a towel wrapped around him as he sat on the dock, shivering.

      As soon as Joey spotted the sunken ship, he rushed to shore and told Matt everything. The two mailed the Chia police as quickly as possible, and they arrived in no time. Three of them, at least. Two of the officers had dove underwater to investigate the site of the accident about an hour ago. They had just come ashore and gave all the details to the third officer, who approached Joey and Matt to give them the details.

      "Well, boys. You've discovered something rather intriguing," the Chia said, standing behind the two.

      "What's so intriguing about it? What did you find?" Joey turned around to face the officer.

      "The ship went down about 100 years ago," the officer explained. "It was owned by the great Captain Arloc, a Pirate Eyrie who proved to be the fiercest of the fierce. I'm sure you boys have heard of him in school, eh?"

      Matt and Joey looked at one another and shook heads. "No,"

      The Chia scowled. "Lovely. Anyway, this lake here used to be a much bigger body of water. Sure, you'd call it enormous now, but back then, it took up this whole town. Arloc and his crew were traveling by ship to their homeland, after winning a fierce battle against their mortal enemies. Unfortunately, the ship had been vandalized by a crewmember fighting Arloc's crew. A large gash had been made underneath the ship. Therefore, nobody noticed it when they hopped aboard and sailed away from the island. About five miles away from their homeland, Arloc's ship began to sink. He and his crew were forced to abandon ship, and swam to shore. Everyone made it, except for Captain Arloc's daughter. The girl was reported missing, and until today has never been found."

      Joey gasped. "You mean…?"

      "Yes." The Chia nodded. "The daughter of Captain Arloc was found in the sunken ship. Well, at least the remains of her were. But, that's not all we found. You know that message you found painted on the driftwood?"

      Joey nodded.

      The officer reached into his pants pocket and removed a paintbrush. "This was found in the young girl's paw,"

      "Wow… that's awful," Joey said. "She realized the boat was sinking, and everyone was gone. As her cabin filled up with water, she wrote a message on the wall. I guess that part of the wall broke off after rotting underwater for 100 years and floated to the surface, right?"

      "Wrong," the Chia policeman said. "The type of paint used on the driftwood most certainly can't last more than a few days underwater. It would have been washed away."

      Joey looked up at the Chia in horror as he finished his statement.

      "The message on the driftwood was written within the week..."

The End

 
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