We had a crew of fishermen here this week. Not a regular sight, but they pop by from time to time. There are a few planets circling some local stars that are pretty much water all the way round, and all are abundant with fish.
These space trawlers have a decent business model. You park your ship on one of the few outcrops of rock, cast your nets, and watch the fish do the hard work for you. There’s no colonies here. We are the outsiders, and the seas boil with potential.
Whack your catch straight into deep freeze. Then hawk them across the universe, from settlers desperate to change their diet of oats, to posh restaurants looking for galactic rarerities.
The fisherman sloosh huge chunks of ice across the fields of Buber, the fish foggy speech bubbles inside. This week they had amber squid, with spikes on their tentacles that looked like rose thorns. Something little more than a mouth with a hunk of flesh attached. Slices of a creature so big they had to cut it into horse sized chunks. It’s not my scene. We have regular food stocks, and I don’t need the hassle of flogging alien fish stew. But I let them sell to the customers. It keeps the beer flowing.
We got talking. I wasn’t expecting a new parsniphead story, but one of them had a doozy. I traded the rights of publication with the provisio I bought a kilo of squid.
Alicia was her name, and we’ve not had a tale likes hers before.
A: ‘There are no people where we go fishing. Just miles of ocean mixed with the odd slippery hunk of granite and rank seaweed. Doesn’t sound like a place for a parsniphead, does it?
But just because nobody lives there doesn’t mean nobody visits. That nobody uses these vast bodies of water as rubbish bins. If you can dump plastic waste and oil in the water, you can dump the living dead in too.
Chuck that in with the odd crash landing, and even here there are parsnipheads crawling around. You spot them in the shallows. If you are desperately unlucky, you’ll find one in your nets. I’ve seen them with mussels running all the way up their arms. Coral sticking out of their heads. I even watched a lobster run out of rib cage.
With hands that rotten they can’t traverse the slippery rocks. The ocean knocks them back every time. You think they would give up, but those parsnipheads keep on going, the seaweed always out of reach.
Like everywhere else, you get used to them. What stresses me out is thinking about those at the bottom of the ocean, crushed by thousand and thousands of litres of water. Are they still conscious? Do they understand where they are? ’
The squid was delicious.