Shark-Bit and Wary
Dreamed 2017/11/17 by Wayan
I read Carolyn Greer Gilman's Isles of the Forsaken. A strange sad book about Celtic islanders much like my ancestors, occupied by a brutally rational people who set out to destroy all magic... like my other ancestors.
Bike to the San Francisco Main Library. Climb six flights to the Rare Book department, to meet my friends Bob & Catshall. She's donating her zines to their collection. Inspires me--I'll dig out the ones I published too in the nineties--my first dream-comics and illustrated tales; some of the first computer-generated zines in color, ever. Color was so costly then, I only made tiny runs.
On the way out, on the main floor, a parade of little kids troops in, shepherded by teens, all girls, and fully half of them attractive to me--a shocking percentage--autistic, I react to body language and energy more than appearance, and in a crowd I'm rarely attracted to more than one in a hundred. Even in a group entirely of young women, I'd expect no more than one in ten to tug at me like this. So these guardians startle me! Were they friends, somehow self-selecting for this volunteer gig, or are they some gifted/AP group?
Or am I in some weird mood where everyone suddenly looks good? Test it. Look around at the library-goers outside their little parade. Not one glows like that. Not one.
Tall south-facing cliffs above little beaches in coves. The sea-cliffs of Santa Cruz? A rugged stretch more like Malibu or Big Sur. A narrow road snakes up the cliff. The beaches are too narrow for settlement; towns here are up the valleys or atop the bluffs.
One cliff-foot beach has a little boardwalk. The south-facing rock wall means that by midmorning the air's nearly 30°C (86°F), and the water's mild for Northern California in November; people start wading in. I try. Bearable! A crowd builds in the water, though most still wade, not swim. A few do--head out to surf--in just swimsuits not neoprene! Mostly women; a group of waders are muscular girls in matching suits; maybe a swim team? Bright floral one-pieces.
The waders are beautiful. I'm used to 1% of a crowd attracting me, 10% max, so a majority is startling. Gifted, psychic, magical, what are they, what am I responding to?
One of the smartest (by her aura) holds back a bit. A teammate teases her "It can't be the cold today, are you scared of sharks or something?" A friend hisses and bats her, horrified.
"Yes" says the holdout. "I am."
Oh. I see why. On her flank, away from the teaser where she couldn't see, is a gigantic scar. "After one shark bite," she says, "you don't want another. I want to know what my risks are. Año Nuevo Point's just up the coast, where the Great Whites hunt elephant seals. Do they stray down here? Anyone mapped the danger zones?"
She's willing to swim--but not to trust luck. Or crowd-wisdom. She wants a map. And maybe, after that monstrous bite... she's right.
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