Sport 17: Spring 1996
The Alien Dream
The Alien Dream
I found there was a worm embedded in my cheek. It must have somehow come from the paua I had eaten. It formed a perfect raised circle, about an inch and a half in diameter. When it started moving I knew I had to go to hospital. I sat in the back of the car with my finger pressed hard against the base of my eye to stop the worm escaping out a tear-duct. The worm pushed and wriggled under my skin. I could feel it but it didn't hurt. It moved up between my eyes then stopped to form another circle in the middle of my forehead. ‘Hurry, hurry!’ I said to the driver of the car. I touched the raised skin on my forehead and it burst like a boil. Instead of pus, the worm squeezed out of the hole, blood-red and twitching it tumbled down my face and fell on to my lap.
You can't mend relationships with fish stew. The next day we stood on the beach, as usual, clinging to our long fishing poles against the incessant wind. He stood closer to the menacing surf than me, foam lapped around his legs. One minute I looked and he was there. The next minute I glanced back and he was gone. I didn't even notice that one wave was any bigger than the others. I couldn't think what page 111 to do. My mind was too crowded with useless possibilities; scream; run; dive in and save him! While I dithered the next titanic wave hurled itself onto the stony beach. It hit me, waist height, knocking me backwards and filling my gumboots with water and pebbles. The beach underneath me collapsed. I found myself falling towards the sea, drawn by the receding wave and accompanied by a screeching avalanche of stones. My boots came half-off. I kicked them the rest of the way and immediately lighter scrambled on my hands and knees back up the shifting slope to dry stones and safety. A bloody hand reached out to help me. He stood there, regurgitated by the ocean, every inch of exposed skin lightly grated and streaming bright red with blood and salt water. A strand of kelp encircled his neck, a fish's tail flapped like a cartoon out of his oilskin pocket. His skin glowed scarlet. All around him on the beach lay piles of dead and dying fish: sharks; dogfish; skates and sting rays; hagfish in pools of stinking slime; kahawai; cod; snapper; barracuda snapping their guillotine jaws; flounder; leatherjackets; and scores of inflated porcupine fish. The stones seethed.
‘Damn,’ he said, ‘I've lost my rod.’