The Strength in the Shark

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Pig and Whistle story universe

Author's Comments

This story follows one of the events of Within and Without. I advise you read it before this piece in order to understand the context.

It was an idyllic summer day; the sun was shining, the breeze was light, and the sky was cloudless. I should have been out enjoying the wonderful afternoon, but instead I was inside the Pig and Whistle sitting on a cushion and nursing a grape soda while trying to salvage some shred of self-esteem.

Last night I had run into a giant shark morph, gotten scared, and ran away. The reaction was understandable—I was a fox slightly larger than a housecat, and he was, quite simply, HUGE—almost a foot taller than Scott—but I still felt ashamed when I thought about it. I don’t usually lose control over my instincts like that, but I guess last night I just… slipped up.

“Hey there little guy.” Came a voice, interrupting my self-deprecation. I turned my head and was startled to see the shark morph I had been pounding myself over crouching nearby. Once again I felt the urge to flee but this time I managed to keep myself still.

“It’s alright—I won’t hurt you.” The shark continued, in what I imagined to be the closest thing his resonating voice could get to a soothing tone. I continued to stare and he held out a webbed hand—a gesture I recognized as a way to show animals you don’t mean them harm. Great; first he scares me into my instincts and now he thinks I’m a wild animal. This guy was not good for my self-esteem.

I wanted very much to ignore him, but I had no idea how he would react; and it would be unwise to make conflict with someone eight times my size. Playing along, I approached and gave his hand a curious sniff. No surprise—it smelled like salty fish.

“There we go!” The shark said happily when it became apparent I wasn’t about to run away. “I’m Jimbari by the way, and you’re—” his eyes flicked to my collar, “Jonas, right?”

I nodded absently and he scratched me behind the ear, smiling as I gave a pleased (involuntary) growl. All I had to do was go along with it and he’d probably go away…

“See? I’m not such a bad guy after all—nothing to be scared of.” Jimbari continued. “And I’m sorry if I frightened you the other day.”

I gave another growl of acknowledgement and he grinned even wider—I averted my eyes away from his razor-sharp teeth.

“Thanks man.” He said with a chuckle, “And here—” he added, taking something out of his pocket. “Consider it a peace offering.”

I stared at his outstretched hand. Smack dab in the middle of his palm was a small, bone-shaped, pet treat.

“I. Am. Not. A. Dog!” I barked, my indignation turning into anger.

Jimbari pulled back in surprise. “Ack!—you can talk?”

“Yes!” I snapped.

“I didn’t think—that is I didn’t… know and—I mean,” He spluttered, blushing a dark grey, “why didn’t you say something earlier?”

“Because I thought playing along would make you go away.”

“I just—” Jimbari began, but I cut him off.

“You just what? Thought that since I looked like an animal I didn’t have a mind?” I shouted, my anger rising. “It’s bad enough that I lost control over my instincts but I do NOT need someone like you making it worse by patronizing me like a common house pet!”

I fell silent; continuing to berate him would just increase the risk of losing my voice. Besides, we were starting to attract stares.

Jimbari hung his head, thoroughly embarrassed. An awkward silence passed.

“I’m sorry.” He said at last. “I’ve never really met a fullmorph before and people say they got all the instincts and I dunno… I just sort of didn’t think it through.”

“No, you certainly didn’t.” I replied coolly.

“I guess I was just so focused on what you thought of me that I didn’t think about what I thought of you.”

I looked at him quizzically. “What I… thought of you?”

He nodded dejectedly. “Strangers get scared when they see me—can’t blame them I guess, looking how I do, but it sucks. You’re the tenth person I’ve freaked out this week and I just couldn’t handle someone else thinking I’m a monster.”

I sighed, it was getting harder and harder to stay mad at this guy. “It’s alright; I guess we both messed up.”

Jimbari looked up at me. “Really?”

“Really. I get a little… sensitive about my instincts sometimes. I shouldn’t have blamed you for my loss of self-control.”

He gave another smile—this time one of relief. “Thanks man. And I am sorry for treating you like an animal.”

I nodded. “And I’m sorry for venting at you. Just… be more careful in the future, ok?”

The shark got to his feet. “Definitely. I’ll see you around I guess?”

“Sure.”

Jimbari gave a small wave goodbye and headed for the door. I went back to my pillow and soda. He seemed nice enough, I guess, and I felt a bit embarrassed for yelling at him.