A Wooden Puppet
God spoke to Jonah, son of Amittai, ordering that he should hurry to the exceeding city of Nineveh and be an alarm to her people against a destruction purposed by Him, at whom her evil eyes were glaring. However, Jonah went away for Tarshish, thus disobeying God. [Verses 1 - 3, Chapter 1, Book of Jonah, Old Testament]
Once upon a time, long before Christ's first advent, there was a city called Nineveh. Its location is in northern part of modern-day Iraq. It was one of the central cities of a great ancient empire Assyria, second only to the capital city Babylon, and, according to the author of Book of Jonah, it was so exceeding that for a traveler to cross the city it took three days.
However, immorality prevailed among the Ninevites, and they were quick to fight, unmindful of telling lies, stealing, cheating, and bullying weaklings. Corruption, iniquity and deception were practiced at all levels, and the citizens had little sense of shame. They segregated foreigners, especially exiles and captives. Pagans were often discriminated, and when they got wealthy they were in danger of being injured or even assassinated by jealous Ninevites, who were rarely punished. They scarcely feared gods.
Then, gods for Ninevites were usually idols of various myths and traditions, made by human hands in the shape of a human being or an animal or a mixture of them, which is called demigod. The idols were enshrined at various places in the city, and a wealthy family would boast of having two or more idols in their own house. No small number of these gods, however, were vague about their origins of divinity, and a human-shaped idol in a shrine of a handsome temple could originally have been a wooden puppet used in a puppet show, nobody knowing how it had ever found its way up into the shrine. Such a thing was not uncommon with regard to human beings either, in that a genuine human being would be raised to rank as a divinity and treated as a living god for a reason that he or she did or was said to have done something that seemed unexplainable unless he or she were a god.
And these gods, living or not, were far cry from the concept of a righteous and almighty being, the creator of the universe, and were more like Greek gods and goddesses, who fall short of the almightiness and, like human beings, can be unrighteous, sometimes setting examples of immoral nature.
Thus, for Ninevites the gods they daily saw were not such terrible beings to fear. So, for example, in temples, where gods were usually wooden idols overlaid with gold or silver, which were cast from articles offered by lay worshippers, the priests would steal pieces from the gods for their private use. The priests' wives would pilfer the sacrifices offered to these gods and sell them, but would not give any to the poor or helpless. In fact, the general tendency was that the higher in religious hierarchy did a Ninevite rank, the less pious he or she turned. Gods were used by them to justify the hierarchy by which they could maintain their privileges, while they scarcely did justice to gods. On the other hand though, they employed the authority of gods to persecute those who were weak or ignorant to miseries by abusing religious doctrines; hence, people professing to be devoted to gods were even more apt to sin than those who fear the voice of their own conscience.
Despite their belittling of gods, the Ninevites had indulged themselves in an atrocious practice on the pretext of being loyal to gods or demigods. They sacrificed to them their own children, and this manslaughter, borrowing the authority therefor from gods, was the greatest of all sins committed by the Ninevites.
So, according to the Book of Jonah, God, unable to live with Ninevites any further, decided to inflict a capital punishment; however, he deigned to give a final chance to Ninevites, and rang an oracle in the ears of Amitai's son Jonah.
Incidentally, an oracle is a message given by a god to human beings, and it can easily be suspected that there were no small number of pseudo-oracles that were concocted by priests or prophets coerced by a pressure from an authority such as a king or a governor, who plotted to urge the people into a certain movement in his favor. If so, it should not have been unusual for prophets or diviners, like Jonah, to escape from "god". The author was at a loss whether to adopt an interpretation that Jonah did escape from God or that he merely escaped from the king of Nineveh who tried to make him propagate a fake prophecy to remedy the insecurity of his city, with a promise that he would give the prophet a high-ranking priesthood or the like. The author eventually decided to swallow Jonah's miracle, and hence his fish.
God said to Jonah, "Let me give Nineveh one last chance for survival. You, my prophet, are to go to Nineveh and instruct the people to repent and abstain from evildoings. If they listen to you and repent, well and good, I shall stay my hands from Nineveh. If they do not, I shall put out Nineveh from the earth."
"My God" Jonah answered, "what are you saying? You want me to go to Nineveh to help them avoid your punishment? Why? Have you forgotten? Nineveh is my enemy! You well know that, when I was merely an infant boy, my father and mother were murdered by the plunderers from Nineveh before my eyes. I was so shocked I swooned, and when I came to myself I had lost all my memories; I even could not recall my name. Every item of value was taken away and the roof of our house was burnt down by them. Then, many young men and women were captured and taken to Nineveh in chains and fetters. They were crying crazily. A huge number of cattle were stolen too. Left an orphan, I would have starved to death if it weren't for the fig tree that grew and spread over my roofless house.
"I declare the scoundrels of Nineveh are not fit to live a minute longer on this earth of your creation, my Lord! Their destruction has long been my wish, as you well know. Please let that wish of mine come true at last! And, oh my Lord, why is this softening? What's the matter with you? They don't deserve your love a bit! And, why me now? Why do you choose me to do this? Go and alarm the wicked Ninevites? I know it'll be a false alarm! I know you are merciful and forgiving. You never cease thinking twice about punishment and you soon pardon the bad ones. I know you are going to do the same to the wicked Ninevites! …But who am I to argue? It's your business. Only, please do not make me the one to carry out your business. It crashes me! Please spare me from this hateful mission."
"Jonah, Ninevites are waiting for you. Hasten to Nineveh."
"Pardon me, my Lord! Not Nineveh, please! Not Jonah!" The prophet whined in tears. "Oh, yes, my Lord, there are more suitable servants of yours for this mission. You know, ones who have blood relatives in Nineveh!" Jonah recovered from tears and took courage again, "They will certainly be glad to hurry there to rescue them. Let them go, and they can do a far better job than I! So, please do spare me from this journey to Nineveh."
"I decided on you because you are the best choice for this. I never use a second best."
But Jonah did not obey God. He rushed in a direction opposite to Nineveh, and arriving at a seaport, jumped in a ship bound for Tarshish, which is thought to be modern-day Spain. He thought if he could reach a distant place way beyond the horizon of the vast ocean, he would be unreachable by God, for in those days people did not yet realize that the earth was round - still less turning.
Jonah climbed down into the bottom of the ship and, exhausted from the hasty journey, immediately fell into a deep sleep.
As the ship sailed outside the harbor, the wind began to turn and got stronger and pushed the ship off the course. A gray giant-like cloud far away began to expand and roof the vast ocean, and soon the horizon was darkened by black rain. Upon a great thunder and lightning, cold rain started to pour on the ship and the wind kept turning her. It was a storm. The waves tackled the ship with such force that it squeaked and rolled dangerously and would topple any moment.
"This is a catastrophe! Worst I ever had!" shouted the helmsman.
"Oh, my good god, help, help me this once!" cried a sailor.
"Boatswain, lower the sail, hurry!" the captain shouted to the sailor. "And you there, drop the anchor immediately!"
All the cabin lamps having gone out owing to the rough motion, passengers stirred and groped their way up to the deck from their darkened creaking corners with troubled hearts. They were rapidly outpaced by many rats running toward as high a place as possible. A few ferrets, which fed on them, appeared on the deck too and hissed and danced crazily, causing the ship dog to bark and chase after them.
"My men, beseech your gods for mercy! Ask your respective gods to kindly calm the sea and lull the wind," the captain was ordering. "You, good passengers, too! You surely worship a god or two, so please pray to your dear gods and vow that when you can walk on the firm land again you will do a handsome offering for them!."
The terror-stricken individuals on the deck sought mercy of their gods for their dear lives. But, the stormy winds were not endeared. Nor did the ship stop making ominous shrieks as if she were groaning and wanting to end the pain by breaking herself asunder - or, perchance, was she too praying for mercy to some secret goddess?
The rats and ferrets clinging to high places squeaked and squealed too; the ship dog barked at them, but soon joined their lamentation with pensive howling - stretching and keeping its throat as perpendicularly to heaven as possible, despite the motion.
"Oh, my god, my beloved god Bel, please pardon and help us! I swear I will make a shrine of Lebanon cedar for you if you help me out of this peril," a rich lumber merchant cried earnestly.
"Alas, my plentiful Dagon, the fish-god and filler of our stomach with corn and wine! Please do not allow our stomach to be filled with salty water and seaweed!" the chef.
"Please turn from your anger, my lord Neptune, God of the Sea! Please spare us our lives! What did we do to deserve this catastrophe? We did nothing wrong to you, did we? Or is there anyone among us who overlooked a duty?" the captain.
"Oh, Baal, my good god Baal, please! Please help Jojo! If you must sink this ship, please turn me a dolphin, for I can't swim!" shouted an apprentice cook in tears.
"Mother, Mother, please help me! I am scared!" wept a cabin boy bitterly, who had come out to sea for the first time in his life.
The sailors, while uttering respective paganish prayers, began throwing cargos and anything they could reach overboard so as to lower the gravity center of the ship as well as to lighten her.
Now, Jonah, the runaway prophet, was still sleeping in the bottom of the ship, although his body was shook and rolled like a log.
The captain came down into the bottom of the ship with a lantern. Hearing a groaning in the dark, he soon found the prophet and was awe-struck that a man should be able to stay asleep in such a rough motion.
"Terrible man!" thought the captain with a shudder, "sleeping in this tumult! …Still you steadfastly are awake to some sin or suffering you seem to have bred. …Certainly some god must be angry at you and working this storm to rouse you up…in vain. …But, how come am I here?! Alas, alas! Has the same god possessed me to come down here to kick this man up? For, I don't recollect why and how on earth I have come down in the midst of this dangerous motion!"
"Hey!" he shouted, shaking Jonah, "How can you sleep in a moment like this? Wake up, and pray now to your god and appease his anger, whoever he may be! Maybe your god would turn merciful and help us."
"My God? No! I can't pray..."
"Don't you worship any god?"
"Yes, I do. I worship almighty God Jehovah. But I am now escaping from him. I disowned him!"
"You disowned your god? What do you mean? You must tell me!"
"Well, three days ago, God told me to go to Nineveh and persuade the people there to repent and stop their sins. But it was a burden too heavy for me; so I escaped, disobeying my God."
"(Aside) Why, you are a burden too heavy for my ship!"
"So I am not fit to pray to my God anymore!"
"Not fit to pray? Yes, you must pray. You said you disowned your god. But it was you yourself that you disowned."
"(Aside) Correct! I wanted my God to disown me!"
"You said, the burden was too heavy for you; but if it is godsent, isn't it as light as a feather? God will of course speed you."
"Light as a feather, yeah, but no speeding me, for this feathery burden petrifies me like a stone idol."
"(Aside) A stone idol! No wonder my ship is sinking! (Aloud) But, you see, this storm must be nothing but your god's fume at you. …Suppose your god is only trying to bring you back…bring you to your right destination. Oh, yes, you must pray to your god immediately. The lives of many innocent men are endangered due to your misconduct. If you do not pray for mercy, I as the captain of this ship in peril shall become your god's hand to do away with you."
Meanwhile, on the deck, the captain's first mate was calling to the troubled men: "Hear me now, everyone of you! Please, each one, draw one stick from this vase. And anyone whose stick is stained in red is the one who invited this storm by somehow angering some god."
One by one the passengers and sailors came and drew their sticks uneasily, because each one had started thinking, "Oh, it must be that sin of mine that brought this storm!"
"Phew! I knew it was not me! Look at my lot, everyone!" said the lumber merchant with a great relief, since he knew that there was a risk of being thrown into the sea as a human sacrifice if he had drawn the wrong stick.
"Oh, thank god, me neither! I am often lucky at lotteries, so I was very afraid I should pick up the red one. But my good god never makes a mistake, ha ha ha!" said the apprentice cook with tears in his eyes, and he resumed his prayer to Baal.
"Look! I am not the one to blame either. But poor my child, he is not to blame either, but you ruffians mercilessly threw the innocent boy into the cold water to be bitten by ravenous sharks!" cried a puppeteer, who had lost one of his dear puppets.
Thus, one after another the sticks were drawn out of the vase, but none had a red mark on it. There were only a few remaining in the vase.
"Now, who have not drawn yet?" said an astrologer.
"I made the lottery, so it's the usage that I draw last," said the first mate, shaking the vase to mix the sticks, as he had done each time a person picked his stick.
"I don't see Captain. Where has he gone?" said a gambler.
"Also that queer traveler, Jonah. He has not drawn yet, and where is he?" said the chef.
"There is no need for further drawing!" shouted Jonah, who at the moment had climbed up to the deck helped by the captain, "This storm has arisen on account of my sake, and is a work of my God in Heaven!"
The captain explained to everyone how Jonah had disobeyed and escaped from his god, and grabbing the last few lottery sticks from the vase, he thrust the red-marked one toward the stormy heaven and shouted:
"I solemnly ask the god of this man Jonah! On account of this red stick, do you mean to sink the innocent sticks as well into the sea?"
However, the storm only increased its violence.
"Alas, my Jove! the anchor cable is broken!" shouted the boatswain. "We are done unless the storm stops."
People gathered round Jonah and unanimously showered accusations and complaints upon him.
"We are in danger of losing our lives owing to your presence here," said a sham prophet.
"What manner of a man are you?" asked a fire worshipper.
"Where are you from?" asked the astrologer.
"I am a Hebrew from Gad," Jonah answered. "I fear Jehovah, the God in heaven, who made the sea and the earth."
"And what made you think you had any business escaping from such a mighty god of yours?" the astrologer.
"We are not willing to get involved in a quarrel between you and your god," the gambler.
"What could we possibly do to escape this violent storm?" the first mate.
A wave jumped aboard and flooded almost the entire deck.
"Throw me into the sea. Then, the sea will be calm. I know it very well. It is me alone that God wants to feel this storm, and if you get rid of me, the ship and all of you will be safe," said Jonah, knowing that the time had come for him to perish.
However, the sailors went back to the oars and tried once more to row the ship toward the land. In those days ships sailed only alongside the coasts for safety, and when caught in a storm, the ship would be brought to the nearest port or at least close enough to the land for the people to reach it by boat or swimming. Thus, the sailors tried to bring the ship as close to the land as possible. However, the rough sea and the violent winds pushed the ship away from the coast until the land disappeared from their view.
Now, the people urged the captain to make the decision.
The captain tore his coat and grabbed Jonah from behind by the shoulders and said with his face looking to the rain-pouring heaven: "Oh, god of this man Jonah, who is said to have created the earth and the sea, if you are not a merciless god, please do not take our lives just because this man is with us! But if you cannot pardon him, then we shall but have to put him into the deep sea, for we cannot go against your will. We can act only as you ordain, and our hands shall be clean of the life of this man. So, please show mercy to us and save at least our lives."
So saying, the captain pushed Jonah forward and Jonah jumped overboard.
In a moment, there shone a bright golden light along the far swelling horizon as if it were a golden bow, and the dark clouds gave way to the blue sky which expanded quickly from the horizon upwards and over. And, as Jonah had prophesied, the sea grew calm and flat, and it was as if someone had laid a vast blue carpet across the ocean.
At this the people were filled with awe and gratitude, and did not forget to pray and give praise to Jonah's god with thanks for saving their lives. The ship dog resumed barking at the rats and the ferrets, which quickly disappeared.
Suddenly, a shout was heard over the noise of numerous prayers:
"Ahoy, look! Jonah is there!" the helmsman at helm shouted with his right hand pushed to the starboard side. "He is alive! Let us go rescue him while he is afloat!"
The men rushed to the starboard and discerned that Jonah was drifting in the distance, and he was holding to a wooden puppet that had spilled from a wooden box of the puppeteer.
"(Aside) But if we rescue him, will not the storm come back again?" everyone.
"Lower the boat now!" the captain.
"Aye, aye, sir," the first mate.
"Ahoy, Jonah, we will come and rescue you in a moment, so hang in there!" the helmsman.
But no voice returned from Jonah.
As soon as the boat was on the water, the captain jumped into it, followed by two sturdy sailors and the dog. The three men rowed the boat toward Jonah as hard as they could. It was when the boat got within a stone's throw from Jonah that a sailor who had just climbed up to the mast-head shouted with his eyes popped:
"Captain, beware! Something big is coming! It's fast!"
"Where-away?" the captain.
"There!" the sailor pointed in a direction beyond Jonah.
Captain and the others in the boat looked in the pointed direction. A huge role of water was seen to rise and fall repeatedly as it approached.
The dog ran to the bow and began barking at the strange apparition.
"Wha…what is that?!" the lumber merchant.
"It's a kraken! A giant squid! Look, it's white!" the puppeteer.
"No, that's a whale." the pop-eyed sailor on the mast-head, "It has flukes."
"It's going to attack Jonah!" the chef.
"What a big mouth! It's gonna swallow him!" the fire worshipper.
"Ah, he is done! At one gulp!" the gambler.
"Look, there goes the jet! So, it's a whale!" the astrologer.
"Ye, bloody monster, get this!" shouted Captain fiercely, as he stood up at the bow of the boat and lanced a long boat hook, which had been in the boat. It scratched and left a red thin line on the vast white forehead of the sea monster.
Whether offended by this or not, the monster wriggled the body and with its snow white flukes scooped and flipped the boat high in the air. The three men in the boat (to say nothing of the dog) shrieked as they were thrown into the water and they did not come to the surface for a long while.
When they reappeared near the capsized boat, the monster jetted again raising an instant rainbow.
"Captain, are you alright?!" the sailors and passengers on the starboard of the ship.
"Ye, crook-jawed man-eating fish!" shouted Captain as he clutched at the boat, "if you claim to be on a god's errand, show us a sign now!"
The whale gave a glance at the captain, and blew again and swam away dividing the peaceful sea.
"That was the fate of Jonah, a runaway prophet that disobeyed his god. How terrible!" the sham prophet.
Thus, Jonah was swallowed by the whale. Fortunately, the whale did not chew as it swallowed him so that he was not injured. However, inside the whale's stomach it was pitch dark and so thick with hot acidic stench that he coughed a lot. Only somehow he did not suffocate.
Terror-stricken, Jonah started praying to God earnestly. Between the coughing he prayed aloud but his hoarse voice soon died out. He continued praying by heart, but numerous memories began to rush through his mind one after another, and the childhood episodes which had long been lost from his memory returned with such vividness as if they were occurring real-life, interrupting his prayer. In one scene he was in the holy temple marveling at its grandeur and beauty. His mother gave him a dove for him to offer. He wanted to keep the dove for he did not want it to be killed. He cried as he saw the bird killed and burnt whole, making his parents laugh, and his father hugged him, kissed him, and put him on his shoulders - the child's most favorite position. Then flushed a scene of his parents being struck to death by two intruders in their house. He cried "Mother!" …"Mother!" shouted the prophet in the viscous darkness, but only a hiss came out of his acid burnt throat, and he swooned…and heard a voice in his dream.
"Hey, Jonnie, howdy? Call me Ben. So you didn't obey God, did you? Me neither." The voice was a young jolly tenor. "I didn't want to swallow you, or any other monk for that matter. You monks are not for us sperm whales, because we ain't much fascinated about taking big lumpy food, contrary to our size. As you may have noticed, we do not have upper teeth. So, we rather enjoy slurping little ones like shrimps by herds. Of course we eat giant squid. They are good. They are actually very slim and nicely soft and slippery. There is nothing like the sensation of our throat stroked by one. They digest easily and thus don't stay long in the stomach unlike you land species. As you know, you monks are too bony and scratchy to enjoy munching, and the flesh is hard, lean and stringy, and distasteful anyway, and difficult to digest and, on top of these - or bottom of - causes constipation.
"But, God said to me I should go and swallow you alive. I knew he means it when he says a thing; so I said "No thanks, my Lord, no more monks," and I turned around and escaped from the Mediterranean to go beyond his reach.
"And look at what a misery He inflicted upon me the moment I crossed the gate! He turned me snow white, and since then I have been in trouble one after another. …How did I know that I turned white? The suckerfish on me were surprised at the sudden change and promptly reported it to me, for they didn't like it either. They said they now looked too inviting to their enemies. But they are so fond of me they have stayed with me.
"Incidentally, for your information and for the sake of their honor, those suckerfish are by no means on me as mere free-riders, but are quite useful and congenial company. They keep watch for me when I am asleep. When it comes to caring for my skin and trimming my body hair, they are unsurpassed specialists. They pick any unwelcome adsorptions off my skin such as parasites but leave useful accessories so as to make me healthy as well as attractive to lady-whales. They proudly say that they are called in Japan - if you know where it is - as oval-gold-coin shark after their oval connector - though they are not actually sharks. Aren't they worth the value of their name? And, oh, how they love our stories! You know, we sperm whales have the largest and greatest brain among all the creatures ever created by God. And naturally we are the greatest thinker and think out many great things every day. Then, we need listeners for propagation of our ideas. But, why, most of the creatures do not have interest in great things, but are fond of foolish fish stories and stuffs like that. The suckerfish are different. Oh, they really know what are great and what are not. So they are attached to our talks, especially our non-fiction stories…like this one I am telling you now. Believe it or not, there is even a theory that they came to have their sucking connector through evolution on account of their great love for whale talks; that is, they so disliked to miss any word of our talk that they kept pushing their ears to our body incessantly and God was so touched by their diligence as to allow their ears to develop into the pluggable connecter to help their listening - believe it or not. By the way, God took care of us too in that our nose was gradually moved to the top of our head so we can breathe better.
"Well, now, as I was saying, in spite of the efforts of the suckerfish to improve my look and feel, my being white has made me unlucky with ladies. I used to be quite popular with them, and they scarcely let me alone. They would say "Hey, Ben, you are my only sweetheart, so don't you ever flirt with other girls," while pinching me there. But now they say I am a whale god, and keep aloooof from me. Hum, that's OK with me though, for I think I have already known enough of them to know them better, if you know what I mean. Besides, even I can use some vacation once in a while, you know. But, you see, unless you are in Arctic or Antarctic - if you know where they are - where white is the color of the background, whiteness is a great handicap. Yes, like the suckerfish, I too advertise my presence to my enemies, in the air or water.
"First, a couple of nasty seagulls came and pecked and picked on me. They eat things like oyster on me but not only that! They have come to like tasting our skin and the meat underneath. Oh, it's very painful and, you know, they kill child whales sometimes. So, I had to dive more often and thus I could not enjoy peaceful sun-tanning.
"Then, ravenous orcas would not fail to find me, and they come by many. Five is OK but more than that I run away. Unlike sharks they work in a team, a team of well-organized synchronism. So they are the strongest band in the ocean as far as I know; even sharks are not their enemy. Well, the other day I had ten of them on me. At first I noticed only five approaching from behind, so I planned to smack them dead with my flukes; but then I found, with the help of a sucker in charge of patrolling, that five others were lying in ambush beyond the waves ahead - cunning creatures. So it's time to run away, but not through the waves, for they can swim more than three times faster than we can. However, we sperm whales can dive deeper than they. They come only 300 meters deep or so and give up, but I can go as deep as 1100 meters, and one of my cousins has a record of 3000 meters - a desperado! Incidentally, he said that at that depth the sea bed is like a bright starry sky twinkling with many luminescent fish and organisms, not even without occasional shooting ones.
"Anyway, I took a deep breath and, raising my flukes high in the air, dived and went down perpendicularly as fast as my flukes could drive me. I heard one orca shouting "Gosh, the whitey has found us, go catch him!", and they dived after me and in a moment neared me dangerously close. If two or more of them could bite hold of me at my flukes at the same time, my flukes are stayed and the game is over. One caught me hard there; so I sharply bent my body and gave him a full swing - this must have caused him unconscious and he at once released me. Now, as I go deeper, an advantageous phenomenon takes place in my body. As the water gets colder and the water pressure higher, my body, especially the soft large forehead, is squeezed in and begins to shrink and harden, and at the depth of about 200 meters my body becomes quite streamlined and the body weight substantially overbalances the buoyancy so that I can increase my speed.
"This happened as usual, and the orcas gave up. It was a narrow escape though. If I went up too soon, the orcas would be waiting above to attack me again. They would try to prevent me from taking breaths by pushing and pulling me down until I drown. So I had to stay underneath for quite some time. We can stay long in the depth - two hours or more if we had taken many deep breaths before diving. Anyway I had to recover enough buoyancy to be able to go up without much labor. The recovery occurs naturally by the body heat which has increased due to the desperate diving, but it occurs faster in a hot spa, and I am a great lover of hot spas! It's not difficult to find one for often bubbles are going up from spas, and I can hear the bubbling if it is not too far. I found one in a small ravine and, descending into it, rested my body among craggy rocks, and let the hot rushing bubbles and water massage my cold body. How comfortable it was! Then, I carefully applied the wounds I got from the seagulls and the orca to the bubbles for disinfection and prompt healing. As my body got warmer I dozed and fell asleep as usual; but this time not without a problem.
"Octopuses were no problem to me when I was not white and could sleep hidden among the rocks and corals; but now they find me without difficulty, because what is a big white thing in the dark background if it ain't a stupid sleeping snow white whale? One biggish octopus is enough to paralyze a whale. First it hugs you with the long huge sucking legs or arms, whichever you like to call them, and the hugging is a nasty, sticky, spirally wrenching one. Even a shark would swoon if it is twisted by this hugging. However hard you may dance the partner will never let you change partners. Meanwhile, the octopus injects paralyzing saliva into your skin. Then, sooner or later, he would start devouring you and they have very strong beaks. Only you do not feel the pain thanks to the anesthetic effect of the saliva, which prevents you from going wild, to the benefit of the devourer.
"So, I was awaken by a big octopus as it hugged me round and started twisting my body. I shook and swung my body to escape but it was too late. Soon I began feeling numb where I was touched by the octopus and thought that my end was nearing. However I was lucky then, for I noticed that this particular octopus had not as many legs as the name of his species informs, and when I asked him what had happened to his missing legs, he said with a curse upon himself that he had been so hungry that he ate four of them himself - which made him - ah uno, dos, tres, yeh quatropus, right? Ha-ha-ha. So, I took courage and said to myself, "All right, I'll do my last dance as wildly as possible no matter what!" And so did I, and scratching his head against a huge rock, I was able to break away from his hugging, and did not look back when he yelled at me to return and return his precious leg that had been torn off anew - leaving him a tripod. That torn leg was stuck and wriggling on my belly as if it were another suckerfish, and I thought it would make a good takeaway for my sucker friends waiting above - and also would be an unmistakable evidence to prove to them that my next adventure story was not a makeup. Incidentally, I hear, octopus's legs are disposable because they grow anew.
"Well, brother, that was enough!, I thought, and I repented and changed my mind at last, and rushed back through the gate to swallow you, as God had ordered me in the first place - which I have done like a good circumcised whale should, as you have witnessed from outside and inside.
"…How is it that you have not suffocated in my stomach? Well, I can tell you how, but I'm afraid I must use some technical terms you may not have heard yet. First, you must know that our stomach is made up of four rooms in series. You are in the foremost one, which is called fore-stomach and is by far the largest of the four. There almost no digestive juice is secreted, or tapped. Hence, so long as you stay where you are, you will not be digested…if pickled. Oh, by the way, you may feel free to help yourself to any fish and squid and sea weed round you. They are nicely pickled too. So, going back to the subject, the fore-stomach is primarily for crushing big tough food into soft pieces. So it has powerful muscular system. Of course I am not working it now…for God's order was to keep you alive, and as a result I must keep fasting as long as you are in. No appetite anyway with a monk in my tummy.
Now, as you know, we sperm whales have to dive deep for long periods of time for various reasons, and therefore we need to stockpile as much oxygen as possible in our body. Thus, our lung has come to acquire a capacity of transferring oxygen from the inhaled air into our blood by 80 to 90 %, which is very high compared with your 10 to 15 %. Also, in order to stay long in the depth, our body is made capable of reducing our buoyancy through volume reduction under high water pressure and low temperature, like our forehead as I already explained. Likewise, our ribcage is made flexible to allow lung collapse. And now, correspondingly as our volume decreases, our heart rate is slowed by half and our metabolism also slows down significantly to conserve oxygen. …Are you following so far? …Well, anyway, in order to keep more oxygen in our body, our myoglobin, which stores oxygen in muscle tissue, is by far more abundant than any other creature. Also, our blood has an extra-high density of red blood cells, which contain oxygen-carrying haemoglobin. Thus our blood can be temporarily over-saturated with oxygen, and this over-oxygenated blood becomes the source of oxygen gas, as I will explain later. Now the oxygenated blood is selectively directed towards essential organs when oxygen levels become lower than certain thresholds. Thus, the longer we stay underseas, the more essential an organ must be to continue receiving the oxygenated blood. The top-most priority is given to the fore-stomach and the brain the next. The reason for this is that when we dive deep, whether to escape from enemy like orcas or to hunt for food, we swallow a new-born whale, if any is with us, into the fore-stomach for protection while we fight or hunt. Then we need to prevent the baby from suffocating. Thus the oxygenated blood is kept supplied to the fore-stomach so as to maintain a certain level of oxygen concentration in the atmosphere therein. So, even when we are brain-dead, the baby survives in our fore-stomach where oxygen gas is created from the blood, which is supplied to it so long as our heart beats. The baby can sneak out when it is safer. Now, we've come to the difficult part: how the oxygen is released from the over-oxygenated blood. In our fore-stomach the mucous membrane forming the inner surface of it is said to have a capacity of triggering a reaction between the blood and carbon dioxide and certain enzymes, whereby the extra oxygen is released in the form of oxygen gas into the atmosphere. This reaction mechanism however is very complicated and has not been satisfactorily determined yet, although many scholars have postulated various theories. According to a most recent theory, which received a prize, the thin hydrogen peroxide, which is produced naturally by organisms in our stomach, such as facultative aerobes, acts as the reaction promoter or catalyst to urge the blood to continuously give away extra oxygen into the atmosphere. …All in all that is about the physiological mechanism of how I have been able to give you a safe harbor in my oxygen-flowing fore-stomach…which…ugh...I already regret I did! I knew this was coming! I'm beginning to feel very sick…I feel like vomiting, as I had expected, and so had I warned my God from the beginning! …Ugh, I need some good stomach pill! Brother, do you have one to spare?"
Such and many other things did Jonah hear in his dream, and if the author were to write down all of them, it would take dozens more pages without adding any substance to the story of the prophet, which soon may be swallowed up by the whale talk. So I quit the latter and resume the adventure of Jonah. It must be cautioned, incidentally, that he heard all of this mysterious talk only in his dream, so that the readers should not try to swallow it. After all, it's only another fish story.
So, finally Jonah awoke, and he found himself no longer terror-stricken in spite of finding himself in a fish's belly. He did not know how long he had been asleep because there is no knowing between day and night under the sea, especially in a fish's belly. He resumed praying earnestly and did not fall asleep again.
Jonah had been in the belly of the whale for three days, when God heard his prayer and caused the whale to feel a great nausea in the stomach. The whale vomited everything left inside its stomach at once. Thus Jonah was spewed from the whale's mouth into the salty sea.
Fortunately, the weather was calm, and a land was seen close enough. Jonah could see a beach with a sparkling rivulet flowing into the sea. The tide was high and he could easily reach the mouth of the rivulet by swimming. However, from hunger, thirst and exhaustion, he could not seem to walk up the beach. He waved for help to girls who happened to be playing with a ball on the beach. But he was so stinking and nearly naked that they could not come close to him. So they placed a cup of water and some food at a distance from him. The girls had come at the mouth of the river for laundry, and they also gave half-dried clothing to Jonah. He thanked them and…God.
Thus Jonah's escape from God was unsuccessful.
(Sorry, run out of page.; for chapter III, please go to : http://p.booklog.jp/book/82220/read)