By David Stevens
A young children's story of beach life, to be enjoyed by all ages adult and child alike. It is about a depressed young whale bent on escaping the prison home (sea) in which he lives, and the chaos his escape causes for the beach creatures he encounters.
This is a nice story best I think to be read to a young child for shared fun, before a good nights sleep.
Why me? Why should I be locked in this dark wet world? What have I ever done to deserve being kept a prisoner in here?
Freedom waited just scant inches away on the other side of this containing barrier, that same freedom which in his fairly short lifetime he had never felt. Sunlight filtered into his dark and dismal world, hinting at the bright new life that awaited him, just over there, on the other side. Tantalizing him, pulling at his thoughts, driving him crazy with wishing.
Alfred Jones Frear was enjoying a quiet snooze; he was lying out on his round stomach with his eight legs spread outwards from his body. His job as publicity manager for one of the biggest petroleum companies lay forgotten somewhere in the filing cabinets of his mind. He was on holiday, and at the sametime he was visiting one of his many distant cousins and staying at their beach side home.
That cloud, for that was the only thing that he could think of, that the large black and white thing, that currently was obliterating the sunlight from reaching him. That cloud seems to be getting quite near, almost falling out of the sky towards me he thought, looking up. Now it is directly above me and getting closer all the time. Strangely for a cloud it seemed to be trailing an awful lot of water.
Surely that can not be right he pondered, closely followed by the realisation that the cloud that so offended him was quickly getting even larger. Other beach inhabitants scattered outwards from beneath the now falling cloud, running, he saw, in all directions, just to avoid being crushed by its unexpected arrival on the beach. As the cloud's shadow closed, Alfred decided that he to should make himself scarce, and like those around him he also ran very hard and fast, away from the falling cloud, with its cascading water.
Currump, came an explosion from behind him, beneath his feet the sand bucked and heaved, throwing all but the most sure footed face forwards into the heaving sand. One poor unfortunate beach creature was flicked off its running feet, and dumped into the very middle of a rock pool which was filled to the brim with cold, very wet, salty water. He surfaced, spluttering with annoyance and looking back past Alfred at the now beached cloud.
Realising that the threat of his imminent squishing by the cloud was now past, Alfred stopped running and turned around to look back out across the beach. He expected to see the sea but could not because a huge white and black cloud was lying beached in the sand and it was between him and the water.
Looking out through twin saucer shaped eyes, the happy escapee viewed for the first time in his young life the other side of his prison barrier. He could see all sorts of strange creatures, pulling themselves up out of the sand, brushing themselves down and turning hostile eyes on him.
"Hello", he decided to say, hoping that they would think that he was being friendly and stop looking at him like that. They didn't, infact they were all so stunned by his arrival that answering his booming 'Hello' was the last thing on any of their minds. Alfred looked about him, not being able to see past the cloud, which was now obviously a whale, he stretched up trying to see past the mound of living flesh, whilst wondering if it was alone, or would another monster erupt out from the sea and land with a huge splat onto their beach.
It was then that Alfred noticed that the creature had landed right on his brand new and gaily coloured, beach towel, the one that he had especially chosen for this his holiday. Annoyed, he marched towards the obviously happy whale, intending to give it a good piece of his mind and probably a large portion of his tongue as well.
Two seagulls had sought the safety of the sky when the whale had burst up and out of the sea and catapulted its self onto the beach. Now they circled the whale discussing its strange behaviour, and chuckling quietly about the mayhem that its arrival had caused down below them.
Alfred encountered his first problem with his plan to give the whale a good telling off; his problem was how was he going to climb the mountain of whale before him.
"Hello," boomed out again in a pleasant young sounding voice from far above Alfreds head.
"Hello. Hello, is that all you can say, you ruin my holiday , knock half of us over, try to drown the rest, and all you can say for yourself is Hello! Besides that, did you know that you are lying on my new beach towel?"
"Is that so?" asked the whale of nobody in particular, wondering what a beach towel was.
"Nutty as a fruit cake." Whispered one of the seagulls, it had voiced its thoughts quietly so as not to upset the whale's feelings. Some of the other beach dwellers were not quite so nice in their comments, and of course the whale heard them, but not even they could spoil his happiness at having escaped from his prison, the place that everyone called the sea.
Huddled together away from the whale's side, four crabs, one lobster and of course the two seagulls discussed the whale, but more importantly they tried to decide what was to be done about it? The suggestions ranged from ignoring it, to asking it to leave, please. Finally someone suggested seeking out a psychiatrist, as it seemed to all of them to be a very confused young whale, very confused indeed and a psychiatrist was very good at helping confused anything's, even whales they hoped.
One of the seagulls caught a mackerel and then sent it off to fetch the psychiatrist, whilst the other seagull sought out the rest of the whale's pod, in the hope that they might be persuaded to help them with their little ten ton problem.
Meanwhile Alfred had managed to crawl his way up the whales fast drying side, he intended to have a quiet little talk with the nutty whale, but he got distracted by the feel of the whale's fast drying skin. He noticed that in places it was already beginning to crack from the effects of the hot sun, which was burning the whale's skin. He mentioned his discovery to a pair of mussels that were resting on a nearby rock. They volunteered the suggestion that the whale needed to keep his skin damp at least, which led to a long chain of creatures quickly hunting the beach for a large shell and then forming a line to hand carry the water filled shell up the side of the whale and empty it out over his head and back, trying to keep him damp.
"Hello," spoke the whale yet again.
"Hello," replied Alfred. Adding, "What do you think that you are doing?"
"Just enjoying the freedom," boomed the whale, by way of a reply. The flesh shook beneath Alfred's legs as the whale spoke, making him feel quite woozy and a little bit sick.
About that time the sea behind the whale parted, revealing an elderly looking Walrus with a pair of pince' nez glasses fastened to his grey muzzle. He, the Walrus, inspected the beached whale from all sides, before taking up a position beneath its left eye, he introduced himself.
"I am!" He said, sounding quite important. "I am Doctor Fredrik Floyed at your service." He did not ask the whale its name because he knew from previous experience that it probably would not want to tell him anyway.
"Now tell me what is the matter with you?"
So began a lot of very heavy sounding questions to Alfred, with even more heavy sounding answers coming from the whale.
Some of the more thoughtful creatures had already called out a representative of the 'Guild of Seamstresses' and they had agreed to collect some sea grasses and make a good strong length of rope, just in case it was needed. Alfred watched as they twisted and twirled the grasses. Quite lovely he thought, watching as local skills were being put to a good use.
Suddenly two twenty foot plumes of water erupted into the air from the sea drenching the beached and fast drying out whale in salty sea water, for the first time since he had landed. Another two whales blew behind the first two adding even more water.
Unfortunately the unexpected torrents of water washed the struggling crabs clear up the beach, in a tidal wave of wetness. At least thought one of the half drowned victims, we will not have to carry shells full of water up to the top of the whale to keep it moist any longer.
Alfred watched and listened as the two large whales talked in their high pitched way to their beached junior offspring, they sounded quite cross with the youngster, but Alfred thought that they were really more worried than cross.
About then three struggling lobsters from the guild, dragged a tightly woven rope of sea grasses across the beach, towards the surf. Eagerly other beach dwellers lent them some help, which they were very pleased to accept so soon there was fifty-feet of woven cable coiled up on the sand between the whales tail and his flukes.
The young whale was quite interested in the arrivals and their rope, he tried to turn his head to see more, but he only managed to scatter huge amounts of wet sand over the beach and the creatures trying to help him, which did not help their tempers at all.
All that remained to be done now thought Alfred, is to fashion some sort of complex harness, fit it to the whale and drag him back into the water, then they could all go back to their sunbathing before tea time and he could have his new beach towel back.
The seamstresses set to and shortly they had woven a rope harness, Doctor Fredric talked to the young whale and explained what they wanted him to do, he did his best. He wriggled and twitched whilst a variety of creatures pulled and twisted the rope into place. With one mighty muscle straining heave the whale flipped his body up, by pushing his tail down into the sand and at the sametime, twelve crabs, two lobsters and Alfred pulled the rope under the whale.
With the help of four seagulls who each took hold of the rope end in their beaks and then flew upwards and over the whale dragging the rope with them. They finally pulled the rope right over the top of the whale and tied it with a very big fishermans knot, that one of the gulls knew, around the whale's tail.
Flat fish rose to the surface, they are the most helpful fish in the sea and love to play, so a whole school of them had arrived. They were all flapping near to the sandy beach edge, eager to offer any help they could so long as it was fun as well. The rope was given to the oldest of the school, that's what they call a gathering of fish. He then got all of his friends to line up beneath the rope and all pull it, inch by inch, then foot by foot, out to sea. The rope snaked away from the beach, pulled and carried out into the deeper ocean, towards the gathered together pod of four whales.
Once the rope arrived, two of the bigger adult whales gripped it between their teeth and pulled. Really, really, really big tails drove downwards, pushing the two whales back through the water. The rope started to go straighten out, then it began to stretch as the weight of the youngster was also pulled. The knot tightened around the young whale's tail, then as Alfred watched, the young confused whale began to move backwards across the sand.
The big whales pulled a little harder, jerking the young whale backwards whilst he tried to help them by jumping and bumping his stomach up and down and pulling against the rope. Slowly he closed the gap between where he had landed and the waiting sea.
Now his tail had reached the water and was splashing in it, another whale from the pod joined the tug of war and with a quick slide and a mighty splash the young whale splashed into the sea once more. A tidal wave of water rolled up the beach, smoothing out the sand, rubbing away the grooves dragging the whale had made. The young whale was free of the beach, and turned out to sea and his family. One of the older whales bit through the rope, and that was that as far as the young whale was concerned.
Two flicks of huge flukes brought the oldest whale up to the beach, his head lifted out of the water, one very large eye, the largest eye that Alfred had ever seen looked across the beach at the beach life, and then a deep voice he said.
"Thank you all for your very kind help." Then the old whale splashed back into the water and was gone. Alfred looked for his beach towel, he found it wet through, and scrunched up, lying in a rock pool, he would not be resting on that again this afternoon.
One hundred feet beneath the surface of the sea and quite a long way from the beach, the older whale slipped smoothly along side of the rescued troublesome youngster, and in a stern voice he began to tell him of the pods thoughts.
"You," he said. "You could have spoiled the pods holiday cruise up to the Arctic. Not only that, the rest of the family are getting hungry and the chef has promised us all a lovely treat, which you have delayed. The pod should have been tucking into his delicious krill soup, followed by squid chilled in ice. Thanks to you we are all late for dinner!"
The young whale felt quite sorry, he had not thought that his escape would cause so much trouble to the pod. He smiled to himself, he had see the other side of the barrier, and, met some very nice beach creatures. Even if he had upset the pod a little, they would soon forgive him and all would be well.
His back was slightly sore from the burning sun and he decided that perhaps being in the ocean is better for a whale like him, than escaping onto the land. He swam towards the rest of the pod being herded by the older members of his rescue team, quite happy if not very hungry.
Walking along the cliff edge was one of the little pleasures that the old retired fisherman enjoyed. He had been thinking of long lazy days out on his boat fishing the seas, when his thoughts had been rudely interrupted by a mighty splash.
He turned his aging eyes towards the beach, just in time to see the head of a huge whale slide into the ocean waves. He stopped walking along the cliff edge, instead he stood watching the fast disappearing whale head. He continued watching as the whale turned in the sea and swam away from the beach.
He could see four more spouts of water burst up from the ocean surface, a pod of whales he nodded to himself, thinking, don't see them this close into the shore very often. Well at least that whale was going away from the beach, he had heard stories of whales throwing themselves up onto the beach, and he could not understand why a sea creature would want to come up onto the land?
Shaking his head at the thought, he continued his quiet stroll along the cliff edge, heading for his little cottage and a nice fish supper. 'Whales on the beach! How silly,' he thought, again shaking his head.