(Found at Matt Upson – Librarian.)
The seal’s head broke the waters as he was pulling his boat onto the beach. It remained there, a floating gray pebble, until he had secured the lines and stowed his nets. I need a drink. As he turned for his croft at the end of the wind-lashed strand he saw it dive beneath the churning surface. It reappeared as he was about halfway along the shore, past the rocks, and he saw it begin its ugly, rolling waddle onto the beach. The fisherman thought about the whiskey on the shelf above the sink. Then he thought about the money he could make from good sealskin, so he turned around and went back down to the boat to get his club. As he drew level with the rocks, the fisherman saw the seal writhe and struggle; it opened its mouth and squorled a cry to the gulls overhead, battling the strong winds. He watched as it cast off its skin. A woman stood naked on the sands, her pale skin dappling with the cold. A Selkie! Here on my beach.
The fisherman couched behind the salt-stained stones, his breath held tight in his chest. If he stood up now the seal-woman would see him. She might panic and try to flee back to the water so he waited until she buried her skin. She sniffed the air and moved off inland, black eyes wide in search of whatever it was she was looking for.
When he reached the spot where she had buried the pelt, he knelt in the wet sand and began to dig. Soon his fingers touched soft supple fur. He drew out his prize. This would fetch a fortune in Thurso. He drew the skin through his thick fingers; it smelt of the waters she had come from and a sweet musky scent. He held it up to his face and breathed it in. Her scent is the sea. Overhead the gulls squalled. He closed his eyes, listening to the breakers burst again and again along the shore. Lulled by the rhythm he lay on the sand and drew the skin over him to shield him from the winds. As he lay beneath the pelt his thirst was quenched by the endless sea. He felt the pressure of deep dives, savored the crunch of herring fresh in his sharp teeth, the swell of the sea as it cradled his sleeping body. The black-eyed seal-maid floated at the edge of his vision, a soft presence as his senses swam in her strange waters.
When he opened his eyes, he was lying on his back staring up at the steel bellies of the clouds. How long have I lain here?
“Over there.” A voice made him turn his head. Two men were walking to him. The fisherman thought it was strange they were dressed in monochromes. Oh, thank God, it’s Calum and Old John. He tried to rise, but his legs felt clumsy.
“Hey! Help me up,” the fisherman called out. His voice seemed oddly hoarse. As he tried to clear his throat, a dark clump on the ground caught his attention; it looked like a heap of clothes. He’d not noticed that before.
The men were nearer now. Calum was raising a stick. He’s going to hit me! He cast about wildly trying to right himself and that was when he saw her. The Selkie was crouching behind the rocks. She was smiling, her eyes black pools. He reached out to her and caught sight of his flipper. He howled his terror to the sky as the gulls screamed back at him.
“He’s a big ’un,” Calum said as he swung the club down.
“Aye,” said Old John. “Skin’ll fetch a good price in Thurso.”
(Found at MicroHorror.)
énouement n. the bittersweetness of having arrived here in the future, where you can finally get the answers to how things turn out in the real world—who your baby sister would become, what your friends would end up doing, where your choices would lead you, exactly when you’d lose the people you took for granted—which is priceless intel that you instinctively want to share with anybody who hadn’t already made the journey with you, as if there was some part of you who had volunteered to stay behind, who was still stationed at a forgotten outpost somewhere in the past, who was still eagerly awaiting news from the front.
The donkeys are called Alfa and Beto. The man is Luis Soriano. Together they bring books to communities throughout Colombia’s Caribbean Sea hinterlands.
Since they began more than a dozen years ago, children’s picture books adventure stories have been among their patrons’ favorite deliveries. So it’s appropriately cool that Mr. Soriano and his burros feature twice in books of their own.
(Found at biblioklept.)
Harper’s recently published a fascinating, deeply ironic account how the game of Monopoly originated. It’s early versions were a kind of “open-source” game that illustrated how destructive monopolies were, and were never copyrighted. A few decades later, Charles Darrow claimed to have invented the game and patented it, earning millions for himself and Parker Brothers corporation.
Here are a handful of quotes to give you the gist before you read the whole thing. Which you should–it’s chockablock with gameplay, history, economics, philosophy, and trivia about your favorite/least favorite board game.
The game’s true origins…go unmentioned in the official literature. Three decades before Darrow’s patent, in 1903, a Maryland actress named Lizzie Magie created a proto-Monopoly as a tool for teaching the philosophy of Henry George, a nineteenth-century writer who had popularized the notion that no single person could claim to “own” land…George called private land ownership an “erroneous and destructive principle” and argued that land should be held in common, with members of society acting collectively as “the general landlord.”
The Landlord Game’s chief entertainment was the same as in Monopoly: competitors were to be saddled with debt and ultimately reduced to financial ruin, and only one person, the supermonopolist, would stand tall in the end. The players could, however, vote to do something not officially allowed in Monopoly: cooperate. Under this alternative rule set, they would pay land rent not to a property’s title holder but into a common pot—the rent effectively socialized so that, as Magie later wrote, “Prosperity is achieved.”
Sometime in 1932, [Charles] Darrow copied the layout of the board, the rules of play, the property names, the deed values, and the Chance cards, and made his own version of the game. His only innovation seems to have been to claim the mantle of sole inventor. He would soon be assumed into the pantheon of American heroes of commerce. The irony was [that] before being monopolized by a single person working in tandem with a corporation, Monopoly had in fact been “invented” by many people…
(Found at Harper’s Magazine.)