There was too much beach between him and the creature. He wouldn’t make it in time.
The water frothed and churned as it swam for the surface. Even in the grey afternoon, the light still made its slick, oily skin glisten. Part of the body broke through the waves … and headed towards an outstretched hand.
Jose leaned back and nursed the first coffee of the day. As usual, the police station was wonderfully quiet.
La Gomera Island was so small; there wasn’t much for them to do or anyone to cause real trouble. There were sea-loving locals and tourists. That was it. So when the phone rang at 6 am, even he was shocked.
A frantic girl sputtered a string of incoherent words together. Something about a deal? No… a seal?
Jose rolled his eyes, jotted down the details, and then hung up. Probably some hippy environmentalist. The department of natural resources could handle it. There was no way he was leaving his desk. The phone rang again.
Jose let out a long, annoyed groan. It had better be good. It was another frantic warning about … a shark?!
Five more messages appeared on his desk. Had the entire island gone crazy? He couldn’t remember the last time they had wildlife problems. However, before he could notify the DNR, the emergency line exploded.
Call after call came in – and it was about the same thing.
Something massive was swimming along the pier, terrifying anyone who laid eyes on it. Was this actually happening? Their little island never had problems! The next call, however, made his heart stop. A boy was trying to play with it. Jose grabbed his keys.
He ran as fast as his desk body would allow him and jumped into his old cruiser.
It was probably some tourist kid being stupid. The problem was, that being stupid along the water and with animals, could end in a very bad way. He pressed down on the gas and turned on the siren.
By the time he reached the shore, a large crowd had already gathered – phones out and recording.
With firm authority, Jose pushed through. There was no way a kid was going to get hurt while he was on duty. But, as the scene appeared before him, even he stood frozen in place – unable to believe his eyes.
The kid couldn’t have been more than eight. He kneeled on the algae-covered concrete steps and stuck his fist into the water.
For Jose, the world blurred as he sprinted toward him. The salt air stung his lungs and air-bound sand scraped his eyes. None of it mattered. He had to get to him and fast.
Jose yelled for him to move back, but the crash of the waves drowned out all words.
The boy took another step into the churning water. This time, the outline of the creature became clear. Water bubbled and popped. The surfaced swelled. Was the kid trying to stick his hand inside?!
Jose slid down the rough steps, grabbed the boy, and pulled him back. The kid looked up with a very indignant expression.
“Hey! You ruined it! That was my last sandwich!” Jose looked at the smashed bread in the kid’s fist. The rest of it was being gobbled up by … something he had seen many times before.
It was a stingray … a massive one! It had to be 4 meters, easy. But there were two big questions ringing in Jose’s head.
First, how had one so big come to their small island? Second, what in the world was the kid thinking?! It seems the young man would have both the answers.
As Jose sat on the steps, ignoring the cold of the ocean soaking through his uniform, he listened as the boy talked about his hobby.
He had fallen in love with sea creatures and learned everything he could about them – including how to feed them. He plopped the last morsel of bread in Jose’s hand. “Your turn.”
By then, even Jose had to admit that he was curious and wanted to get closer.
The scene turned all the more surreal when the enormous sting ray seemed to know exactly what was about to happen. It reared up and patiently kept its mouth open – like a water puppy waiting for a treat.
The bread slipped in and the stingray bubbled under the surface again; floating in slow, graceful circles. “Why is it here?”
The kid answered, “Probably because it found more food here.” With that Jose leaned back, let out the breath he had been holding, and bellowed with laughter. He thought he had seen it all. There was one final thing to do.
After updating the station, he went to the police social media site for their area.
He snapped a picture and added, “People of La Gomera. Yes, we know about the sea creature. It’s a big stingray. Please stop overloading the emergency line! It’s fine. Leave it alone. And please don’t feed it.” In order to protect the privacy of those depicted, some names, locations, and identifying characteristics have been changed and are products of the author’s imagination. Any resemblances to actual events or places or persons, living or dead are entirely coincidental