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  • Fernando Bravo

Adam and the Whale

Updated: Apr 16

Plague


A long, long time ago, lived a boy named Adam. He was eleven years old, and his father had just died of a terrible disease. As Adam helped his mother bury his father, he couldn’t help but notice she had the same black spots on her arms that his father had.

It wasn’t long before she died too.

He wasn’t strong enough to carry his mother’s body to the grave he had dug for her, and he couldn’t just leave her to decompose and be left to the animals of the wild. So, he walked over to the fireplace, impaled a hot timber with an iron poker, and used it to light the drapes on fire.

He made sure the flames consumed the entire house and then walked away.


His mind blank, his heart black with sorrow, Adam wandered aimlessly without a care in the world, not even for himself. There was no self, no joy, no sense of purpose. There was just one step after another, until he collapsed with exhaustion. The next morning he was up again, walking, one step after another. For several days this went on until eventually, he found himself wandering into town. Soon, before him sat the sea, smelling like fish and shining gloriously under the sun like a peaceful, joyful, oblivious giant.

What’s that? A ship. One step after another he soon found himself onboard.


The Potion from the Sea

The plague had thus far killed half of everyone in the town of Bo. In desperation the mayor went to a soothsayer. Many powerful leaders had their own soothsayer, but Mayor Sebastian always said, “Soothsayer’s are make-believe. No one can tell the future; how could they; the future hasn’t happened yet.” But when his own daughter had her first black spot, he went to a soothsayer and asked, “Where is the cure for the plague? How do I find it?”

“You must find the potion in the ocean,” said Madame Maura, the Soothsayer. “Send travelers who shall face the great whale. The potion is in its blood.”

“The potion? So, if we kill the whale, we get the potion?”

“We would do well to respect that which we don’t understand, if we are to receive any potion at all,” said Madame Maura.

So, Mayor Sebastian sent Madame Maura and a doctor on a journey to look for the whale, kill it, and take the magical potion that would stop the plague and cure the sick. They were to depart on the ship Redemption commanded by Captain Growler.


Stowaway


A couple of days after departure, the soothsayer approached the Captain and said, “One among us is uninvited. He must go, else we perish, and must return, else we perish.”

“We have a stowaway!” yelled Captain Growler. “Find him!”

The angry captain went to his quarters at the ship’s stern, reached into his coat pocket, and pulled out a round glass mirror held in a brass clamp with a wooden handle. “Find the stowaway,” he whispered angrily into it.

The glass in the mirror changed, and his face was soon reflected by something that resembled a pool of water, ever so slightly disturbed by his breath and the sound of his voice. Then his reflection faded, and he saw the image of Adam sleeping in the dark.

Captain Growler turned the device to the right and to the left, scanning to see what was around the boy to determine where he was located. There was a stack of metal pans not far from his slumbering head. Adam was in the galley.


When he was discovered, he had the black spots on his arms and neck, which meant he would surely give the plague to everyone onboard.

Captain Growler wanted him thrown overboard, but Doctor Lenus objected, “If you throw him in the ocean, some of the fish will eat his flesh, and when we catch the fish and eat them, we will contract the disease.”

“Well, we can’t have him on this ship dead or alive."

“He must be burned,” said Doctor Lenus.”

“Do you want the whole ship to go up in flames?” asked Captain Growler.

The Captain was silent for a brief moment and said, “I just remembered something the soothsayer said. ‘He must go, else we perish, and must return, else we perish.’”

The men thought about it, and decided that the most logical course of action was to give up one of their landing boats, put Adam in it, and send him away. They made sure he had what he needed to survive: some water, a fishing pole and some bait.


The ship continued east. Adam sailed west.


My Fish


It was lonely on the boat, but for Adam it felt good to feel alone sometimes. So, he fished, and wondered how long it would be before he died too.

He wasn’t catching anything until one day he started reeling something in. He soon realized that he wasn’t reeling the catch to himself, but instead reeling himself to the catch. And, as it got closer, jellyfish started to appear. More and more came to the surface, until there were so many, that Adam thought he could probably walk on them without sinking.

Finally, he was upon his catch. Whatever he caught was massive and came up calmly. It was a whale, and it was very, very, very large, even for a whale. It could probably swallow other whales whole. Its head came all the way up and rested on the surface of the water.

It spoke, “My fish.”

“Wuh-what?” asked Adam nervously.

“It has its mouth around your bait, but I saw him first.”

“I actually caught something,” said Adam.

“Yes, now let him go.

“But, how,” asked Adam. “He’s hooked and he’s in your mouth.”

“If I spit him out, will you unhook him and give him back?” asked the whale.

Adam thought about it.

“Sure."

“You promise?” asked the whale.

“I promise.” said Adam.

The whale spit out the fish and it landed on the boat. Adam unhooked it, and said, “Ready?”

The whale opened his mouth and Adam threw the fish into it.

The whale swallowed it and said, “Thank you. Have a nice day.”

“Wait,” said Adam. “Can you help me catch fish? I haven’t eaten in days and I’m lost.”

“Why should I?”, asked the whale. “You don’t even know my name.”

“Because I kept my promise,” said Adam.

"You were just scared I’d eat you.”

“You’re right,” said Adam. “What’s your name?”

“You just want to know my name so that I help you catch fish."

“You’re right,” said Adam. “Still, I never met a talking whale before, it would be nice to know your name.”

“I am Wallace,” said the whale. “And ALL of us whales can talk. You humans just don’t care to listen.”

“Why did you agree to tell me your name?”

“Because you were honest with me,” said Wallace.

“Don’t you want to know my name?” asked Adam.

“No."

Wallace turned to leave and was about to dive into the deep, when…

“Do whales not care to listen either?” asked Adam.

Wallace stopped and turned back to Adam.

“Very well,” said Wallace. “What is your name?”

“Adam. Now we’re friends.”

“It takes more than knowing each other’s names to be friends,” said Wallace.

“Why? Isn’t it enough that we like each other and that we met?”

“I never said I liked you,” said Wallace.

“But you do,” said Adam.

Wallace submerged and was gone.

Adam sighed, cast his fishing rod again, laid down, and fell asleep.


A New Friend


Adam was awoken by the sound of thunder. It was close and terrifying. There was nothing for lightning to strike except the mast of his skiff. The waves grew and grew, and the wind was spraying the salty ocean water into his face. Before he knew it, his boat was riding up and down the waves, as if they were giant hills passing underneath him. A gust of wind pushed too hard on his sail and capsized his boat.

He fell into the water, and, not knowing how to swim, began to sink. He continued flailing about and sank even faster. Suddenly, he was enveloped by a darkness, and all of the water receded. He was inside what he thought was a mushy bubble.

He took a deep breath, and was momentarily thankful, until the bubble opened up and let the light in, and he saw a large curved row of teeth before him. Then he saw another such row above as well. He was in the mouth of a whale.

Adam was scared. He waited for the creature to swallow him, but it didn’t. Time passed, and Adam was getting sleepy, when finally the creature opened its mouth. It was still cloudy outside, but the ocean was calm and the rain had stopped. Adam sat up.

“Wallace?” asked Adam.

“Uh huh” replied Wallace with his mouth open.

Adam’s boat was right in front of Wallace’s mouth. It was no longer capsized. Adam crawled out and onto the boat.

“Thank you, Wallace. Why did you save me?”

“Isn’t that what friends do?” replied Wallace.

Adam smiled.

“Were you able to catch any fish?”

Adam shook his head.

“Why don’t you tell me why you’re out here all by yourself?” asked Wallace.

“I ran away,” said Adam, “And stowed away on a ship. When they found me they put me on this skiff and told me to sail away from them. I have the plague that could kill them.”

Adam started to cry.

“Why do you cry?” asked Wallace.

“Because I was in your mouth and now you will have the plague and you will die too,” replied Adam.

“I wouldn’t worry about that,” said Wallace. “My essence protects me. So tell me, why did you run away?”

“My parents were killed by the plague.”

Wallace didn’t say anything. He looked at Adam, then turned around and descended back into the ocean.

Large bubbles started coming up in large quantities. They were followed by hundreds of halibut rising up and jumping out of the water. Many landed in Adam’s skiff. Before he knew it, it was filled with fish.

Motioning east with his eyes, Wallace said, “The people you were with went that way. When they see all the fish in your boat, they should take you in.”

“But my disease?” asked Adam.

“Is gone,” said Wallace.

“So, I’m not going to die!”

“Not from the plague,” said Wallace.

“Their ship is much faster than mine. I’ll never catch them,” said Adam.

“Throw me a rope,” said Wallace. “I’ll pull you to them.”


Deckhand


Wallace pulled Adam’s skiff, but waited until nightfall to be within sight of the ship. Then, after the sun had set, he pulled Adam’s boat past the tall ship, and left it in its path so that they would have no choice but to come upon it.

By first light the next morning, Adam was awoken by the sounds of men barking orders. He looked up and saw the Redemption approaching slowly, most of the sails furled, and a couple of sailors hung over one side and reached for Adam’s skiff. One of them dove into the water, swam to Adam and climbed into the small boat.

“Welcome back, lad,” said the sailor with a friendly smile. “I would ask you how you’re doing, but judging from all of these fish in your boat, I’d say, just fine.”

“I’m thirsty and starving,” said Adam.

When they pulled Adam into Redemption, the crew spoke among themselves.

“How is it that the black spots have vanished from him, and he lives?” asked John, the friendly sailor that had greeted Adam.

“I’ve examined him,” said Doctor Lenus. “I can’t find any sign of the disease, and aside from lacking in fluids and nourishment—”

“—Despite being surrounded by it on his boat,” interjected John.

“Right,” said Doctor Lenus. “As I was saying, aside from thirst and hunger, the boy is healthy, and poses no threat to us any longer.”

“And since he managed to find all those fish when we could not,” said Captain Growler, “He might be useful to us; so he stays.”


They made Adam a deckhand. That is when Adam learned of their mission, to find the cure for the great plague.

“Where is the cure?” Adam asked one of the other deckhands.

“In the blood of the great King Whale,” said another deckhand.

“Aye,” said Captain Growler who overheard the conversation. “The great King Whale has sunken over two dozen ships in as many years, and it’s up to us to defeat it, take its blood and save our people.”

Adam remembered how the whale had him in his mouth, and realized at that moment, how he was cured of the plague, even though Wallace had not shed one drop of blood.

“How will you take the blood of the whale without spilling it into the sea?” asked Adam.

“We don’t need that much,” said the Captain.

Adam thought, If I tell them I was cured because I was in the King Whale’s mouth, they will laugh at me, maybe even lock me up or send me away again, and, if they did believe me, they would use me as bait to kill him. He therefore chose to stop talking about the issue and get back to work.

The soothsayer, meanwhile, was on deck observing Adam. She turned, and walked into her cabin. Inside she sat down at a table with an object covered by a silk cloth. She lifted the cloth revealing a crystal ball. She held her hands in the air just above the clear sphere and moved them so as to pull light from it. The ball began to glow electric blue from the inside. Her eyes widened in amazement, and an evil grin oozed out onto her aged and leathery face.


The Cure


Captain Growler was in his cabin, going over his charts when there was a knock at the door. “Enter,” he said.

The soothsayer entered quietly.

“Yes?” said Captain Growler. “What can I do for you Madame Maura?”

“The boy has the cure,” she said.

“What do you mean?” asked the Captain.

“The whale healed his ailment,” she said. “And has learned to like the boy.”

Captain Growler pulled out his handheld mirror.

“How is that going to help you?” asked Madame Maura. “It cannot tell you the past.”

Captain Growler looked at her.

“Only the now and the next,” she added.

He put it away, stormed out of his cabin, marched over to Adam as he mopped the deck, and stood over him.

“Why didn’t you tell us you caught the King Whale?” he asked.

“I don’t know what you’re talking about,” responded Adam.

“How did you do it!” barked the Captain.

Adam was silent.

“He caught the whale with a fish,” said Madame Maura.

Captain Growler kicked the brush out of Adam’s hands, dragged him by his shirt collar to one side of the deck, and yelled, “Get this lad back on a landing boat!” Then he grabbed Adam by his hair and said, “You’re going to bring your friend, his majesty the King Whale to us, or I will throw you to the sea without a boat.” Then he yelled, “Bring me that large fish John caught today, and a fishing rod!”

One of the sailors brought him a large fish and a fishing rod. “Put a hook in its mouth, and give it to the lad when he gets in the boat.


Bait


After several hours on the boat in the hot sun, Adam could not take it anymore; he needed water. He looked at the rope that kept the boat tied to the anchored Redemption several hundred feet away.

He thought about drinking the ocean water, but knew if he did, the salt water would only make him die of thirst faster. So, he devised a plan to get water, and he waited.

Nightfall came and Adam patiently watched the ship grow quiet as the men fell asleep one by one. Then he slowly climbed out of his boat, and, while still holding onto it, made his way to the rope. Holding onto the rope, he made his way to the ship.


As he approached, he noticed the sailor on night watch walking in Adam’s direction. Adam was almost close enough to the ship to be out of the sailor’s line of sight, but he wasn’t there yet.

Faster, Adam pulled himself across the rope to the boat. He was really close to the ship’s hull when the sailor growled in a whisper, “Get off my ship, you stupid rat!”

Adam felt himself turn white.

He heard a few slaps and then a familiar squeal. The sailor’s hairy arm stuck out over the edge of the hull. His hand and the unconscious rat it held by the tail were silhouetted by the moonlight.

Adam sighed in relief, but then a strong gust of wind blew the rat after the sailor dropped it, and it fell on Adam’s hand. It woke and crawled down Adam’s arm and under his shirt.

Adam desperately wanted to let go of the rope and drop himself into the ocean to drown it, but if he did that, not only would he make a loud splash, but he too would drown alongside the rat; how he wished he knew how to swim. There was only one thing to do; hurry up and climb onto the ship.

And so he did, but not without paying dearly for it. Because Adam was upside down holding on to the rope, the rat had to make some choices too. If the rat went below Adam, he would slide down Adam’s tunic and fall right out to sea, and although he might be able to hold onto Adam’s back with his very seaworthy claws, why should he, when it was much easier just to crawl down Adam’s chest and flat belly?

The rat’s sharp claws crawling along Adam’s chest and belly both hurt or tickled, and he cringed as he made his way onboard. Adam quickly rolled himself into the ship.

This of course probably pleased the rat very much, because he was back in the safety of the ship. So, as Adam climbed aboard, the rat climbed off casually, like a paying passenger.

Where was the sailor on watch? Adam spotted him on the poop deck at the other end of the ship. So Adam made his way down below and went to the galley for some water.

He found a waterskin, opened it, sniffed it to make sure it wasn’t a wineskin, and proceeded to drink. Suddenly, he heard someone behind him clear his throat. Adam quickly turned around and saw a dark figure standing in the darkness.

The figure approached, and as he got closer, said in a low whisper, “Lad, do you know what they’d do to you if they found you here?”

It was John, the sailor with the friendly smile that had helped him get aboard when his boat was found adrift after Wallace had brought it to them.

“Put me back on the boat?” asked Adam sarcastically. “I’m thirsty.”

“Well then drink,” said John, “and get back to that boat.”

“Not without some waterskins,” said Adam.

“Very well, take as many as you can carry,” said John. “Just make sure you don’t drown making your way back.”


Jellyfish


As the sun started to rise, Adam returned to his boat. While still in the water, he placed each of the waterskins inside. The fishing rod was being tugged on. He quickly pulled himself up to climb in, when he was stung by a jellyfish. He grunted in pain, but caught himself and stopped to avoid attracting the attention of the sailor on watch. He muscled through the pain and climbed in once and for all, picked up the fishing rod and pulled back on it.

The ocean seemed to rise as the large mass of whale surfaced.

“My fish,” he said.

“Shhhh,” said Adam.

Wallace’s large left eye saw Adam, “Ah, Adam, must we always meet this way?”

“Shhh, what is it with you and jellyfish?” asked Adam.

“They’re delicious,” said Wallace.

“You need to go; they’re using me as bait to catch you,” said Adam.

“Because they think I hold the cure for their little plague,” said Wallace.

“Yes. How did you know?” asked Adam.

“They’re not the first,” replied Wallace.

“Just go,” pleaded Adam.

“What will happen to you if they don’t catch me?” asked Wallace.

“Don’t worry about me,” said Adam. “I’ll figure something out.”

Wallace blew water straight up in the air in protest.

“Thar she blows!” was yelled out by the sailor on night watch, who started ringing a bell.

“Go!” yelled Adam.

Wallace went straight for the Redemption and rammed it. The ship shook the men off their feet.

A swarm of sailors came running up on deck.

Wallace turned to dive.

Too late, two harpoons made their way to his side and pierced his thick hide, but it didn’t stop him. He was so massive the harpoons were mere needles to him. He continued with his turn and submerged.

Adam managed to untie the rope that held his boat to the ship. He raised the boat’s sail. The boom was let out, and when the wind caught the sail, the boom swung over and hit Adam in the head with a mighty blow, knocking him unconscious and into the water.

He began to sink.

Sailor John, saw what happened, dove into the water and swam as fast as he could to him. When he arrived at the small boat, he couldn’t see Adam, so he climbed in and stood.

He looked all around the boat for any sign of Adam. Bubbles! He dove in and went straight down.

It was too dark, as it was still early in the morning. So he just kept going down, hoping to run into Adam, but he no such luck.

Running out of breath, John stopped, turned around, went up, and surfaced. He looked around to see if maybe Adam’s body had surfaced, but it had not.

He climbed aboard the small boat and yelled out his name, “Adam! Adam!” He looked around “Adam!” Nothing. The boy was gone.

Standing on the small boat he looked over to the ship. The men were silently looking back at him. There was no Adam, there was no whale, and the ocean settled and became quiet again.

“What have we done!” yelled John from the small boat over the ship. “He was just a boy!”

Next to John’s boat a few large bubbles surfaced, the beginning of a trail of bubbles that moved toward Redemption as they increased in intensity.

Jellyfish began to appear near the surface. At first there were just a dozen or so, but very quickly they multiplied and were so numerous that the ocean almost seemed to have turned into white jellyfish.

John felt his boat begin to reverberate as if he were in an earthquake. The sailors on the ship were also visibly shaken by a pronounced reverberation.

Soon, the ocean water began to stir, as if the ship sat squarely in a boiling cauldron.

Like a large dome rising, the sea seemed to swell upward, more, and more and more, until finally the white hide of a super massive white whale surfaced. TThis whale was far larger than Wallace, and three times larger than the ship. Every sailor was paralyzed with fear. Two sailors dropped their harpoons.

After it surfaced, the whale faced the port side of the ship and opened its massive mouth. Adam was lying down on its tongue, surrounded by teeth. He woke and stood.

He looked around. Dozens of other whales surfaced all around the ship, all facing it. The whale immediately next to the that whale Adam was in spoke, “Adam, meet my dad, the King Whale.”

Everyone gasped. No one had ever heard a talking animal, let alone a whale.

“Thanks for saving my life,” said Adam.

“He would say ‘you’re welcome’,” said Wallace, “but his mouth is full.”

“Right,” said Adam. “Let me address the ship.”

“Of course,” said Wallace.

“My friend Wallace here, and his friends, are not the source of the cure,” said Adam.

“Boy,” said Captain Growler. “Why don’t you come over here to safety.”

“No,” said Adam. “I will not allow you to kill my friend, or his friends.”

“Adam!” said John. “Please get out of the beast’s mouth before he swallows you!”

“They are not the cure!” screamed Adam, “But they brought the cure to you, and it’s all around you as we speak!”

“The jellyfish?” asked Doctor Lenus. “But you were healed after having been in a whale’s mouth.”

“They eat jellyfish, so its healing properties are in their blood,” said Adam. “If you kill him, you commit a grave injustice.”

“We can’t just go on your word,” said Captain Growler. “We can’t take any chances.”

The King Whale closed his mouth and submerged with Adam inside.

The men on the ship screamed in anger. But suddenly he surfaced next to John’s boat, opened his mouth and Adam stepped out and onto it.

Now, the King Whale turned to the boat and said, “Then take my word for it.” His voice was so much deeper, and Adam felt it in his chest. “I’m sure there must be one among you who secretly has the plague, but didn’t say anything," said the King Whale. "Let him come forward and I will tell you how to heal him.”

The men on the ship looked around. No one stepped forward.

“No one here is infected,” said the Captain.

“That is not true,” said Madame Maura. “You, Captain, carry the disease.”

“That’s a lie!” yelled the Captain.

“Why would she lie?” asked Dr. Lenus.

Everyone murmured. Someone yelled, “To the sea with him!”

The King Whale took a mouthful of water with jellyfish and spit it out onto the ship’s deck. The men ran out of the way. When the water washed away, there were dozens of jellyfish left behind on deck.

“Take the venom from a single jellyfish,” said the King Whale, “and place it on the skin.”

Doctor Lenus walked up, cut one with a knife and put the venom in a vial. Then he walked up to the Captain.

“Get that poison away from me!” he yelled.

“Are you scared, Captain?” asked Doctor Lenus.

Captain Growler snatched the vial from the Doctor Lenus, rolled up a sleeve, exposing some black spots, and poured the venom on his skin.

Instantly the spots began to vanish.

Everyone expressed dismay, except Captain Growler. He pushed his way past the sailors that were around him, went to a harpoon and walked to the side of the ship facing the King Whale.

Everyone was silent, the King Whale looked at him, waiting for the Captain to make an unwise choice.

Captain Growler took the harpoon and tossed it in the ocean, as a man who will never allow anyone on his ship to use that weapon.

The King Whale and the others with him turned to leave.

“Wait!” yelled Adam. “Where are you going?”

Wallace turned back to Adam and said, “There are others like you we need to help if we are to survive their barbarity.” Then he said, “And for you, it’s time to sail home and help the others, or all of this will have been for nothing.”


Heal


By the time they had arrived home, the doctor had made hundreds of vials of the curative venom, and when they arrived, he asked the mayor to get help. Before long, the good doctor was commanding three teams: one team to obtain vials from all over town, one team to place the venom in vials, and one to distribute the cure to everyone, even those that hadn’t contracted the plague, as a precaution.

Before long, the entire town was cured. The Mayor had put together his own team, one whose task was to spread the word to all neighboring towns and instruct each of them to also spread the word to all of their neighboring towns, provinces, and nations.

Soon, the cure for the plague had spread faster than the plague itself and the whole world was cured.

Adam made the hard journey back to his house. He went and stood over his parents’ graves.

“Hello, Mom. Hello, Dad,” he said. “I’m back.”

A breeze rustled his hair.

“I found the cure. Not that it helps you.”

Silence.

“They’re calling me a hero, but I was just running away after you died. I didn’t find a cure for that.”

A gentle wind brushed his cheeks.

I’m grateful, though, that at least I survived, so our family can live on.”


The End


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