October 21, 2008
By Theodore Buchanan, Portland, OR

Alex Abelman strode toward the homemade dock his father had, with much pride, installed the previous year, apparently unconcerned about the lack of a lock on his boat, not that it was a particularly nice boat or that anyone lived outside a rough perimeter of two-hundred acres save his father, himself, and his faithefull mutt, Bandit who was strolling nonchalantly behind him. Alex untied the rope binding his boat to the dock, carefully placed his equipment in, hopped in himself, and whistled for Bandit who was currently dawdling next to a nearby rosebush, taking keen interest to a dead rabbit, however when he heard the call he came bounding into the boat which, in response, teetered precariously.
After many hours of casting and hauling, baiting and reeling, Alex managed, even with Bandit being the most unhelpful fishing partner there was, to catch several bass and even, he couldn't wait to show his father, a baby sturgeon who's scales had glistened spectacularly in the ascending moons gleam.
Just as Alex was about to call it a night, reel in his line, pack up his equipment, and head back for the dock, he felt a sharp tug on his line, excitement flared in his stomach, what had he caught, another sturgeon, perhaps full grown? Alex rummaged in the heap of things he kept in the bottom of the boat and pulled out his flashlight. He switched it on and, though the light was noticeably dim he could make out a large triangular object cutting cleanly through the water. Startled, Alex angled the flashlight down and, through the slightly rippling water, could just make out an ominous dark shape that looked all too familiar. He had read about them in story books of unfortunate sailors but had never experienced one. . . Until now. But it seemed too small, perhaps a baby. . . But it didn't matter, what mattered was him getting back to that small wooden dock which meant safety. He grabbed his oars an began rowing very fast toward the dock. All seemed to be going as planned when suddenly an oar was jerked out of his left hand, the cuff attaching it to the boat broke away, and it was pulled under the water. The other soon followed. With no means of escape, a small panic lit in Alex's stomach which began to grow until it became an uncontrollable wildfire.
He was stranded in a very small, very vulnerable rowboat with no oars in the middle of the night and a baby tiger shark was circling his boat.
A dull thud and a sickening crack awoke him from his daydreams of all the gruesome ends he could meet. Alex looked down and saw a small crack in the flimsy plywood which made up the bottom of the boat. More batterings followed, the apocalyptic noise mingling with that of Bandit's terror-struck cries. He was quickly joined by Alex who soon resorted to solemnly watching the crack in the wood widen and a the first trickle of water navigate ominously across the wooden surface and meet his cut he sported on his left foot, courtesy of a rusty nail on the floor of his basement he was sure never to see again. He wasn't sure how much good this cut would do him with the shark.
The trickle soon became a steady stream which in its turn became a slowly rising pool, filling the floor of the boat, plugging the gap wouldn't do him much good, he could never plug the whole thing. Bailing was out of the question as well, as Alex had no bucket to speak of. One particularly damaging hit send tributary cracks running up and down the boat, these cracks too began to enlarge until the boat gave a creak which made the hairs on the back of Alex's neck stand up and the whole structure rent itself apart. In the instant this catastrophic event occurred, with nowhere to go Alex leaped from the boat and plunged under the surface.
He looked behind him and came face to face with the thing itself which looked almost comical with its odd proportions; however there was nothing comical about its doll-like, lifeless black eyes which stared hungrily at him before beginning its pursuit which could end only one way.
Alex kicked hard in a frantic breast stroke. He looked back again and saw a mass of blood surrounding his right leg and for a moment thought he had been bit but o second glance saw that it was his sturgeon which must have fallen from the boat. Though this had bought him time it did not reassure him, as he was sure to be next. Alex kicked harder and when his head broke the surface he saw, to his amazement, that the dock was only about ten yards in front of him. However, his elation was mercilessly cut down when white hot pain seared through his right foot and he felt himself jerk backward. Before he was pulled under he saw a brownish something splash into the water. Abruptly, the teeth left his foot and for some miraculous reason the shark turned tail and swam the opposite direction. With no idea why it would do such a thing Alex swam a few more feet and pulled himself up onto the dock. He limped up onto the dock, shivering, crying, shaking, and trying not to think of what must have happened to Bandit who he had see leap back into the water even after reaching the shore. He was suddenly startled by a happy 'Ruff!' from a few feet away. Alex looked, sure enough, there was Bandit, wagging his tail next to a rosebush. . . But how? Then he realized that the dead rabbit that was once there was now gone. Then it all came to him. Bandit must have somehow pushed the rabbit off the dock, the hark must have smelled the blood and gone after it. Even with a heavily bleeding foot Alex managed a laugh, picked Bandit up, and gave him a good long hug.
Boy he'd have stories to tell when he got home.
This is the tale of the best fishing partner there ever was.

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