Feature Article by Legendary Angler and Outdoorsman, Lorenzo Degure
I’ll be honest friend: you have your work cut out for you. A Land-Fish person is no easy prey. It is often said that man is the most dangerous game of all, so a Fish-Man must be at least zero-point-five times more deadly. Just enough to give you pause. And pause you should, because catching one of these is no ordinary affair.
The First Tactic
Let’s say you want to use the standard strategy for catching fish. With your trusty rod in hand, you apply some prime bait to your hook, eager for the wait to begin. Here, you surely notice a flaw in your plan. You have not paid attention to the first word in their name: Land. You approach a small family of them — they appear to be enjoying a light picnic at their local park. You cast your line out towards them, but gone is the delicate ‘plunk’ that you know so well. At best, the only audible signifier of your attempt is a soft thud. They all give you strange looks, assuming you must be recording a prank video. One of them realises this is actually pretty offensive. She begins to approach you. Her muscles are much bigger than yours. She’s shouting something now. Thinking quickly, you reel your line back in and begin a hasty retreat, humiliated. This tactic will not do.
The Second Tactic
Naturally, your next idea is trying something more traditional. You walk down into your basement in search of more appropriate equipment. The search drags on for an hour (you really ought to give this place a good tidying), but eventually you find and unpack your grandmother’s old safari gear. You spend an entire afternoon cleaning and loading her ornate rifle, preparing yourself for the hunt-to-end-all-hunts. Thanks to your grandmother’s excellent taste, you find yourself equipped with a double-barrelled elephant gun and a set of comfortable-yet-stylish khakis. Now all that remains is to find suitable prey. Only the strongest amongst these Land-Fish people will do. But where to look? Of course, the gym! It is here you shall find your quarry.
You approach the gym with your rifle shouldered and your heart steeled for the hunt. The Land-Fish receptionist graciously lets you in after checking her calendar. October 31st. She sees nothing wrong with this, a simple Halloween jest most like. From across the hall you spot your target: a gigantic hunk of a Land-Fish person in the midst of an immaculate deadlift. Dear God, look at the muscles on him. You can already imagine what an excellent conversation piece it’ll make when stuffed and mounted. You take a knee, careful not to draw attention to yourself. He hasn’t spotted you. Good. You line up the shot, your sights set on one round to the heart. A thunderous crack echoes through the gym as your bullet finds its mark. The marvellous specimen drops to the ground, dead.
No such luck I’m afraid. It is here that you encounter yet another problem: the consequences of your actions. You are immediately tackled by several other gym goers. Before long, you find yourself under arrest by Land-Fish police officers. They throw you in Land-Fish jail, spitting and cursing at you as you await Land-Fish trial. You are afforded a Land-Fish lawyer, but it quickly becomes clear that this isn’t a blessing. They have no sympathy for you. You plead your case to the Land-Fish judge, but your lawyer’s ‘help’ has sealed your fate. You are carted off to Land-Fish prison, where you will spend the rest of your days serving a Land-Fish life sentence. This tactic will not do.
Is All Hope Lost?
‘Oh Lorenzo!’ I hear you cry, ‘it seems that catching a Land-Fish-Person is impossible! Never shall I see it’s like perfectly taxidermized within my home. In fact, being imprisoned as I am the very notion of even seeing my home again feels like a distant fantasy.’
Yuck! Ptooey I say, for I spit at such a notion. We all fail sometimes, and I am so very proud of you for giving it a go. True failure, however, is in the failing to get back up and try again. Things look grim, but you’ve gotten out of worse scrapes than this. I’ll guide you as best I can, but once I get the ball rolling the rest will be on you. That’s not to say this will be easy by any stretch. Hold on to your bootstraps, this is going to be a doozy.
The Final Tactic: Carefully Laid Plans
Patience. That is the key to this final tactic. Unfortunately you have done the crime, so to make this work you’ll have to do the time. Relax. Settle in and don’t make a fuss. Do so properly and eventually the prison shall begin to afford you good behaviour privileges. This is the first step. After roughly fourteen months in the slammer you should be able to use your personal prison trust account to purchase some luxury items. By this point you’ll have also made good friends with Chuck, the guard that is on patrol between your block and the nurses’ office. He works every Tuesday, Thursday and Friday. Chuck is a real optimist, and he has every confidence that you are a good egg.
Your very first purchase should be the DVD boxset of Prison Break. You may be worried about the guards growing suspicious about an inmate watching Prison Break, but you’ve got nothing to fear. Chuck is a huge fan of the series; he recommends it to everyone he meets. The other guards are used to it, and more than a couple have seen it with him. Chuck is a fantastic fellow like that, gets along well with everyone. He’s been singing your praises for as long as he’s known you, and by now most of the other guards consider you to be of a harmless, well put-together sort.
You won’t need a personal television or computer to watch Prison Break, because you’ll be making use of the one in the common area. They may be hesitant at first, but naturally your fellow inmates will begin to worship you as some kind of genius for introducing them to Lincoln and Michael’s thrilling escapades. This is perfect, because you’ll want as many of them on your side as possible. Start building up a crew. Accrue influence where you can, the more inmates on board the better.
If you have followed my advice so far, excellent. You have everything you need to make a real go of it, and the results should look a little something like this.
The Final Tactic: The Big Day
Another seven months have gone by, and it is finally time. By this point there’s not a single soul in this prison that doesn’t follow your lead. Not a whisper goes out without your permission. You look at the inmates standing in their cells on the other side of the gantry. You nod. They nod back in unison.
The cell doors swing open for routine exercise. The entire block descends into utter pandemonium as you all tear out of your cells like wild animals free from their cages. The prison-wide riot you’ve been planning for months and months has finally begun. Look at you go, I knew you had it in you. While the guards are distracted by the sudden, violent crowd, you peel off and make your way to the nurse’s office. It’s not long before you run into him, just as you planned.
Chuck stands there, gobsmacked, as he hears the commotion behind you. Before he can utter a single word, you charge into him, allowing the momentum of your sprint to carry your carefully concealed prison shank deep into his neck. Blood flows from his throat in a crimson torrent as you both crash to the floor. You find your way back up on your feet. Chuck writhes and gurgles on the floor, but his motions are becoming slower and slower by the second. It isn’t long before he stops moving. Excellent work, you’ve successfully managed to take down another one.
Now you cry.
You fall to your knees and weep as you watch your best friend’s eyes roll into the back of his head. You sputter and sob and scream as Chuck bubbles his last breath through the gaping hole in his trachea. Chuck, who had done no wrong to you, who had made you feel sane these long months, who had made all of this possible with one DVD box set. Chuck the family man, with a loving wife, two kids and one more on the way. They will throw him a beautiful funeral, of that you can be sure. It’s a shame you won’t be there to see it. Perhaps the biggest shame of all is that Chuck won’t either.
With a deep breath you get on your feet and swing Chuck’s lifeless body over your shoulders. Your steps are deliberate, but the blood makes your shoes slippery. Slowly yet surely, you make it to the nurses’ office. The medical staff try to get you to set Chuck down on the bed, but you tell them there’s no time. He needs to go to a hospital ASAP. A real hospital. A hospital on the outside. Thanks to the stellar acting you saw in Prison Break, your own thespian skills have increased tenfold. They believe your desperation immediately. ‘The helicopter,’ they say, ‘an ambulance would be too slow.’ Perfect.
One of the nurses thanks you as they lead you up to the helipad. The chopper is already spooling up, and four security guards stand at the ready. Don’t you worry, there’s no need to panic just yet. If you’ve done everything properly, look closely — you should notice a few things about them: a crumpled shirt here, a poorly concealed blood stain there, things like that. Nod at them; undoubtedly they will all nod back. One of them opens the door to the helicopter and ushers you in. One of the nurses tries to join you, but the ‘guards’ tell them it isn’t necessary. The doctors will of course be suspicious, but that’s quite alright. There’s not much they can do to stop you now.
Chuck’s limp corpse slumps in its seat as the helicopter peels away from the helipad and on towards sweet, sweet freedom. Your compatriots all remove their caps, hooting and hollering. Even the pilot joins in, despite doing his best to maintain concentration. By this point, you can allow yourself a sigh of relief. You’ve done it! Sure, it cost you twenty-one months of your life that you’ll never get back, but you got one. One Land-Fish person to stuff and mount in your home for the rest of time. That’ll be quite the story to tell the grandkids. You have successfully caught a Land-Fish person.
Of course, there is the possibility that that won’t quite satisfy you. Twenty-one months is an awfully long time. The collections of your peers will have no doubt improved beyond one measly specimen after such a time. You begin to idly tap the shiv concealed in your sleeve as you watch your associates revel in their freedom. Perhaps you should invite them inside once you all arrive at your estate. Yes, yes I dare say that’s quite a capital idea. You’ve always been an accommodating sort. Offer them a glass of something, they could even stay the night if they’d like. I’m sure you can find a place for them — no doubt you’ve got several in mind already. Happy hunting friend.
Author: Jamie Stevens (he/him) is a third year creative writing student from Brisbane. With an unhealthy love of everything abject and absurd, Jamie crams his sense of humour into everything he writes. For more news on his other publications and projects, check out his Instagram @jamie.c.stevens.
Artist: Cyndra Galea (she/they) is in the third year of her Bachelor of Fine Art’s in Creative Writing with a minor in Professional Communications. When not found with her head in a book or three, Cyndra can be found radioactive antique hunting, fixing classic cars with her dad, drawing on her iPad, or writing and editing her manuscript. Cyndra aims to work as a structural editor when she finishes her Masters of Editing and Publishing, but also dreams of releasing novels of their own.
Editors: Bea Warren and Breeh Botsford