The waves lapped against the dock edge while Enk sat, slightly defeated on the edge.
“Well, what were you expecting?” Innogen’s voice asked, from somewhere a million miles away. “I mean, this IS Canada, we’re not actually out in the middle of the ocean.”
“I … he would have just walked. Dove into the water and swum the whole way.”
“Who? Crab guy? Or the guy who killed Goliath.”
“I told you his name was Shamgar. And he didn’t kill Goliath. Elhanan killed Goliath.”
“I thought that it was David.”
“That’s the point! That’s the….” Enk sunk again, sighing. “That’s the whole point.”
Innogen looked out at the water again, then down at her cousin, who, more and more, was seeming like a little brother. Reaching down, she squeezed his shoulder, then tousled his hair. “You wanna get out into the middle of the ocean, right?”
“I… I don’t WANT to. We NEED to.”
She shook her head. “Nope. Not the answer I wanted.” Innogen slid down to sit on the edge of the wharf, her longer legs hanging down past Enk’s. Another reminder that somehow, everything he’d wanted to be at some time or another, was outdone by her. “You remember things. You say this thing’s dangerous, and that’s cool and all, but I bet you that there are governments with like guns and bombs and boats trained on this thing. Right?”
“How about, for once, Enk, you stop trying to act like it’s someone else’s idea?” She asked, tilting her head, hair hanging down out of her cap. “Seriously.”
Enk looked down at the water, quietly disconsolate. There was something about all this that didn’t work any more. These stories that swam together in his head, these narratives. Shamgar would have climbed onto something and just made his way by foot. Delilah would have cross-dressed, disguised herself and become a bandit king whose people ferried her. The Royal Guard – god, what name did he have that Enk could use – would have just walked into the water and swam. That’s what his mind was telling him to do.
Innogen swung her legs idly, resting her elbows on her knees. “Y’know, this is where your girlfriend’s meant to invigorate you and shit.”
“What? I don’t have -”
“Well, nah, y’don’t,” she said, laughing. “Honestly, always thought you might be gay, but-”
“I’m not gay!” Enk blurted out, narrowing his gaze. It wasn’t even really mockery, it was just pure instinct now.
“See, in all the movies, the boy who’s all too serious for his good, at this point, has a weird thing that pushes him out of his comfort zone thanks to a girl-” she gestured over her shoulder, “Penguin-hat, right?”
“She was wearing a cardigan.”
“I don’t even know.”
“Point is, you’re all down an’disconsolate and murky and shit, and then she shows up to show you you’re going about your life all arse-backwards.” She said. “Would that make you feel better…?”
Enk sighed heavily. Honestly, a movie script, as stupid as that was, would make him feel better. Even as that thought rattled through his mind, though, he felt ashen in his mouth. “No.” he shook his head.
“Good. Those movies are shit.” Innogen said, dusting herself off. “Sit tight, Enk. I’m going to see what I can do.”
Canada can be compared to a slightly unclean measuring cup, with almost all of its population clinging to its bottom edge and the sides. The chill of winter could be pushed back by the ocean’s weight, but it didn’t stop the snows when nature decided to paint the town white. That didn’t stop the boats from going out anyway – some farmers, some couriers, some pleasure boaters – lunatics – and some patrolling to see that people kept themselves safe.
Despite this, Canada, as the second-largest nation in the world, paid host to some of the most beautiful natural vistas white people can easily see without having to learn a second language.
The net cafe down by the wharf sold internet time at two dollars an hour, which meant mathematically it cost Innogen twenty cents to hunt down the nearest cruise ship passing by their way on its way to circle up into the glorious arctic displays, before swiftly turning tail and heading way, way back south again, as soon as possible because holy heck it’s cold. It took another ten cents of time to find it on a website designed to track positions of loved ones. A few more minutes and she was back out heading down the wharf, sneakers squeaking before she dropped next to Enk.
“Soooo,” she began.
“You shouldn’t begin a sentence like that.”
“I mean, it’s…” Enk huffed and wished he had something to throw in the water. “… It’s bad grammar.”
“Tabernac. Don’t tell me what’s bad grammar or I’ll throw you in and our grammar can fish you back out.”
Enk laughed, but the laugh was against his will. Smiling despite his gloom. He’d had such purpose. It was so easy to cast his mind back. Jubal wanted to fight to live, and could endure the walk, if he was with his family. Delilah wanted freedom so dearly she could destroy a god to claim it. Shamgar…
Okay, Shamgar was kind of crazy? But he was driven.
Enk wasn’t driven. Those people watched kings being displaced, watched empires being dawned, they saw change happening, change that Enk had spent most of his adolescent life actively avoiding. Everything in his life was so comfortable, so pattern, so rote – why couldn’t he just go back to that?
Innogen leant in against his arm and bumped her head against his. “Okay, you’re going to have to trust me on this one, but I think we can steal a ship.”
… Why oh why oh why couldn’t he go back to that?
“I mean, we’ll have to get a little way out, then we can juke onto a cruise vessel that’s heading south. That’s where this thing is, right? Middle of the Atlantic?”
“If it’s, like, anywhere, a cruise ship will avoid it.”
Whap. Innogen smacked her hand into her cousin’s forehead. “Okay, hi, hey, guess we’re doing this now. Hey, Enk! How you doing?”
Enkudu looked at his cousin, momentarily stunned. What the hell was this, what was she getting at? Rubbing his forehead, he leant back. “Well, um, I’m good…” he managed, on the second mumble.
“Well, that’s not what I’d have expected you to say,” she said, leaning forwards and looking not at the boy, but at the water. “Because you collapsed a few days ago, and a day before that, I collapsed, and there was also zombie hamsters.”
Enk shivered a little, and bit his lip.
“I guess what I’m so-so-so-so-saying,” Innogen said, wrapping an arm around his shoulder and punching a lone knuckle into his temple, light enough to only just hurt. “is that you wanna actually talk to me?”
Enk sagged at the shoulders again. It felt like no matter how many times he did that, he only noticed his shoulders when they felt like they were about to slither off his sides and run away to join the circus. Defeated, he looked out onto the waves.
“I… think we need to stop the thing in the ocean.”
“We do?” Innogen asked.
“We do. There … I mean, there aren’t any other witches around that we know of.”
“Lots of people say they’re witches,” Innogen said, her tone leading, a little flinty.
“Not many people know what that means.” he swallowed. “We’re witches, aren’t we?”
“We are. And what’s your name.”
Oh augh she had to. Drawing his breath, he lowered his head and let his hair tumble in front of his eyes as he said: “Enkudu.”
“Attaboy.” Innogen said, shifting. “You can come with me, then.”
“Wait, I can come with you?” Enk asked, but Innogen was standing, walking down the wharf, her ponytail swaying as she went. “You weren’t-”
“Damn right I was going to leave you,” Innogen cackled, standing at the edge of the wooden walkway, her heels rocking on sandy clay. “Love you to bits, Enk, but if there’s anything out there worth doing, I want someone coming with me who wants to do things. Not, you know, avoid doing things. You can be, I wanna do. C’mon. We gotta go talk to your mom about stealing a boat.”