Photo: Prescription for Recovery

Prescription for Recovery (Credit: Tim Herrin)

The fog clasped me to my very soul, tendrils of cold damp probing my clothing, finding every kink and pinprick. The cool air off the ocean coagulated and coughed its phlegm upon the shoreline, and me. I was used to it. My work always carried me to the most unwelcome locations, never the envy of my co-workers, always the brunt of their jokes. But that's where the line was drawn.

I felt along the curbing with my foot, the soup so thick as to render my eyesight useless, arms slowly fading into nothingness, hands just a figment of imagination, dreams of another lifetime, before. The random streetlamps hindering rather helping, the weak glare erasing what was left of my vision. The perp was tracking slowly west, parallel with the waterfront, seemingly floating ahead, just beyond sight, but well within range of the locator plasmid, standard install to federal marshals; I couldn't see him but an enhanced sense of his being was mine.

I smelled the old warehouses to my left, the lapping of the water along the piers to my right. The atmosphere is strong; fish, salt, damp clothing, rotting creosote as the pier slowly recycled itself back into the sea, swelling and rocking on the gently rolling ocean, the occasional creak and sigh, a sign of it's casual surrender. I'm a dedicated professional, committed in the heat of the moment, never to recant and forever more locked into this reality, the disposals, the cleaners of society, the enforcer of rules. They weren't my rules, but everyone's rules. Without standards, where would we be today? Humans barely survived the turn of the century, their pride and arrogance wrecking havoc on the Earth and now we've got to try and pull it back together. We need the rules!

I felt the warehouses fade to nothing. The fog intensifies, clutching at me harder deeper, chilling to the soul. The pier had left the safety of the shore and headed out to sea. There hadn't been a ship or boat in twenty years, at around the same time the fog set in. Rules! The sea was fragile, life clawing tenuously to the water, now in hindsight necessary, and protected. Not even the fouling of a ship's rudder was allowed to risk further damage to such a valuable and threatened resource.

At the last moment I saw the missing boards and skipped over the gap landing safely across. The sound of the waves grew now as we got further from shore, the creaking of the pier growing as was the gentle sway. My senses started tingling alerting me to the nearby perp. I knew the end of the pier was close now, all other objects slowly dissipating into the fog. It was then I heard the tell-tale clicking of a well lubricated fishing rod followed by the quick ticking of retrieval. Damn! , I hope I'm not too late!

It all happened rather quickly. All I saw was a dark shape step back from the railing as a sharp flash of silver cleared the rail and landed on the rotting boards. I pulled my weapon on instinct, we're not allowed to think, and shot him in the head. What was he thinking? I dove over to the small sea bass, cradling, encircling and protecting his vulnerable body. The fish's eye teared up and reacted to the light from my penlight; so it was still alive! I unclipped my Palm, scanned him for injuries, while at the same time pulling the Lifestyle Data off his, um, her chip. A female and full of roe! What was that guy thinking? Can fish smile? I'd swear she was winking at me.

I used the needle nose pliers attachment on my leatherman to gently remove the hook. I cradled her tense body down to the end of the pier where a ramp had been constructed at some point, but it allowed me to carry her to the water's surface. I let her ease silently back into her world. As an Ocean Marshall, I'm one of the few humans allowed to even touch the surface or its contents.

I climbed back onto the pier and walked over to the body. I used the Palm to check for life signs, none, and scanned the guy's chip, immediately capturing his life and dreams onto my device. I glanced over the data, with a family too, no less. What makes them think they can get away with it and why should he put his needs over the rest of us?

I broke the fishing rod in half and smashed the reel on the pier, never to violate the ocean again! I used the GPS function and marked the corpse's location. The cleaners will be by later to pick up the trash. I surveyed the site of the infraction insuring all was back in place, punched the 'send' button on the Palm, filing my report with the office and updating the population count for my piece of the ocean. As I turned and resumed my patrol, the fog was still cold damp, just as it was the day before, and will be tomorrow, but for a brief moment there I thought I heard the splash of a fish striking the surface of the ocean just off to the left. I'm probably mistaken.

Message to Canadians: I wish America had an activist such as David Suzuki. Canada should consider itself lucky to have such conscientious citizens.

By Timothy Herrin


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