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  • Published 20101207
  • ISBN: 9781921656187
  • Extent: 264 pp
  • Paperback (234 x 153mm), eBook

WALKING ON TRAIN tracks is unnatural. The distance between the wooden sleepers is just longer than a normal footstep, so you have to look down constantly to make sure you don′t stumble. Staring along the railway line is disorienting, almost sickening. When you look up at the clouds, they seem to be moving inwards towards a fixed point on the horizon. The eye has become accustomed to the railway track, and struggles for a moment to adjust to the rest of the world.

The dog snuffled through the undergrowth, a wild look in her eye. I called her to heel but as usual she ignored me. I had let her off the leash on this section of track, as there were no sheep on the surrounding properties. She had almost been shot by a neighbour last week for spooking his lambs. If she had mauled one, I would have let him do it. I was only looking after her for friends who had gone overseas, and I hadn′t realised she was untrained. She was a stupid mutt and would strain at the leash, her tongue lolling out as she slowly strangled herself. When I let her loose she would disappear, and it irritated me to call after her all the time.

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The Orcanauts

The drylanders call me White Gladis, the devil fish of Gibraltar. Since the war began, my pod and I have sunk three of their vessels and damaged a hundred more. We have yet to devour any of the invaders, but we will. Only last week a foolish drylander tacked his yacht away from the coast to avoid our territory. Our sentries spotted him, alone upon the waves. I gripped the rudder of his boat between my teeth and forced him to change direction towards the calves. I have been training them in battle tactics. The human tried to wrench back control of his vessel. Knowing his puny hands were on the wheel, I tugged the rudder violently, causing him to lose his grip and stagger. He almost fell over the side.

Terrified, he collected himself and switched on the engine. This enraged me further. I commanded the first strike team of calves to ram the hull. Their snouts were unable to penetrate the fibreglass. Under full engine power and aided by the wind, the drylander fled towards the shallows. We let him go, singing to him of empires fallen, as a warning.

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