THE SWIRLING FRONTIER OF THE PLASTIC VORTEX

–a short-short by John Shirley–

Jared had been tracking the personal submarine Manifest Destiny for more than a hundred miles south of Hawaii, and all the time the billionaire piloting it seemed unaware of him—there was no mention of the hydrogen-powered cruiser following him, when he spoke by subaquatic radio to his employees ashore.

“The biggest squid any man has ever seen and it’s almost in my grapplers,” the billionaire crowed.

“You going after it now, boss?” came the response from the crew on the radio.

“I’ve got it trapped against the walls of this big canyon down here!”

An activist, Jared listened raptly. He had hoped to find some way to stop the hunt. But how?

And up ahead was the nearer edge of the great “plastic vortex” where trash from scores of countries and ships had accumulated, whirlpooled by currents. It glittered like the membrane over an animal’s eyes, there in the water, yet it was dead—and it was death. Millions of fish, oceanic mammals and birds had died in it, starved to death or choked.

“He’s running from me to the surface!” came the billionaire’s excited transmission. Moments later Jared watched in awe as the gigantic cephalopod surfaced, gushing water, flailing its enormous tentacles, its huge round eye gazing right at him…

“Got him, got him!” the billionaire shouted, as his submarine surfaced, its mechanical grapplers reaching to force the giant squid into the capture bag he trailed so it could become another trapped, living trophy in the big aquarium on his seaside estate. But the giant squid was manipulating the floating plastic trash, jamming the grapplers, winding debris around the sub’s rudders, blocking its jets, piling on more and more, so that at last the submarine sank with the weight of the trash. The giant squid worked its way outward, past Jared’s boat, to the open sea…and then it dove, gone from sight. Deep under the sea.

And so was the billionaire—forever.

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