The Voyage of the Kish
By Jeff Baker
Zamed watched as the clouds covered the moon that was high in the sky. One of the others would be rising soon but they wouldn’t be able to see it. He could see lightning in the thunderclouds that covered the sun.
This was no time to be out in a sailer-boat, even one like the Kish.
He looked over at Zatch. He was more experienced on the seas but he looked anxious. There was another flash of lightning and a roar of thunder. The wind became chilly.
Zatch looked upward and pointed. In that direction, Zamed could just make out a blackish lump on the horizon of blue sea. He started to say something but the wind and roar of thunder drowned him out. Zamed got the idea; they were heading to the island. Heading to safety.
Zamed ducked down and clung to the sides of the sailer-boat. Cutting down wind resistance as he’d been instructed to do. Zatch pulled the sail in position and the racing winds began to skim the Kish across the water. Zatch glanced up and saw the small island drawing closer. After a few more moments, Zatch and Zamed hopped out of the Kish and pulled it ashore.
“Further ashore,” Zatch said,” still dragging the Kish. “We don’t want to be stranded.”
Zatch and Zamed pulled the Kish several head-lengths away from shore and into a clump of sturdy trees.
“We’re here before the storm,” Zamed said.
“But not for long,” Zatch said. “Look.”
In the direction Zatch pointed the storm was rapidly approaching. Lightning, the yellowish brown dark of cloud filling the sky, the waves dancing. Zamed and Zatch ducked beside the boat and grabbed the sides of the thick, squat tree.
The storm was a few head-lengths away from the island and the roar of wind and thunder was deafening when the storm suddenly split down the center and flowed like juice in a tray around the island. Zatch and Zamed stared in amazement, and then Zatch glanced up and grabbed Zamed’s shoulder and pointed. The purple and grey leaves hung down without a twitch. Not a breath of air stirred. The roar of wind and thunder could be heard but the rest of the storm had skirted the island, leaving it untouched. The two men stared at each other with widening eyes of horrified realization; there was only one island which even the storms avoided. They knew of it from the tales; tales spoken in furtive whispers. It could only be The Island of Unuttered Names.
They both knew the legends; no mortal may find the Island of Unuttered Names and leave unchanged.
This story fits into my World of Three Moons series, a quasi-mythical, science-fictional planet I’ve been writing about for a few years. Most of them were flash fictions published on this blog but I have one or two in the pipe that I have to sit down and write. ”Kish” was a city in ancient Sumer, I borrowed it for the name of the sailer-boat. The other influence was Robert Louis Stevenson’s South Sea stories, like “The Island of Voices,” which I’ve been re-reading.