Friday, 3 February 2012

Shark Knight

The point of this blog was a place to ramble and talk about the fiction, while the fiction lived elsewhere. Well, I'm just going to break all the rules and post some fiction here. I know, crazy, right? o_0

This was hastily written in response to Jack K Holt's discovery of a mislabelled Shark (K)Night 3D DVD, which I immediately saw as a writing prompt.

More Shark Knight:
These islands are built on pirate bones
S.H.A.R.K. Knight

And so... the story...

Shark Knight

Karl lifted his grandson onto his lap. His knee would begin aching shortly, but soon the boy would be too heavy to lift at all and he didn’t want to miss an opportunity. Karl rubbed his white beard, and looked down at young Sam.

“Have I ever told you about the Shark Knight, Sam?”

Sam’s eyes went wide, then narrowed a little. He was reaching the age where his Grandpa’s tall tales were beginning to sound suspect, not that he let that interfere with enjoying them.

“No, Grappa. Tell me about the Shark Knight.”

“He’s a wicked thing, cursed by witches. He was a Grail Knight once, but he went bad.”

Sam bounced and Karl hid his wince as pain shot down his shin.

“Knights are good, knights don’t go bad!”

“Oh, he was a good man to begin with, and virtuous. But he was just a man, and time, frustration and failure went to work on him. He spent years searching for the grail with no luck. Then he demanded the witches let him breathe underwater so he could search the seas. He threatened to feed them to sharks if they didn't.”

“Oh,” Sam breathed, “you mustn’t threaten a witch.”

“Exactly,” Karl ruffled Sam’s hair, “you and I know that. So the witches taught him a lesson, they mixed him all up with the sharks, so he had a shark’s head and skin, but the body of a man, that he might scour the ocean beds.”

“Is he still under the sea? Is he still searching?” Sam knew how stories went.

“He is, but on a full moon he comes out of the sea and searches the land instead. Looking for the witches. And woe betide anyone who crosses his path.”

Sam’s eyes went properly wide now, lost in his imagination.

“But Grappa, it’s a full moon tonight.”

“So it is. Well, just be sure you don’t go wandering in the night. If you do... the first thing you see are his terrible eyes, two slits of red in the night. The first thing you hear is the creak of his rusted armour and the bubbling rattle of air through his tattered gills.”

“But how can he breathe, out of the sea?”

“Oh, not easily, Sam, not easily. It pains the beast greatly to do so. But if you see him, if you hear him, just run. Run home fast.”

Sam nodded vigorously.

“Da doesn’t let me out at night, but I’ll remember, if I ever see him, I’ll run.”

“Run from what?”

Karl turned and smiled at his son, stood in the doorway.

“The Shark Knight, Da.”

“Has Grappa been telling you scary stories just before bed again? C’mon, little Sam.”

“Aw, Da.” But Sam didn’t put up a struggle. “Grappa?”

“Yes, Sam?”

“All the witches are dead. Does he know?”

“He knows, Sam. Night.”

“Night, Grappa, look out for the Shark Knight.”

Karl’s son shook his head, there was a world of stories between the two of them that he had grown out of. Though Karl hoped one day he would rediscover them, maybe with a grandson of his own.

Karl said his goodbyes and walked slowly home. Not that he could walk at any other pace these days. The moon was bright and round, fully visible despite the fog that was beginning to drift in from the sea.

When he was home he climbed down the steps to the larder. He shivered as he worked a large side of salted beef off the shelf. It was colder down there than it was outside. He staggered a little as he carried the beef up the stairs and out the back door to his work table.

The back of his house led straight out onto the cliff and the path that ran down to the cove. He sat down at the table and waited.

A short while later he heard a creaking, grinding sound like a rusted gate, and a rattling, bubbling sound like water coming up through a crack. A large shadow was shuffling its way up the path, with just two glowing red slits at head height.

The Shark Knight manoeuvred himself onto the bench opposite Karl. He surged forward and sank his terrible teeth into the side of beef.

When he had eaten his fill he turned his baleful gaze on Karl.

Karl shook his head, “Sorry, old friend. I know you have learnt your lesson and your sentence is long served, but I cannot find a single witch, old or young, to lift your curse.”

The Shark Knight nodded slowly. His breathing seemed more laboured than usual. With a groan of old metal he reached behind himself. He drew out a plain wooden cup, intricately carved and miraculously undamaged despite the barnacles and sheen of green algae. He placed it in front of Karl and then he shuddered and slumped across the table, the red finally fading from his eyes.


  1. Surprisingly dignified. Well done!

    In some ways I'd have been happy for this to end when Karl goes home. I really liked the grandfather/grandson relationship. And I kind of wanted to be just some homespun magic.

    Having said that I quite like the ending too. With the beef and the tired, old monster. So bit of a mixed message there, sorry!

    1. Thank you, Pete. =)

      I know what you mean. I felt a bit mixed about it myself (which might explain your mixed response... ;) )

      I liked the storytelling, but I set out with the idea of a traditional ghost story where the storyteller (or listener) meets the ghost at the end, and then I wanted to have a slightly less than obvious twist to that...

  2. This was a great story. I loved how he found the grail - the perfect extra magical touch.

  3. I really liked this! I liked the coda at the end, too. The two main goals of folk stories (so I'm told) are to scare people into good behaviour (like staying in at night), and to keep old magic alive by word of mouth (either because writing it down was unavailable or because it would get you in trouble with the powers that be). This shows both sides of it -- Sam goes to bed obediently, but Karl keeps the faith. Are you going to write what happened to the grail?

    1. Thank you, Katherine. =)

      I hadn't planned on writing more, but who knows... ;)

  4. Yes!!

    I do agree with Pete, though. I was scrolling down on my phone as I read, and, without being able to see how much was left, assumed I had reached the ending when Karl left the house.

    But, as Pete also says, the (second) ending is great. I love it.

    Follow that, eh!

    *Not to be a dick, but there's a typo on line 19. "The witches taught him a listen.."??

  5. Thanks, Jack. =)

    On two counts, what a typo to miss... I can be really bad with near homophones when I'm typing (like man/ mine on Twitter earlier...

  6. Love this! The Shark Knight didn't get rid of his curse, but he does recover the Grail at last. I wonder what Karl's relation is to the Shark Knight — a descendent?

    1. Thank you, FAR. =D

      I wasn't sure on that one myself. Certainly not someone who knew the original Grail Knight, unless maybe his young squire, but more probably several generations down from the squire.

  7. Great work John! Well told and liked the blend of reality with the old man's hurting knee and the shark knight coming out of the depths. Little Sam's reactions were spot on too.

  8. This is a pace or two away from your usual style John, I enjoyed the easy pace of the story, and thought the double twist in the tail worked well.

    1. Thanks, Steve. =)

      I like to change my style up a bit sometimes... but with my recent run of serials I've kind of had to stick to one style. Be breaking out a few interesting one-offs pretty soon. =D

  9. I really enjoyed this! I especially liked the evident warmth between Karl and his grandson and Karl and his friend the Shark Knight. A lovely story all around.

    1. Thank you, Sonya. =)

      I think my stories sometimes lack that 'human element', focussing more on an idea or individual, so I'm glad it worked here. =)

  10. I like the mix of the mundane and the mythic too. Nice one.