Monday, February 11, 2013


Peering down, Kok Soon watched the waves beat against the parapet 8 levels below. Soon the entire 6th floor would be completely submerged, the resident mussels feeding happily, growing nice and fat for the human beings living on the levels above them.

The rhythm was almost soothing.

For now, only the occasional splash propelled itself over the wall and into the mussel pens. But the waves grew. However imperceptibly, the ocean would creep in and swallow the mussels’ lair, nourishing their tenants with rich aquatic dust. The harvest was good, and by the next low tide, the men would go down to pick from the plenty. And so it went. The sea would come, feed the shellfish, the shellfish would grow and the men would cook and consume them, retreating to their concrete eyries before the sea swallowed them up in turn. Kok Soon couldn’t help but remember a song about ‘the circle of life’, from one of those old movies, made before the earth was reclaimed by the ocean.


‘Oy, what’s that?’
Kok Soon could hear a light splash. But this one was quick, unlike the sound of the sea beating lazily against the walls. It was followed by a second, almost a crash. A dissonance in the waves' metronomic symphony. He swiveled the accumulator light’s powerful beam toward the general direction of the noise, its gaze melted away the darkness, but there was nothing.

The intervening moment was spent in silence. Badawi absentmindedly moved the light from side to side, in a probably futile attempt to see something he wasn’t particularly anxious to see. The beam combed over the ocean, revealing a piece of wood floating by. Kok Soon clutched his SAR. The two of them were up on the roof, at the absolute second highest point of the flat - the highest was reserved for the lightning conductor. No monster from the dark ocean could possibly touch them here. Yet, a sensation of unease continued to gnaw at Kok Soon’s soul. Badawi put down his weapon and lit a cigarette. He didn’t - couldn’t tear his eyes off the waters.

‘Just a sotong la. Maybe it want some night snack.’ Badawi let out a cackle. Kok Soon hoped the old man was right, but deep down he knew better.

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