From the corners of the map it fell, nourished by clouds that curled into pearly shadows and sighed in crystal breaths. It was guided by the currents that led sailors to unknown lands and cut into shorelines like capricious claws. From the bottom of the ocean it was pulled up, feeling nature’s green magnet drawing it towards the light – a vindictive attraction digging at its jaws.
It rippled underwater like a curious ribbon through a downpour of ambitious DNA and microscopic populations. And when it burst through the ocean’s surface – pelagic, anonymous – its scales glittered across a many-faceted skin. Its body was a veil of prisms – a country of changing color as subtle as the mists that gathered in the maritime horizon.
Silver and scarlet like an aristocrat’s pretentions, its metallic body embroidered the sea-foam before coiling into the tidal darkness. The early explorers, navigating the ocean using math and myth, feared this monster and its salty embrace. They looked into the nameless distance for the creature that was harnessed to Neptune’s nacreous and violent chariot, stabled in his hidden grottoes, surrounded by his armies of bloody-gilled fishes.
For centuries it lived in maps and imaginations, inside atlases and fears. It was relegated to corners and margins, but occasionally sailed forward – nautically and boldly – challenging the latitudes that crossed its path. And always beneath its lustrous breast was the legend, ‘Here be monsters’.
But the light still beckoned, a radiant temptation that swirled through its body, illuminating its blood. The creature rode the threads of linen maps like minute currents, breathing in the cartographer’s ink, leaping away from harbors named after saints, the Trinity, after the hope that was good.
This summons was a call from reality – calling until it was free of the superstition that kept it harnessed off-shore; threatening the coasts of the Mappa mundi. Yet when it finally reached the dry air of knowledge, it became held fast in truth’s thin comforts. It breathed in the new atmosphere, warmed by the impudent star that taunted the daylight.
It breathed a final time.
And it died.