Raymond is speaking.
The balmy wind blows through his fuzzy chin and delivers unto me a prophecy.
The tide will roll in
Shark meat will wash on sand
Use the crust to make a shark casserole
I look Raymond in the eyes. His gaze is steady. As steady as an ancient rock atop the mountain.
Raymond’s word is law.
I use a stick to carve his likeness in the sand. An oblong with two eyes and a frown.
Raymond never smiles.
When you’re God, you never smile.
The clouds’ march foretold the sun ascension. Beneath, stretching out into eternity was the churning seas. They spit their filth onto the shore. The hooks, the reefs, the driftwood–all the carnage of the sea’s conquest.
I set out along the outer rim, sifting through the phantoms for something useful. I build my home from wood, salt, and bones. I take comfort in the nets and create traps with the barnacles and rust. I live my life as ordained by Raymond and the sea which he commands.
The salty winds whip at me as I scavenge. The restless nature of the churning waters are the prophecy in the making for when the sea is angry, it purges itself of its sin. The buildup of evil to a being immortal.
A storm is coming.
I fortify my home against the furious winds. Raymond advises me to use the island leaves and netting to defend against the rains. The salt coats my mouth, my throat, my senses. It drains the suppleness from my fingers.
The sea is ever demanding.
The water tries to swallow the land. It starts out soft–a simple smattering that comes down in rivers. The ground starts to feed. The weak losing their footing in the shifting sands.
Raymond looks at his work with impartial eyes. For a God does not need to feel. A God does not feel remorse. All he has to do is see his labor through with the conviction that it is ultimately just for he is killing the unfaithful.
I tighten the rope on his perch, kiss his rough forehead, and pray for his mercy.
As the storm batters the kingdom, I collect rainwater in buckets strung together with thick leaves and await my shark meat.
The storm rages until the afternoon. I look towards the horizon and, lying on its pocked shore was a great white shark. I creep up to the beast, stick in hand.
The shark’s mouth is wide and full of jagged teeth. Its black marble eyes speak tales of its mightiness and its fall. It neither knows why it died nor could contemplate its insignificance to the waves of the universe.
The shark’s gray skin is coated from head to fin in sand. The mighty crust.
I approach God’s mercy, holding my stick close to my chest. Raymond watches from the top of the hut as a shepherd watches his sheep.
I stroke the grainy shark head. Kiss its nose.
The shark’s tail twitches. It opens its mouth wide and bites into my arm. Blood gushes from the wound. The shark and me melding into one.
Before I can scream, I am being dragged across the sand into the ocean. I get one last pull of air before I am submerged into the waves.
With the shark as my anchor, I float past the oysters and coral. Rocks scratch at my feet and my lungs fill with water.
I am becoming one with God’s power.
For this is Raymond’s ultimate mercy. The ultimate word of Raymond.
All filth that is purged from the sea, must return to the sea.
I look up at the distant light of the sun and see in its center a smiling God.