Lost and Fished

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Four years ago.





A gruff elderly man, KASAI RYŌSHI, in a red life jacket and a teenage boy, KISEKI, in a navy raincoat sit in a rickety boat. Fog paints the air opaque. Kasai stares ahead and flickers the lamp in his lap that illuminates the pieces of ship wrecks protruding from the water.. Kiseki reads a book on the other bench. The only sound to be heard is the SWISH of waves against the boat and the repetitive FLICK of the lamp.



"Old Man, the fish aren't biting."


Kiseki closes his book with a small THUMP and stands. He approaches the side of the boat and pulls a telescope out of his pocket. He rolls it in his hand. Kasai Ryōshi does not look at him.



"We aren't here to play, boy."


Kiseki TSKS and raises the eyepiece to his eye.



"Right. Looking for bodies sucked into the Hebi Current. What fun."


He extends it in an attempt to see anything. In the distance there is a dark conical mound raised above the water.



"Old Man, is there land near here?"



"Not for another mile."


Kiseki puts the telescope back into his pocket.



"Then we need to go that way. There's something there."


Kasai Ryōshi stops flickering the light and turns to face the wheel. He turns the wheel until the boat is pointed the way they need, then reaches for the oars and rows. The water is clear of debris as they approach the mound. As the mound comes in sight, the two see that it is a large black rock protruding above the water.



"Old Man! There's someone over there!"


Kasai Ryōshi rows the boat close enough to see that there is a small woman, indeed, on the black rock. She is face down as if she pulled herself from the sea on weak arms onto the structure and held on all night. Now, she lie limp, her wet red hair closely resembling blood the way it sprawled in wet pieces against icy white skin and the dark stone. The body looks no older than Kiseki. Kasai Ryōshi stares, then grunts and nods to Kiseki.



"Let's get on with this grim work, then."


Kiseki climbs out of the boat into shallow water and wades towards the body. He reaches for the body's arm and the arm shoots out and grabs his wrist.





The girl raises her head weakly, purple eyes meeting Kiseki's brown ones. Her hands leaves a burn on his skin. He flinches away.



"Uh, Captain! We got a live one!"


Kasai Ryōshi stares and bellows.



"Hurry and get her in the boat, boy!"


Kiseki wraps the small girl's arm around his neck and tucks his other arm under her knees. He hefts her into his grasp and wades back to the boat. The girl doesn't fight, too weak to even hold her head up. Kiseki places her into the boat's floor and climbs back in himself. Kasai Ryōshi turns the boat around and rows. Kiseki sits down and wraps the girl in a towel, the closest thing they had to a blanket. Kasai Ryōshi shakes his head and mutters.



"In all my years...alive! First time for everything."



"She must have got sucked into the current. I can't understand how someone could survive that. Wouldn't they drown?"


Silence permeates the air. Neither man knows quite what to say. Luck is on the girl's side, but only if they get her to a doctor first. They can see that she is injured now. Kasai knew the look of a shinobi. He doesn't want to get involved with that, but he did not plan to ignore a life.





She wheezed, but did not get another word out. They rowed much harder towards home, unprepared for the next few weeks of having to an amnesiac in their home.



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