“Rage!” shouted the boy in the rigging. “Rage breaching!”
The grey-green hump burst through the waves, rose higher and higher as the ship heaved and yawed. The boy clung to the ropes as the crew below struggled to launch the boats. As the rage rolled seventy feet into the air, its three tiny, angry eyes swept over the boy. For an instant they stared at each other, fifty kilo boy and three kiloton leviathan, then momentum carried the rage over and the lacy fan of the flukes appeared.
“Flukes! Flukes rising!”
The boats were launched, each crowded with ten sailors and their gear, twenty boats, the full ship’s complement over the shimmer of the sea. They drew near to the rage, nets and hooks were thrown, ladders raised, a swarm of activity spread across the monster’s belly. The boy — for his eyes were sharp, as fitted a spotter — could make out the busy industry that cleaned the rage, drew its rare poisons from the great bladders, harvested the clinging limpets that were worth a city’s ransom in the capitals of the east, gathered the fireweeds that flowed like silk through the fingers but turned knives and bullets. All quickly, all efficiently — the great sea monsters might rise once in a season, and then only for a few, fortune-making hours.
From beneath the waves came a slow and mournful melody: the rage singing songs to itself. Far off on the horizon water broke into a rainbow.
“Spray!” shouted the boy. “Second spray!”
The sailors returned to the boats, smeared with the murk of sea-bottom. The rage sank into the water, still singing.