Chapter 39 - Tasty Fish
“Vulthos?!” Grant shook his head. “I thought they didn’t exist!” He balled his hands into a fist, covering his cut up with a paper towel. It didn’t seem like either Kale or Ambri had been lying.
“Well, vulthos aren’t what all of you probably imagine them to be from the old stories.” Kale laced his fingers together and cracked them. “They’ve actually always existed, just, only out here. We keep watch on them. There seem to only be a handful of them in existence.”
“W-wait hold on!” Saraiya shouted. “If you’re serious, why haven’t you brought them up to anyone? Research on them could be worth millions!”
“You’re actually believing this, Saraiya?” Natch asked as he shook his head.
Saraiya looked disappointed, but she didn’t deny it.
Grant on the other hand, had no choice to believe it, he had been in close enough proximity to clearly make out all their features. There was no other explanation he would have believed besides this one.
“The reason we haven’t told anyone about them is because if people found out, there would be some crazy hunters ready to shoot them,” Ambri said. “Even if hunters didn’t come, depending on if a group of people intimidated them, they’d attack them and be killed.”
“I guess that makes sense…” Rhett tossed the fish over and it sizzled.
“And it’s not like we’re the only ones who know. There are people who keep a close watch on them. Although, they aren’t allowed to speak of it.” Kale said. “Even if someone saw one, who would believe their claims? I’m sure even you guys have heard stories of people claiming to have seen them before.”
“Yeah… Now that I think about it, back in high school I remember one kid always talking about how on his summer trip he swore he saw one,” Grant leaned back in his chair.
“Where can I see one?” Saraiya asked, eyes sparkling. She appeared to have recovered from her earlier fear.
“Just keep your eyes open, you’d never know what might be a bird or a vultho high in the sky,” Kale said. “They look so similar from far away you wouldn’t even be able to tell.”
“The fish is done!” Rhett shouted as he sliced them up and placed small pieces onto a platter.
The aroma of the food that spread through the air left Grant in an almost trance like state. He hadn’t eaten much today, but there was something about the fish that made his stomach growl.
“I don’t think I have ever smelled fish with such a pleasant odor before.” Grant stood up and walked to the table where slices of fish were placed. Kale met him there with determined eyes.
“Oh Grant, I didn’t think you would be this excited to eat the fish.” Kale shot his hand out first grabbing a plate and tossing fish onto it.
“What do you mean? I’m just hungry,” Grant said.
“Then why is your mouth watering?”
Grant brought his hand to his mouth. It was wet. He swiped at his mouth with the back of his unwounded hand, wiping off the drool. He couldn’t think of a time he had ever drooled over food. “Huh… That is weird.”
Kale’s eyes narrowed. “Yeah…”
“What’s so wrong about getting that excited over food, Kale?” Rhett asked, taking a deep breath in through his nose.
“Nothing, I just didn’t expect it from Grant. I could imagine you drooling over food though, Rhett.” Kale jogged away from the group. “I’m going to eat this behind your trailer, please don’t come near.”
Kale rounded the trailer and Zair followed.
Grant proceeded to grab a plate and drop a few pieces of fish onto it. On the way back to his seat he took a few bites of the fish. He couldn’t remember the last time he tasted something so good.
“Y’know Grant, now that I think about it, I guess Kale is right. Something feels off about you today.” Rhett said.
“Yeah, you’re drooling again.” Rhett pointed and shook his head.
Everyone laughed around the fire except Ambri.
“You do seem different Grant. Maybe you found what you came here for?” Ambri asked as she grabbed a plate.
There she went again, saying something along the lines of there being a true purpose to why he was here. Sure, he came here to retake his freedom, which he felt he had accomplished now, but she spoke as if there was something much more than that. She said it the first night he participated at the bonfire as well.
“I came here to find… fish? Is that what you’re saying.” Grant stared into his plate and took another bite. “Well, maybe moving here alone was worth this. I really don’t think I have tasted something so good in my life… what the hell?” He said as he licked his lips.
“No. That’s not what I mean, surely you feel it too. You found something to change you, make you more than just an average person.”
“I don’t know what you are talking about… This is damn good fish though.”
Grant eyed everyone around the fire as if asking for help from the barrage of questions. The more time he spent around Ambri, the stranger she acted.
“Ah, you mean like he found a place he feels like he belongs?” Rhett said. “Yeah, everyday I feel Grant opens up more and more around us, although he still hasn’t told us anything about himself from before he moved here right?” He finished cooking the final fish and tossed it onto the platter.
“I really don’t think you guys have told me much about yourselves either though.” Grant said while taking deep sudden breaths trying to cool the fish while he chewed..
“Hmm, that may be true, but I feel like you know way more about us than we do of you. I’m glad to see you’re feeling more comfortable around us though.” Rhett made himself a plate, took his seat, and sipped his drink.
“Maybe someday I will tell you more about myself,” Grant said. “If you can promise me more fish.”
Rhett laughed. “It’s a done deal.”
Ambri didn’t bring anymore to the conversation. She just stared at Grant as he ate, examining him. He felt violated, what did she want from him? Just then, he remembered the faint voice from the lake. Be careful.