The Wales of Whales

Author: Joachim Heijndermans

“And thus concludes this portion of our tour,” said Theo to his group. “If there aren’t any further questions, I suggest we all sit down for lunch and–,”

He stopped when he saw that one of the Lidilian tourists in the back had raised his hand, anxiously waving it to draw Theo’s attention.

“Yes, Mr. Ush. Do you have a question?”

“Where are the whales?” Mr. Ush asked, sounding somewhat disappointed.

“I beg your pardon?”

“The whales. I was hoping to see the whales of Wales. My family would love it if we could see some of these whales we’ve heard so much about.”

Theo chuckled. Mr. Ush was not the first off-planet tourist to ask that particular question. “There aren’t any, I’m afraid. Certainly not here in Brecon. That is sadly a misconception. But we have plenty of other examples of beautiful wildlife here in Wales. If you–,”

“Why aren’t there any whales?” asked Mr. Ush.

“Why?”

“Yes,” Mr. Ush said, rubbing his three fingers through his long strands of purple hair. “Why aren’t there whales in Wales?”

“Well, for one thing, whales are marine animals. They need vast amounts of seawater if they wanted to survive here.”

“How much?”

“Pardon?”

“How much water would be needed for the whales to be here?” asked Mr. Ush.

“Well, I suppose it would need to be completely submerged under the sea,” Theo laughed. “Can’t fit the poor blighters in the Usk river, now can we?” He was joined by the other tourists, apart from the Zuut family from Dothogan, who weren’t actually sure what a ‘whale’ was.

“So our first step would be to bring the sea here?” asked Mr. Ush.

“Well, like I said, they couldn’t live here on the land for long. I could sign you up with our bureau’s whale watching tour in Iceland, but as long as we remain above sea level, you won’t find any whales in Wales.”

“All right,” Mr. Ush. He raised his hands into the air, joined by his wife and three children. They closed their eyes and became immobile, practically taking on the appearance of statues. Theo scratched his head, not sure how to approach this. The agency’s guidelines were pretty adamant about not commenting or disrupting any of their customer’s traditions or ceremonies, no matter how strange they might be. But it seemed that even if Theo had tried, the Ush family wouldn’t have responded, having blocked all their senses off, immersed in their silent pose. The Lidilians stood there for nearly half a minute, not once breaking out of their trance, before finally letting out a collective sigh and tapping their hands together.

“Ehm, Mr. Ush. Did you have any other–?” Theo began when he felt something shooting up his leg.

A light murmur went through the ground. That murmur grew into a tremor, which in turn exploded into a quake. The tour group shrieked and panicked, scattering throughout the streets of Brecon. Theo looked to the horizon, saying nothing, for he no longer had the words to describe what he saw. He stood there, frozen in awe at the approaching wall of water. Screams came from the distance, quickly silenced by the oncoming wave. The grasslands and homes were submerged beneath the dark cold blue of both the Atlantic and the North Sea. Theo couldn’t believe it, but the ocean had come to swallow Wales.

“There, step one is finished,” said Mr. Ush. “Now that’s taken care of. What next?”

4 Comments

  1. kohlersc

    I both love and hate it for the same reason. The the issue stems from misconstruing questions and being flippant with answers. Idiomatic phrases and other regional (worldly) sayings are most definitely a source for misunderstanding and could lead to this…but if Theo wasn’t new, he should know this, but on the other hand who could have forseen this. I like it. And it bothers me..but it was well worth reading and I’ll do it again.

  2. SimonJM

    Thailand buried beneath tie-died ties next? 😉
    Guessed where it was heading, but still raised a smile 🙂

  3. Hari Navarro

    … Turkey perhaps? or Chile… could get messy though. I really enjoyed this.

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