Will Gatti & Daniel Finn

Call Down Thunder

An extract from Chapter One of Call Down Thunder

It was like this.

Reve’s skiff, a small open decked fishing boat, was in close to a ragged cliff that butted like a boxer’s nose out into the sea. In hard weather this was a bad bit of coastline. There were rocks and shallows and eddies that when a sea was running would pull and twist a small boat about and smash it up against that cliff. It happened. But today the sea was glass and anyway Reve reckoned it was worth the risk coming in this close; you could net good jack fish here, if you were patient.

The sea barely moved, just a faint sigh as it breathed against the cliff. And Reve was patient.

He could see every twist of weed, and strip of white sand tucked up between the rocky gulleys; he could see sunlight flashing as shoals of sprat twisted in and out of shadow. Six meters down right here but everything looked so close he could almost reach out and touch it.

The sun scored down on the back of his neck; he wiped the sweat from his eyes, squinted against the glare. Concentrate.


The rest of the fishing boats were far out, nailed to the horizon. It was usually the way, him fishing on his own like this. It was Tomas’s boat and not every fisherman was Tomas’s friend. And there were times it was good to fish alone sometimes.


Maybe six metres away, on the ocean side of the skiff.

And again.

The sea boiled as a big fish turned rapidly, just beneath the surface. He shifted his grip on the coil of net. One end was fixed to the stern, the other he gripped in his left hand, the belly of the net he held in his right, ready to throw.

Up in the bows, tucked into the shade under the folded sail, a scruff mat of a dog, opened one eye and murmured a growl. Best fishing dog in the village – only fishing dog in the village – lazy as hell but he loved it up there in the bow, keeping an eye on Reve. Like he was the boss.

There it was again, a little closer. A twist and slash in the surface. Big! Feeding on sprat, must be. He hoped it was a jack fish, something bigger than Tomas had ever caught, a giant fish, deep and strong, a fish to put dollar in their pockets.

Come on, a little closer. A little closer.

Tiny white fish shrapnelled out of the water, instantly followed by a wide splash of silver. He flung out the net. Perfect. It uncoiled in the air and then sank fast. He counted: one and two. And then his hands blurred they were hauling so fast, sweeping in the net. Any second he would feel it, that weight and then the bang and tug of the tangled fish.

But there was no weight, nothing. The net slithered in around his feet and Sultan didn’t even bother to raise his head, just yawned and pushed his nose down into his paws.

Reve grimaced. He had been so sure.

He splashed sea water over his face and head then shook the wet from him just like Sultan did when he came out of the sea and up on to the beach. Reve leaned out over the side, willing that jack fish to swim right up to him. ‘Come on,’ he urged. ‘I know you there. You fat old fish. Come on an’ I snatch you up in my hand.’ He leaned over further, pushing his face down into the cool surface, squeezing his eyes tight and then opening them slowly . . .

Hair like flame burning around her face, lips a little apart, like she was about to say something. So close he could almost touch her, except he couldn’t move. He couldn’t breathe. He couldn’t think. It wasn’t possible. It was his sister, it was Mi. And it wasn’t her. Long dark strands of weed reached up and stroked across her face, criss crossed, as if tightening like a net… He stared so hard his eyes felt as if they were about to tear out of their sockets and every tendon on his neck, was bunched up tight. And his heart was hammering in his chest and he couldn’t believe what he was seeing and yet there she was.

He jerked back, spluttering.

Sultan, suddenly alert, was up, paws on the side, barking and barking. Reve didn’t even hear his dog. He took a big breath and dived over the side and swam fast, straight down, eyes wide, staring this way and that.

He reached the bed, lungs bursting, grabbed a fistful of thick weed and twisted round on himself, half expecting her face to be right there, her cold hand reaching for him. A black crab the size of a human skull waved his claws at him and then backed down into a crevice.

Where was she!

Like the cursed fish. Nothing.

His head pounded, a mallet banging his chest. He let go and kicked hard, bursting out of the surface with such force that his head, shoulders and chest came right up out of the water. He gasped for breath and clutched at the side of the boat, hanging there by one hand, barely aware of Sultan whining and scratching and licking at his hand.

He let go and dived again, steadier this time, looking this way and that. Maybe a freak current had pulled the body down into a rock gulley, maybe . . . He surfaced again. The tide was slack. There was no current.

He dived again and again and then, exhausted, he hauled himself back on board and slumped down in the stern. He must have imagined her.

Mi never went in the sea. Never. Never stepped in a boat. No one get drowned if they don’t go in the water.

So it couldn’t have been her. Maybe someone else who looked like her? No. No one look like Mi. No one got that red hair. No one got her looks.

The sun could make you see things . . . give you waking dreams. He knew that alright but it’d never happened to him. He didn’t even dream in the night time. Never had. Mi was the dreamer – half lived in a different world from the rest of them. But not him. He worked. He fished. He cooked. He minded Tomas. He minded Arella. He minded Mi. What time did he have for dreaming?

© Daniel Finn 2012. Illustration by Tom Smith: smithopolis.tumblr.com