My father grabbed his lance as the men pulled the whale in beside the boat. The oval shaped blade was razor sharp on both edges. He plunged it into the side of the whale, like a hot knife through butter. He withdrew the lance and struck again and again, until the water spouting from the whales blow hole turned crimson.
Several whales from the pod kept pace with our boat and their stricken comrade. Spiral tusks pierced the water like galloping sea unicorns. Their large eyes cast towards us in blame. A grey male, fearlessly swam next to the boat calling to its injured mate. I turned my back against the accusation in their eyes.
“Trust me son. When the ice and snow comes and winds howl across the bay, you will thank me for the meat in your belly and the fat for the fire.”
The mournful cry of the whales could be heard all night as they circled the waters in the bay. The sound filled our cabin with such deep sadness it resonated within your soul. Even my Da looked unsettled as he sat down in front of the fire pulling on his pipe.
“Get yourself to bed, boy. We’ll have an early start tomorrow.”
I slunk up to the loft. The wind moaned around the corners of the house and looking through my window I could see the bay was whipped up with white foamy waves. As I turned away from the window, movement caught my eye on the beach. I pressed my forehead against the pane, ignoring the cold. One of the Narwhal whales had beached itself.
I spun round and clambered down the ladder.
“Boy, I thought I told you to go to bed.”
“A whale beached itself on the shore, father!”
He jumped up and placed his pipe on the table, dragging on his seal skin coat. “Are you sure? If I go out there to get wet and cold for no reason you will be going to bed with a burning hide.”
“I saw it. “
“Grab your coat and a torch.” My father grabbed his lance.
I quickly pulled on my own coat and lit a torch from the fire. We left the warmth of the house and walked into the blustery wind. The torch spat and the flames jerked every which way, casting strange shapes and shadows on the ground.
“Shall I get the rest of the men, Da?”
“No, if we can take this whale on our own, our status in the village will be elevated. I might even stand for chief.”
We walked down to the bay and onto the pebble beach. The whale song had stopped. Apart from the wind and the guttering of the torch it was eerily quiet. Not even the dogs barked.
“Well, where is it, boy?”
I looked back towards our house to try and gauge where I saw the whale when my father gasped. I turned towards him, raising the torch.
Emerald green eyes reflected in the light. A gigantic grey horse stood looking at us.
“Impossible.” My father whispered as he stared at the horn protruding from the horse’s head.
The horse snorted in response to my father’s voice. A spray of mist coming from its nostrils as it charged.
“Run, boy!” he turned to push me ahead.
The horn entered my father’s back and came out of his chest piercing deep into my shoulder. We both screamed as we were lifted off the ground. The unicorn turned and slowly walked towards the water.
My father reached up, grimacing in pain and pushed me away from him. I screamed again as the horn pulled free from my shoulder and I fell into the shallows.
The unicorn kept walking deeper into the water. It looked like it was changing shape, like an iceberg melting in warm water. It was the grey Narwahl whale.
It disappeared into the dark cold depths, my father speared to its horn like a grotesque living figurehead.
I was only ten, the night the unicorn whale came for my Da.