Balthazar and the Devil-Fish

-Soumyadeep Das

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 It is difficult for those who have not seen it to believe in the existence of the devil-fish.

This frightful monstrous fish, which is rarely encountered amid the rocks in the open sea, is of grayish colour, about five feet long and about the thickness of a man’s arm. It is ragged in outline, and its shape strongly resembles a closed umbrella, without a handle. Eight antennae issue abruptly from around a face with two eyes. Underneath each antenna are two rows of suckers. These small tubes are capable of piercing to a depth of more than an inch. It is with its sucking apparatus that it attacks. The victim is oppressed by a vacuum drawn in at numerous points. Such was the creature in whose power Balthazar had fallen. Of the eight arms of the devil-fish, three adhered to a rock, while five encircled Balthazar.

In this way, clinging to the granite on one side and to the human prey on the other, it chained him to the rock.

It is impossible to tear oneself from the clutches of the devil-fish. The attempt only results in a firmer grasp. Balthazar had but one resource-his open knife in his left hand.

With the devil-fish as furious as a bull, there is a certain instant in the conflict which must be seized. It is the instant when the devil fish advances its head. The movement is rapid. One who loses the moment is doomed.

Suddenly the monster loosened from the rock its sixth antenna and darting it at him, seized him by the arm. At the same moment, it advanced its head with a quick movement. Balthazar avoided the antenna, and at the very instant the monster darted forward. Balthazar struck it with a knife. He plunged the blade of his knife into the flat, slimy substance, and with a rapid movement, he drew a circle round the two eyes and wrenched off his head.

The struggle was ended. The slimy bands relaxed. The suckers deprived off their sustaining power, dropped at once from the man and the rock. The mass sunk to the bottom of the water. The monster was dead.

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