2000 FF@ Fiction Contest Winners


1: "Near Lunacy" by Richard Frank

2: "The Sailfish" by Tammy DiGristine


1: "Autumn Tales" by Fran Friesen

2: "A Wonderful Day" by Claude Freaner

3: tie "The Cast" by Richard Frank

Untitled by Tammy DiGristine

Near Lunacy A Memoir

by Richard Frank

Aug. 29, 2018

I went to work as an assistant to Senator Ebenezer  Hollingsworth just a
few days after whispers about Trotters began to circulate through both
houses of Congress.  I paid them little mind at the time, of course, having
been warned by my graduate school advisor that Washington was a rumor
mill without equal, and that I should stick to the business of government if I
wanted to attract the attention of those who could do me some good.  In
short, I was too young and too ambitious to give much credence to the idea
that there might actually be a fishing lodge on Mars.

I wasn’t the only one, of course.  The Senator assured everyone in his
office that Trotters was pure fiction.  Probably the brainchild of some closet
scientist in the EPA.  He reminded us all that in 2006 similar rumors about
golf courses on the dark side of the moon had been spread by a few
disgruntled NASA employees shortly after the agency’s mission
statement had been rewritten to conform to the 2004 draft of The People’s
Covenant With God.   Of course, the Senator also bragged to everyone
within earshot, a considerable area, that he was unquestionably the best
fly fisherman in the Congress and that if there were a fishing lodge on
Mars, he was the logical choice to check it out.  All expenses paid, of

I must admit that at that moment I wasn’t terribly happy to be working for
Ebenezer Hollingsworth  - “Eb” to his friends.  Despite his heroic public
image, he made me uneasy.   I was only 26, but I was well aware of
Hollingsworth’s efforts on the Kansas School Board in the late 1990s, and
of his successful national campaign to ban the teaching of evolution in all
51 states in 2003. There were detractors, of course, who claimed that Eb’s
success was largely a matter of good timing.  They claimed that his
successful Think Creation overtures to Disney just happened to overlap
Quentin Tarantino’s religious conversion and the subsequent release of his
religious masterpiece Genesis II.  In short there were those who claimed
that it was only a matter of time until evolutionary theory, and then science
itself,  were banished from public consciousness.  The world had grown
weary of the postmodern and craved a return to a metaphysic of presence
with God at its center.  The public was willing to look into the abyss as
long as a pleasant, reassuring God looked back.  Perhaps there is
something to that, but there are always detractors where powerful men are
concerned, and I didn’t let their harsh words trouble me.   No,my
unhappiness was born of an unspecified inkling that the Senator’s future
would not live up to past promise, and that my personal skiff of ambition
would be scuttled before I had even learned to paddle it.

September 14, 2018

Final confirmation.  The Senator arrived at the office in the morning waving
a full color brochure from Trotters’ Lodge and Fishing Camps at 70°S and
85°S Mars, 0220064-R766 .  More to the point the Senator had already
contacted the camp to make a reservation for himself and a companion and
had been deeply disappointed to learn from Mr. Booth, the reservation
clerk, that the camp was booked until March 2022.  To say that the
Senator was also deeply offended when they refused his offer to pay twice
the daily lodge and guide rate of $82,000, plus  7% Galaxy tax, if they
could just squeeze his party in would be a gross understatement.  He was
livid, and, following a few inflammatory sputterings about not knowing whom
they were dealing with, the Senator slapped his now crumpled brochure
down on the corner of my desk and stomped out of the room.

In some ways the brochure resembled every other premium fishing lodge
circular that I had ever seen.  There were obligatory photographs of fly
fishers holding long, heavy-bellied fish, and there were references to
pristine waters flowing over golden rock and through canyons of deep pink
and vermillion.   The food was fabulous, of course, and the sleeping
accommodations more than luxurious.  Well, at $82,000 a day, not
including transportation, one had a right to expect comfort premium
service, and great fishing.

In other ways, the brochure was very unusual.  To begin with, Trotters was
situated on a Martian polar cap and represented our first verifiable contact
with beings on another planet.  It was not at all what anyone I knew had
expected.  In addition, the photographs depicted landscapes, fishermen,
and fish unlike any that we had ever seen.  The water was thin and pale
blue like the eyes of a Nordic Goddess, and the land was coldly stark, but
powdered soft and dusky pink.  The fish were truly enormous, heavy and
colorful, and the fly fishers  . . .  well, they obviously represented anglers
from the far reaches of the universe.  The office staff couldn’t take their
eyes off these beings from distant worlds, especially the tall, leggy,
Mattelian woman who fished in 6" high platform hip boots.  Given all
of these wonders, I was most taken by the owners, guides, and staff of
Trotters for they appeared to be nothing more nor less than large, pink pigs.

So, there I was, deeply immersed in the photographs of the Trotters staff,
when the Senator bounded back into the room and shouted, “Any of you
ever fly fished?”  I was so taken by the Trotters photos I flipped up my right
hand before lifting my eyes or giving the potential implication of Eb’s words
a second thought.  “Good boy!” He shouted.  “We’re off to Trotters in

“But how?” I stammered, sitting on my now closed fist.  “You said . . . ”

“I know, but I upped the ante, and they grabbed it, boy.  They may be pigs,
but they’re obviously good capitalist pigs!”

January 2, 2019

Space travel was not what I expected, but, then, I expected to be wrapped
in ace bandages, sealed in duct tape, and dropped into a large plastic bag
before being flash frozen.  What actually happened was much worse.  For
one thing, I was forced to spend three weeks listening to Eb Hollingsworth
regale passengers and crew with uninterrupted tales of political
maneuvering and intrigue in which he always emerged victorious.  When Eb
tired of politics, he turned to his other love. Fishing.  According to the
Senator, fly fishing in the United States, if not the world, originated in
Kansas, and its creator was the right Rev. Lucas Allwight who was, in turn,
none other than the Senator’s great, great, great-grandfather.  I think I have
the right number of “greats” there.   So, the Senator, asserted that fly
fishing was in his blood.  There wasn’t a notable  river he hadn’t fished, nor
a worthy fish he hadn’t caught when he set out to do so.  It wasn’t, he
acknowledged humbly and frequently, a matter of evolutionary superiority
as the heathens of the 20th century had claimed, but a natural superiority
bestowed upon human beings by God.  Of course, Eb also acknowledged
that God had been especially good to him and his kin, and that he thanked
the Lord every day for His great gift.  By the time we reached the Martian
surface, I was deeply  worried that I must have greatly offended God in
some way because He had felt compelled to assign me to the staff of
Ebenezer Hollingsworth and then penned me up with him for 23
interminable days.

Since I shared a cabin with the Senator, there were only two places where I
could escape his sonorous pontificating.  The obvious place provided brief,
well-spaced moments of relief during the day, but the ship’s library was my
true refuge.  The Senator didn’t read.  The ship had a well-equipped e-
library that could access any text that I wanted on earth as well as a link to
Trotters where I could learn more about the lodge and its history.  One of
the first things I learned was that Trotters’ owners had almost initiated
contact with Earth in 1999 when a crude polar lander tumbled onto their
tool shed, smashing its pink tiled roof into a thousand slivers.  The planned
contact was not to offer Lodge service to the earthlings but to notify the
United States of the whereabouts of the lander and to seek reparation for
the shattered roof.  Trotters’ owners, Phip and Berd Ernk, quickly
abandoned their plan, however, when they did a little research into our
culture and history.  They shrewdly decided that any contact with the
United States would result in a countersuit, an invasion, and the lost of
their Lodge and holdings.  Given the treatment of Native Americans it was
easy for the Ernks to imagine themselves confined to a worthless sty on
Uranus.  The Ernks resolved to keep the lander as a conversation piece,
and, so, they mounted it in the center of a large circular pool in front of the
lodge and turned it into a waterfall sculpture.

As the days passed, I became more interested in the polar waters
themselves.  It seems that Mars is possessed of a vast aquifer that resides
well below the planet’s crust in most areas, but comes to within a few feet
of the surface at the southern pole.  The Ernks rooted this out by chance
when they were gathering samples of the fine powdered surface dust during
a quadrant survey of uninhabited planets.  They returned to Mars a few
years later and did the excavations that created Mars’ only surface
waterways.  Their first effort was something of a bust.  They tapped into a
warm spring that even the polar climate couldn’t cool.  The result was a
large body of warm water which they promptly named Lake Hogwash.
Subsequent efforts were more successful, resulting in the creation of two
small rivers, the Truffle and the Snout.  These streams conveniently
combined and formed the Trough which flows for 23 miles before
disappearing into a deep rift.  It is the Trough that is justly the most famous
river in the galaxy, but that was not always the case.  Obviously, it is one
thing to open a bit of earth and let loose some water and quite another to
create a great fishing venue.

The Ernks return to their home planet of Chauvan where they labored for
three years to acquire the financial and technical backing to create their
lodge.  Then they spent another six years acquiring all the aquatic life that
they would need to create a fly-fishing paradise, including the Dresilian
Zwarg - the gamest, game fish in the galaxy.   When they returned to
Mars, an advance team had prepared the polar climate for habitation, and
the lodge itself had been built.  The waters were then prepared and
stocked.  It took six additional years before the insects, plants and fish
were firmly established.  During those years, the Ernks diligently
publicized their work and prepared the galaxy for the grand opening of
Trotters Lodge and Fishing Camps.

As I’ve already said, my library retreat kept me sane through the 3-week
voyage. It also  prepared me for what I was about to encounter.  When our
ship touched down on the Martian surface, I walked out into clear Martian
day eager to meet the brothers Ernk and to admire their work, knowing how
much intelligence, vision and pig headedness it had taken to create
Trotters Lodge and Fishing Camps.

January 4, 2019

During the last few hours of our flight, I briefed the Senator on all that I had
gleaned about Trotters, omitting only the information about the polar lander.
The Senator was pleased to learn that Trotters owners and staff were from
a planet outside the solar system, and he dictated a quick note to his
memo monitor.  The reason for the Senator’s interest became abundantly
clear to me when we met Phip and Berd Ernk near the landing pad. They
greeted us warmly.

“Welcome to Trotters Senator Hollingsworth.  We hope you enjoy your stay
with us and that you won’t hesitate to ask us for anything that you might
need.” Phip said holding a hoof out to the Senator.

The Senator smiled his warmest forced smile and shook Phip’s hoof. He
replied, “Thank you Mr. Ernk. It’s a great pleasure to be here.  And, let me
be the first Earthling to welcome you to our Solar system.”

If the Ernks understood the full implications of the Senator’s words, they
didn’t let on.  They both laughed as though the Senator had made a good
joke and went immediately to the business of getting us settled in the
lodge and prepared for our first outing.  I don’t know if it was at that
moment or shortly afterwards that I came to fully understand the nature of
the Senator’s vacation.  He was, in effect, doing nothing less than scouting
Trotters to see if it posed a threat to the Earth and to assess its potential
economic value should the U.S. decide to invade.  That was the only way
to explain how Eb got his reservation.  He must have offered an extravagant
sum that neither he nor his backers could have afforded.  The Senator was
on an official mission.

My insight deeply troubled me, and I considered alerting the Ernks to the
potential danger; but I thought better of it when I considered that I really
knew nothing about the Ernks. Perhaps they did pose a threat, and there
was always the chance that the Senator would get wind of my betrayal.
That would put a quick end to my political aspirations - if not my life.

We all convened in the lodge’s great room, which was aptly named “The
Zwarg” after the gamest game fish in the galaxy.  The Senator arrived
dressed to fish.  I carried his rods - all eight of them. “I hope I brought a fly
or two that’ll catch some of these Martian trout you’ve been boasting
about.” He said, pulling two fly boxes from his vest.

Berd Ernk, who was to be our personal guide, responded by telling us that
all flies were provided by the lodge and, indeed, there were only two that we
needed for the Trough and its tributaries.  One was a nymph named The
Bohemian. The second was a lovely, delicate dry, dubbed the Madam
Butterfly.  Both were tied by Trotters master tyer, Mr. Porchini.   Hogwash
Lake was a different story.  Because it was a warm water lake, there were
no Zwarg, driblets or perns to be found there.  The lake had been stocked
with bluegill from Earth, and they had thrived in the warm lake waters,
growing to enormous size.  Flies for these fish were tied by Mr. Booth, the
Chauvanist who had taken our reservation. The Senator quickly made a
note of this fact while he announced that he was a dry fly man and would
have no need of that “Bahamian thing.”

Berd suggested that we take a Roamer up to the Truffle to fish for driblets
and perns so that we might get used to Martian fish of smaller proportion.
They were, he noted quite unlike anything we had ever experienced.  The
Senator immediately objected, saying that he was an expert fly fisherman,
and he did not intend to spend any of his vacation time “goin’ after dace.”
Berd did not argue the point, but suggested that the Senator allow the
lodge to supply him with an appropriate outfit.  The Senator thanked the
owner but said that he preferred to fish with his own equipment.  He had,
after all, brought along a parcel of rods so that he’d be ready for any
situation.  He was starting with his favorite four weight, because he really
“got a kick out of catchin’ big fish on light tackle.”  Berd merely nodded and
suggested that we bring several rods along just in case.  I selected three
rod tubes from the rack I had just filled and followed the Senator to the river
which was only a few hundred feet from the front of the lodge.

The Trough was not a huge river.  One might say that it was the correct
size, and the waters were as clear and blue as a Bombay Sapphire gin
bottle.  Huge fish swirled up beneath a curtain of golden butterfly-like
insects sucking them from the surface with a lazy ease.  Occasionally, a
fish of gargantuan proportion rose from the depths of the central channel
and slashed across the surface consuming twenty or thirty flies at a pass.
The Senator’s eyes widened as Berd tied a fly to his leader.   Berd
explained to the Senator that it was only possible to wade out a
few feet from shore in most places and that he’d have to watch his step
because the water’s clarity made depth exceedingly difficult to gauge.  The
Senator nodded and waded out a few steps, lifted his rod, and cast his fly
up and across the Trough.  A good fish rose, swirled near his fly and
refused it.  He groaned, and cast again with the same result.  Berd
suggested lengthening his tippet a bit, which he did.  His third cast brought
success - at least for a moment.  A Zwarg of about five pounds sucked
down Senator’s fly and headed for the bottom of the channel with such
force that Eb’s four weight literally blew up in his hand.  As he waded to
shore, Berd again offered the use of lodge tackle, but Eb silently opened
the tube that held his five weight and twisted the ferrules together.  The
result, however, was the same.

When the seven weight shattered, I returned to the lodge for more rods.
The only rod that I didn’t take was Eb’s heirloom cane that he called “The
Pike Killer.” The eight and nine weight rods quickly met the same fate as
all their lighter brethren.  For a moment it appeared that the Senator, who
stood staring down at a mound of shattered rod pieces, was about to throw
in the towel.  He approached me very deliberately, took the ten weight rod
tube from my hand, opened it and removed the rod.  He then proceeded to
break it over his right knee before tossing it on the pile with the others.
“Stay here,” he barked as he walked toward the lodge.  He returned a few
minutes later with “The Pike Killer” strung up and ready to go.  There was a
new, burning  confidence in his eyes. On his second cast a Zwarg of about
4 pounds grabbed his fly and the game was on.  The rod held through the
first furious run, and then through a second.  The fish then settled to
the bottom and played a tugging, head shaking, waiting game with the
Senator.  The Senator lighted one of his best Cuban cigars and smiled.  A
second later the fish shot downstream with the Senator running behind him
his reel screaming. The Senator then gained a little line and then a little
more until he was standing at the edge of the center channel the fish in the
deep cut just beyond his boot tips.  A second later, the fish then cleared
the water and shot straight up until its eye was at the level of the
Senator’s.  It seemed even from a distance that for a brief moment man
and fish did something more than just look at each other. In any case, the
cigar dropped from Eb’s mouth as his jaw fell open. When the Zwarg hit the
water, it was dead.  The Senator stooped and lifted the beautiful emerald
fish with both hands.  “Strangest thing,” he said quietly, looking very
confused.  “I didn’t mean for this to happen.”

“It’s what always happens with Zwargs, Senator.  They always fight to the
death. it’s their way.You did a great job.  We’ll bring this beauty back to
the lodge and he will be your dinner tonight. Wonderful eating!”

“I don’t know,” said Eb. “I don’t think I could . . . ”

“Senator, the Zwarg is a great fish.  This one gave its life to you.  To eat it
is an honor.  Indeed, it is the only honorable thing to do.”

We dined that evening with two Mattelians sisters, Barbara and Pepper
Lurp, and with a fly fisher named Znt from the planet MurxxT.  The Senator
was the only successful flyfisher at the table and the others, who had seen
the pile of shattered rods by the river bank,  were eager to hear the details
of his exploits.  The Senator seemed more himself, but his account of the
day was touched by moments of genuine awe and humility that I was
totally unprepared for.  I also noticed that his new demeanor seemed to be
having some subtle impact on his appearance.  He appeared a bit rounder
and softer in the cheeks, his eyes were gentler and his skin had taken on a
pale pink color.  It wasn’t until I looked in a mirror that I noticed that my
own skin was similarly pink.  The Martian day had touched us both.

When the Zwarg was presented at the table, there was great excitement.
The fish had retained much of its beautiful color, and it was surrounded by
an array of interplanetary vegetables.  I watched the Senator tense up as
the platter was placed before him. Berd served him the first portion, but he
seemed reluctant to even look at the fish.  His eyes lifted to Berd who gave
a reassuring nod.  He then slipped his fork into the Zwarg’s flesh and took
a bite.  A look of relief and peace spread over his face and his tensed
shoulders relaxed.  He smiled warmly and raised a glass of Ebluvian wine. 
“To the Zwarg. Truly the gamest game fish in the galaxy.”  We all followed
the Senator’s lead, and the Zwarg was indeed delicious, the company
convivial, and the Lurp sisters beautiful.  For a moment I forgot all about the
Senator’s mission, and it now seems that he had done the same.

Jan 5th, 2019

When I arrived at the breakfast table, the Senator and Phip Ernk were just
finishing and discussing  the day ahead.  The Senator, his back to me,
was saying,  “That’s what I’ll do then.  I’d really like some time to think.
With 23 hours of daylight, I can fish whenever I feel like it.”   Hearing me
approach, Eb swivelled about to great me.  “Did you sleep well, Solomon?
You were dead to the world when I got up.”

Somehow I managed to respond without hesitation, but I’ll never know how.
I’m sure my eyes widened before I looked down at the floor and composed
myself.  Senator Hollingsworth’s “Lyndon Johnson” ears had grown larger
and more pointed.  The tops were beginning to fold down over the shell of
the outer ear. The lobes, on the other hand, had all but disappeared.  His
nostrils had widened and enlarged, and the tip of his nose had tilted
sharply upward and flattened. His complexion closely matched Phip’s.  I
was overcome by a great urge to run to the nearest mirror to look at my
own face, but resisted.

“The Senator is taking a day off from fishing after his triumph of yesterday,”
said Phip.  “He told me that you fly fish, so I was wondering if you’d like to
take a little trip to Lake Hogwash to do a little bluegill fishing?  The Senator
has already agreed if you’re interested.”

Despite my fears, I could think of no way to bow out gracefully, so I agreed
to leave for Lake Hogwash after breakfast.


A close inspection in the mirror confirmed the changes I had feared.  My
skin tone was decidedly pinker and my nose more pug-like.  I seemed
rounder, but my ears were not larger or pointed.  I was both relieved and
terrified, if that is possible.  I considered the possibility that these changes
were temporary and would disappear when I returned to Earth’s
atmosphere.  I prayed that would be the case.  Not knowing what to expect
on my journey to Lake Hogwash, I slipped a tape recorder into my pocket
and pinned a tiny microphone fly to my fly patch before meeting Phip at the


Phip was waiting for me when I left the lodge.  Glancing off to the water’s
edge, I saw the Senator sitting on a large rock outcropping.  It appeared he
was reading a book.

The trip to Lake Hogwash took about an hour in the Roamer, and Phip did
everything he could during the first half hour to put me as ease.  Finally he
said, “You’re probably pretty confused by all these changes aren’t you,
Solomon?  I want you to know that there is nothing to worry about.  There
is no evil plot here.  There are some complications, but we can handle
them if you’ll help.”

“Handle them?  Complications?” I stammered.  “The Senator is turning into
a pig and all you can say is that there are some complications!”

Phip smiled and said  “Hollingsworth is not the complication. You are.”


“You’ve already seen that Hollingsworth is becoming one of us.  That was
expected.  What wasn’t expected was that he would bring a companion
who wasn’t as committed to fly fishing as he is.”

“I don’t get it.”

“I know.  I know. You need, and deserve, a little background information.
Do you think you can concentrate?”

I wanted to say that I was all ears, but the Senator’s appearance made me
think the better of the expression.  I settled for  “I’ll do my best.”

Phip exhaled softly and smiled.  “Okay, I’ll do my best as well.  Let me
begin by asking you if you’ve noticed anything unusual about the staff at
Trotters - other than that they are all pigs?”

I thought for a moment. “Not really.”

“Think about it.  Haven’t you noticed that all of the Chauvanists are male?”

“Well, yes, but what of it?”
 “Very.  Very important.”  He paused for a moment. “We need to start with
an idea that is a little hard to grasp, but it is the only way to make sense of
Trotters and the events of the last two days.   That idea is that not all
beings reproduce sexually.  Let me repeat that because Earthlings have a
hard time with the concept. Not all beings reproduce sexually.   There are
no female Chauvanists. There are many places in the universe where sex is
not the origin of species.”

“But how do you . . . ?”

“Good question and to the point.  We transform.  We find other beings and
turn them into our own kind.  I know that you are about to object, but think
carefully about it before you do.  What’s wrong with transformation?
Consider the Senator.  What have you noticed about him over the last two

“You mean that he is a nicer pers...ig?”

“Exactly.  And does he seem unhappy?”

“No, but then why should he.  He doesn’t know what’s happening to him.”

“But he does.  That’s the point.  He is completely aware of the
transformation.  It began with the catching of the Zwarg.  The Zwarg is not
only the greatest game fish in the galaxy;  it is also the way to
enlightenment.  Eb Hollingsworth is on his way to seeing a truth that he
could never see before he caught the Zwarg.  When you came to breakfast
this morning, we were just completing a discussion of the nature of moral
action in the universe.  He was deeply engrossed. Can you believe that?”

“But is this the right thing to do?  He’s not who he was!  You’re changing
him against his will.”

“Not at all.  He’s perfectly happy to be changed.”

“What if he weren’t?”
“That can’t happen.  He’s a fisherman.”

“What do you mean it can’t happen?  It’s happening to me!”

“I mean to say the universe is constantly moving toward greater
perfectability and that we have a role in promoting that universal inclination.
  Specifically, our role is to take grossly imperfect beings from the galaxy
without regard to planetary affiliation and make better beings of them.  Not
superior, but better. When we asked ourselves the question, ‘Who is most
in need of improvement?’  The obvious answer was,  fly fishermen.  They
are gullible, antisocial, superstitious, and they are liars.  It really doesn’t
matter which planet they come from. It’s a universal trait.”

“Does the transformation remove their desire to fly fish?”

“Not at all, but it does rid them of their addiction and their compulsion to lie
and avoid social contact.  It puts fishing in perspective and allows them to
appreciate it as a spiritual undertaking and not as predation with overtones
of species and technological superiority.”

“I have to ask.  What about the Mattelians?  They’re . . . ”

“Female?”  He smiled.  “They are lovely, aren’t they?  And quite witty.
They are completely unaffected by our methods.  We have no power over
them.  We encourage their presence here because . . . well, because we
want to attract fly fishermen and having them here doesn’t hurt.”

I was working hard to process everything that Phip was telling me.  It
wasn’t easy.  “You said that I was a complication.  You still haven’t
answered my question about me?  I don’t want to be transformed.”

“I know. And you won’t be - not completely in any case.”

“Why not?”

“Because you are not a true fisherman.  If you were, you would be
changing as rapidly as Eb, but you were simply brought along as a
companion.  This happens occasionally, but usually we catch it before the
fisherman and companion arrive.  In those cases we cancel the reservation.
 In your case, Eb said that you were as avid a fly fisher as he is.  The
extent of the transformation indicates that he lied.  We should have been
more careful.”

“Will I catch up?” I asked.

“Your father and mother?  Did they fish?”


“That’s the problem.  Your upbringing was too good.  You may get a bit
pinker, your nose may widen and flatten out, and your fingers may shorten
a bit more, but that will be about it.”

“So I am just a prisoner?”

“Absolutely not!  The Chauvanists don’t take prisoners.  You are free to do
whatever you want.”

“I can go home?”

“Of course, but that’s where the true complication resides.”

“What do you mean?”

“Your world is not very accepting of difference.  As slight as the changes
might be, you’d be a freak.  Your possibilities would be extremely limited.”

I knew that he was right. “What should I do?”

“I can’t tell you what you should do, Solomon.  It’s your decision, but if I
were you, I’d choose a world where physical appearance is of no
consequence.  We can help you find one if that is your decision.”

I fell silent.  I  really couldn’t organize my thoughts sufficiently to weigh my
options at that point.  Fortunately, we were pulling up to Lake Hogwash.

The fishing was as spectacular as promised. I caught giant bluegill after
bluegill, but each catch left me with an uneasy feeling.  Despite Phip’s
reassurances, I yearned for a mirror.  The pieces didn’t seem to fit
together. At the end of the day I asked Phip why Trotters hadn’t contacted
Earth until 2019.

“Yes.  A very good question.  To be honest, some of the information that
you read about Trotters was fabricated.  The polar lander didn’t accidentally
crash into our toolshed.  We caused it to crash harmlessly about 300 urgs
behind the lodge.  We had been watching your planet closely, and we
knew that the lander would expose us.  We also knew that NASA would
have difficulty financing another launch if the 1999 lander were
unsuccessful.  We were correct, of course, and Trotters was safe for many
years.  Then, about two years ago we learned that new Martian initiatives
were under way.  We needed to find some way to keep Trotters open as
long as we possibly could and then exit without leaving a trace of our
presence here.  We decided that the best course would be to initiate
contact and control our departure according to our own schedule. We
developed a plan that included Hollingsworth from the start.  He didn’t
select us.  We selected him.”

“So, Senator Hollingsworth will be your first and only complete

“Almost.  A number of years ago one of your people reneged on a promise
to sell some pins to a fly fishing group on the Internet.  Consequently, he
went into hiding only to reappear once or twice before settling in a remote
area of Mexico where we had some contacts passing as wild boars.  Our
friends put us in touch with the person in question and we arranged to have
him join us for a visit.  His transformation was almost immediate.”

“What happened to him?”

“You’ve met him.”


“Yes. Mr. Booth.”

The ride back to Trotters was marked by silence.  I had a thousand
questions to ask Phip, but I couldn’t get beyond my own self  pity.  My
career was in ruins.  My life was in ruins.  I still had college loans to pay off.

January 8, 2019

A day passed before the Senator and I met again and his transformation
was nearly complete save for his hands which still possessed short stubby
fingers.  This was our last conversation and I recorded it as I had my
conversation with Phip.  Here is my transcription

Senator Solomon. I hear the fishing at Lake Hogwash was excellent.

Me Yes it was...it was...amazing.

Senator Good.  I, ah...

Me Senator, is everything okay?  I mean are you okay?  Should I be...?

Senator Goodness, yes.  Everything is fine, more than fine.   You needn’t
concern yourself about me, Solomon.  I’m happier than I’ve ever been.  It’s
funny isn’t it...?  That I had to evolve into a pig before I could learn that I
had spent my whole life fabricating, superficial truths to make my life
bearable instead of learning to live in the world ...eh universe...as it is.”

Me What will you do now?  Do you know?

Senator Well, I know that I’m going to help the Ernks shut down Trotters.
I’ll keep sending messages back to Earth to stall any Mars initiatives while
the streams and lake are being drained.  It shouldn’t be that difficult.  After
that?  Probably a trip to Chauvan and then...  Well, I’m not sure what
happens then.   What will you do Solomon?  You’re the one that everyone
is worried about.

Me I’m not sure.  I have to give it some more thought.

Senator I understand.  Well, I’m going to go fish the Trough for the last
time.  Want to come along?

Me I wouldn’t miss it.

— end of transcript —

The Senator was surrounded by onlookers as he strung up his rod and tied
on a large Madam Butterfly.  The river was remarkably calm with only a few
insects skimming the water’s surface.  No fish could be seen rising.  Phip
pointed to the shadow of a large, subsurface rock ledge near the far side of
the channel.  “That’s where Twarg holds.  He’s one of the originals.
Seldom seen and never hooked.”  He laughed.  “I guess you’d call him the
UberZwarg.  You might give him a try.”

The Senator waded to the very edge of the channel drop, his chubby, pink
body balanced on two very small hooves.  Because his fingers were only
half their original length, he held his rod like a spey caster and waved the
line in intricate patterns above his head.  When he made the final forward
cast, his fly settled gently above the shadow but a bit too close to the
opposite bank, but he then mended line expertly and the fly twitched into
perfect position above the shadow.   The fly almost immediately
disappeared into a deep swirl as though sucked under by a creature far
below the water’s surface.  The line pulled taut and the rod bent suddenly
and deeply.  Then, Eb Hollingsworth, unstable on his newly acquired
hooves, pitched forward into the channel and disappeared completely..
A moment passed.  His hat floated to the surface.  An instant later his right
hand still gripping his rod appeared.  At first Eb, or what we could see of
him, drifted along at speed of the current, then he began to move faster and
faster in wide circles in the central channel.  We ran along the bank trying
to keep up until finally Eb Hollingsworth’s hand and rod disappeared into
the deepest central rift.  We held our collective breath and waited for what
seemed an eternity.  Then, when it seemed pointless to wait any longer, a
great arc of emerald and pink appeared above the central channel.  It was
Eb Hollingsworth astride Twarg the UberZwarg. One hoofed hand was
clamped firmly on the great fish’s dorsal fin while the other waved up and
out to right like a rodeo rider.  He let out a great “OINK” as Twarg porpoised
across the stream, and made one last, mighty leap to deliver the Senator
to the very spot where we were standing.   As Twarg turned and
disappeared into the depths of the Trough, I couldn’t help but notice that
the Senator’s transformation was complete.  He was pink, portly and
handsome as only pigs can be.

“That was remarkable, absolutely remarkable!”  He said.  “I think I need to
go back to lodge and get a little rest.”

As Eb walked back up to the lodge, something in the water caught my
eye.  It was the Senator’s rod, Pike Killer, drifting in the current, heading
toward the deep rift in the Martian surface some twelve miles downstream.
May 12, 2020

I stayed on at Trotters for a few days after the Senator’s last outing on the
Trough.  Then, with no clear plan in mind, I bid the Senator and the Ernks
farewell and hitched a ride to Mattel with Barb and Pepper.  I had decided
that Phip was correct and there was no point in returning to Earth.  Mattel
actually turned out to be a good choice for a partially transformed Earthling
because the elegant and sinuous Mattelians were largely uninterested in
body type.  Their males, the Kens, were handsome but vacuous so they
appreciated even marginally witty conversation.  Shortly after arriving, I was
introduced to Barb’s friend Ginger and we have become something of a

I haven’t heard from the Senator since I left Mars, but I did get a message
from Phip Ernk.  Apparently, he and his brother have located a choice
fishing venue on the planet Phranque and intend to open Trotters II there in
a year or two.  Phip suggested that I might like to get more serious about
fly fishing, solitude and lying before dropping in for a visit.   It’s a thought.
Mattelian  fishing is actually pretty good and writing my memoirs has
provided ample opportunity for solitude and lying.  I might take Phip up on
his offer.  On the other hand, I am rather fond of the Mattelians and I’ve
discovered that they are one of a relative hand full of galactic beings that
still joyously engage in sexual reproduction as a way of continuing their
species.  Being only half a male Chauvanist pig, I continue to find the idea


The Sailfish

by Tammy DiGristine

John E. McMillan had lived his whole life in Montana. For as long as he
could remember, he had been a trout fisherman. His flyrods and reels were
the source of many good memories for him, and he often fished with the first
flyrod he had ever used. Trout were unsafe when Mr. McMillan found his way
to a stream. He was a well-respected member of the flyfishing community in
which he lived.

For about as long as he remembered, he had also dreamed of catching a
sailfish on the fly. He had read the stories, seen the pictures and wondered
openly and to anyone who would listen what it would be like. This was truly
a dream come true, a lifetime of wishes granted. He stood at the stern of
the boat, far off of the coast of FL, his two best friends standing nearby
and thanked the powers that be for this dream realized.

The bright sun blazed overhead, radiating heat, but not enough to completely
break through the cool January winds offshore. It was enough, though, and he
was thankful to be here. He stroked the old wooden railing of the boat and
waited patiently, watching the teasers and the baits being trolled behind
the boat… waiting. It was not long before the cry he had been waiting for
pealed through the air… "Fish in the baits!!"

It was John’s turn up. As the mate hurriedly pulled in the teasers and the
baits, John picked up the awkward 12 wt flyrod and with one short backcast,
plopped the huge fly down behind the boat, and following the mate's
instruction, pulled off enough line to get the fly back away from the boat.
He could see the sailfish as it swam through the wake the boat created. He
could feel the boat starting to slow down. His chest pounded with

The fly bounced along in the water behind the boat, a noisy creation of
feathers and foam on a gigantic hook. The sailfish noticed it. It struck at
the fly and missed. It followed for a few seconds more and then struck
again. This time there was no missing. John had his first sailfish on. It
had been a long time coming.

John could not have asked for better friends. George and Steven had been
through everything with him. They were best men at each other's weddings.
Their wives were in the same bridge club. They had fished together since
boyhood. It was a classic storybook friendship the three of them shared.
They cheered John on as the battle of his life began. He could feel the
rocking of the boat in the waves… rocking, rocking.

He could feel the warmth of the sun as it tried to cut through the cool wind
blowing across his face. The sailfish jumped… one time, then two. He held
onto the rod and began to reel. The fish took out more line. The battle was
on. All the while, the boat was rocking, the breeze was blowing and the
faint warmth of the sun comforted him.

After a while, his arms began to ache. His back hurt, his chest was sore
from straining. His friends were a pillar of support. "You are almost there,
John, don’t quit now!" they exclaimed. He truly did love his friends. On and
on the battle waged. His arms screamed. His heart pounded, sweat popped up
on his brow despite the cool breeze. The rocking of the boat became his
nemesis.  His back and chest screamed with pain, and yet John went on. This
was his dream, his sailfish, and nothing would stop him. He was going to
finish the job.

Shortly after, he had the fish to the back of the boat. The deck was a
flurry of activity as hugs were given, high-fives made and congratulations
abounded. The mates were busy getting the beast into the boat. John stood
there, at the stern, his hand resting on the old, worn wooden railing, the
sun shining down, the cool wind blowing and realized that the pain was no
longer there.

It was a cold winter's day in Montana when Anne Marie McMillan walked into
the den to call her husband for dinner. She thought he must have fallen
asleep, as her calls had not brought him forth. As she entered the den, the
first thing she noticed was the cold breeze whipping through the partly open
window. The fire in the fireplace blazed with warmth, although just barely
cutting through the stiff wind that blew in from the outside. She looked
over to find John in his usual place. She started to ask why the window was
opened when she noticed the queer smile upon his face.

John sat in his old wooden rocking chair, his hands resting on the old
wooden arms, the chair still barely rocking. A smile was upon his face,
although John was no longer there. Anne cried out.  The fire tried hard to
warm up the inside of the den as the cold January wind blew through the

The three widows sat alone after the funeral. Anne and the wives of George
and Steve all sat grieving. All three had lost their husbands this year and
had found a great comfort in each other's company. They talked of times
past, of their husbands' follies, adventures, and mostly of their fishing.
Lois, wife of George, solemnly looked over at Anne and commented on how the
boys had always wanted to go to FL and fish for sailfish. Anne looked over
at Lois sadly. "I suppose none of them ever will now." The cold wind blew.
The sun, high above, tried hard to send its warmth down as Anne stroked the
cold hard wood of the casket.



by Francis Friesen

Burnt Sienna, Raw Sienna, 

Rich Cadmium Yellow, 

Crimson Red and fading green ,

Vibrating against Cobalt skies 

Reflecting in deep Pthalo Green pools. 


Moving streams, riffling waters, 

Pebbled river beds, 

Back eddies and inside seams. 

Flowing over rocks and boulders 

Holding the predators silver prey. 


Golden Brookies, wary Cutthroats, 

Spotted Dolly Vardens, 

Speckled Browns and dancing Rainbows. 

Pausing in the calmer current 

Waiting for the passing morsel. 


Damselfly and Stonefly nymphs, 

Succulent Callibaetis, 

Dragonflies and Caddis' cased. 

Preying angler stands nearby 

Casting imitations to the foray. 


Watching, waiting, casting, 

Perfect timing crucial, 

Silent stealth and downward drift. 

Screaming reel as fly is taken, 

Running line round yonder bend. 


Writhing, twisting, flying leaps, 

Shaking side to side, 

Flashing white and silver, 

Fighting hard against the current, 

Losing strength the battles done. 


A Wonderful Day Sonnet by Claude Freaner

by Claude Freaner

As the wind blew, gently and cool
  Along the small burbling stream;
A ring at the head of the pool
  Appeared, awoke me from my dream

Quietly, on my knees, I crept,
  To where I could cast without fear
To the slow steady rise that kept
  Beckoning and drawing me near

Pausing before making my cast
I shook out some line to float down
And loaded my flyrod that way.
The leader straightened out just past
The nose of a beautiful brown;
It rose! I Struck!  A wonderful day!


The Cast

by Richard Frank

I watch the line unfurl above my head,
Extending silent in an evening clear.
Dreamt rhythms from my soul to fly is led.

Good friends abridged the winter’s numbing dread
‘Til April’s waking  to this season fair.
I watch the line unfurl above my head.

False cast and haul, the tippet’s sped
Behind again. I sense that it is there.
Dreamt rhythms from my soul to fly is led.

A pause, a beat  - one must not get ahead.
This wand conducts its deferential air.
I watch the line unfurl above my head.

I fancy  tug and pull of turning head,
The measure of a spirit fish caught fair.
Dreamt rhythms from my soul to fly is led.

The settling  then , so soft upon the bed,
Then drift, dream, lift up once again to air.
I watch the line unfurl above my head;
Dreamt rhythms from my soul to fly is led.



by Tammy DiGristine

The stars in the skies that shine in her eyes
The jungles hold secrets and mysteries and lies
The light of the moon spells doom and gloom
She will run soon to the tomb of her room

And then once asleep come the dreams and the screams
As the spirits they keep their schemes and their streams
The woman who fishes, green eyes and so wise
Is the one who now wishes for no surprise and no lies

For once with her rod she caught and she got
A mystery no god would have sought or have wrought
The visions they came and they show what they show
As the jungle rain falls so low and so slow

With only a fly at the time on her line
She passed through the eye of the line of time
As she fought for control of all that she knows
She also sought the toll for all the unknown

And with the screams of the peel of her reel
She slipped into dreams so unstill and so real
And then in the end it was she who was caught
With a huff of the wind it was she who was sought

All that remained of her there was a reel and a fly
As they strained to find her and to seal up the why
The jungle it holds her within fast in the past
From there it scolds her for  the last of her casts

The moon in sky holds her face if you see
The forest hold her body in the form of the trees
And somewhere in the jungle lingers her soul
You can hear her casting when the wind it does blow

Somewhere in the jungle the woman she lives
In hope that with each cast the jungle will give
The answers to secrets the wind whispered in her mind
Forever she’ll remain there and never will she find

The stars in the skies they shine like her eyes
The jungles hold secrets and mysteries and lies
And if it is answers you seek when you cast
You may find them and reap them in the jungles at last.