Black Petals Issue #107, Spring, 2024

Editor's Page
BP Artists' Page
BP Guidelines
Mars-News, Views and Commentary
(After) Life is What You Make It: Fiction by Richard Brown
Gauche Cuisine: Fiction by Gordon L. Stewart
Here's to Forgetfulness: Fiction by Roger Johns
Insights Into the Trajectory of Human Cetacean Communication: Fiction by Andre Bertolino
Mal Ojo: Fiction by M. N. Wiggins
No Dark: Fiction by Bill Dougherty
Overtime: Fiction by Dennison Sleeper
A Cut Above the Rest: Fiction by Roy Dorman
Resemblance: Fiction by James McIntire
Sign of the Times: Fiction by Liam A. Spinage
The Attic Party: Fiction by Michael Fowler
The Renovators: Fiction by Hillary Lyon
The Balance: Flash Fiction by Rick McQuiston
Bawk Dark: Flash Fiction by Michael C. Jessen
The Incident With the Mismatched Man: Flash Fiction by Charles C. Cole
Radio Tower: Flash Fiction by Blair Orr
Take Me With You: Flash Fiction by Steven French
Slippery: Flash Fiction by Cindy Rosmus
Where Dead Babies Come From: Poem by Nolcha Fox
302 Asylum Avenue: Poem by Joseph Danoski
Another Story: Poem by Joseph Danoski
Home Repairs: Poem by Joseph Danoski
A Creepy Leap Year: Poem by Kenneth Vincent Walker
Funeral Memorial: Poem by Kenneth Vincent Walker
BatGrl: Poem by Casey Renee Kiser
Twin Flame: Poem by Casey Renee Kiser
Shadow Play: Poem by Simon MacCulloch
Dark Ride: Poem by Simon MacCulloch
Leviathans of the Void: Poem by Christopher Hivner
Sunbursts: Poem by Christopher Hivner
Into the Eyes: Poem by Anthony Bernstein
Airtime: Poem by Peter Mladinic
Gloria: Poem by Peter Mladinic
The Sorcerer: Poem by C. Walker
Frozen Eve: Poem by C. Walker

Andre Bertolino: Insights Into the Trajectory of Human Cetacean Communication

Art by Andre Bertolino 2024

"Insights Into the Trajectory of Human Cetacean Communication."


Andre Bertolino


The last log entry of Gregor Smith, Captain of The Scoundrel of Mississippi.

March 18th, 2022

     Woke at Midnight to rain on the hatch with a full moon shining through the port holes. Orion’s waist is thirty degrees over the horizon, Pascagoula M.S. portside. As the Candle stacks belched flames into the air, the refineries multicolored lights added a festive, X-mass in hell ambiance. In the far distance I see the cranes of the ship-yard responsible for building the entire U.S. Destroyer fleet. After 385 pulls on the cord the engine will not start because a piston swelled and ruptured the power head. Rain. Pointed into the wind, I raise up the main and the jib with NE winds blowing at over twenty-five knots. Sailing counterclockwise through a gauntlet of shoals and shipwrecks. The Scoundrel seemed to rush into the darkness, leaping ahead with every fresh breeze. My diminished sight was compensated for by a greater awareness of sound. The slap of the waves, the hiss of the wake, the leech and flutter of the sails.

     The worm moon bounced off the phosphorescent waves. The Scoundrel’s jib has a long pennant with a high clew and a short luff, so it’s easy to see under it. What I saw just before dawn was the conjunction of Mercury, Mars, Venus, and Saturn on the horizon all within seven degrees of each other. We pass the Biloxi Channel just after sunrise with the storm in close pursuit. It sounds like a big one coming from sixty miles away. I am in the most dangerous place to be during a thunderstorm. The very edge where the cold fresh water meets the warm water of the gulf, So I aim for the cut where hurricane Camille bisected Ship Island. The rain on the green water is unspeakably beautiful. My VHF radio is blinking red to let me know it’s submerged. There is an empty feeling in my whole body that I attribute to adrenal fatigue and severe sleep deprivation. By the time we cross the Gulfport Channel the lightning is striking only forty miles away. I do not have time to put my electronics in the faraday cage, so I slide my cell phones under the stove. I can feel the electricity in the air. I decided to meditate (ROYGBIV) into floating colors. When I get to blue, I open my eyes. Kneeling in the cockpit consciously avoiding touching any metal objects nearby. I say a few words in a dead tongue that translate to, “Thanks for all the wine.” Looking up the mast I saw tendrils of chain lightning arc laterally from cloud to cloud across the sky to convalesce above me. There was a bright flash as a long fork shot down from above at the speed of light zig zagging as it approached.

     The strength of the counterstroke current that passed through my mast was over two thousand Amps with a duration of a tenth of a millisecond, but the effect of time dilation doubled the instant of time perceptibly. Its luminosity peaked at 1200 m exposing The Scoundrel to narrow band radiation in the VHF microwave region of about eight hundred megahertz. My body has a natural resistance of at least 600 OHMZ and I was wearing a rubber suit that was soaking wet, so most of the current passed over me without doing severe damage to my internal organs. A perturbation in the return current charge transfer created a thermal pulse effect that melted my solar panel connections.

      My chart plotter flickered, the Voltage shot up to 13.5 and then it went black. My VHF radio stopped blinking. My muscles were tightening and spasming involuntarily. I lost consciousness for about two seconds and experienced a temporary cardiopulmonary standstill. The spontaneous recovery of my pulse can be attributed to the heart’s inherent automaticity.  The wet smack of a wave to the face snapped me back to life. I counted to three Mississippi and heard a thunderclap that shook my teeth. The high-pressure acoustic wave crushed me into the cockpit and left me deaf for the next six hours. I spent the next half hour struggling to keep my anchors on the bow with each tack. I should have had only a storm jib out.  The Scoundrels anchor rope cover was blown off its seat by a wave while I was unconscious, and I can’t see it on the bow. So, I’m mentally designing its replacement out of wood. The three-inch hole in the bow is letting in a lot of water and my bilge is overflowing into the companionway. I reach inside to turn on the bilge pump and nothing happens. I stick my head inside and see that the little white button with the number 10 printed on it is sticking out. I do not have a fuse box, but this motor is fried along with about every other electronic device onboard. This may be the end, my location is, N 30 19.553 x W 089 08.276. I’m going to sail closer to land to be in range of the cell towers.

     This electronic transmission was received March 18th, 2022, at 11:00 Am. It was typed on a Dell XPS 2008 and relayed via wireless hotspot through a cell tower in Pass Christian M.S.

          As you can probably see from the entry, Gregor was not yet a weathered mariner when his ship, The Scoundrel, (A 1976 Cape Dory 25), was incapacitated in an electrical storm near Biloxi. Everyone in the boating community agrees that he should have called the coastguard for help. The reason for his actions can only be speculated. This was not his last transmission. Later that afternoon he took video of a pod of Bottlenose Dolphins pushing his vessel South towards Ship Island. A fog descends as they take turns pushing him onto the shores of an undocumented island. After being run aground on the beach he packs a bag with some snacks, a flare gun, a waterproof cell phone case and a canteen of water. He threw his rope ladder over the starboard side and disembarked to explore the pristine shores. Statues of Octopus headed humanoids with wings adorn the beach. Eventually he finds a path through the Maritime Forest that leads to a ruin. A bas relief mural carved into the Red Granite walls of a ruins emerges from the foliage. It begins with the tale of Cometary Transpermia. The next Cyclopean panel depicts how the evolution of Octopus from Squid was caused by the arrival of new genetic material on earth. Delivered inside icy Bolide Meteorites. The next engraved billboard-size inscription illustrated the war between Cephalopods and their Fungi based Neighbors in Antarctica.

     Luminescent flora pulsated with the infernal glow of neon as they obscured some parts of the graven history. The air was thick with magik, and Giant Red Beetles. He suspected that there was something on the island calling to him. Or possibly that the island itself yearned to share the stories etched into its stones and woven into the roots of its ancient trees. As the wanderer explored further, he discovered a hidden chamber within the ruins—a chamber that held a map of other unknown islands. It detailed the islands as if visible from above Earth, with two continents unknown to modern Science.

     Gregor realized that he had stumbled upon a library of valuable knowledge. Unfortunately, his go-pro did not survive the storm, but its memory chip did as well as his lap-top inside its faraday cage. There is a link to the U-Tube channel in the bio with the footage.

     In his last video you can watch as he slowly approaches another mural depicting the anatomy and physiology of sound reception in the mammalian ear. Viewers can see water mysteriously splashing over the top of the mural. He slowly advances up a stairway carved out of solid stone leading to its summit and points his cell phone camera at the plateau of the ziggurat. It was a Forty-foot-deep pool Thirty-Two feet wide and Sixty-Four feet long. Within the pool something stirred. The water was a clear emerald green. Tunnels attached the pool to a vast network that at one time connected all Chthonic temples in the area. The fertile imagination of the wanderer evoked creatures from classical literature. What slowly emerged from the water was beyond his most depraved Chimera.

     It was four-foot-tall mammalian with thick grey skin. It had human eyes and whiskers. It had a small blow hole on top of its head. It came to the edge of the pool and lifted a jellyfish out of the water, placing it on the Red Granite with webbed hands. Then it kicked off from the side of the pool and swam backwards while patting its own head. Gregor shook his head in disbelief and stepped backwards. Gregor decided he didn’t have anything to lose and did as it asked. He placed the gelatinous blob of the jelly on his head, and it pulsated on him. The Cetacious faced thing pointed its blowhole at the human and the human felt a fluttering of wings in his mind. Then a work of architecture spoke in a high-pitched voice. “I am communicating telepathically. I am your herald, my name is Dolph. Your chariot was struck last night. Now you are here before this tribunal as a representative of your race to answer for your crimes. Members of your Clade continuously dump garbage into the water, poisoning my people, are you guilty of dumping garbage into the water?” There was rustling in the foliage at the edge of the clearing. Small frog-faced creatures were emerging from the shadows with spears. “Hold on, objection, I do not represent all humans.” The Amphibians croaked in staccato peals of anger and began to beat a drum in unison. “Have you dumped garbage?”

“Indirectly, as a member of society, I have contributed to the microplastics in the Ocean.”

     At this point Gregor points the camera at himself with the Jellyfish on his head. Then gets a panoramic shot of the frog people advancing through the ruins toward him. The general consensus among the public is that he survived the encounter, otherwise how did he upload his last video? Cell phones don’t get reception when you take them over five miles from the mainland.

     The video has been verified as un-edited. It clearly shows that the Cetaceans have attained the capacity for interspecies communication with humans and that their linguistic expression reflects an evolved cognitive capability. Only one side of the conversation could be heard in the audio, but it is clear that the nature of the discourse encompassed ecological dynamics and environmental factors affecting their habitats.

Andre Bertolino has been previously published twice. A Poem in "Hart" Magazine in 1997 and some non-fiction in "Messing Around In Boats" in 2019. We're glad he decided to give BP a try...

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