How we think the fight will go
No matter how hard he paddled, the island stayed the same distance away — however tantalizingly close, never did that narrow band of beach grow any wider against the horizon. As far as Queequeg could tell there was no wind, no current, no obstruction of any kind. If he didn’t know better, he’d guess that the island was swimming away from him! But that was the stuff of a children’s tale, and he had no time to indulge in such whims: without water or shelter, his life depended on his ability to keep his wits about him.
And so he paddled through the night, and through the next morning. He paddled and prayed through hallucinations in which the sea foamed with nematodes and water sprites, in which the sky poured ink and the moon bounced around the sky like a pickled egg. The bit of ship timber that he clung to became as familiar as a lover, and he frequently adjusted positions to make sure to wear out his body evenly as he paddled, paddled in vain.
When he slept, he dreamed of an island with soft, warm sandy hollows to sleep in, with trickling springs and dry sticks for a fire. He didn’t have to find these things on his own, for in the dream there was a beautiful young maiden — a castaway, like himself — to show him where the most succulent fruits grew and where the fish practically leapt out of the water if you cast a certain shadow across it. The woman traced his markings on his face with her fingertips and urged him to tell her stories about the world he’d seen. His coarse English seemed no obstacle to her, and she was not frightened by his seafaring tales. Whenever he awoke it always seemed as if a mist had settled over them that blotted out the sight of each other, but not the sound. “Where are you?,” he could hear her crying, and this sound echoed in his ears for several minutes after his eyes opened. The pain of waking from this dream was so great that he avoided sleep at all costs, digging splinters of wood into his waterlogged skin to stay alert. But night after night he succumbed, adrift on a speck of debris in the middle of the ocean, and each time they found each other again, so happy to be reunited that no questions were asked about their brief periods of separation.
By day, the island remained fixed at the same point on the horizon. Hollow-cheeked and bloodshot, Queequeg grit his teeth and continued. He drew upon his dwindling reserves of strength. He prayed to the gods of the island to grant him passage. He paddled. He would find her, finally know her name.
“Master, if he truly seeks the bosom of the isle
As respite merely from a watery shroud
Why would’st thou continue thy attack
And send thy Ariel thence with curses vile?”
“One Caliban per kingdom will suffice!
My daughter’s joy and honor are thy greatest charge
but thou neglect’st thy post to plead his case?
Pray, bedevil him till minnows suck his eyes.”
Predicted Winner: Prospero
NOTE: THIS MATCH ENDS ON WEDNESDAY, March 6th, 2013, AT 5 PM, EST
Cage Match fans: We are looking forward to hearing your responses! If possible, please abstain from including potential spoilers about the books in your comments (and if you need spoilers to make your case, start your comments with: “SPOILER ALERT!”