The Shark Sympathist
rating: +18+x

Shelby Waters used to call sharks "The Kings of the Sea". He had loved them ever since he was a child.

So when after graduating high school, a local Sharky's Calzone Palace offered him a job to walk around the pier in the titular mascot's costume for advertising purposes, he took them up on it.

One day, as his shift neared its end, he noticed a couple of men at the edge of the pier. Though the ocean of caution tape he could see they had some sort of fish in a net. On closer inspection he saw that they weren't just looking over their haul, no, they were punching this fish. What's more, this was no run of the mill game they caught near the beach. It was a shark.

Now Shelby needed step in. To him, it was as if someone walked up to him and spat in his mouth. Not one of these men took offence or objected to what they did to this creature. In fact, they seemed to relish the abuse they were inflicting on the animal. Shelby could barely glance at it without flinching in disgust — and boiling with rage.

Cutting through the caution tape, he makes his way to the men, who still were entranced by their work. He knew he had to end this, to stop it now.

As he moved forward, he noticed something off about the caution tape on his flippers. It read, "Warning! Punching in Progress -SPC". Shelby, even more confused, wanted to know more about why these men were here.

Being one not too apt at fighting, Shelby approached the men on the pier and suggested the closest one to refrain from what they were doing. Unsurprisingly, the men didn't hear this. Shelby, thinking he may have been too quiet, approached closer and tapped one of the perpetrators on the side.

The men stopped. One turned around. The men seemed fairly young, and all were wearing the same ripped leather jacket that showed a trifecta of sharks — and another trifecta of fists punching them. Below the jacket, Shelby then found the men to be covered in this symbol from heads to toes, along with the acronym he saw on the tape.

"H-human shark!" one man gasped and moved back, not realizing that he was still on the edge of a pier, and tumbling down into the sea because of it. The remaining two ready themselves.

"It must be one of those Sharkics they told us about!" He seemed to order the one beside him, "Here to defend your 'brethren', huh? Take 'em down!" The third man threw a hook. Shelby was not prepared for such a sudden fight, and just like a fish, was caught by the hook. Only instead of being reeled in, he reeled back, holding his face in pain.

Another fist came, a jab by the other man. Shelby could at least block this one, shielding himself with a flipper. Perhaps he should have taken off his suit before his confrontation with these men.

As more and more punches came, Shelby felt weaker with every one that connected. The man who had fallen in the water earlier finally clawed his way back up to the pier. Shelby noticed that in his fall, the man had knocked the shark into the ocean as well.

Unfortunately, he did not have time to enjoy this victory.

Then Shelby felt a sharp pain in his stomach. Instinctively, his hands moved to shield him. However, he soon realized in horror, that he had fallen for the oldest trick in the book.

The same man rose his fist, uppercutting Shelby in the jaw and sending him crashing down like waves on a beach. Dazed and broken, Shelby was unable to get back up.

All three men proceeded to kick him over and over, and soon after Shelby was rendered immobile. Laying there like a beached whale, Shelby felt the head of his costume being pulled off, along with hushed murmurings. Bloodied and battered, his mind began to cloud as the smell of the sea and the blood overwhelmed him.

The last thing Shelby heard was the alarms of an ambulance before fading into the inky black sea of his consciousness.

As a new man woke up, he found himself devoid of any casts or bandages, despite believing himself to be recovering from something. The man instead found himself resting untouched, in a hospital room overlooking the gentle sea. As the man stared out, something caught his eyes.

A fin protruding out of the water. Not just any type of fin either, no, this the man knew as the first dorsal fin of almost any shark.

Suddenly, the man remembered.

He saw the shark, his favourite creature, be torn by twisted individuals. The man realized now that those people worked for a higher force. He recalled that cursed trifecta again, along with that odd pairing of letters below it. S. P. C.

He remembered how he tried in intervein peacefully, only to cast down and humiliated. How relentless those men were when he was down, how cruel they had to have been to leave him there.

His blood started to boil, and while his joints may have ached he was still overcome with fury. A new strength surged through his body like a tsunami.

The man then realized something. He was that shark. He knew how it felt to be helpless, gasping for air in a new world of hurt, unable to move as nets bound you to the ground. He remembered how he had saved the shark, and how perhaps it was the one he had just seen. He now felt a new connection with the creature, as he believed he had experienced the same troubles that befell those kings of the ocean.

He was nothing before this. The man thought back to his old life. He had no prospects, no future. But this, it gave him purpose. It gave him drive.

Eventually, his mind turned back to those thugs. How it had felt to be beaten by them. To be helpless. To be bruised. To be kicked. To be broken by them.

Most importantly, he remembered how it felt to be punched.

Using all his strength, he lifted himself from the bed, and slowly but surely, made his way to the window.

Placing his hand on the window, the man looked at the shark, still swimming along the coast. A sense of duty had befallen onto him. More likely the man believed, this sense was bestowed upon him.

This man knew what he had to do. It was time to rise up. To defend the kings who granted him this newfound sense of duty. To let those know never to cross their waters again.

The man, perhaps once known as Shelby Waters, knew it was time to punch back.

The man then remembered the bright red boxing gloves he had it his apartment. Those would serve well as his weapon of choice. He realized he would need the right costume to strike fear in those men's hearts. The clothes were simple, a shark-themed hero suit from the previous Halloween.

There was only one thing missing now. Something to cover his face. A new marker of his strength and conviction.

The man's eyes suddenly drew to an object in the room. Had it been there before? If so, how could he have missed it? A shark constructed of what looked to be plastic lay on the table beside his bed. A hole through the underbelly allowed the man's head to fit perfectly, allowing him to see through the maw.

He knew the sharks must have made it for him, to accept him as their brethren.

As the helm slipped on, the man was suddenly overcome with a type of adrenaline and furor he had not ever felt before. He looked at the glorious body of water before him — knowing it would soon be his new home.

Grinning with glee, the man broke through the window, running across the beach into the sea. It was time to protect his kings.

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