“The Running of the Sharks” in Paris Lit Up Magazine

The Running of the Sharks

by Nancy Stohlman

After the rapture, the sport of bullfighting officially ended. Spanish matadors, national celebrities in crushed velvet, unfit for any other type of work, went sadly unemployed.

Belize saw an opportunity.  They designated a section of Shark Ray Alley, several miles off the coast, for The Running of the Sharks, where an assortment of tiger and reef sharks waited in a large cage.

All those who would have made the trip to Pamplona arrived instead in Belize. Thousands lined the swim zone with their boats, everyone wearing the traditional red scarf and eating the traditional red snowcone to symbolize the blood spilled in a good battle. As in Pamplona, participants could be amateur or professional, and the morning of the event they were all stretching and warming up on the decks of boats under the careless sun of a Caribbean morning. Then they gathered in the water.

On the first gunshot the participants had a one-minute head start, a froth of arms and legs swimming toward a safety boat half a mile away. On the second gunshot the cage opened and the sharks were released in a several-minute frenzy of man vs. beast. Medic boats lined the swim zone as pools of red blossomed and the maimed were yanked from the water.

The spectacle culminated in a final match between one shark and one matador in a snorkel and bedazzled wetsuit. The crowd submerged to watch the silent ballet—matador with harpoon and red flippers, shark with two rows of teeth and superior aquatic skills. Bubble gasps escaped from mouths as the matador attempted traditional arabesques and veronicas in the now underwater colosseum, daring to put his body as near to the shark as possible in their delicate dance of death.

But there were new rules: If the shark won he was set free, no shark fin trophies or shark meat for sale in the markets the next day.

To date, the shark has never lost.

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Thursday, July 5: Featured Reader at Paris LitUp!

Paris Lit Up featuring Nancy Stohlman

PLU Open Mic featuring Nancy Stohlman
Get your sunglasses at the ready, because July 5’s featured performer is queen of flash, the author Nancy Stohlman! Sign-up from 8, shades on at 8.45pm…
Nancy Stohlman is the author of the flash fiction collection The Vixen Scream and Other Bible Stories, the flash novels The Monster Opera and Searching for Suzi, and three anthologies including Fast Forward: The Mix Tape, which was a finalist for a 2011 Colorado Book Award. She is the creator and curator of The Fbomb Flash Fiction Reading Series, the creator of FlashNano in November. She lives in Denver and teaches at the University of Colorado Boulder. Her newest book, Madam Velvet’s Cabaret of Oddities, is forthcoming in the fall of 2018. 
Paris Lit Up Open Mic

Paris LitUp happens every Thursday in English (other languages too – when in Rome, speak French) at the historic home of French Slam poetry, Culture Rapide (103 Rue Julien Lacroix, 75020).  If you would like to read, dance, sing or otherwise express yourself, sign up is open and free to all starting at 8pm-ish. We go until we drop – which means all night long! In any language. Or no language at all. No limits. From extreme poetry and explosive prose to exhilarating music and even excellent theatre.

Plus, each week Featured Performers from around the world are invited to strut their stuff before our rowdy but respectful audience.

Rotating hosts include Ed Bell, Matt Jones, Jason Francis Mc Gimsey, Emily Ruck Keene and special guest hosts.