A father and son, both with stained fingers, walk among the trees. Thick fog pervades the forest, so deep that they cannot see past each other. Despite this, they know the way. A familiar finger of moss points to the left, so they go left. A pile of rocks form a line, so they follow it.

They are dressed in simple robes of a terrestrial hue. The father carries a machete; the son carries a plastic cooler. They reek of rut, and their eyes display an omnivorous gluttony. The father has coarse skin, broad shoulders, firm grip. Son has a bit of fuzz providing a roof over his lips.

They chat, the son bursting with excitement, the father amused. He recounts his first time, laughs as he tells of the sweet blood. He had gorged on it, a leech of a man. Son asks who his father had done it with. Was it his father? No, just a friend.

A sign slides through the fog. WELCOME TO LOCH OPEN, it says. NO SOLICITING, it says. NO MOTORIZED CRAFT, it says. The water caresses the soil. A series of vertical logs dot the beach, and a few have ropes tied to them. The ropes tether carved vessels, as elegant as their owners, with rough edges and holes plugged with the hide of dogs long since lost.

The son takes a seat in their craft. It is broad, with an equal length, and a depth of nearly a meter. Nine men could fit in it, with room still for a woman. A fishing pole rests in the boat. Rusted, twisted hook, slightly larger than the father's fist. Son places the cooler next to the pole, looks to his father. He swiftly undoes the knot, tosses into the boat. Momentary push, then hops in.

They drift, and the shore is soon forgotten. Truly left to their own devices, the father nods to the cooler. Son takes it into his lap, cracks it open. Nestled in crushed ice is a still-beating heart. He cups the organ in his hands, feeling the pulsing warmth on his palms and the dead chill on his knuckles. Lifts the heart from the chest, attempts to hand it to his father.

No sale. The ritual is the son's responsibility. He reaches for the pole. As it draws nearer, the hook swings. Line is black and thick. The son pierces the flesh, and a sigh is heard, perhaps air escaping the bait.

He stands, boat rocks. Slight ripples go on a voyage. Glances at his father, who nods. He casts out the heart. It's swallowed by fog, then devoured by the murky water. When you feel a tugging on your heartstring, you've got a bite, says the father.

A slight breeze rolls past like a tumbleweed. The father is fixated on his son's shaking hands. Wonders if the cause is fear, desire, both. Doesn't ask. Son stares into the water, wonders how a heart can be seen in such muck. Doesn't ask. Distant, a frog croaks. Father swallows, brows rammed together. The boat has stopped drifting. Silence.

There's a tug. Son shouts with glee, begins to reel it in. Resistance. Line strains, but the son's winning this tug-of-war. Rod jerks up, down, up, down. A ripple becomes visible, followed by the line, just a few meters off. Line touches the side of the boat, movement just underneath the surface. Son releases the rod, grabs the line. Pulls up hard, then bends forward and slips a hand into the water. Grips, lifts. A large creature, briefly veiled by water, is dragged into the boat.

The son has a fistful of hair, attached to a human head. Eyes bugged out. Mouth's full of heart, hook sticking out of the jaw. A strange fluid drips from the wound. Pale skin, dark hair, nose like a ski slope. Small breasts, no navel. Crimson scales meld with flesh at the hips. Tail ends with a jagged fin, barbed edges. It thrashes.

Son releases the hair, picks up the machete, crouches over his catch. Lifts the blade, hesitates, sinks it into the creature's neck. For a few moments, the thrashing intensifies. It gurgles. He seizes the knife with both hands, places a foot on the thing's chest, pulls. Machete pops free, leaving a broad and gushing slit. Brings it down again. The thrashing stops.

Son's breathing heavy, strong smile. Father's beaming, says, son, drink up! Son lifts the machete; it comes loose easily this time. Holds it to his mouth, licks the fluid. Tastes like milk and honey, he says. Now for the best part, says the father. Son brings the machete to the scales, carves a triangle between the hips. Pinches the shape between his fingers, eats it. It tastes like fish.