A gift to the shark-god
(An alternate version/fanfiction to the scene in the movie She Gods of Shark Reef.)
When Queen Pua found me I was but an orphan being sold into slavery. She rescued me and brought me to the island of Raretu, an island of women. I owed her my life and vowed to faithfully serve her as well as the others on the island.
One might have expected life to be exceptionally difficult on an island such as Raretu. But it was not. Food was plentiful and the others looked after me with love and fondness. I made many new friends until I felt as though I had found a new home of peace and security.
I soon discovered there was one concern on the island: the pleasing of Tangoroa, the shark-god. He dwelled mostly along an area of the reef, a location that was forbidden to us. I learned that anyone who swam out too far and displeased Tangoroa never returned.
Six months after I came to live upon the island we suffered through a terrible storm. Queen Pua said the shark-god was angry with us. The only way to please him was to offer one of us to him during the Ceremony. If he accepted the gift that was offered, peace and tranquility would return.
I was new to the island so I did not witness this first hand. But that morning I saw them take one of the girls out in three outriggers. Her name was Alohi and she went bravely and willingly. When they returned she was not among them. Queen Pua later told me that Tangoroa had accepted her as a gift and that peace would soon return to our island, which it did. It was something I never forgot.
Life was good and I soon got to know many of the girls that were there. But there were two that stood out – Maka and Hiwalani – and we became the closest of friends. They taught me to swim and dive for pearls and to fish and gather fruit. I grew to love them as sisters.
There were many happy years for me, although the fear of Tangoroa’s anger was never far away. Queen Pua worked hard to satisfy him. There were several Ceremonies in which we lost girls of age who I had come to know and love. But each one went bravely. I was determined to show that same bravery when my time came.
I was approaching my 19th birthday and was finally of age when a terrible storm battered our island. There were several boats of outsiders that wrecked along the reef with much loss of live. Thankfully we lost no one on Raretu. But Queen Pua was greatly distressed, and I sensed a disturbance among our people.
She took an outrigger to the reef along with Kanunu and Nohea. I asked Maka and Hiwalani if they thought Tangoroa might need a special Ceremony. If so, I sensed my opportunity to serve a greater purpose had finally come.
I was not afraid. I wanted to die bravely so that peace would once again return to our humble island and to the girls I had come to love so fiercely. So I told them of my feelings and that perhaps my time of sacrifice had finally arrived.
These were words they did not wish to hear from me as they grew silent and contemplative. I had talked of this many times in the past. They had always attempted to discourage me from offering myself to the shark-god. But my mind was already made up that one day I would go.
My memories of the sacrifice went all the way back to Alohi’s great gift to Tangoroa. I had not known her well, but she had gone bravely and willingly. If my death would subdue Tangoroa’s wrath upon our island then I was ready to offer myself to the shark-god.
Queen Pua soon returned from the reef where she called us all together. She explained how the shark-god was very angry. There was much solemn chanting and singing. Then she told us there would be a Ceremony that would take place the following morning.
Usually some volunteer would speak up to Queen Pua in private, offering to be sacrificed. I waited to learn whether one of my friends or loved ones had already asked for the honor of being given to the shark-god. I was fearful this opportunity might slip through my fingers.
Inwardly I chastised myself for not thinking to go to Queen Pua earlier. But no one spoke up, and Queen Pua did not indicate a sacrifice had been arranged. I felt a sudden surge of excitement swell within me that perhaps it was indeed my time.
Immediately I stood up from my sitting position. Queen Pua recognized me and motioned for me to speak. I had to take a deep breath as my heart was beating wildly in my chest.
“I will go to the reef!” I said in a determined voice as a strange excitement filled me. I saw looks of surprise and admiration from the others. There were many encouraging nods and murmurs of my bravery at my willingness to participate in the Ceremony.
Maka and Hiwalani looked at me in distress. Losing me was not what they desired. To my surprise they nodded at each other before they stood up as well. “We will go with Mahia,” they declared.
I did not want them to die with me as they had full lives ahead. But they insisted as they came over to stand next to me. I have never been so proud of my dear ones as I was at that moment. Their love and sacrifice brought tears to my eyes.
Queen Pua lowered her head. I saw tears in her eyes as well. “Such bravery,” she said quietly. “I see Tangoroa has spoken to all your hearts indicating the sacrifice that needs to be made.”
When she looked at me I saw the sorrow displayed in her eyes. She loved me greatly. It is said she had never turned away a volunteer before, no matter who it had been. But this time she could not help but speak.
“I do not wish you to go, Mahia,” she said in a voice barely above a whisper.
“But I wish it, Queen Pua,” I replied solemnly, my voice resolute. “I know how important it is to our island and our people that Tangoroa accept my gift. I have waited for this moment since I first learned of Alohi’s great sacrifice.”
I had no illusions of what lay in store for me should I ride out to the reef in an outrigger. In order for the shark-god to be appeased one of us would have to be eaten. I considered it an honor as well as an offering of great importance to my people.
Maka and Hiwalani put their hands on me for encouragement as we stood together. Queen Pua had tears in her eyes. I heard many sobs and sniffles as well as kind words of our love for our island and our unmatched bravery. Then Queen Pua nodded her head.
“It is done,” she declared solemnly. “The Ceremony will take place in the morning.” Then she walked away as others stood up and gathered around us for a period of celebration and mourning.
My last evening was spent in the company of Maka and Hiwalani. I told them how proud I was to be called their friend when they had stood up and offered to join me. They responded by saying how they could not live knowing I had offered myself as a gift to the shark-god when they had not.
They knew how important this was. Tangoroa must eat one of us to be appeased. So we chanted and sang; we even cried together.
Then in a moment of quiet they began to tend to me in a special way.
They used their hands to apply fragrant oils to my body. It greatly heightened my senses. Then they started kissing and fondling me.
We had touched each other many times before, both on land and in the water. But never like this. It made me feel closer to them than I had ever felt before.
I was on fire with a strange excitement. They used their lips and tongues on me in places that made me tremble. Then I felt an incredible sensation within me, like a wave crashing onto the shore in a great wind.
Our bodies writhed together as we used our hands, lips and tongues on each other. The pleasures we experienced were unlike anything I had ever known before. It filled me with sadness knowing we would never experience those pleasures again. I vowed to take their great love with me once I stepped off the outrigger to meet the shark-god.
The next morning we bravely walked down to the beach to the outriggers as though it was just another day of pearl diving. The girls going out with us gathered around and bound our wrists together with leis of pretty flowers. Then they helped us into separate outriggers.
I was sad to have Queen Pua in my outrigger. I could see how she tried to hide the sorrow in her expression. I felt so powerless not to be able to take it away and thus to comfort her.
At the same time I felt a great sense of honor she wanted to deliver me personally to the shark-god. My heart soared with pride as I vowed not to disappoint her and the rest of our people. Then our outriggers left the beach as we made our way to the reef.
We were heading to a very special place out on the reef, the place where the shark-god could be found. Queen Pua had once told me there was a sacred marker submerged there identifying the location. She said that was where all the gifts were offered because that was where Tangoroa was most likely to appear. I found myself hoping I would get to see that marker for myself before the shark-god found me and bit into my soft, tender flesh.
When we arrived I saw them prepare Maka first. I was a bit jealous as I wanted to be the first one whose gift would be accepted by feeling those jaws bite into my flesh. But I knew it would be a great honor for her if Tangoroa found her first. I did not wish to deprive her of that.
Queen Pua solemnly grasped me as we stood up. I found myself trembling, whether from fear or excitement I did not know. There were no words between us now; she was all formality. We had already said our goodbyes; there were no more words to express to each other.
There was great anxiety among everyone in the outriggers. Would our gifts be accepted? Then Queen Pua looked down into the water, seeing what I saw as well. The shark-god was here; our gifts would be accepted!
“Tangoroa has arrived!” she said in a loud voice, causing the others in their outriggers to murmur with great excitement.
I prayed silently; would Tangoroa accept me? Or would the shark-god find Maka and claim her first? It would be a great honor for her if he did. I stood there watching her, proud to call her my beloved… proud to give her the honor of entering the water as the first offering.
I inhaled sharply as she was pushed into the water. My mind swirled with many thoughts: what was she feeling; what was she thinking?? Was she as excited as I was? I only hoped I would be just as brave when it was my turn to go.
I saw her in the water near the sacred marker. Now Tangoroa would be able to find her easily. But shamefully I hoped it would be my gift he would find first.
Then it was Hiwalani’s turn. She said not a word, did not cry out or make a sound when she was pushed in as well. I was so proud of her as she went straight down without a struggle.
Queen Pua stood behind me, her eyes set like flint. She knew what she had to do. She did it unflinchingly, regardless of who it was she was offering to the shark-god.
I found myself wondering what thoughts were passing through her mind. Was she thinking of that day she had first brought me to the island? I know I certainly was.
I steeled myself as I prepared to be offered to the shark-god. I was suddenly hit with a multitude of emotions. But chief among them was my great desire to be reunited with Maka and Hiwalani under the surface.
All too sudden Queen Pua pushed me into the water. I experienced a mixture of fear and excitement, my heart soaring as I went over the side and entered the cool sea with a splash. My fervent hope was that I would see the marker up close… and that Tangoroa would come for me.
Instinctively I held my breath as I went down. After all, I did not wish to drown before the shark-god had a chance to find me. With all the times I had been underwater I knew I could hold my breath for a long time, certainly long enough for Tangoroa to seek me out.
I saw the marker up close, and I hoped it would not be much longer. Instinctively I struggled with the leis tying my wrists together. It was a new sensation being in the water and not returning immediately to the surface. I had to remind myself of my purpose for being here and not to panic or struggle to swim back up.
I looked around and found Maka and Hiwalani close by. They were bubbling while holding their breath as they struggled to remain near the bottom. Then I saw them motion.
I turned to look. That’s when my excitement swelled in my chest. For there he was… Tangoroa the shark-god. And he appeared to have seen me.
I felt both fear and excitement as I purposely began swimming toward him, the excitement swelling within me. Perhaps if he saw my eagerness he would more readily accept my gift. It was terrifying and yet thrilling to see him come right at me.
At the last possible moment I suddenly panicked, especially when he opened those powerful jaws and I saw those rows of teeth. I let out a bubbly scream as my body tried to swim away. Shamefully I could not seem to stop myself.
I was filled with reverent wonder as well as a great terror. Then he clamped down upon my soft flesh. In that moment I knew he’d accepted my gift. But it was a terror I had not anticipated.
I experienced a great agony I had not thought possible as I screamed my breath away. Then I gulped a mouthful of water. My body instantly reacted in protest.
I shuddered from that same pleasure Maka and Hiwalani had bestowed on me from the night before. A moment later I was drowning in the mouth of Tangoroa the shark-god. It was so strange how I was feeling both pleasure and agony.
The pain was indescribable, yet I suddenly experienced a great euphoria. Was this the true meaning of being the sacrifice to the shark-god, to be consumed as one drowned in the midst of great pain and pleasure? Despite my suffering I felt great pride and honor that my gift had been accepted.
Tangoroa violently shook me in his mouth, and I coughed up blood and water. Before my vision faded I saw Maka and Hiwalani. They were joining me by deliberately opening their mouths and lungs, drowning right along with me as their bodies painfully spasmed and convulsed.
It was with great joy that I closed my eyes and bubbled my last, giving myself fully to the shark-god in the hopes our island and the people I had grown to know and love would once again know peace and tranquility…
2014; 2018 (written for Hitomi Apr 13 ’14; ed. Oct 3 ‘18 by riwa)
(The idea was inspired by the movie She Gods of Shark Reef. The vidcaps are from that movie and are used for illustration purposes only.)