The Prequel to the Prologue

When last we left off, Mat had once again assumed the role of sheriff to help restore order in Reefwood after the Seaverado Seven stormed the town. (Need a refresher? Click here!)

Thankfully for Reefwood and its residents, Mat, although an older mantis, still has the vim and vigor of a much younger shrimp. Even though he is retired, Mat still maintains an active lifestyle. Sure, he’s not chasing bad guys every day, but he is by no means sedentary. If you spend time with Mat, you are bound to hear endless stories of “the good ‘ol days” when he oversaw the safety and security of the reef and those who call Reefwood home. And Mat was beyond proud to be named the town’s most beloved sheriff ten years in a row. So why did Mat surrender his sheriff badge in the first place? 

Welcome to the back story behind the back story… the prequel to the prologue, if you will.

Mat’s Life on the Reef

Mat's House in Reefwood
Mat’s House

Mat has spent the last five years as a retired sheriff living quietly next to his favorite watering hole, the OK Coral. While the slower pace of life suits him, there are days when Mat wishes he still was back in the sheriff’s saddle. But then there are times when he remembers why he quit, and the longing for the old days slips away like the tide rolling out to sea.

It Started as a Normal Day in Reefwood

Mat’s day started out like every other day as sheriff of Reefwood. He woke up bright and early, carefully pinned his badge to his vest, placed his cowboy hat between his telescope eyes, and headed out to OK Coral for a morning cup of joe. Coffee in claw, Mat headed out to cruise the reef, looking for—but not expecting—signs of distress or trouble. As usual, it was shaping up to be a peaceful day. Mat watched as Reefwoodians went about their day: the crustaceans, hard at work, scuttled around on the ground filter feeding, a few of the finned residents swam through the perimeter seaweed checking for invaders, a starfish family was bouncing along the reef floor on their way to school dropoff. Seeing the starfish family made Mat think of his own daughter and all the times he took her to school in years past. He remembered how she especially loved it when he brought her to school in his sheriff uniform; she was proud of her dad and the work he did for the reef. Lost in nostalgia, Mat snapped back to reality and realized he had floated several meters east.

That’s when he noticed a group of noticeably distressed sea sponges had gathered at the reef’s edge. The sponge community of Reefwood was notorious busybodies, and it seemed like they were always up to something, so Mat wasn’t surprised to see them collected there. But to be safe, he decided to check out for himself what the commotion was about.

Mat’s favorite haunt: the OK Coral

“What you got goin’ on ther’,” Mat inquired to the sponges as he tried to peer through the group.

One sponge pipped up: “It’s a shark, and he’s gettin’ awful close to the banks of the reef, Sir.”

“Well, leave him alone now,” Mat advised. “You know the rules: we don’t bother the sharks none, and the sharks won’t bother us.”

“But Sheriff,” interrupted the sponge, “There is a group of school children playing at the reef’s edge, and it looks like that part of the reef is going to break off!”

Just then, a concerned starfish hopped up to Mat. He immediately recognized them from earlier that morning.

“Sheriff! Please help us. That’s our kids down there!” The starfish pleaded.

Mat carefully scooted closer and looked to the ledge below where the schoolchildren played, unaware of what was happening. Using his trusty shell megaphone, Mat yelled to the teacher, “We need to get the younguns up here. There’s trouble a-brewin’ with the reef down ther’.” Now that he could see the precarious nature of the situation, Mat knew he would need backup, so he called out for his deputy. Mat didn’t want to let on, but he was worried. Yes, they did have a harmonic agreement with the sharks, but only if Reefwoodians stayed on the reef. Without the protection of the reef, all bets were off.

A Chaotic Scene Unfolds

Deputy Shelldon arrived on the scene just in time to watch the events unfold. Sharks were swarming, the teacher—heeding the calls from the sheriff—was beginning to corral her the school children away from the reef’s tedious edge. Using all available tools…seaweed ropes, discarded shells, and coral webbing, Mat and the Deputy began retrieving the students, one by one, from danger. Just then, without warning, as Mat was pulling up the last student, with the teacher remaining behind, the reef ledge gave way with a dramatic wooosh as it fell to the ocean floor. As the sea churned and bubbled, it was hard to discern the extent of the damage. 

“Teach?” Mat called out. “Ya down ther?! Deputy and I are a ‘comin’ down to get you!” 

But no response was heard. As the sea began to settle and the sand clouds dissipated, it was clear to see that the school teacher was gone. The sharks had left, and there was no trace of the teacher. Although she was never seen again, locals hoped the waves had merely whisked her far away to a new reef and that she was living happily there. But not Mat. He couldn’t forgive himself for letting one of the residents of Reefwood meet an untimely end. 

Even though the townsfolk rallied around Mat—going so far as to throw a parade in his honor for his valiant rescue at the reef’s edge—he had lost faith in himself and the desire to protect Reefwoodians. With that, Mat hung up his sheriff’s hat and badge for a simpler, quieter retirement life, free from the pressure and stress he had endured for so many years: just cards, coffee, and light conversation from here on out for ‘Ol Mat.  

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  1. Great back story. Love the little touches like “coffee in claw,” “shell megaphone” and the appropriate tools. Just looking forward to the game!

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