By Vanessa Raney
This in no way fits what you should be seeing. It doesn’t match what you’ve read about. How, why, what does it matter? You want to get out of there, but you can’t. That thing, whatever explains it, shouldn’t exist.
Your first thought is chemicals, but what combination of them? But it can’t be that!
What else, then? A mutation of some kind? But it’s so big! And alive when it should be choking! Do fish choke?
Sure, small species of them walk around. On sand, maybe up nearby trees. But you’re 500 miles from the sea! The closest river would take a whole day to drive through. It’s child sized!
What’s it doing now? You see its tail on the floor, with only the backside of its feet visible, its body bent down, the long spikes stretched along its back.
Wait, feet? You just noticed them? WHAT?
Oh my God, you’re thinking, but it comes out: “Fwak,” in a gasping kind of way.
You’re still trying to sound out whatever word you’re going for, your hands behind your head as you’re bending forward, but in a position to vomit. Oh, gross, you did! What’s wrong with you?
But that smell! It’s why you don’t live by the wharf many cities to the south of you.
So you just have to get out of there, without attracting more of its attention. But why is it watching you? You don’t like those eyes, they’re light blue and huge, kind of pretty. Those lips, though, they’re really fat, yet weirdly interesting. Oh fuck, are those teeth? Fuck, fuck, fuck!
This time, what comes out is: “Aaaahhhhhhheeeeeiiiii!”
A loud wail that’s not only getting you noticed by that thing, but also from the guy who’s on the other side of you, on the opposite aisle. Only he’s not moving, that thing is! Toward you!
Wait, what are you doing on your stomach? Do you really think this is the time to pray?
Whoah, wait, wait, what is that wetness on your head? Pressure, too. Are you seriously going to cry? Wow, you’re really shaking – stop it! Yeah, that’s a great idea, trying to crawl. Get off your ass and run!
That thought isn’t translating, though, raising one knee up, then the other – ow, your foot! Oh my God, it hurts so bad! You think it’s broken, that’s why you’re grabbing for it, not even noticing what’s going on around you. But the man’s scream, that stops you. You suddenly remember there’s a fish walking around – and many fish eat meat!
Is it eating the man? Can you sit up to find out? Yes, because the pain has shifted, it’s throbbing in pulses, not that sharp jolt that made you scream.
There you go, you can see him. Oh, good, he’s still alive, his back against the cereals, sweat and piss on the floor. His face, though, very pale. (Did you forget about the fish?)
Great, you’ve clamped both hands over your mouth, and while you’re struggling not to, you’re throwing up again, over your hands which you’ve released, letting the rest of the drool fall to the floor. Oh, now you’re pushing back fast, even using your injured foot to do it.
But, DAMN, that fish moved fast! Oh, God, why’s it eating your vomit! NO, stop it, stop throwing up! Oh God, it’s looking at you! It’s flaring! Oh, the stench!
You idiot, why did you have to kick it? Look at your foot, it’s bleeding! The bad one, too! Oh God, the pain is so much worse!
But you’re also feeling dizzy and lightheaded, your eyes half-closed, dead from the poison that you took. At least you won’t know the pain of what the fish is doing, spitting out your lips, grabbing on to your face with its teeth, breaking your jaw, so much blood! But the man, he’s running, stumbling really, getting away from the fish and you.