Bogleech.com"s 2015 Horror Write-off:
" The Fish "
Submitted by Roach
I’m here again. My breath catches in my throat as I examine the faces family. They seem undisturbed. After all, what do they have to worry about? The tour guide’s chipper smile and friendly attitude assured us that nothing was wrong. And nothing was wrong. The fish were there, just as promised. They were what we came here to see, right?
I begged my parents not to go. They wouldn’t hear a word of it.
“Come on, Miya,” My mom said, a twinkle in her eye. “Your little sister’s never been before. And the fish, they’re so big. She just has to see them.”
“That’s the problem,” I muttered. “The fish ARE big. Way to big. It’s… unnatural.”
My mom laughed. “Oh, come on now honey. I thought you liked animals. And it’s not like they can get to you; they’re behind thick panes of glass.”
So we went to see the fish. Those dreaded fish, which my parents seemed enamored with for some reason. The glass provided me with little comfort as my every thought was filled with images of it breaking, water cascading around me and my family with great force, causing us all to nearly drown. We wouldn’t stand a chance against the fish then…
My eyes dart across the surface of the glass, looking for any crack or weakness. Every speck of dust on its surface causes my heart to skip a beat.
I always felt silly when we came here, even as I was panicking. I normally wasn’t scared of animals, big or small. I loved to go to the zoo and see all the creatures there. I would always try to get as close as I could to them, once even sneaking over the first fence between where you were supposed to stand and the tiger cage. I got in a lot of trouble then. It wasn’t the water that bothered me, either. I loved to go swimming, and I even hopped to go scuba diving with sharks one day. Why then, was I scared of these fish? They were just regular fish. Really big, regular fish.
I tried to focus on what the tour guide was saying, to keep my mind off of my own fear. Besides, it should be interesting to learn about these fish, right? What kind of fish were they? They bore no resemblance to any living fish I knew of, looking more like extinct things that I only knew of from animated documentaries. Still, they were right there, right in front of me, so they couldn’t be extinct. Maybe descendants? I tried to listen to the tour guide to found out, but the words just sounded like gibberish. Well, not gibberish exactly. I could tell that she was speaking English, I just couldn’t get my brain to process the words. What was she talking about? What the fish ate? I wasn’t certain, but it was making me feel sick.
Suddenly, there was clarity to the words, as the tour guide said the thing I had been fearing this whole time.
“Would you like to see them from up top?”
There was this place above the fish tanks, where you could look down at then through the water without any glass between you. I never understood why anyone would want to go up there. It was harder to see the fish through the ripples on the surface, and someone could fall in. And there wasn’t even any railing. At least, I didn’t think there was. I had brought it up with my mom one time, but she just looked at me like I was crazy, and told me that there was actually railing there so that people don’t fall in like I worried about. Well. I didn’t see any railing.
Before I could scream out a no, my little sister clapped in delight, and begged to see the fish from the top. I guess she thought it would be cool, and I didn’t want to take away from her fun, so I didn’t say anything. Still. I would make sure to keep an eye on her. I wouldn’t know what to do if I lost her to the fish.
What did the guide say they ate again?
I tried to ask, but no sound came out of my mouth. I tried to ask if these fish were born in captivity or were caught in the wild, but still, I could make no sound. I attributed this to my nerves.
Suddenly, we were up top, and I was standing with my toes just above the water. I don’t remember how I got there, but I recoiled in surprise and fear as soon as I realized what was going on. Why was I standing so close to those fish? It wasn’t like I liked them.
I turned, looking around frantically for my sister. Where was she? I couldn’t see her. No, that wasn’t quite true. There she was, right there. I could tell my sister was there; I was looking right at her. But I couldn’t focus on her. Was she laughing?
I turned back to the water. I didn’t want to. I couldn’t stop myself. I felt like it was drawing me in. I could hear the blood pounding in my ears, and a trickle of sweat ran down my face. I took a step towards the water. My foot felt like something was dragging on it. I fought back as hard as I could, but nothing could stop me from walking. My foot hovered just above the water, and I saw a large shadow stirring below.
I always hated this part.
I took a step towards the water.
“Wasn’t that fun?” My daughter asked me from the back seat of the car.
I gripped the steering wheel until my knuckles turned white.
“Dad?” She prompted.
“Yes, Miya. I always love to see the fish with you.”
I was lying. I always hated those fish. But Miya loved them, and I couldn’t deprive my only daughter of one of the only things that made her happy since my wife left us. Besides, I had no reason to be scared.