Getting fish has been one of the most expensive and traumatic things I’ve ever done, but it’s also been one of the most rewarding. On Wednesday I went one step further and bought two bottom feeders – one eats algae (not that I have any – yet) and the other eats snail eggs (which I have a disturbingly large amount of). This means that I have the beginnings of a genuine ecosystem, with some of my living creatures/plants getting eaten by others. How awesome is that?!?
Bottom feeders move quite differently to other fish, and I’m loving watching them, and the interactions between species. Sherlock Holmes is the carnivore. He’s a reticula pakistan (I think), and he’s about the same size as Gandalf (my fighting fish). He has beautiful golden stripes, and alternates between manic investigation of the front wall (with his nose-whiskers) and pretending to be part of our hollow log. Gandalf is an unusually sociable fish, and he finds Sherlock fascinating. Sherlock returned the favour, swimming around Gandalf and employing his whiskers to figure out what that blue blur was all about. The funniest part was Gandalf’s reaction. He wasn’t hurt at all, but was totally weirded out. Instead of jerking away (as he does when bitten – something that doesn’t happen any more since there aren’t any danios), he went very still. What I learned today: a confused fish is a cute fish. Here’s Sherlock near his abode of choice:
Watson is a tiny bristlenose catfish not much bigger than my neon tetras. He’s black with white spots, and is VERY good at vanishing. Some of the tetras got confused and deliberately swam into him to try to figure out what he was. The tetras are the flourescent ones, and Watson is trying his best to blend into the fake log (Sherlock appears again in the foreground):
Play along at home: If you possibly can, visit an aquarium. Or a dentist’s waiting room. Fish are SO WEIRD. Respect the weirdness.
AND THEN I WOKE UP (story so far):
I woke with my face in concrete. Wet concrete. Not concrete – meat. Meat and blood, and it was in my MOUTH! Yuck!
I sat up, spitting. Then I saw the bodies all around me. No-one else was waking up, like I had. But a few others, like me, had blood dripping down their chins.
Wasn’t I just in maths class? I shook my head, trying not to scream. Hysteria took over, and I said aloud, “Please, not the maths!”
I sheltered overnight in an abandoned apartment. The homiest part was the curtains (burnt) but I found an unopened tin of baked beans.
Evidently even apocalypse survivors don’t eat baked beans. Also there was no can opener. I began to understand my own cannibalism.
My body was different, too – not just thinner. With a mirror, I discovered I was now in my twenties. What!?! Did I go to the prom or not?
I watched through burnt curtains as a group of people walked slowly down the street. They walked upright, and they weren’t as thin as me.
My belly rumbled, so I broke a two by four off the bed for a weapon, and went downstairs to follow the tall ones.
One of the tall ones kept sniffing the air and pushing his child in front of him. He looked around, and almost saw me.
Perhaps the tall ones knew why I was ten years older, why the whole city was burnt, and why I couldn’t remember anything since math class.
“Mustn’t sleep,” I told myself. I had to keep watch. They had food! And bottles of water! I was so thirsty it didn’t hurt any more.
My eyes snapped open but it was too late. The man had me by both arms. I struggled, but I was so weak my vision blurred.
Their leader leant over me. “Stop moving. We’re not going to hurt you.”
I wanted to yell at her but instead I whimpered, “He took my beans.”
“Give her beans back, Z,” she said, and he did.
“I’m Dell,” she said, “and who are you?”
“Fay,” I whispered, and clung to my precious can.
All night they fed me sips of warm water, and in the morning they let me have half an old banana. Where did they get fruit from?
I tried to stay awake, but I slept. When I woke up, there were three times as many people – hungry-eyed, bloody-mouthed people like me.
“We need water,” Dell said to Z, “or they’ll die here.”
He nodded, and he and the child went back along the windy street alone.
Z and the girl returned with water and jerky. Dell made us say a prayer before we ate. For the first time, I wondered where my parents were.
When I was strong enough to stand, I asked Z for my weapon back.
“What for?” he said.
I said, “To protect me while I look for my parents.”
“Riiight,” he said, and showed me his gun.
“Wait until tomorrow,” he said, “and Dell will tell you what to do.”
Dell stood on a dumpster and addressed us all. “Go,” she said, “as far as you can in every direction. If you find water, let off a flare.”
“East!” I blurted out. “I’ll go East!”
Z smirked at me: “Fine then. So will I.” He stuck three flares in his belt, and we started walking.
“I’m called Iris,” said the girl, slipping her hand in mine.
“Fay,” I said, “and I wasn’t much older than you when I fell asleep.”
We searched every building for running water. “Someone’s got to have their own generator,” said Z.
“My parents do,” I said.
Iris screamed, and I instinctively threw her behind me. A stranger burst out of a hole in the wall and made a grab for my empty bottle.
Z drew his gun but the man kept fighting me. I remembered what my Mum taught me so long ago, and kneed him in the groin. He howled and fled.
I had a nightmare that I opened the door to my parents’ flat and found nothing but burnt curtains, a tin of baked beans, and two corpses.
We waited all day for the man to attack us again, or at least come back, but there was no sign of him. “Let it go,” said Z. We kept walking.
I found my courage. “Who did all this, Z?”
“People invented a way to make others into puppets. Be glad you’ve forgotten those years.”
PS Still not sure who the reverse burglary victim is? Scroll down to the large picture of the candy shop candy, and read the brand name on the jar at the back. That’s his/her name!
Secret # 6 will happen some day, but not anytime soon (there’s a certain. . . item. . . that isn’t in stock at the moment). I’ll let you all know!