18 November 2011
JUST ANOTHER FISH STORY
By Curtis C. Chen
I had the story, bit by bit, from various people, and, as generally happens in such cases, each time it was a different story.
You may say that is to be expected when temporal anomalies are involved; but we—that is to say, humanity as a species—have adapted remarkably well to dealing with the multiple realities which exist side-by-side, in parallel most of the time, intersecting only briefly, with unpredictable results each time.
The first account I had of the incident was from my dog, Bartholomew, an Irish setter who had wandered into this timeline some years ago.
"It's raining fish out there," Bartholomew said as he entered the house through the kitchen. I waited until he had shaken himself dry in the alcove to respond.
"Do you mean that literally, or is this another of your canine metaphors?" I asked from my seat at the table, where I was enjoying a mid-afternoon repast of toad in the hole.
"Literally, of course," Bartholomew said, lying down in his doggie bed.
I would have questioned him further, but he had already fallen asleep, no doubt exhausted from a long day of chasing automobiles and navigating wormholes.
The next to report on the unusual weather was our housekeeper, Nancy, who returned from her weekly trip to market at the stroke of eight.
"Fuck a duck!" her strong alto reverberated from the foyer. "It is raining motherfucking cats and dogs out there!"
"Do you not mean fish?" I inquired, leaning out of my chair so I could see from the parlor into the hallway.
"Not unless you know some fish with hair and legs and teeth and shit," Nancy said. "Now please excuse me, I'd better put away these goddamn birds before they thaw."
I rose and stepped over to the front window. There was, indeed, a torrential downpour outside, but the fading light made it difficult to discern what the various wiggly objects falling from the sky might be. Moreover, as is the way with many incursions from other realities, the objects tended to disappear—I believe "phase out" is the technical term—when they contacted other solid matter in this reality.
There was a knock at the front door.
I opened the door. The being which stood before me was quite unprecedented. The overall shape of it was humanoid—bipedal, at any rate—but it wore no clothes, and instead of a single contiguous external integument, its outer skin appeared to be a wet mass of overlapping fish, varying in size and species, with the occasional crustacean or mollusk mixed in.
"Good evening," the creature said in a perfectly clear baritone. "Apologies for the intrusion, but I presume you are Doctor Robert Coombs, the renowned water-surgeon?"
I raised the two fluid appendages which had replaced my arms during my only excursion to another plane, and formed the extremities into a fringe of the thin, dextrous tendrils I employed in my work. "The same. How may I help you?"
"Not just myself, Doctor," the fish-being said. "Our entire homeworld is in dire straits."
Image: Sock puppet with raw Sardine by Willem Velthoven, February, 2007