The deep, wretched abyss brings dreadful thoughts of such things as the Giant Squid and the Loch Ness Creature. They dwell miles under the sea rising only to prey upon unsuspecting ships. One or two tentacles thrust from the waves and wrap themselves contently around the vessel. Crushing wooden planks in two and screeching metal ripping to pieces, they haul the boat and its poor, pitiful passengers to the bottom most parts of the deep where they disappear forever.
Certain creatures still prey from the depths. Behind the pink fake foliage it lurks. When it becomes hungry it simply waits for the next little naïve goldfish to pass by and… BAM in a split second it is all over.
Four little goldfish live happily together as a clan. Simon, who is small and dependent upon the rest of the family, enjoys swimming merrily from one end of the sea to the other-- that is, until one day as he traveled, he came past the Pink flora. He couldn’t help but wonder what was in the still darkness beneath it. “Maybe there is a delicious store of treats hidden there,” he thought as he flipped his tail in anticipation, swimming closer and closer. Suddenly there emerged grotesque owl-like eyes from behind the plant. Mortified, Simon tried to scuttle away but, in the twinkling of an eye, the beast overcame him and loped his tail clean off. Since it is a well-known fact that fish don’t feel pain, Simon was just a little annoyed at his new disability. He had to swim with his body more than anything.
Simon jerked his body back and forth, slowly reaching the clan. Simon knew them as wise, experienced goldfish. They were his only family and now… what would they think of him? Would they stare and maybe even tease a little?
Reuben approached. He, by far, was the largest and strongest of the clan and about twice the size of Simon.
“What has happened Simon?” Reuben spoke with the utmost concern, seeing the terrible injury.
“Oh! It was awful Reuben. I was just swimming back and forth in the sea…you know like I always do. When I saw the pink bush I thought there might be some food there so I went closer until…until…”
“Simon there is no need to explain any further. I already know all about it,” Reuben paused thoughtfully. “There are some things we have always wanted to talk to you about, but you just looked so happy and free swimming wherever you pleased.”
Simon didn’t understand. Reality had been covered with a smoggy cloud. He glanced and twitted his body in the direction of Reuben’s tail. He had never noticed before, but it was partially gone. Simon froze in a speechless stupor.
Noticing Simons’ reaction to seeing his tail, Reuben spoke creating the feeling in Simon that he had just joined the club, “Yes, we now have all had our brush with death. I only regret not telling you sooner… that is, of the beast.”
Simon, still speechless, followed Reuben to the others. He wished he would’ve known that it was unsafe to travel past that innocent looking pink bush. In a way he felt betrayed.
The clan was situated over a small crater where the diversely-colored pebbles on the sea floor had heaped up around creating a small decline within. A little beyond the crater was the pink bush where nobody traveled except for Simon. Now Simon determined that he would never leave the clan for any reason.
Simon and Reuben reached the others, Chris and Philip. Chris was almost as small as Simon and Philip was a tad larger. When they saw Simon they gasped dispensing a volley of bubbles.
“Simon has met the beast,” Reuben informed with a tint of dismal hopelessness in his voice.
Simon gazed at them. They, too, had parts of their tail missing. Why had he been so blind to the evil? It was as if he had eaten of the tree of knowledge of both good and evil. Now he could clearly see it.
“What will we do?” panicked Chris, who, like Simon had been very dependant upon the clan.
Reuben was not quick to reply but, seeing that the others depended so greatly upon his knowledge, he began, “This is no light matter. We are talking about a horrible beast.
Reuben’s voice echoed in Simon’s mind. Life used to be so simple and care free. Now, Life, itself is at stake.
“It would be best if no one travels as far as the pink bush from now on.”
“We cannot just wait here to die. It will come looking for us eventually,” Chris quickly spoke. For him, time was running out. “We must go and face it if there would be any chance for us.”
Reuben was known for his patience, wisdom, and knowledge. In these times, it was all tested to its limits. “You do not understand the benefits of avoiding some situations altogether,” his speech resonated as an elder teaching his young apprentice. “I think the most reasonable action would be to not swim where the beast resides.”
Both Simon and Philip agreed, especially Simon, who had more than learned his lesson. Chris was just as fretful, twittering and twitching. He remembered the day well, when he had met the beast. It only took one visit to lose part of his tail, but in comparison to Simon, it was a petty thing. He felt most sorry for Simon and vowed that he would not allow this to continue. “If the others won’t do anything, then I will just have to take matters into my own fins,” he decided.
It grew late, and the clan settled into the crater for a rest. Chris did his best to pretend that he was asleep until he was sure the others were. Their eyes were unmoving, and their fins constantly moving keeping their balance. Chris cautiously swam, knowing it wasn’t easy to discern if they were actually sleeping. One thing he knew though was that he could not face the beast alone. But who would go with him? Reuben was out of the question. To him, this would be complete foolishness. Simon wasn’t an option. He wouldn’t go near the beast and he wouldn’t be of any use any way with only a little more than half a body. Now, Philip was a different matter. He was easy to persuade. “Philip,” Chris whispered. “Wake up.”
Philip jerked and his eyes darted around looking for the source to the voice. He spotted Chris. “What…”
“Shh!” Chris hissed. “I’m going to face the beast.”
“But, what about Reuben and Simon?”
“They don’t need to know about this. Now quick, we can’t waste time. It won’t stop until we’re all dead.”
“Hey, I didn’t agree to anything.”
It was too late. Chris was already disappearing out of the crater. Philip cringing with fear reluctantly followed.
Later, Simon tossed and turned on his side. He flinched a few times then finally, he awoke. Reuben swam toward him.
“They’re gone, Simon.”
“Who?” The nightmare threatened to become reality.
“Chris and Philip are gone. We have to go find them.”
Those very words haunted him. Would there ever be any end to it?
Reuben and Simon were discussing where they would search first when Philip zipped into sight.
“We have to go save Chris! “We have to save him!” not much of anything he said was intelligible. He only continued to yell Chris’ name desperately.
“Calm down,” Reuben commanded whose spirit was always tranquil. “Now tell us what happened.”
“Chris woke me up when you were all asleep. He had me go with him to the beast. When we came to the bush…” he trembled. “I don’t know where it came from but it attacked Chris. I’m a coward. I just swam away as fast as I could.”
“No,” Reuben assured, “You are just as brave as the rest of us. There was nothing you could do. Now, let’s go find Chris.”
They swam silently together over the shiny-colored pebbles that enshrouded the floor. Reuben was preparing himself for the worst, but hoping for the best. The nightmare still lingered in Simon’s thoughts. And, Philip was fearful for returning. Finally, they reached the bush careful to not get too close. Then, there he was. Chris was dead. Simon’s nightmare had been fulfilled. The sight was sickening. A hideous figure whooshed out from behind the bush with its ghostly eyes and a grey pattern of scales that covered its cold body. It was headed right toward Simon. It looked like the end. Reuben was mortified at the sight of a dead friend. He would not let the same happen to Simon or Philip. He darted headlong for the creature, bashing it off course. “Swim Simon! Swim Philip!” These were his last words as he wrestled with the creature.
“No!” Simon yelled as he and Philip swam away as fast as they could. They reached the crater and an abandoned atmosphere hung over it. They huddled down in it and grieved. Reuben had died. Chris had died. And, Simon had almost died. Who would be next? When he felt that he could talk, Simon began, “We can’t move from here. We only have each other now. Time passed and only the distant sound of bubbles could be heard. Eventually, that stopped and all was silent.
“Simon,” Philip rasped. “It’s getting hard to breathe. What happened to the bubbles?”
“I don’t know, but I can hardly breathe.” It became increasingly hard to breathe until barely any oxygen was in the water. Simon thought he was going to die and he almost longed to. Then Philip heard it. It was a heavenly sound. It was the bubbles. Breathing became easier and the strain of living was lightened. Simon had reached the edge though, and he couldn’t take any more. He couldn’t take living a life where he had to fear every moment. “I’m going to the beast.”
“No! Philip pleaded. You’re all I’ve got.”
“I can’t take the abuse anymore. I’m going to face my fears…like Chris”
Philip knew he couldn’t knock any sense into Simon. He had been driven out of his mind. He wondered how he himself was still sane. “Then I am going with you. If it’s all going to end, then we will end it together.”
They swam solemnly to the bush and glanced around.
“What! It’s dead. There it lies,” Philip pointed to the grey corpse buried partially in the pebbles. The beast was dead. The very thing that had terrorized everyone had suffocated. “It must not have been able to breathe like us.”
A strange thing happened then. A giant, green net descended from above and scooped up the beast. It disappeared high into the upper regions. Then, in return many shiny, orange, goldfish happily flooded from above.
Life returned to the crater and all the sea. The goldfish came and joined the clan. Simon and Philip became the most respected fish and were friends with all the new comers. They told their stories and held the interest of all. There truly was a dawn after the night.
Sounds pretty fishy to me! Good story, no, great message! I would perhaps explain just what the "beast" was or at least leave hints near the end as to what it may have been. Was it a filtering system of the aquarium? or what? I thought at first that this was a good kids story and then the kid in me started reading along and that made it delightful. Clean it up and for goodness sake, publish it, or maybe make it one of several chapters for a kids book. Heck, I don't know. It just seems as if it could swim well in a bigger tank than FW.