(You are reading this story in progress. To start at the beginning, please click here. To view the Table of Contents, click here. This story is being written live, daily, and with some audience participation in October 2013)
I got someone’s attention, alright. Maybe I should say, “I got something’s attention”. It’s hard to describe, a bit like a fish, but shaped like a person. Their limbs are thin, with three very long fingers, webbed to the tip. There’s a lump on their arm from a vestigial thumb—they showed me when they were explaining to me why I have to fly their ship instead of them.
Am I doing it again? Getting ahead of myself. God, I’m going to have to learn to be more patient. But then, if I were more patient, would they have chosen me?
So: I flicked the change at the wall, which made it ripple, and I could see the edges of a hallway. While I was gathering up the coins to throw again, I heard the swishing noise start up again. I flicked a quarter right in front of the noise. The quarter hit the wall, making ripples on it just like water, and in the valleys of the ripples I could just make out a figure with a huge, strange head. I thought a giant eye was staring back at me, but I couldn’t be sure. I yelled, “hey!” and jumped up and down, despite the pain in my bladder.
Then I threw another quarter.
Looking back, I suppose it should have occurred to me that the children slept right through this commotion. I should have marked that as odd. But I didn’t. I was so desperate to get out of our cell that I just jumped and waved and shouted “Hey!”.
And the eye came closer. It really was an eye, about ten times the size of one of my eyes. And below the eyes were big, fleshy lips.
It was an alien. It had to be. Any other day, this would have scared the bejeezus out of me, but when you get picked up by a bright light, I don’t know what else you expect besides aliens.
So I can’t say I was too surprised to see an alien on the other side of the wall. He wasn’t too scary. Fishy, but very human, too.
And then it opened it’s mouth. A giant fish’s mouth: the whole thing kind of protruded outward and got LARGE, right at my face.
It looked like he was going to eat my face. Or like he kissed the wall.
Naturally, I jumped back.
And then the blackness faded, from where the fish kissed the wall outward in a huge circle. It was like getting your vision back from standing up too fast.
I ran back up to the wall (which was still there), and I pounded the side of my fist on it. Freak or not, alien or not, eat-my-face or not, we needed to get the Hell out of there.
And we did.
Boy, did we get out of there. Out of the frying pan, into the fire.
The chaos and the confusion of the next few hours (or days, or however long it took) amazed me. I thought George’s company was run by incompetent idiots, but those suits had nothing on these fish. The one who kissed the wall just gawked at me for a while. He honestly looked scared of me, which pissed me off, because if I had known that I was being imprisoned by sheepish fish, and if I could have torn the damn wall down, I would have fileted the lot of them, stolen their ship, and invited their carcasses to a block party. There were enough of them to feed about forty people, with leftovers.
I think they might have felt my rage. They certainly shied from me when I was mad. And when the first fishy bowed and nodded and did strange things with his webbed fingers, I was pretty mad. I felt like the Hulk, I was so pissed off. Past seeing red and into seeing green.
No, I didn’t say that. I didn’t even think it at the time. All I thought was “Come back here you motherfucker or when I get out I swear I will piss all over you.”
I know, right? What would Mrs. Hernandez think? Or Mrs. Williams?
Frankly, I don’t give a damn. I was mad. And now, I was mad at a creature who had made strange gestures at me and then had taken off running down the hallway, leaving me to stew and get even madder.
I was past the point of gritting my teeth. Past hyperventilating. My hands were sweating, or bleeding, and I didn’t care except to hope that the sweat or the blood wouldn’t compromise my grip strength when I tore these creatures new assholes.
If they even have assholes.
They had stuck me in a crazy-making cell, stolen the children, made me responsible for the stolen children—who knows what people were thinking back home, that I was some serial killer or something—and then, when I finally get their attention, they run like little girls.
I think I finally understand the expression “mad with rage”.
And “Mama bear”.
Anyway, the fish-head came back with more fish-heads. All of them bowed and did funny things with their webs. Then one of them started to dance. I’m serious. He put one hand in the air, his fingers together, and the the other arm went out to the side, like he was playing airplane. He jigged around in a circle. You know the one Native American God you see playing the flute? Cocapelli? Well this dance was Cocapelli meets Airplane. If I weren’t so pissed, it would have been funny. It’s funny now. But then, I was mad as hell. I beat on the wall again, making the fish jump back and eye me.
“Get us out of here!” I yelled.
One of the fish put a finger in the air. The other fish-people turned toward him. He put his hand to his chest, opened his mouth. I heard a sound like a burp. The other fish-people nodded, their eyes wobbling a little in their jellied flesh.
Then he put a finger to the wall.
And it disintegrated.
The first thing that hit me was the smell. It was a dirt smell, not a fish smell, like a fish tank. Then the noises hit me: I heard this wet sucking slapping sound, and realized it was someone walking by. What I had heard, through the wall, as a gentle swish-swish sound was really this cacophonic wet fish-slap noise. They might not have heard me yelling, as it would have been a small sound in an ocean of noise.
Once I was done reeling from the earthy smell and the noise, I had the sense to charge the leader and wrap my hands around his throat.
I’m going to take a minute to tell you that I’m not normally violent. I don’t believe in violence, I don’t spank my children (or anyone else’s). I don’t even jokingly punch George in the arm. I’m a peaceful person. But put me in a prison and deny me a bathroom—and put my kids in danger?—and I will rock your world.
So I did. I rocked this fish face’s world.
If it were possible for his thee-inch-wide eyes to bug out even more, they did. His mouthparts worked back and forth, but he was too far away to do anything more than gross me out. Which wasn’t enough to counteract the rage.
I squeezed. His skin was cool and gummy, and my fingers sank into it. For some reason, all I could think about were Swedish Fish, those red gummy candy’s with the strange (but good) flavor? I used to buy packets of them with the $1.26 I had left over after my gas and insurance were paid, back when I was 16.
If this creature tasted like that candy, I would have considered literally biting his head off.
The other fishies initially jumped back (again!), but then they schooled around me, touching me with those long, webbed fingers. It creeped me out but I wasn’t about to stop what I was doing, which was screaming, “Why did you lock us up?” at the rapidly glazing eyes of the fish I was strangling.
Out of the corner of my eye, I saw one of the fish’s mouths open up, just a quick burp of sound.
But then, from nowhere I could name, a voice settled in around me.
“Yes, you will do nicely, I believe. Just the sort of warlike behavior we need.”
I felt cool fingers against the side of my neck, and then I must have passed out.
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