- Vol. 08
- Chapter 07
The trouble was that a fish was swallowing people, feet first, head first, every which way. Could be a giant pike, I’d heard. A catfish in the Volga River I could believe, but this was happening in the leafy purlieus of a small town in the Home Counties of England. I was loathe to believe it. Until it was someone I knew who disappeared after walking along the river. Then I saw the creature myself, rising up, and monstrous. Though also somehow fascinating.
I suppose that was it. The lure of the thing, a kind of shining. It might have drawn me in if I hadn’t turned away immediately and walked into town. The cafés had reopened after the fearful times, and I found a corner table from which I could look out onto the street in safely and without being observed. I ordered an espresso with extra hot water, also a small cake. The cake was green and tasted of a strangeness. I enquired about the ingredients but was told that this was a trade secret. It set me thinking, and my thoughts took me back to the river, where I had observed green tendrils, just below the surface of the water.
I suppose I should have resisted those thoughts, seen them for the deception they were. Realised that this creature was clever. But I did not. I trailed my left hand in the water and felt, at once, a soft mouth closing on my fingers, sucking at them, pulling my hand, my arm. If salvation had not come to me I would have been lost as the others. Instead, I fell back, released.
I suppose that not everyone who saves another is looking for thanks. I lay on the ground for several minutes. Perhaps it was longer. In any case whoever or whatever had exerted the counterpull had disappeared when I sat up. I found that in my fist I held a bunch of the greenery I had sought, but it was no longer attractive to me and I flung it back into the river. Immediately there was a bubbling and a small whirlpool swallowed the threads of green. The sun shone on the water. Something danced in the beams. I watched its malevolence, but I did not allow it to drag me in.
I suppose the shining happens in different ways in different places and different times. I’ve been to the authorities. I thought they would want to know what I’d seen. But they said I was wasting their time. They might think differently if I’m sucked in next time. I suppose.