Vanity Notes

A personal blog about programming and socialism.

These articles should not be taken as the official view of any organisation.

Fish (short story)

Posted 11 Feb 2023


A short story in the ecohorror genre.

The renter woke and started their day, as they had to do most days recently, by emptying the bucket under the leaking roof of their bathroom of its collected partially-formed fish.

Job complete, their routine continued: blow their nose into a tissue and scrape the fish paste off their tongue. Brush their teeth. Take a shower, taking extra care to scrub away every last flake of fish from their groin, their armpits and between their toes, and all the while avoiding the razor-like mass of fish bones sprouting from the grouting.

They dressed, and stood at their doorstep to smoke a cigarette. It tasted foul, but it was a welcome change from the smell of rotting fish that saturated the air everywhere here. There was a strange low hum in the air. Other than that, it was a crisp autumn day. The renter set off for work, the sound of leaves and fish bones crunching under each footfall.

Life wasn’t like this everywhere. The oceans had turned acidic and fish, once thought extinct, had evolved, perhaps reactivating some ancient gene for fungal spores. They started growing anywhere fungus could, like mouldy walls, or the lungs and throats of immunocompromised people. The great irony was that out of water, most of the fish suffocated too.

But the rich moved to the hot dry deserts and lived life as normal. The merely well-off moved inland, away from the wet coasts and the high spore counts, and burned incense and ran dehumidifiers all day and all night.

At least, with fish everywhere, hunger was virtually wiped out. Even not eaten directly, fish makes an excellent fertiliser. Fish oil became a cheap and plentiful power source. Lungfish and mudskippers became popular pets.

The renter returned home. As they opened the front door, they reacted with astonishment as a small bright furry thing flew out, like a bird but the size of a fingernail. They had never seen one before.

As the renter approached their bathroom, the day’s background hum grew louder and higher-pitched. They creaked open the door just an inch: the bathroom was now an angry cloud of the furrz creatures, and the leak had transformed into a mass of beautiful frozen waves composed from thousands of small hexagons. The renter needed a wee.