Elevator Fish Tank
So you’ve made it to the center of Bass Ghost Shop. I bet you were not expecting to see me here. Not many people expect to find living creatures within the walls of this strange land. What kind of life can that be? Trapped inside the simulation of nature. Frozen in a perfect 72-degree day, with sun that rises at 9:00 AM and night that falls at 9:00 PM. Time is suspended here, and in some ways- I too am suspended here.
In the rivers I would move like the night. My dark black body only perceptible in brightest of days; weaving through reeds. Hunting down morsels within the sludge and kicking up plums of dust to hide myself. But here, I’m so painfully perceived. The faces pushing against the glass, the constant tapping of tiny fingers for my attention, the close proximity of a variety of fish- none of which is quite like me. Yet don’t be sorry for me. In some ways I deserve this kingdom. This, this maybe a punishment for my most heinous of sins.
You see, I’m a catfish and we are known for our treachery, here in the last circle of Bass Ghost Shop. We are tricksters; slipping bait off of lines and skuttling away with nothing more than a pull of the line. The ghosts of water, taunting at the idea of success and never letting you win. We shift form and figure and leave you with a shadow, burning through the wall like a radiation test gone wrong.
You think we stay in the water. That we are the bottom feeders. Yes- that’s true. I eat your sins. I know your secrets. My body grows stronger every day consuming the little lies you whisper to your lover in the middle of the night. Yet we have found new channels to swim through; me and my spawn. You see, every so often we swim upstream into the world wide web. We shape shift, we scam, we send you alerts on your phone for politicians you’ve never heard of. Just when you think you can taste the truth, we shift again, not letting you feast upon our oily flesh. Too slippery to be caught.
Lies taste best fried, you see.
So, I have been placed here. In the center of hell. The last place you find yourself in your journey through layers of survival and pageantry. I am now forced to look you in your eye while I taste your sins. Many people can’t bear to kill their own food. The separation between beast and breakfast, but here I am preparing for the gamiest of meals. Seeing whether they stay with me forever, or if they’ll go up. That’s the biggest taunt of them all.
If you look at my surroundings, you’ll see that I’m trapped within an elevator. God’s biggest joke of them all. He put me down here in the middle of a tank that’s about 10 feet wide and all I do is watch people go up to him, to find salvation. You know who finds salvation? Salmon. Those show-offs are always jumping around and asking to be snatched up. Mullets are even worse, the trailer trash of Evangelicals.
My brothers and I? We hide in the depths. We wait for the arm of truth to make its way through the dirt and we bite down on it. We wrestle with these truths, we fight, we are pulled up into the light and are embraced in our final moments. As we gasp for breath, air fills our gills and we have no more space for shadow-talk. We feel one last hug before becoming meat. Maybe that’s something I can give to you. One last hug, before you take the elevator out of this strange land.
Breathe your siren song into our gills. Hold me close and let me leave this place, belly full of sin and fins heavy from roaming nowhere.