An enormous bright orange carp languishes on an ornate leather chaise longue, its scales luminous under the glowing light, oddly pinkish green, of fluorescent Grolux tubes on the ceiling above the aquarium. Smoke gently seeps from the carp’s gills as it smokes a Black Russian Sobranie cigarette held in an ivory cigarette holder. There is no natural light. The tank is twenty feet long, ten feet high and two feet deep; its rear wall a painted diorama of Atlantis. A shoal of forty midnight-black mollys cruise between the elegant columns of a Greek temple. Sparkling bluish-green and carmine dotted lyretails flick through a clump of altermanthena. A small shoal of penguin fish hang tail down in the shade of a giant red plastic ludwigia, while another group scurry away.
The carp’s face is bathed in a look of longing. Oh shit, it thinks, I shouldn’t have wished for this. I’m a fish out of water. I wish I was at home in water.
Vivid red swordtails dance arabesques around the pinnacle of an Eifel Tower. A submerged water wheel slowly turns in the slipstreams of minute x-ray fish. A group of giant danios rest and scrutinise, pop-eyed, the charms of a large white, pink and green plasterwork mermaid. Harlequins rush across open space as lemon tetras dive past combomba. The only other sound in the room, other than the bubbling aeration of water pumps, is the sound of the carp puffing the last of its cigarette.
The carp slaps its caudal fin up and down on the chaise longue, and calls, in a popping hollow sound as if it were still under water, Cigarette! Cigarette! Now!
Moments later, a skeleton dressed in blue silk pantaloons and a cerise spotted puffer jacket struggles through the ankle length sea green carpet toward the carp. You do know that smoking will kill you? the skeleton asks, And chain smoking will hasten your death.
Be a good minion and light me another ciggie, will you? the carp asks proffering its mouth to have the cigarette holder removed, emptied, refilled and lighted. Argh, my lady nicotine, the carp sadly sighs, oozing smoke. I wish I was dead.
I’ll be back in a minute, the skeleton says. I have a surprise for you.
Standing in front of the aquarium, the skeleton clicks out the head of the humerus from the scapula and, gripping the shaft of the humerus, with his bony right hand, pounds the glass wall of the aquarium. For the first few milliseconds everything is in slow motion until the wall of glass explodes under the weight of the water. The torrent hits the carp on its chaise longue, and hurls them both across the room. Fish, in their, hundreds die. The carp lies dead, embedded with shards of glass amidst some thrashing brightly coloured fish.
Beware of what you wish for, the skeleton says, pleased that two wishes have come true at once.
I hope you enjoyed this story. Please feel free to pass it on to others who may be interested. You can read my previous 500 word stories on my website www.philcoskerwriter.com under ‘Writing’.>>>More
© Phil Cosker 2023
Phil Cosker has asserted his right under the Copyright, Designs & Patents Act 1988 to be identified as the author of this work. All rights reserved; no part of this work may be reproduced or transmitted by any mean, electronic, mechanical, photocopying or otherwise without the prior permission of the author.