“The giant sea bass (Stereolepis gigas) is a fish native to the northern Pacific Ocean. Despite its conspicuous size and curious nature, relatively little is known about its biology or behavior.”
Meanwhile at The National Academy of Sciences, two scientists were struggling…
“He’s trapped, trapped I tell you! It’s only a matter of time until he…”
“No, no, we won’t let that happen. Come, quickly now, call Karen and get her over here. She’ll know what to do!”
“Karen! Yes my God why didn’t I think of it!? I’LL GO GET KAREN AND MEANWHILE YOU HOLD ON TIGHT HERE, OK?”
And with that, Kevin bounded out of the room.
Karen Sanders sat at the head of her mahogany desk, giggled, and swiveled in place. The telephone lines were flashing dangerously, or rather, frequently, which was really all the same to her as she danced in the expensive new chair. She had recently received a promotion—for what, she didn’t exactly know, but she was immensely proud of it all the same; at times, it even had a tendency to make her giddy.
Which she was right now. She was rather giddy, and so the phone lines went on ringing long past the point when they should have been answered, so much so that Kevin was frustrated beyond all belief. Twenty-two missed calls and still squat, what the hell was she doing up there?
Whether it was the new, expensive swivel chair or the promotion that made Karen so silly, no one quite knew. However, what was one-hundred percent totally and utterly true was the fact that somewhere during that very moment, 7:27 on a Monday morning in April to be precise, a very, very large fish was struggling desperately to stay alive.
The other scientist was Kyle. Kyle was lanky with hairy arms and weak shoulders and there was nothing he could do about it, though he often wished there was. He sat nervously at the edge of the tank, his eyes riveted on the opening, from which a giant, fantastic form emerged: chiefly, an enormous, shriveled gray tail that protruded two feet outside of the tank. He was undoubtedly very nervous and seemed to be swaying slightly.
“…wasn’t supposed to, I mean, be this…big…I sure hope they can…or…” he muttered nervously to himself, walking steadily in laps around the large tank. He kept his eyes on the fish’s tail as he continued to babble and mutter incoherently.
Meanwhile, the fish itself seemed mildly perplexed, yet continued to flap its tail gently to- and-fro.
It was perfectly content and blissfully unaware of everything. It was a giant blister in the face of total beauty and perfect radiance, a crease in the otherwise harmonious fabric of space and time, a joke and an outrage at every moment you beheld it, the damned thing was so ugly.
It was a giant, gray sea bass, and he was two-hundred-and-twenty-three years old.
This great sea bass, or Bloop, as we will now affectionately come to call him, was really a magnificently pitiful creature. Sorrow and misery were painted into every line of its face, seemingly creasing the old, bent scales, gray, hideous, black on the outside flanks. The latter trait was widely attributed to be a defense mechanism unique to the species. During periods of high tension or stress, the bass creature (we will refrain from using Bloop in this particular example, so delicate is his constitution) will exhibit a reverse “molting” as the fish shifts and changes shades from black to gray, so that the ventral end is white and the dorsal layer black. The logic of this curiosity is that the change serves as a communication mechanism, signifying a general atmosphere of danger and acting as a presentiment of sorts between the fish.
This was, at least, one known thing about the way these miserable creatures communicated with one another; for even though they are a species so very large they were few in number, endangered hovering on the fringes of extinct, and it was no wonder why. These animals weren’t the kinds featured on post cards or textbooks. They weren’t to be found in coloring books or on National Geographic programs, either, and you could bet that not a single one was to ever be found as a plushie in a toy store anywhere, ever. In short, they were sad, dejected things that had unfairly been condemned to a life of judgment for the suffering their decidedly ‘uncute’ faces revealed.
Nature had been cruel to them thus far, and so it was with little wonder that the idiot scientists Kevin and Kyle began to take an immediate disliking to Bloop. It was beyond the apathy that accompanied their jobs—that luster had faded long ago. It was solid, outright dislike, and it could be for no other reason except for the fact that Bloop was a huge fish and not so nice to look at. Kyle, our favorite of the two idiots, felt particularly itchy around the fish for some reason.
“It’s just fucking unpleasant, is what it is,” he resumed out loud, after what was possibly a very long period of silence. He couldn’t tell how long he’d been lost in thought, or whether or not he had even been talking aloud the entire while. All he was aware of was the half-rolled, lit cigarette in his hand as the smoke wafted up his face, stinging his eyes. He rubbed them sorely.
“He better get back here soon or else I’m going to have to go up to that bat myself…” Kyle went on, itching his arm thoughtfully.
Bloop gurgled cheerfully in his tank.
Karen was drunk, and Kevin knew it.
She was, after all, holding a martini glass in hand. Standing in place, barefoot in her office, she leaned against the side of her desk and looked at Kevin with profound curiosity. Staring at him for a few moments, she seemed dazed in her silence, tilted her chin slightly, looked upward at the ceiling, paused.
“Who…you…?” she managed to spit out.
Her words slurred together like the sound of a large soap bubble rupturing in mid-air.
Kevin stared heatedly into her eyes, flailing his arms wildly.
“You insane floozy! The fish is dying, you hear? The one the Fulbright scholar was going to study!…DO YOU EVEN HAVE ANY IDEA WHAT I’M TALKING ABOUT?” he cut off abruptly, positively roaring at her.
Karen suppressed a muffled giggle,
and toppled over backwards into the waste basket.
The young and decidedly sober scientist sighed, pivoted on the spot, and left the room laughing uproariously.