And so it came to pass that for 40 days and 40 nights, it rained, and a great flood covered the Earth. All the people and all the animals had perished in the deluge, save two by two of each species livin’ la vida loca in Noah’s boat, and Noah’s family hurling vomit into the sea from severe seasickness.
All the animals had perished – save the fishes.
Seven fishes swim among the flooded ruins of a once-great nation, when they stopped at a partially submerged tree. Its rotting trunk stood like a gnarled, maimed nautical spine, while its green crown flourished majestically above water, witness to the Earth above.
Their leader, a great white elder salmon named Gnarly Gregoire, gathered his school around and challenged them to climb the great tree. He said unto them:
“Which of you is the greatest among us?
Which of you will be privy to the knowledge of the sea, and the knowledge of the world above?”
The excitable young one, Zippy Zohan, zipped towards the tree, swam upwards, and flopped out into the open air. A few seconds later, he fell back into the water. Panting like a fish out of water, he said, “I’m just…letting you guys try first.”
The elder looked at a slightly older fish, Middle Malcolm. Middle Malcolm shook his head. “I think it is against our Nature to be climbing trees. We are fish, and our place is here in the water,” he said. His elder looked sternly at him, as sternly as one fish could look at the other.
Middle Malcolm ignored it. “We are not monkeys,” he continued. He would, however, be a monkey’s uncle if any of them got to the top of the tree alive, but he kept that thought to himself. Gregoire’s glare was burning a hole in his face.
Gnarly Gregoire turned to the strongest of the lot, Sally. “For you, I will try, O Great Leader,” Sally said to Gregoire before the elder fish even spoke. He, Sally, then rushed robustly up the trunk, flopped out of the water in a majestic contortion of muscle and sinew – and all was silent. They waited. For a minute, nothing stirred, and the sea was still.
And then suddenly, there was a crack, and from the world above, something brown and fishy fell towards them, growing larger and larger as it free-fell towards the sea.
SPLASH! A branch from the tree pierced the surface of the water, with Sally impaled upon it, dead as sashimi. Gnarly Gregoire watched in terror as it sank into the inky depths.
The other fish began panicking.
“We need to tell the other fishes about this!” yelled Stompin’ Steve.
“I’ve to get out of here!” cried Middle Malcolm.
“You don’t mess with the Zohan!” stuttered Zippy Zohan in terror.
“Silence!” cried Ay Papi, Gregoire’s second-in-command. “Let’s turn to our Great Leader! He will guide us!”
The fish turned, as five, towards Gnarly Gregoire. Their leader’s eyes were wide, his lips were stuttering, his fins were trembling. He did not say a word.
“He doesn’t have an answer!” said Stompin’ Steve accusatorially.
“Yes he does,” said Ay Papi. “He speaks to us in a manner befitting the circumstances. As you might not know our leader very well, I shall decipher it for you.” The fish looked from Ay Papi to Gnarly Gregoire. It was a stunning contrast – Ay Papi looked confident and assured, while Gnarly Gregoire looked like somebody had his body in a vice grip.
After studying Gnarly Gregoire for a few moments, Ay Papi continued, “Our Leader wishes for us to push on in this gainful endeavour. Make it so that Sally did not die for naught.”
Ay Papi turned to Stompin’ Steve, one of the biggest talkers of their school. Stompin’ Steve stepped (swam?) up, and heaved his chest as he surveyed the tree. The other fish could not help but take in a deep breath in anticipation of Stompin’ Steve’s ascent.
“Here I go!” cried Stompin’ Steve. With, well, fish-like speed and agility, Stompin’ Steve shot…in the opposite direction of the tree, out to sea and away from his group.
“That traitor!” shouted Ay Papi. “Everybody, get him! We’ll make him pay!” With that, Middle Malcolm, Zippy Zohan and Ay Papi gave chase.
Seven, the seventh member of the group swam past the aghast Gnarly Gregoire, towards the tree. He swam up the deadened trunk, and then flopped himself out of the water, onto a low branch of the tree. There, he waited, lying still on the branch. Slowly, and with great pain, he learned to breathe outside of water, his gills metamorphosing into something…more complex. His fins attained bipedality , and when he was ready, he walked up to the top of the tree, basking in the shelter of the tree’s crown. He surveyed the world around him, and in the horizon, he saw a black blip – a boat, a ship – an ark, if you will.
Seven looked down at Gregoire, who was still staring at him from within the depths, eyes wide, mouth unmoving. “See, Gregoire, I did what the others couldn’t do because I didn’t do it for you. I did it just to see what I might become. I am no longer like you, and neither am I like anything the animals and humans on that ark have ever seen. I will never be accepted by you nor them, but I am privy to the knowledge of the depths as well as that of the heights.
So in this newfound, unique position of mine, there is only one thing left to say: