Here is another entry into our “Humor Meets Horror Month” Contest. This is the first one from HO writer RFreed and this story is quite original. I thoroughly enjoyed it – Donna Cavanagh
A salmon does not know when it is time to die. They fight on when there is nothing left to fight for, or to fight with. They are the Marine Corps of fish. Salmon will continue to try to swim upstream even when they are in water so shallow that if they were to lie still their mouths would be out of the water. I have seen a salmon that had a large hole pecked in it by a bird lying on its side in shallow water still fighting to get upstream. Salmon that have received a mercy killing with a knife to the brain and laid deathly still for an hour will suddenly flail about when prodded. A salmon that is surely dead after gulping foreign air on a beach for an hour will twitch again after being prodded by a boot. Death can be closing around them and they will still fight on without a cause for further life. They are an animal of pure driven determination and strength. The body of a gutted salmon- with all inner life removed- lungs, heart, guts- will suddenly thrash as though life is still present in its muscles. A knife point penetrating the vertebrae of a decapitated fish will bring a jerking response as though the body needs not a brain to continue living. They are a ghostly entity, their unfocusing eyes as they lie dying in our fishing nets recognize us not as enemies, but as strange hindrances to their mad desire to reenter the waters of their birth. They know not when to die, only to fight on unceasingly.
But all things evolve. Even a creature as non-observant as a salmon grows in consciousness. And evolution prodded by a secret hazardous waste dump at a key Alaskan salmon breeding ground helped to manifest a new destiny for the formerly docile fish. The ingestion of the highly charged foreign substances caused an agonizing death in some, but others grew strong enough to survive it. Some grew because of it. Within a couple generations the frontal lobe of their brains enlarged and their normally dull eyes sharpened. They became more observant and with that observance came understanding. But the most miraculous of all were the fins that adapted themselves in a way their fore bearers had many millions of years ago.
With new eyes the salmon through their now enlightened minds collectively began to understand their situation. They began to understand what the almost invisible gossamers were that caught on their gills, choking them in the very same seawater that gave them sustenance, then would pull them up into that other world above from which no fish ever returned except in pieces to be pecked apart by the ever circling gulls. They began to understand the dangled, glittery things that looked like the small fish they’d feed upon, but that upon biting would tear their mouths and their bodies on sharp hooks and drag them through the water to an unknown fate. They saw and began to understand the strange creatures who took their kind from their watery homes in unbelievably massive numbers.
The salmon already had enough obstacles and difficulties in their lives as it was- the changing from fresh to salt water, the challenge of staying alive in the new environment of the ocean, the survival in the ever changing salty water, the finding of their original water source, then the arduous journey upstream avoiding the bears and birds that sought them out. All of these were enough without the incursion of man as well. The salmon now experienced a new set of emotions- that of anger and vengeance- all of it aimed at man.
The salmon’s new brains became imbued with the lust of vengeance. They knew we humans were responsible for their wanton slaughter. They knew that we wrecked carnage upon their species in numerous ways. The salmon were patient, they were waiting. Individually they were small, but united they were many. Their numbers were endless. After millions of years of suffocating when caught in the air that we need for our lives, they learned to adapt to it. The strength that propels them though hundreds of miles of water could now maneuver them on land.
They now seek the revenge of 1,000 generations of their kind. They seek to balance the scales of Nature and life. They know where we live. So, some night when the darkness is thicker than normal and the silence deeper, when you hear a strange rustling of the the gravel outside your room, then a curious flop, plop, flop, plop sound upon your steps, do not shriek in terror or bemoan your fate or go catatonic with fright. Only accept your fate coolly. It will be over quickly. Nature always seeks balance and on this night you will be the balance point.