A Fish Out of Water
by David Barton
Gavin Trotter wasn’t quite sure he’d seen what he’d
actually just witnessed. He’d been making his way home from the pub; a shortcut along the canal, when he’d seen
her, some woman, but what she had done had left him slack-jawed.
He’d only had two pints – two – he wasn’t drunk, hallucinating or anything; no one had slipped anything in his drink – had they?
Not that crowd, surely? They weren’t exactly the type.
He had been like a fish out of water with that crowd – that was for sure. Having
a few drinks with the guys from the office, where he worked, had been a bad idea. They were very much of the: TV, pub, football
on Sundays in an amateur team type brigade. Gavin hated football, didn’t really watch much TV, and very rarely ventured
down his local –
or any other pub for that matter.
In fact, when it came to football, he remembered that at school,
in Games, he was always one of last to get picked for a team.
‘We don’t want, Porky,’ they would say. Porky being,
not a nickname he’d been given because he was fat or chubby or anything like that, but because of his name – Trotter (do you see what they did there?)
He had nothing in common with these people from the office. For a
start, Gavin Trotter had always been unconventional – different from the crowd. He had never been so much part of the in-crowd – as part of the
These people liked U2 and Phil Collins for Christ’s sake! He
listened to Fiona Apple and Radiohead. In his youth, the Sex Pistols and the Clash. He couldn’t imagine any of the people
he knew from his office pogoing around their bedrooms in their adolescent years, to the strains of ‘White Riot’
or ‘God Save the Queen’. He tried to picture it now, and a smile broke across his face at the thought.
Gavin felt like a fish out of water, in life, in general. He had
always thought that there must be more to this existence, some purpose – and that
he would find it one day. That life shouldn’t be ordinary and mundane, but that you should do something with life that
wasn’t the usual: 9-5, watching TV, down the pub, and football on fucking Sunday!
The woman at the canal had undressed, left her clothes in a heap
by the side of it and jumped into the bloody thing! Yes – jumped in!
If it weren’t for the fact that her actions had been so bizarre,
he would have considered the sight of an attractive, blonde, getting her kit off before his very eyes quite appealing. But
in these circumstances, he didn’t – the woman was obviously mad, disturbed, or mental or something.
Gavin didn’t usually fancy loonies. Even attractive, blonde loonies!
He approached the pile of discarded clothes, then peered into the
murky depths of the water. Gavin made a face. Whatever would possess someone to leap into that filth? He’d seen people
piss in there for fuck’s sake! He’d once seen two grown men challenge each other as to who could pee the furthest
in the direction of the opposite bank on a drunken night making their way home from the pub. He couldn’t imagine the
people from the office doing that, either!
As he stared into the darkness of the canal’s depths, something
came up to greet his curiosity. Whatever it was – and when it surfaced, he wasn’t sure just what exactly it was he was
seeing – it wasn’t the woman. This was something else – something from
Gavin, wide-eyed in horror, backed away from the bank and the strange
grey-ish, aquatic thing. It was a very large pike or something. But, no, that wasn’t like any pike he’d
ever seen! When he was younger, his dad had often took him fishing, and he’d seen the odd pike as the monstrous fishes
would surface, flip over, then go back down into the depths of the local fishing lake.
This was no such monstrous pike – this was just monstrous! It equalled him in size, easy.
Maybe someone had slipped something into his drink, after
some drug of some kind? Frank – that dickhead from the warehouse, who used
to go raving in the 80s, when all that acid house was going on – who’d
been with them, had been known to deal occasionally (but – hallucinogenics?) It was usually weed, that’s all, and sometimes, still,
the odd ecstasy. Nothing heavy.
Whatever the creature was, real or not, Gavin decided that the best
thing to do was to put as much distance between him and it as possible. So he ran. It had probably already got the woman – killed the midnight swimmer. So it was no use sticking around to try to save her from the thing. Why
the fuck had she been swimming in the canal in the first place, anyway?
At the end of the canal path he reached a deserted back street. Gavin
quickly made his way along at a gentle pace now – as whatever the hell it had been didn’t seem to have left the water and come
after him, thankfully. There was not a living soul about, not even one single car passed him. He thought about knocking on
doors, alerting people, finding safety behind a closed, locked door, but no one would thank him for waking them up or disturbing
them at that time of the night – not with stories of strange monstrous fish creatures in the canal, at least!
Then he heard a noise. Something was moving about in the shadows
up ahead of him to the side of the road, and he knew exactly what. It was the creature, whatever in god’s name that
bloody thing was! There were no street lamps on the section of the road he’d reached now, as he continued, and only
hedges to the side of him, and it was from their direction that the noise was coming from.
Gavin scanned around and picked up a lump of wood lying at the side
of the road, as a weapon and, brandishing it, braced himself as the shape made its way towards him and out of the shadows.
When it emerged, however, it wasn’t the thing; after all, it
was the woman – still naked, wrapping her arms around herself. She smiled uneasily
and gave a shiver. Gavin breathed a sigh of relief and flung the piece of wood he held aside.
She was even more attractive close up. He couldn’t decide what
colour her big, wide beautiful eyes were – in fact they seemed to keep changing colour. One minute he decided that they were grey, the next they looked more
blue, then a few seconds later they seemed to be, green. She had great lips too, oversized like she’d had them done
– maybe she had? – but great! He could definitely see himself planting a kiss
on Angelina Jolie’s even more beautiful doppelganger‘s smackers!
He quickly snapped into action and took his jacket off, and as the
woman reached him, draped it over her shoulders.
‘Thanks,’ she said.
‘Don’t mention it,’ he told her, ‘can’t
have you catching your death, can we?’ He then peered past her into the darkness she’d emerged from. The canal
was just about visible in the distance; he could see the moonlight reflecting off the water.
‘Did you see that thing?’ he asked the woman.
‘Thing?’ she questioned, offering a frown.
‘Yes, there was something in the canal!’
‘I didn’t see anything,’ she said.
Now it was Gavin‘s turn to offer the woman a frown. ‘What
was you doing swimming in the canal, this time of night, anyway? Or, come to think of it, what would you be doing in there
– anytime of the day?’
She didn’t answer him; she just looked to her feet and gave
another shudder. The canal water must have been freezing, he thought. It’s a wonder she doesn’t get hypothermia
or pneumonia or something.
‘You need a warm bath,’ he said to her. Then he looked
up the road. ‘I don’t live that far away, you could take a bath, there, if you wanted?’
She looked up to him again, nodded a yes and Gavin offered a comforting
smile. Her eyes were grey for a moment then morphed to green – they did
Gavin couldn’t resist taking a look at the woman while she
soaked in the, no doubt, welcome hot water of his bath when they got back to his.
The door hadn’t a lock on it and had been left ajar by his
odd visitor. He stood at the threshold and peered in and watched as she ran a soapy sponge along her arms and over her breasts.
Then Gavin thought he saw something rise up from the water between
her legs, but it quickly disappeared back down again. Maybe it had been her knee or something? But then it shot up again and
Gavin couldn’t believe his eyes at what he thought he was seeing.
He thought he saw a tail – like a fishes tail – but then it vanished as quickly as the first time he thought
he witnessed something, under the water again.
Suddenly the woman became aware of his presence and shot a glance
back towards him. She could see by the expression on his face that there was something wrong. ‘What’s the matter?’
she asked him.
‘Nothing, I thought … I saw …’
She smiled. ‘Did you see something you thought you didn’t
Gavin offered a wry expression. ‘That doesn’t even make
sense – does it?’
‘You saw something fish-like about me?’
Gavin’s eyes widened. ‘Yes, I … how did you …’
Then he made a face that seemed to say he’d realised something but that he couldn’t quite believe he was actually
thinking along those lines. ‘I get it – you’re a mermaid! I might have known!’
She gave a girlish titter. ‘No, I’m not a mermaid.’
‘What the fuck are you, then?’
Through another smile she said, ‘Maybe I’ll tell you,
after we’ve made love?’
As they lay side-by-side in bed later, after they’d fucked,
Gavin turned to her and said, ‘I dreamt tonight, it didn’t really happen, it’s just too far-fetched.’
The woman turned her head towards him. ‘What, that I seem to
be some kind of fish-like creature?’
‘No, that I got a woman into bed so easy!’ He gave a
laugh. ‘I don’t even know your name?’
‘It’s Alura,’ she told him.
‘Alura? That’s a nice name. Different.’
‘And yours?’ she asked.
‘Gavin,’ introduced Gavin.
‘That’s a nice name too,’ Alura said.
Gavin made a wry face again, and she gave another childish giggle.
Then she slid out of bed and her belly seemed to be enlarged – larger than it had been
when she got into bed, at least. It seemed to be moving too, in fact it seemed to be getting bigger – just slightly, second by second, but getting bigger nonetheless!
She looked to him then down at her belly and clutched it. ‘Don’t
you know the facts of life? You fucked me and got me pregnant. Now I’m having your children!’
Her belly had grown so big now, in the last few moments, skin so
stretched now, that it had become translucent and Gavin could see things slithering around inside, repulsive, slimy things
– his children, he guessed, some kind of sick infant blasphemies!
Alura made her way over to his bathroom; Gavin eased out of bed and
followed. She was running a bath again.
‘What are you doing – another bath
already?’ Gavin questioned.
She shook her head. ’Getting ready for the birth,’ she
‘Birth?’ Gavin frowned.
‘The birth of our little ones,’ she explained.
When Alura had run the bath, she got in it and settled herself down
into the water. In no time at all, bubbles began to come up from between her legs and then, to Gavin’s amazement, fish
began spilling out from her cunt and splashing around in the bath frantically.
‘This isn’t happening,’ Gavin said, his gaze fixed
in bewilderment at the scene before him.
‘We need to mate,’ Alura told him as she gave birth to
more of the infant fish. ‘We’re a dying breed.’
She glanced to Gavin and saw that he was in state of shock. She bit
her lower lip. ‘I’m sorry I had to force it on you, but look at it from my point of view – would you sleep with a creature, like the one you saw in the canal, unless you were tricked into it?’
‘What the fuck are you?’ Gavin wanted to
‘We are a race older than the human race; we were here before
the first step on the evolutionary scale! Fish. Mankind didn’t just evolve from the apes you know, some of us
– a different species altogether, and not in as greater number as humans
The last of the infants had been born now and there was a countless
number of splashings coming from the direction of the bathtub.
‘This is nuts!’ Gavin said. ‘So, how many kids
have I got?’
Alura peered down into the bathtub and looked around herself at her
newborns. ‘I’d say about twenty.’
‘Twenty? Wonder if I’ll be able to claim child
allowance for that lot, then?’
She didn’t understand of course, what he meant, but she gave
a half-smile anyway at his joke.
‘What happens now?’ Gavin asked her.
‘I go back to the sea,’ came the reply.
‘I don’t even get to see the kids? Don’t I get
access? I should go to court! I have rights!’
‘We only visit the land to mate, then we go back to the ocean,’
Alura explained. ‘We can’t survive on land for too long.’
Gavin raised an eyebrow and offered a wry expression. ‘Hence
the midnight swim?’
‘Hence the midnight swim,’ she confirmed.
‘So, that’s it, you’re just going to go back to
the ocean and forget about me, and I’ll never see you again?’
‘We could always make love again, if you like? Before I go?’
She offered an excited smile.
Her eyes were blue now, beautiful blue like the sky on a clear,
cloudless, sunny day, the kind he remembered from childhood school holidays back in the 70s. In the carefree days before work
and life, and ordinary!
But of course, what had happened tonight, had not been ordinary,
or mundane, or any of the things he hated about life, had it?
‘No, thanks, I think twenty kids is enough fishy offspring
for any man!’ Gavin told her.
‘I liked it very much and, I won’t get pregnant this
time, not so soon after giving birth.’
‘Really,’ Gavin said, ‘you won’t get pregnant
this time?’ Then he thought about it. ‘How do I know you’re not just trying to trick me again, like the
‘You have my word as a mermaid,’ she told him.
‘I thought you said you weren’t a mermaid?’
Alura just offered a knowing smile in his direction, and then returned
her vision to cast another proud eye over the bathtub full of their splashing newborns.
Copyright © David Barton 2011
David Barton is the editor of Lost Souls Magazine, in 2010
he had his debut non-fantasy genre novel, Ever Fallen in Love, published by Lulu Press, which is available from Amazon.
He has also had various short fiction, articles and pieces published in a number of different publications both online and
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