JUNE 1st, 1996- I am afraid I have been taken. My mother was taken. So was my father. Many of my siblings, also. I was always afraid I would be taken, whisked out of my home by the cruel nets. I saw many a fish go before me. I liked to think that they would be back. Who was I kidding? They never came back. None of them ever returned. None of them but one. There was old Ben, the dolphin. I never actually knew him, but I had heard stories about how he had been snagged by the nets and taken to the surface. He claimed that there were fish without fins, and that they had sharp shiny rocks that cut him. He kicked and splashed and struggled to get free, sending one into the water. When the others ran to help it, Ben broke free and slid off the floater they were on.
No one really believed Ben. I for one didn't. But that was before. Now I've seen the finless fish, and they're called people. My mother told me about them, but I didn't think that the things from Ben's story were people. I found out the truth today, and I wish I never had. I was swimming along when I felt a strange feeling that something was wrong. I ignored it, stupidly, and kept going. Pretty soon I started to feel very odd. It was as if something was closing in on me. The water got very dark and I heard something far away but getting rapidly closer. I looked into the shadows to my right. At first I saw nothing. Then, to my horror, I saw what appeared to be millions of fish swimming in a panic towards me. They weren't looking at me, but seemed to be swimming away from something. My first reaction was to join them, in case it was a shark. But something stopped me. I don't know what it was and I'll probably never know, but I stayed as they rushed by.
All was quiet for a moment, and then the feeling of being closed in became clear. As I floated there wondering what to do, a fine mesh struck my side and carried me away. It was a net, and as I looked to where I was going, I saw all the other fish that passed me caught on the other side. The last thing I remember is hitting my head against a sailfish. Now I have an awful headache, and I'm on a floater. I am in a tank of water with other fish like me. I find I can understand the peoples' language quite well. I am referred to as "snapper." As frightening as this experience is, I also find it exciting. Although I wouldn't mind being back home. Whatever tomorrow brings, I hope it will be in my favor.
JUNE 2nd, 1996- All excitement has been replaced by fear; a horrible, gnawing fear that I cannot escape. It haunted me last night as I tried to sleep. As I gazed out to the sea that I love, I saw many of the dead fish that lie in some of the other tanks being drawn out by the people. The fish were obviously supposed to be alive, because one of the people started muttering words that should never be uttered, even to a dead fish. Anyway, he threw them overboard and I saw a swarm of sharks devour them at the surface. This scene shocked me and sleep was not to be found that night. I was not surprised, therefore, when the people came and threw out the three dead fish in my tank the next morning. I was a bit shaken when I was grabbed by mistake and just wriggled free in time. Right now the floater is moving closer to a big spot in the distance. It looks like something on top of the water. It can't be another floater; it's too big. The only thing I can figure is that the spot is far-off land. After all, the people seem pretty eager to reach it.
I, on the other hand, am devising a means of escape. It is a far-fetched idea, but it might work. From my observations of the people, I have derived that tomorrow morning they should be back to weed out the dead fish. If I pretend to be dead, then I will hopefully get thrown overboard. My only problem is the sharks. I might be able to escape in the resulting feeding-frenzy, but it would be taking a huge risk. If I stay here, I may be able to eventually escape some other way, if I don't die of starvation first.
But there is one more problem with my plan. No other fish have died since this morning, and seeing this, the people might overlook me. I cannot convince the other fish to play dead as well, as they only chatter to themselves and babble on mindlessly. They apparently think this is the end. But I, valiant and courageous fish that I am, do not! I believe that I can outsmart these people and win back my home again! Of course, if I am wrong, then I am doomed for sure. Ah, well. It is night again. In the morning I will either be free, or all hope will be lost.
JUNE 3rd, 1996- I am writing from the tank again. This means that I am not free and also that all hope is lost. I was overlooked because there were no other dead fish to catch the people's eyes. If only I could wake these fish from their trance! I have found a communicable creature, however. It is a small crab. This crab calls himself Percy. Why Percy I don't know, but he said it suited him and he liked it. I did not argue the point further for fear of upsetting him. You know how temperamental crabs can be, especially about their titles. Anyway, he said he lived off the scraps of the people. I don't know how he could say such a thing, since they often ate fish. Also, I fancied I caught a strange gleam in his eye when he said it. Anyway, he seems friendly enough. He would like to see me free, he says, but I don't believe he really cares. Crabs say things of seemingly great importance, but it nearly always turns out they're only making conversation. I hope I'm wrong. Anyway, he has not made any propositions as to how I am to get free. Neptune forgive me, I only hope that some of the fish in my tank die tonight. One in the corner has passed out three times…
JUNE 4th, 1996- The fish in the corner died, as did two others. I wanted to play dead, but I lost my nerve at the last minute. I'm glad I didn't, however, because as I watched the fish devoured I realized I could not escape that way, the sharks too large and numerous. We have landed on some sort of island during the night. Most of the people are gone. Percy the crab has talked to me today. He says he did not sleep well last night because he was guilty. I asked him why and he said, in a rather peculiar voice, "I et sum once." I asked him to repeat it, as I could not understand him. He proceeded to tell me how he ate some fish of my species at one time, a scrap from the people. I expected he had, so I told him it was quite all right, that many creatures had. Besides, it was already dead. He felt obliged to help me, however, and we decided that he should find a way to open my tank and set me free. I could jump out if he opened it, and then he could help pull me over to the side of the boat. At the bow there was a portion of the side that was level with the deck; from there I could escape. I was energized with the possibility of being free again, so I gave the effort my all. It took a long, long time for him to get to the top of the tank. When he did finally reach the latch, it took him even longer to open it. He's fairly quick on the ground, but climbing and lifting take a bit longer. He finally got it unlatched, and lifted the thin screen up. I went down deep to get a good swimming start and jumped out of the tank and onto the deck. I had enough water in my gills to last a while, so I wasn't worried. Percy leapt, too, a daring move for him. He scuttled around to my rear fin and grabbed hold, very tightly. He began dragging me across the deck. I couldn't see where we were going, only behind me. I was looking out for people when I heard a smack. I looked to the fish tank and saw one of the fish on the ground. With no one to help him, he couldn't possibly make it to the side. Two more fish leapt out of the water as well. I felt pity for them. They had seen me get out, and they were trying, too. "Percy," I said, but felt him tighten his claws painfully. A sickening crunch came from behind me and I knew it was a person. A shadow fell on me as a hand reached down to pick me up. The person said something and laughed. I looked down to find Percy and was horrified by the mass of broken shell and what was left of him. A person had stepped on him. This man had stepped on him. I suddenly felt an anger I had never felt before. Percy had died trying to save me; I would have my freedom! I kicked with all my strength and fought my way free. I tried to flop over to the side, but was grabbed again. It took two men to hold me and put me back in the tank. I wept for Percy and will remember him always. He is still on the deck of the ship. His shell faintly reflects the setting sun. Someone is coming…