AN/ Forgive my title decision, it may be slightly over dramatic. This, like Elemental Dreams is a practice story for my theme of Imaginitive journeys. It's about a fish who is afraid of entering the world. It's a microcosm of life, how everyone faces fear of the unknown at one point or the other and how they overcome it.

OCEAN OF TERROR

Somewhere is the deep wide ocean lives a little electric blue fish. This chap was never given a name, so we'll call him Bluey. He doesn't know his family; in fact, he doesn't know any of the other creatures in the sea because he is yet to leave his home! All he knows is that he woke up recently to find himself in a tiny cave of coral. He hasn't worked up the courage to leave his hole, not even to glance out of it.

His fears arose right after his bulging eyes had fluttered open. A marvellous stream of white light shining past his entrance had fascinated him. He just lay staring for some time, mesmerised, until something very large shocked him out of the daydream. A head with sleepy eyes followed by a hard shell and a pointy tail swam past his hole, creating ripples that disturbed the water.

Bluey couldn't look. No, he edged himself against the back wall with eyes shut, not daring to move. Unfortunately, a newborn fish doesn't have very much strength, so quickly he grew tired and unclenched his muscles. Shivering, he vowed silently never to go near the opening.

That was before he felt a strange rumble in his tiny stomach. What was that? A mixture of overwhelming fear and an odd desire to suck the walls overcame him. Unfortunately, Bluey was not satisfied after nibbling on a very clean wall. His stomach felt tight and continued to grumble. Unconsciously, one little fin moved and his whole body rushed forward. No! Again, his body hugged the back wall. Even the stream of light outside could not comfort him. It was probably dangerous too.

Oh what would he do now? The hunger would not go away! If fish could cry, he would be howling but seeing as they have no tears, he simply sank to the floor and closed his eyes, feeling very blue. Maybe he could re-enter the sleep he had come from and all his problems would go away.

Now, you may think that fish can't talk but as our Bluey found out, they certainly can. Have you even heard the expression, bubbling? Well, in the water world it means fish talk. When they speak, bubbles come out of their mouth. You and I don't know what they say, but other fish understand it perfectly.

A distant hum arose suddenly, sounding like excited chatter, but from where did it come? Curiosity slapped him in the face but fear would not allow him to take any risks. He didn't really have to search for the source though, because it found him first.

'Oh, bubble, bubble, bubble!' Bluey's eyes almost popped out when two silver fish appeared at his entrance. They continued bubbling to him with curious and gleeful expressions, ignoring his frozen petrified appearance. In fact, the only part of him that moved was his swivelling eyes, whizzing feverishly from one fish to the other.

Finally, the larger of the two fish spotted his reluctance to join their conversation and eyed him inquisitively. She whispered to her friend and soon all three little fish were staring at each other with blank expressions.

'What's your name, little one?' Asked the fish to the right. No answer.

'Oh deary, maybe he's dumb! The poor thing looks starving too,' the other fish observed.

'Are you hungry little one?'

Bluey didn't reply, but his stomach did. The fish giggled. 'Well, we can show you where to get some delicious algae!'

'Star, I don't think he understands us.'

'Can't you see Elva, he's afraid,' Star replied silently.

Elva's eyes lit up with surprise and she gazed oddly at Bluey. 'Now don't you go being scared of us two. We won't hurt you.'

Bluey didn't know what to do. Should he move or talk? They seemed genuine- but no, it was probably a trick to lure him out and eat him.

'I think I know what might change his mind,' Star said after some long, expectant moments.

Next second both fish disappeared and Bluey visibly relaxed. His pulse continued to race though, with the knowledge that they would most likely return soon. Worse of all, there was nothing he could do!

Again, the entrance was empty. A horrible thought made Bluey shiver. He'd have to go out there one day right? What would happen if he stayed in his hole forever?

A rush of images flashed through his mind. Monstrous creatures with black eyes and sharp teeth chasing him through the water, sticky green weed dragging him with long arms into their prison.

'We're back!' It was Elva.

Bluey bounced in shock, hitting his head on the ceiling before returning to the back wall; his sanctuary.

'Careful!' Elva exclaimed with alarm.

Star edged closer to the hole though she was slightly too big to enter. 'We brought you some food little one. Look, fresh green algae.'

'Get away from me!' Bluey shouted his first words.

'He isn't dumb after all!' Elva was delighted.

'You know, you can't stay in there forever little one. Soon you'll grow and won't fit in here anymore. If you're afraid of us and don't come out then you'll never make it in the real world. You have to be strong and you'll see, it isn't all that bad.' Star was definitely the calmer, more rational fish here.

After some time Star gave up. The young fish just wasn't listening! But she had an idea.

'Come on Elva, we'll leave the food here and go.'

'But…but we can't-'

'Elva!' Star scolded. As they swam away, their voices faded. Instead of feeling relieved this time, Bluey felt alone and almost regretful.

His stomach complained even louder now, and after a few hesitations, the young fish had a face stuffed full of algae. Boy was it just fabulous! But oh no! It was all gone so quickly and he wanted more. It was then that he realised he was at the edge of his home. He had to blink several times to take in the full view that met his gaze.

There were hills and valleys of colour and life. Sea creatures everywhere, mainly fish, swimming about eating and playing. Blue, green, red, yellow and more variety of corals were everywhere. It was so busy and effulgent! Down bellow, a group of baby fish chased each other around while laughing and shouting. This made Bluey smile.

But alas, the smile faded as he realised he had no friends to be with. He had been foolish to be afraid and drive away two willing recipients. He decided to take a brave step and swam a tiny distance from his hole. His eyes widened and he swiftly rushed back to safety. But nothing had happened! He was still alive.

'Well look who finally decided to come out,' Star's jolly face appeared once again at the entrance.

'You- you didn't leave?' Bluey stammered.

'Of course not!' Elva looked horrified at the suggestion.

'And we won't now either. Come on, we want to show you around your new town.'

Bluey slowly approached the ladies and tried to look confident. They smiled encouragingly at him.

'That's it little one, you've done it! Now the first place we will take you is to the Hill. That's where we get most of our food.'

'And what then?' Bluey asked curiously.

'Then we'll show you the world.'

The company of friends swam happily away, leaving behind the tiny dark crevice that now disappeared amongst hundreds of other holes.