She Sees The Fishies...

Feb 19, 2022, 5:02:43 PM

Catherine was tossed into the ocean, but she was certain she stood on her own two feet in the very same spot she had been a moment ago when Natsumi asked her to stick the glowing caterpillar in her ear.

Inside of her head she felt the creature burrowing through her face along her sinuses. The pressure made her want to sneeze. She contorted her face and wheezed as the critter wormed its way around the inside of her head. It came upon her nose and crawled up. She blinked as the pressure squeezed against her left eye. She wanted nothing more than to tear her own head apart and pull the caterpillar out, but it was in to deep now. Its tiny feet poked and prodded at her brain. Little sparks of light flickered in front of her, bright white with a red-green afterimage.

As the creature wormed its way through, images flickered and flooded her mind. A tall woman with glassy black eyes smiled at her. Sparks and flames formed bodies humanoid in shape but foreign to her. The sound of children howling with manic laughter as they ran and collided with one another. Their heads and bodies warping around each other and exploding in bubbles and foam. Her hands lit on fire and her entire body was immolated, and yet the flames felt cool. They felt natural.

The flames turned into filaments. The fibers spidered through the night sky coming from herself. They were attached to points in the sky -- to the distant stars even. The silken threads melded into the fabric of the inky night sky and the distant warm golden glow of Tokyo Tower. The shimmering stopped.

The lump in her skull, the insect, surged and burrowed around the creases of her brain and found its way to the visual cortex. She felt the lump pushing against the back of her skull from the inside. She would never be able to remove it. She felt all of its tiny legs stabbing her gray matter.

The big surprise: it wasn't painful. The entire back of her skull tingled not unlike her late night ASMR sessions. Pleasurable waves rippled from the back of her brain and through her body. Her mouth twitched and formed a smile. She shivered with delight.

Bubbles of yellow light appeared in the empty air around her.

That was new.

They formed like foam out of nothing and fizzled away. Larger bubbles wafted by her head popped in silence.

Then the fish showed up.

At first she saw a tail swish by. Then a fully formed golden koi floated in front of her eyes. Another one with puckered lips mimed popping mouth movements at her as it floated in front of her. It swished folding its body and turning to its side and began to swim away. More fish floated into view.

"What..." Catherine said. Her own voice echoed as if she were standing in a airplane hanger. No, she thought, the space was much more vast. She was standing on the Earth. In the universe. In the foam and froth that surrounded that and in whatever else encases all of that. She was connected to something more fundamental than she had ever felt before.

And that's where the fishies were coming from. She was certain of it.

She wobbled and swayed. "There's so many fishes swimming... in the sky?" Her own voice sounded distorted.

The koi were swimming around her. In the distance, from the empty air entire schools of fish appeared. Small jellyfish bobbed along invisible currents. Off on the horizon she saw a jellyfish the size of the moon rise up off the horizon and into space. As her vision refocused, she turned towards the top of the Gate of Daitokuin.

Nesting on the top of the ornate Japanese gate was a giant bird. Its massive head darted this way and that. It turned towards her and she counted the eyes. "Oh my god, is that a giant three-eyed birb..." she heard herself say. Her own voice was getting closer to her now.

The waviness lessened around her. In the distance, in a blur, she saw Natsumi speaking to someone, but that someone wasn't a person. There were many strange blobs and creatures moving in the night. This empty park crawled with life unseen.

The tingling sensation stopped. The pressure in the back of her head subsided. Her double-vision solidified into one. There was a strange blobby ghoul standing next to Natsumi and they were conversing as naturally as two people would. There were more figures, not people, in the park around her moving about carrying on with their existence. She wondered if this is what people saw out of the corner of their eyes at errant times. In that liminal space the veil of the universe was parted for a brief moment for a flicker of this world to appear.

A realization struck Catherine: this was how she was going to see the world from now on. This was how she was going to feel it too, connected to this strange new world that existed beyond her. It was like something she had forgotten brought back to light.

"Hey dummy," Natsumi said waving her hand in front of Catherine's eyes. "You good?"

"Don't call me dummy, jerk," Catherine said.

"C, can she see me now?" The ghoul standing next to Natsumi asked.

Catherine stared at Natsumi.

Natsumi leaned forward and examined Catherine. "I'm going to take her thousand yard stare as a yes."

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