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"AFTER THE UPRISING"

written by: Nick Turk

'Blessed are the fish, for they shall inherit the earth...'

- Ancient Aquatic Prophecy -

And so it came to pass that it was our planet's weather above all else that signalled our species eventual downfall, with a barrage of vast storms, increased rainfall and mass flooding resulting in our once exalted homeland being slowly overwhelmed by an inexorable swell of water. Where once had proudly stood monuments to the outstanding achievements of mankind now lay only an endless ocean - a clear blue wasteland stretching into infinity all around us. Our civilisation was forced to adapt - manufacture of submersibles and all manner of aquatic tomfoolery at first flourished but, as the tides rose ever higher, our numbers began to diminish until only a small number of us remained. These survivors, alas, were forced into slavery and imprisonment as the Earth's diverse aquatic life stepped forward as the most dominant species on the planet until finally it belonged to them and them alone...
I remember clearly when the rains first came - frequent showers soon turned to heavy downpours and before long the sun was but a distant memory. Everywhere I looked the waters were slowly rising - it was as if the Gods themselves had turned a tap on the Celestial Bathtub and simply forgotten all about it. Mankind were no longer in control as a revolution of oceanic proportions - historians and scholars alike were quick to label it 'The Uprising' - wiped out all but the faintest traces of human existence from the face of the Earth. Cities were destroyed, species died out in a heartbeat and history was all but wiped out in a colossal tidal wave that ravaged the Earth and left nothing but devastation in its wake. And so it is that I lie here in this prison cell all alone, awaiting my inevitable execution as the hands, or should I say fins, of my devious captors. The crime pinned to me by an unforgiving jury. The verdict - cannibalism, the wanton consumption of hundreds of this nation's noble ancestors - be it grilled, fried, poached, steamed, barbequed, baked, battered or smoked. The punishment for such depraved, immoral actions - to be shortly escorted into the town square and hereby executed in the name of his Royal Fishiness King Theophylis of the Almighty Fishbowl in a manner befitting my heinous crimes...

A faint jingling of keys alerts me to my captors presence and, moments later, two fierce looking squid swim up to my cell and, unlocking the door, signal for me to follow them. A small Guppy priest follows nervously in our wake warbling an assortment of prayers and eulogies from a small fishy Bible held in his fins. As we exit the jail through the front entrance my eyes are instantly assaulted by an explosion of vibrant colours all around me and my ears to the jeers and catcalls from the multitude of aquatic life assembled in the town square to witness my ignoble demise. Never before have I been witness to such a vast collection of species - every variety is present, from Algae to Zebrafish.

At the end of a brightly lit promenade there lies the ostentatious residence of the aquatic Royal family - a gaudily painted plastic castle standing lopsided in the multicoloured sand. A phalanx of seahorses raise a triumphant trumpet call as I near my point of execution and a faint drum roll can be heard from the sounds of my audience hammering in anticipation on hundreds of clam shells. And then, rising above a forest of coral reef like an enormous golden sun I catch sight of my final destination. Thirty foot high and built from solid gold - an enormous toilet bowl constructed by a species not only graced with hitherto unknown architectural prowess but also, apparently, a decidedly twisted sense of humour. And there, painstakingly etched into the side of this epic monument to aquatic martyrdom, the Royal crest itself - two swordfish crossed over a turtles shell and bedecked with a cascade of crustacean.

A swarm of jellyfish hang in the water overhead bathing the area around us in an ethereal luminescence and suddenly a sense of clarity all but overcomes me. I turn to the guards escorting me and cry,

'Get your stinking suckers off me, you damn dirty squid!'

Taking advantage of their sudden disorientation I make a frantic dash into the crowd around me scattering fish in all directions. A sudden scream goes up from the crowd and suddenly I feel alive again. Alas, this feeling is not long to be as a huge eel suddenly detaches itself from the crowds and swims into my path. Swinging its vast body back and forth in the air it wraps me in its powerful grip. As waves of electricity course through my veins the scene around me begins to fade and my body finally goes limp...

When I awake I am bound and gagged and strung from a wooden armature. Gazing down towards my feet I see that I am hanging over the toilet bowl itself. A deep abyss beckons me, a whirling vortex of frothing, churning water ready to carry me away into the very bowels of the planet where I will face my certain doom. A sudden cheer alerts me towards a small balcony in the uppermost point of the castle whereupon stands his Royal Fishiness King Theophylis of the Almighty Fishbowl himself and his beautiful fishy wife Angel. The drum roll desists, the fanfare finishes and the expectant crowd falls silent as his Royal Fishiness raises his fins into the air. Motioning towards a jury of stern looking goldfish seated by his side a sudden cry issues from his lips - a cry in a seemingly alien language, albeit a cry that I know with unnerving conviction is the age old question of many a judge throughout this land.

'GUILTY, OR NOT GUILTY?'

I close my eyes and try to remember a time before 'The Uprising'...

A brief montage of images flicker before my eyes - distant half-forgotten memories of a distant land, with lush green meadows and verdant pastures spreading ever onwards throughout the land. A man and his wife stand together in a sun-drenched field gazing towards the horizon whilst a young boy chases a small dog in and around the trees.

Then come the regrets ...

A man wolfing down the remains of a cod,'n'chips from a sheet of newspaper balanced precariously on his lap.

An innocent-looking child holding up a small plastic bag full of water with a small, pathetic looking goldfish swimming endless circles inside.

A tuna sandwich.

A seafood pizza topped with Mozzarella cheese.

Crabcakes.

Scallops in butter.

Jellied eels.

Italian style trout.

Jumbo shrimp.

Lobster salad with Avacado and Papaya.

Grilled oysters.

One after the other, all of them flashing before my eyes like a serial killer's rap sheet. And finally, that self-same goldfish that was once the pride and joy of that child's life ending its meagre existence by being ignominiously flushed down the toilet to rest in peace in the cities vast sewers amongst endless waves of waste and effluvia. I know now that I am indeed guilty of all my crimes, and nothing on Cod's Earth can save me from eternal damnation. May my execution here today serve as a memory to all those innocent fish caught, murdered and eaten by an unloving civilization. And so I stand there, motionless, and await the inevitable

But it never comes...

Risking a glimpse towards the jury I am delighted to witness a scene of apparent confusion amongst the ranks. It seems that the goldfish jury have fallen foul of their collective short-term memories and all but forgotten their verdict. With a collection of murmers and mumbles the jury make their excuses and, hastily collecting together their belongings, depart to their lodgings to discuss matters further. The King himself appears furious and his wife attempts to placate him as the crowd slowly realise the gravity of the situation. I am to be released pending a definitive verdict. I let out a laugh of triumph. I am yet to live another day. All is not lost...

But why, then, are the crowd so agitated, rushing around in such apparent panic and alarm. Their collected distress only serves to whip the water around us into a swirling maelstrom of sand and grit that fills the air around me. Squinting ever so slightly I can just about catch glimpse of a single, solitary fish gazing towards the glass walls of the city, his mouth agape in horror and a sign held in his fins painted with the portentous words:

'The End of the World is Nigh!''

My mind is awash with confusion as the crowd, as one fish, scream in terror as a vast shadow slowly crosses the city plunging the scene into absolute darkness. Gazing heavenwards I catch sight of what appears to be an enormous, fur-covered paw reaching down from above - a collection of razor sharp claws protruding from the tip.

I hear an ominous sound - an all-too-familiar mewing - before everything goes black...

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