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Tanji unstuck his eyes and was sitting in a dark space. Water dripped underneath swollen wallpaper. A tank illuminated the room from the opposite wall. Inside it, a black eel stared out from murky water. He felt like he had been there for hours but was unsure of how he knew that or how he got there. The last memory was of checking into the hostel in Osaka. The rotting fish on the reception desk.

The eel glided through the water and grinned with yellowed human teeth.

"You have been in here longer than most, Tanji-kun. If I was you, I'd wake up before I forgot how to," it said.

Tanji tried to stand but everything felt heavy. He strained but only sunk deeper into the couch. His eyes watered. Heartbeats accelerated.

"How do I wake?"

The eel's eyes widened, and it slithered through the glass and onto the floor. "Ah, then sadly you are much too late. I haven't had a decent meal in decades."

Story by:

John Gerard Fagan


3 March 2018