Just something I wrote this morning because I was bored and had nothing better to do. It's unfinished by the way, but will probably be finished by later today
It was cold. I sat at the bottom of my cup, my ragged fins clamped shut. When I saw something move out of the corner of my eye, I shot forwards in fright. My sudden dash stirred up a murky mess of pellets, and in my confusion I crashed into the side of the cup. Stunned, I shrank down, afraid of what might happen next.
The cloudiness slowly settled, and I could see two humans watching me. There was the low rumble of voices, and then one of them reached forwards and tapped the side of my cup. The noise vibrated through the water, and if I had been stronger I would have spread my fins in challenge. But I was too weak to even flare back. My gills fluttered as I struggled to breathe, and I sat motionless at the bottom. Each breath burned, and it felt as if my scales had been rubbed raw. When the humans left, I swam listlessly around. It seemed like I had been here in this cup forever. I had all but forgotten what my life had been before I had come to this place.
On the shelf beside me there were as many cups as my eyes could see. Some of the cups had water so dirty I didn’t even know if there was a betta inside. Sometimes I wondered how long it was that we had all been sitting there, waiting for a human to choose us.
In the cup closest to mine, there was a beautiful blue betta whose scales flashed with green. But his tail was a blackened stub, and he floated nose down, not even moving when a young human picked up his cup and shook it. I knew he was dead, but I still wriggled my fins at him, hoping he would move even just a little.
Just then, the human made a high-pitched sound, and there was a dull thump as the cup slipped through its fingers. Several bettas crowded at the front of their cups, murmuring amongst themselves. But they had not been here long. Their fins were still beautiful and strong, and they flared at each other and at us, as if we could even offer a challenge. They didn’t yet understand that soon enough those bright colours would fade, and their own strength would fail them.
Two more humans arrived, older than the first, and I could tell by the loud noise they made, they were angry. One of the humans whose voice I recognised scooped up the dead betta, and carried him out back. The murmuring grew louder, and I knew they were saying what we were all thinking. No fish had ever returned from out back. I circled the bottom of my cup uneasily; wondering if that was where we all would end up.
The next day, the water seemed even colder than before. There was a draft seeping up through the shelf, and the cold sucked at me, so that I couldn’t even find the strength to swim. At first light, two more bettas had been taken out the back. One of them had been my spawn brother, brought with me to this place. I watched him go, overwhelmed by a sudden feeling of terror. I darted frantically around my cup, trying to find an escape. I had to find a way out, before it was my turn to be taken. I banged into the sides of the cup, ignoring the pain from my torn fins. Finally, I let myself sink down to the bottom of the cup. My gills moved in and out, as I tried to catch my breath, and I knew if they came to take me now, I could not even fight back.
Please happy? Haha. I don't want the poor little guy to die in the cup! (Wow, I'm wierd. It's not even a real betta and I'm concerned. Yikes! Haha.) Although that might be kind of realistic... oh well.
The day passed slowly. So many humans moved outside my cup that I soon lost myself in the hum of their voices. Occasionally, a cup was lifted from the shelf by one of the humans whose voices I recognised, but I was given no more than a cursory glance. Eventually, one of the humans pushed me further back onto the shelf, and I found my cup behind that of another betta, an angry-looking male who flared at me when I asked him his name.
Outside, it had quietened until I could see only one or two humans left. I had been resting at the bottom of my cup, when I became aware of female human crouched down by our shelf. It seemed to watch us for a very long time, and it made me feel uneasy. Just then, it reached for my cup, and I moved sluggishly away, wanting only to be left alone. But it was insistent, and I knew there was nothing I could do. It dragged my cup forwards, and I let myself be carried by the churning water. It said something to a bigger human standing nearby, and I could see one of the humans who fed us approaching with a net.
There was moment of darkness, and then a flash of bright light. I could feel myself moving for what seemed like a very long time. Something nearby was making a loud roaring sound, and I cowered at the bottom of the bag, looking to my human to protect me. The noise abruptly stopped, and I cautiously swam around the small bag, unsure of whether to fight or hide.
There was the distant rumbling of voices, and then with a rough jerk, my bag was pulled high into the air. I was afraid, and I darted around, trying to make sense of where I was. The humans made a sound I recognised as laughing, when I swam blindly into the side of the bag, and then I was moving again, so fast I could only snatch a glimpse of the world outside my cup.
A door slammed shut, and the bright light suddenly dimmed. As my eyes adjusted, I could see dozens of bettas in bowls so cramped there was no room to stretch their fins. The water in these bowls was only one or two fish-lengths high, and murky, as if they had not been changed in a very long time. Fear filled me as the realisation of what was happening, slowly sunk in. At the sight of a dead fish, floating at the top of its bowl, I started to panic. I had been chosen, but this dark, freezing place, could not be the paradise the old ones had told us about.
The bowl was barely larger than the cup I’d once lived in. Before I realised what was happening, the human lifted the bag up, and then in the next moment I was falling. The shock of the cold water knocked all the breath from me, and I gasped for air. Struggling to the surface, I felt the last of my strength evaporating. My panic turned to resignation as I started to explore my new home. I would die here, in a stinking mess of water and rotting pellets. No betta could live through the horrors that now awaited me.
The two humans were making sounds at each other. They did not even turn to look at me as I swam around. I noticed another male floating limply in a bowl not far from mine. He must have once been fearsome with his huge, flowing fins. But now they hung uselessly, their tips frayed and curling. Even so, I flattened my own fins against my body and tried to make myself look as small as possible. “What’s your name?” I whispered fearfully, glancing over at the two humans. The male flared his beard at me, and I flinched back even though I knew he couldn’t get to me. “No one,” he said simply, and after that, he spoke no other word to me.
Part 3 will be coming soon. Working on it right now. And it does get happier ... eventually