Fishcat

Fishcat

There was a creature of unknown origin in my bathroom.

 

And since the strangest occurrences tend to find us at the strangest times, I was also naked and about to step behind the folds of the shower curtain. The water had been running for a little over a minute and hot steam was already belching over top of the stained curtain rod. I stood there, legs splayed with one wet and the other dry, and stared at the fishcat as it made its slow, leisurely way across the pink and tan tiling. You heard me: a fishcat. That's what it was. Or rather, that's the best way I can describe how it appeared.

 

It seemed docile enough. Its tiny ears were laid flat against its head like a feline with an attitude problem, but it only peered up at me with its shining green eyes and returned my blank stare. Its back was flat and thin and covered with fur that was stark white with large gray splotches. Its tail was long and almost monkey-like; it seemed to reach and flex and move of its own accord. At the end of its length the tail split and fanned out, forming a furry and undersized fin. It was entirely gray with white tips capping off the ends of the fin, though it looked as if it would be useless for swimming. After noticing that the creature had no legs, I assumed that the "fin" was used as an apparatus for floating rather than paddling along an ocean or a lake. I'm not a scientist - let me just make that clear right now.

 

We stood there in what I figured was a mutually-held fascination. I didn't feel alarmed. Really, I was more confused than anything. The fishcat seemed to share my sentiment, and maintained its stare as if confounded by the fact that I was interrupting its bathroom time. It had a small nose colored bright pink, and its whiskers were very long and sagging towards the floor. Its tail swayed hypnotically; to and fro and to and fro. Finally it let its eyes grow heavy and droop, as if I was boring it, and went on hovering across the floor while intermittently sniffing at the base of the toilet or sink. It didn't seem intent on causing any trouble. I'm not sure how it would if it did intend to, but I also wasn't able to figure out how it could fly, and I doubted that it had any interest in answering my questions.

 

I went on with my shower. I washed and relaxed while listening for any unusual noises that would signal what my unexpected visitor might be up to. I heard the rustling of a plastic bag and peeked around the patterned shower curtain. Looking down, I watched the fishcat idly mashing its face against the side of my trash bin; rubbing its cheeks along the side and against the corners. It glanced up at me casually and then went about its business, never straying further than the bathroom doorway. I went back to scrubbing myself and minutes later was assaulted by a litany of gargling meows and whines. Alarmed, I wrenched the soaked curtain aside and saw the fishcat, floating just at the foot of the bathtub and staring up at me with an expression of rapt interest. Its pupils were huge and jet black. The moment my face was visible, its look of listlessness and boredom returned. Apparently it just wanted to know where I'd run off to all of the sudden.

 

Feeling cleansed, I turned off the water and opened the shower curtain a final time before reaching for my towel. A small part of me was wary of stepping out onto that cold, tiled floor. Not just because it was cold and my feet are sensitive like a noblewoman's, but because the fishcat was still there and, for all I knew, it really liked the way that people's toes taste. But step out I did, and as I dried my hair with the towel over my head, the fishcat took the opportunity to weave in and out of my legs, rubbing its coarse whiskers against my ankles as it went. It was difficult to tell if this was a gesture of affection or if it was just gauging how easily it would be able to vivisect and devour me once I fell asleep. It circled about my feet with its tail licking at my skin, occasionally diverting its eyes to meet mine before looking back towards the ground. It mewed softly to itself; each utterance gurgled through a sound like distant, crashing waves.

 

Once dried, I lingered for a moment just beneath the frame of the bathroom door. I could sense the fishcat straying just behind my feet, likely waiting to see what I would do next. I felt a sort of detached awe at how casual I was being about whatever the hell this thing was and how it managed to find its way into my house. I figured some subconscious part of my mind had a handle on the situation, and strode into my bedroom to get dressed. As I clothed myself, I made an effort to pay no attention to where the fishcat might be or what it was doing. Maybe I was testing myself to see if I had just imagined the whole thing -- I can't really say. Sure enough, the furry, fishy thing peered around the corner of my bedroom door, as if wary I would shoo it away. I looked at it and wondered, not for the first time, what it might want. Its eyes had grown big and bugging again - this was its "anticipatory" face, I surmised. After pulling on my shorts, I turned to face the fishcat and slowly, gently, squatted down to my haunches before extending my right arm in its direction. I lifted my hand with its palm faced towards the ceiling and waited, fingers splayed.

 

With much hesitation the fishcat curled itself around the wooden door frame. Sat at its level, I could see that it really did have nothing supporting the weight of its chubby, rounded body. Its clean, white fur fully enveloped its frame and covered its belly as well. There were no gray spots on its underside, making the smattering of gray on top look something like a painted-on turtle shell. Lowering its head, the unusual creature drifted towards my outstretched limb with its stomach just inches from the floor, flicking its eyes from my fingers to my face and back again. It pushed out its neck as far as it could manage and gave me a tentative sniff, locking its gaze with mine as it did. Being offered my scent seemed to satisfy and ease its mind, and it once again acquired that dull and placid expression before proceeding to explore the contents of my bedroom.

 

What to do, what to do. I was now confident that the creature wasn't going to try and kill me unexpectedly, but this insight presented a new quandary: do I get rid of it? If I wanted to, how? Where would I even leave the thing, and would it just wander back into my house, like it did the first time? Come to think of it, how the hell did it even get inside? As if to answer my question by example, I was treated to another chorus of its strange, waterlogged cries and set about figuring out where it had gone. I dropped to my knees and checked beneath my bed. Nothing there, so I moved on and peered into the disarray that was my closet. Still nothing, and the sounds of its mewling and clamoring were getting more frantic. Even so, it sounded quiet; almost muffled. Where the hell did it get to in ten seconds? My armoire rattled fitfully. The wooden doors shook and one peeked open briefly before closing with a dull thud.

 

I shuffled over and opened the offending door, only to see the fishcat, restlessly swooping back and forth above the top shelf while occasionally digging its face into the sleeves of my t-shirts. It looked at me as the light encroached on its new hovel and uttered a long, whining cry, as if offended I hadn't found it sooner. It then gracefully slipped from its perch and descended to the wooden floor slowly, like a balloon leaking helium. There it settled momentarily before zipping between my legs, making hasty figure-eights around my calves. I watched it go 'round and 'round and attempted to make sense out of how it gotten itself inside of the armoire. Its doors were solid and closed and there were no openings on its back or underside. Yet, he had found a way in, just like he apparently had with my front door.

 

It occurred to me that I was suddenly think of it as a "he" and somehow, that felt appropriate. I wasn't about to try and check - for all I knew there was a portal to another dimension located just below the creature's anus. Suddenly he took off and jetted out of the room, looking like a snowy lightning bolt with his tail stretched out behind him. I followed briskly and found him in my kitchen, staring up at the sink with those big, green eyes transfixed on the faucets. Automatically I stepped to his right and retrieved a bowl from a hanging cupboard, never once realizing that there was no possible way this thing knew what a sink was used for. I filled the bowl with some cold tap water without further question, retrieved a paper towel and sat the bowl on top of it in the nearest corner of the room. As I did so he flitted between my legs once more, rubbing his furry exterior against my feet and ankles. Then he set about lapping up the water noisily and with great enthusiasm. I watched him and smiled, happy that he was happy.

 

For minutes he sat there, guzzling the water as best he could with his tiny pink tongue. Occasionally he would dip his face into the bowl and submerge his snout, and trails of bubbles would erupt from his nose. I observed with some fascination as he licked the bowl completely dry, leaving no trace of moisture once finished. He then turned to me and lifted his tail, where it twitched and danced erratically. Not being sure what to make of this, I did what only came naturally, and bent down to stroke his fur. I figured he would draw back or even become frightened and flee, but he only thrust his head out to meet my hand. I scratched him gently and rubbed behind his ears, wondering if his nerves worked the same way that a dog's might. His eyes shut and he appeared blissful as I pet him, only stirring to encourage me to scratch other parts of his neck and back. Soon he was turning over and over in mid-air, like a pig on a spit, so that I could rub his belly as well. Some part of me expected him to purr, but when I leaned a bit closer, all I could hear rumbling from his throat were the sounds of the tide.

 

He was a charming little thing, despite his unusual... Characteristics. I decided I should keep him.

 

To this day I've never seen him eat a single piece of solid food. He drinks about three times more water than I do on average, and will occasionally disappear; some times for hours. The first time this happened I panicked, and spent the better part of the afternoon tearing my house apart, before venturing out into the yard, hoping to spot my fishcat. After I despaired and assumed him gone forever, he suddenly turned up, once again above the floor in my bathroom. This became a habitual exchange: whenever he vanished, I would turn on the light above my bathroom mirror and wait. Eventually I would hear distant, gargling cries that would grow progressively louder and clearer, before hearing an odd, blunted sound like wet cardboard being thrown to the floor. Then I'd peer into the bathroom and there he'd be, floating either directly in front of the toilet, over the bathtub drain or just below the lip of the sink; both eyes on me. He did reappear over the kitchen sink once, but was visibly distraught and yowling even after I came to find him, and never reemerged from there again. Despite the fact that the ground beneath him would invariably be soaking wet, his fur was always bone dry.

 

After watching him simply knock over his water bowl and roll in the puddles left strewn across the kitchen floor, I took to filling the tub for him every couple of days. The first time I did, he seemed to lose his mind with joy. He ran his circles around my feet, did a lap around my tiny bathroom and then threw himself like a drunken skinny dipper into the warm water. Though the tub isn't especially large or accommodating, I was amazed to see how gracefully he could move while submerged. He appeared to grow and shrink while under the water, and moved with a speed and fluidity that seemed impossible considering the limited space. When he tired of his baths and left to drift about the house, I would drain the tub; always noticing that several inches of water had gone missing since he first dove in. This, more than anything else, left me baffled. I couldn't imagine how a creature not much larger than a Yorkshire terrier could actually drink several gallons of liquid while SWIMMING through it. I entertained a theory that he could somehow absorb moisture through his skin or fur, but had no means of confirming it.

 

Past a certain point I decided that it wasn't important to try and understand everything about my new friend. He seemed to be sticking around, and it was difficult to feel lonely while he was wriggling his way between my knees or bumping his head against my dangling hand so that I would stroke his fur the way he likes. And no, I never named him. Doing so seemed redundant, somehow. I don't tell people about him because I don't want people to think I've lost my mind, nor do I want to confirm to myself that I actually have. He makes me happy, and as far as I can tell, the feeling is mutual. Maybe if I wind up with a litter of fishcat pups swimming circles in my toilet bowl, I might let the rest of the word know about my furry, fishy little roommate. Until then, I think I'll do what I can to keep him to myself.

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