Home Other SF
How did the Ceolacanth REALLY Survive?
by Michael Bard
Michael Bard -- all rights reserved

Kasana Solanth walked into the pod of Dr Kynarhan, the head of ecological sciences for the free peoples. He stood up and clasped his hands together and bowed in greeting, as did she, and then sat his unusually dark green form behind his desk and motioned for Kasana to sit in front.

"Dr Solanth," he began. "I take it you know why I asked you here?"

"I think so. Its about the Ceolacanth Project."

"Exactly. We're finally ready to begin reintroducing the species. It's our duty after the disasters caused to the earth by our earlier civilizations." He sighed. "I only wish we'd made it into space before the ecological deterioration forced us to concentrate our efforts here."

"I've heard rumours that it's been decided to start with the oceans, and in particular with the ceolacanth. Was that due to my concerns?"

"Mostly. Your articles have been a bit, colourful, shall we say."

"I prefer passionate."

"Whatever. Anyway, we did finally decide to start the repopulation with a single small species as a trial."

"Wonderful. And my other request, about having somebody breed and monitor it?"

"I was finally able to convince them of your arguments." He stood up and brought down a old, leather bound book, and carefully placed it on his desk. He looked back up at Kasana, "You're really sure you want to go through with this?"

She leaned back in her chair, letting its simple biological form adjust to her back. Did she want it? Did she want to give up her race? Would she still be herself? "How did they solve the intelligence problem?"

"Its was actually quite simple. The plan is to have the actual mind divided into individual neurons throughout the body, all linked. The 'brain' would only act as a switching centre."

Kasana nodded. "And my young?"

"That's the problem. There are still some smaller fish, and a few of the larger predators, who survived our errors, and because of them our earlier attempts at reintroduction have failed. The decision has been to let the intelligence breed true."

She was shocked. "What? Why?!" What disasters would their intelligence cause in the future?

"The plan is for the intelligence to initially help the species to survive long enough to become viable. Then, since we made intelligence a recessive trait, it should breed itself out as there will be no real need for it."

"You hope. Why are you and the council willing to take that risk?"

"It has been decided that the need to get moving with the reintroduction outweighs any risks." He looked straight into her yellow eyes. "You never did answer me. Are you still sure you want to go through with this? Absolutely sure?"

"I think so." Why was she so unsure? She had worked for this for the last fifteen years. Ever since she had first heard rumours of the reintroduction of the many species her race had driven to extinction. Often she had dreamed of it. So why was she hesitant?

"I need a definite answer. Once we introduce the tailored virus, there is no going back. Ever."

She sighed. Enough hesitation. She had worked towards this, and she was ready. "Yes. I am absolutely sure."

Dr Kynarhan sighed and slowly sat down. He opened the book on his desk to a marked page. On that page was an old picture of the last known coelacanth to survive. He looked back up at her. "This is what you will be. This is what you will be for the rest of your life. I have to ask and make sure that you are absolutely positive. I couldn't live with myself otherwise."

She looked down at the picture. It was of a large, beautiful, female, about two metres in length. Its scales and angular fins were all a dashing blue-black with white streaking towards the tail. It had its jaw fully opened, with its nostrils distended. She recognized the picture, it was of the last one ever caught. They had hoped to breed it but the pollution had rendered it sterile. She closed her eyes for a moment and then looked back up at Dr Kynarhan.

"Yes. I will. I'm ready."

Dr Kynarhan raised his three fingered hand and they pressed their palms together. "The council thanks you for your sacrifice. As I know that you already have all your affairs in order, tomorrow morning, at 18:00, go to the biology research centre here in the capital. Go and see Dr Dalerul and he will give you the injection and monitor the procedure."

They bowed and Kasana turned and left. All doubts had been banished from her mind. Finally, she thought. Finally my dreams can come true. The dreams that she had had since she had hatched.

Kasana was unable to sleep that night, and ended up watching various broadcasts. She ignored the general news, the almost lies about the state of the earth, and the one talk show about possible asteroid collisions. Instead, she watched nature shows. Most were filmed almost a century ago, and then enhanced as technology improved. She wanted to remember as much about her old life as possible before she left it behind. What she remembered most from that night was the footage that stuck her most - that of hunters of two centuries ago shooting the last of the wild crested lambeosaurines, and the beast's honking as they died.

Finally morning came and Kasana decided to walk to the biology centre. The capital was still small, as the population was still recovering from the decimation caused by disease and famine over the last century. It took her only an hour in the pre-dawn light to reach the centre - the only life she saw was a few birds just beginning their hunt for food. Most of the birds had come to the cities where they could live quite well off the free people's waste.

She opened the door and went into the public hall. It was always open as it displayed many of the extinct creatures, some extinct long ago, and others just recently. She passed the preserved remains of various ceratopsians and went over to the tank where a preserved coelacanth was displayed and just looked at it. She lost herself in thought. Soon, she would look like that.

She didn't hear the claw taps behind her and was startled when she heard a voice, "Dr Solanth?"

She gasped and turned around. It was a large male, light green in colour, and obviously very old. She recognized him as Dr Dalerul.

"Did I startle you? Somehow I expected to find you here."

"You did?"

"We know a lot more about you than you might think. Your research wasn't the only reason you were finally selected. You state of mind was also considered. You are stable, but you have your dreams. You're by far the most likely to adapt."

"How do you know my dreams."

He smiled, "You must learn not to talk in your sleep."

She glared at him in shock.

"Now come along, it's still a bit early, but we're ready for you now." He turned and walked towards an open door at the end of the hallway.

Kasana shrugged and followed him. The only sound was the clicking of their toe claws on the marble floor. She followed Dr Dalerul down a hallway and past various rooms into a large and comfortable office. The office had once seemed large, but now all the walls were lined with shelves containing books and specimens. It smelled slightly of decay and damp. All the tables were covered with books and Dr Dalerul even had to move some from his chair onto the floor. He motioned for Kasana to sit down opposite him - fortunately her chair was bare.

When they were seated, Dr Dalerul began. "I'm told that you've accepted the transformation. That you are willing and able."


"Good. I just need to confirm your feelings."

He leaned down and Kasana heard a loud scraping as a drawer was opened. Dr Dalerul pulled out a small case and placed it on the one empty space on his desk and slammed the drawer shut. Then he opened the case. It contained a single syringe, beside which was a large vial containing a greenish-black liquid. Dr Dalerul pulled out the vial and filled the syringe with a measured portion. He closed the case.

"This is your last chance. Once I inject you, there will be no turning back. Are you absolutely sure?"

Kasana looked at the syringe. There was her future. She had always hated needles, but this would be the last one. Ever. She closed her eyes and whispered, "Yes."

"Wonderful. This'll hurt only a little."

She still grimaced at the sharp prick at her elbow. Even though her eyes were closed, she could feel the coldness start to move up her arm and into her chest before it finally dissipated. She opened her eyes and watched Dr Dalerul clean and bandage the wound.

"Its done. You shouldn't notice anything for a while, but it's already started to work. Do you know how the process will proceed?"

"I've studied it thoroughly. After all, I've been preparing for this for a long time."

"Good. Then I'll take you to your room. You'll probably want to sleep as you were awake all night."

She stared at him. How long had they been watching her?

"Don't worry. We had to keep an eye on you to make sure you were committed. We're just being cautious. Now that the process has begun, all of the recordings are being destroyed."

"Thank you."

"If you need the washroom, and be warned that you will, a lot, just call for a nurse. Its the standard button arrangement. Any other questions?"

"No." She smiled. Now that it had begun, she realized how tired she was. "Lets go then, I think I'll fall asleep on your chair if I stay here much longer."

Dr Dalerul stood up and helped her up. He turned and she followed him out of his office and down a short hall to another door. Opening it, he motioned her in.

"Good night. Remember, buzz if you need anything."

She yawned and clasped his hand for a second. Then she turned and tumbled into bed.

She slept well, unaware of the changes that were going on in her body. Finally she awoke, feeling bloated. She sniffed and gagged, and realized that she had already relieved herself all over the bed. And she had to go again. She breathed through her mouth and buzzed the nurse. Finally the nurse arrived and didn't look at all shocked.

"Don't look so guilty," the nurse said. "Dr Dalerul expected this to happen. Don't worry, in a month or so we'll move you to your tank and then it won't be so messy. I take it you have to go again?"

Kasana managed to nod.

The next month was hellish. She didn't eat anything, only drank, as her body slowly got rid of its mass as she began her shrinkage to half her size. As expected, within a week her scales had begun to grow larger, and began to match a coelacanth's patterns. After three weeks she found she had to sleep on her side to be comfortable - she felt around and just managed to feel her new tail beginning to grow - her arms had shortened to the point were they could barely reach to check. She still made a mess of the bed every night when she slept, but had come to accept it philosophically. As the nurse had said, it was expected.

After four weeks her tail had stopped growing. It was only about ten centimetres in length, but the rest of her body would adapt to fit it. She could feel the small caudal and posterior caudal fins and could even move their ribs slightly. Now she knew what it was like to have a tail. By the fifth week her legs had shrunk to only 30 centimetres or so in length, and she was beginning to feel dry. Her messes also became drier.

One morning Dr Dalerul came to see her.

"You'll be happy to know that everything is proceeding normally. We're going to move you to your tank today."

She'd wondered about that. She hadn't developed any kind of gills yet. Just in case they had just opened, she felt her neck, which she could barely reach. But she couldn't feel anything.

"They'll be a while yet. But don't worry, we have a respirator for you that we'll strap to your head. We haven't gone through all this to let you drown."

She managed a laugh. Hopefully the water would help since her whole body now felt dry and uncomfortable.

"We do have to do one thing though, before we put you in. We'll put you under while we implant a small sperm sack. It'll release a genetically different set of sperm once a year or so while you're fertile. That way you'll lay eggs that are already fertilized."

"Can we get it over with now?"

"Yes. Drink this, and you'll wake up in your new home." He handed her a glass.

She leaned forward to hold the glass, hearing her scales rasp against the bed. Its contents looked like water, but when she drank it, it tasted bitter - she barely managed to keep from spitting it out. She wanted to ask for water to wash out the taste, but couldn't stop her eyes from closing.

When she awoke, her body didn't feel dry anymore, for the first time in almost a week. She was breathing normally and could hear a roar of bubbles each time she exhaled. She could see them blurrily rise to the now forbidden surface. She could even see the tip of her mouth - her face had started to reform.

"Hello?" The bubbles obscured her sounds. She took a deep breath and shouted, "Anybody!?" She looked around and saw someone leaning over the tank. The form was blurred.

"Are you awake?"

She heard a man's voice whisper throughout the tank. It sounded odd. It sounded a bit like Dr Dalerul, but deeper, and with weird resonances. "Yes!" she answered.

"Good. This is Dr Dalerul. Everything went fine. Do you feel Ok?"

She tried to quiet her breathing and then tried to sense her body. She felt fine, not too hot and not too cool. She thought she could feel a dull ache in her chest, but she wasn't sure.

"I'm fine!"

"Good. You'll have to stay here. You'll need the respirator for another two months until your gills develop. We've put a monitor just outside so you can try and keep from being bored. Can you see it?"

She tried to turn herself around to look, but her legs and arms didn't help much. Then she remembered her tail and used it to turn around. She could see the monitor. It was blurry, but recognizable. "Yes!"

"Good. For now its all you'll have, but in a month we'll need to start on your language lessons. Your body should be developed enough by then to make the sounds you need. Do you understand?"

"Yes! Can you turn it to the nature broadcast?!"

Over the next month she watched the monitor. Her vision cleared until it was as sharp as it use to be. Her arms and legs continued to shorten, and the ends began to flatten into fins. Her claws disappeared completely. Her head continued to change and flatten, as did her chest. They adjusted her mask daily to keep it tight.

During the second month of her aquatic existence, she began her language lessons. She had helped to develop the code of clicks and hums that she could make that would be used to communicate with scientists that would come to visit her and monitor the growing population she would birth. She knew the language by heart, but had to learn how to make it with her new body. At first it was difficult, but as her body continued to change, it started to become easier.

Near the end of the second month her throat began to feel dry. She asked for a mirror and could see bumps forming on either side of her face. Her neck was now completely gone, her head merged with her chest. Her chest had thinned and fattened until now it was almost a cylinder. She could even see buds for the rest of her fins.

She was also beginning to lose the ability to talk. By the end of the month she could only talk in a whisper which nobody could hear. To her it sounded like the breathy rasp of an old man. Fortunately she could now communicate in her language of hums and clicks.

At the end of the week she awoke and could see blood in the water. She could no longer turn her head so she turned her body around and looked in the mirror but couldn't see anything wrong. She swam closer to the edge of the tank and noticed three lines behind her head. Were those her gills? She clicked and hummed to call for a doctor.

A few minutes later she could see the figure of Dr Dalerul outside the tank. "Are you all right?"

"I think so, but what about the blood?" A computer translated her hums and clicks to normal words.

"Come closer. It should be your gills."

She managed to swim to the edge of the tank and turned her side to the edge. She could still see him as her eyes were now on the side of her head as it had begun to flatten. "I checked, it looks like them."

"Good, wonderful! And right on schedule." He rubbed his hands together. "Wait a few minutes and I'll get some students into the tank with you to remove your air."


"You don't need it anymore, and soon it'll begin to damage your throat. Don't worry, there'll be people with you in case you need it again."

She tried to nod, forgetting for a second that she no longer could. "Ok."

She waited for a while until the doctor and two others returned. She felt splashes along the side of her body and soon saw two women swimming down to her. They were wearing respirators and full face masks.

"Are you ready?" one asked. Her breath hissed out into the water. She looked a pale green with faint whitish streaks along her chest.

"Yes." Kasana heard the metallic translation of her answer in the tank.

The one who had spoken slowly swam up to her. "Don't move. I'm going to hold you behind the gills as I remove the respirator. I won't do so until you say that you're ready. Do you understand?"


The woman swam up and wrapped her arm around Kasana's body. The touch felt odd, and somehow distant, as though being felt through thick clothing. The arm also felt almost uncomfortably hot.

"I'm in position. Are you ready?"

Kasana swallowed, trying to get rid of the dryness in the mouth. This was it. She took a deep breath, hopefully her last, and held it. She could feel herself begin to rise. "Yes."

Kasana saw the woman nod, and then she removed the respirator. The mask was gone and Kasana could feel water against her lips. She kept them closed, afraid to open them.

The woman noticed. "You need to start breathing. Don't worry, I'm right here. Just open and close your mouth. That should open the gills. I have the respirator mask right here."

Kasana tried again to nod. She had to do this. She had to. She tried to close her eyes, but no longer could. All she could do was stare. And she hadn't even noticed when her eyelids went away. She opened her mouth and felt the water flow in. She felt a slight tearing behind her head. She closed her mouth and felt muscles clench and flesh flare wide behind her eyes. Then other muscles clenched. She opened her mouth again, and repeated the cycle.

She did it for a while, never feeling faint, and soon it became natural. She began to sink as her lungs, now just air bladders, slowly absorbed her last breath. "I'm fine. My gills are working." She hummed and clicked and listened to the translation.

"They look fine. Call if there are any problems." The woman let go and Kasana watched her swim back to the surface, to the air, now completely foreign to her.

For the next few weeks she luxuriated in her freedom from the respirator. Her waist was gone and she could easily move her tail. Her swimming remained awkward until her other fins finally popped out of their buds. They were still small, but they would grow. Her arms and legs continued to shrink, and soon they were only a little larger than the fins they would become. Her toes and fingers had thinned and were now joined by more ribs, all linked by a thin webbing. She could move them at her wrist and ankle, and widen and narrow their span, but she couldn't bend her fingers anymore. Her body had narrowed to almost the right size. Physically she was almost complete. She watched the monitor less and less, as more and more of the images made no sense to her.

She was slowly swimming back and forth, half watching the monitor, when she noticed Dr Dalerul outside.

"How are you doing?" he asked.

She clicked and hummed her response. "Fine, considering."

"Good. Your change is almost complete except for your head - your lungs have even merged into a single air bladder. Now, your brain has just started to shrink and the new neurons have begun to mature. You need to concentrate on language and memory."

"I'll try."

"You'll do more than try! You need to imprint what you want to remember on your new neurons. You need to keep your speech and your knowledge. You'll probably lose literacy, but we hope nothing else. You may lose some of your older memories. Do you understand."

"Yes." She turned away from him with a flick of her tail.

"You have to do this. If you don't your mind will be gone. I'm going to take the monitor away so you can concentrate. You have to do it."

She let out a loud hum and a sharp click. "Fine!" She understood what he meant though. She tried to remember. She remembered her past, or at least most of it. Some bits were gone. She didn't know what they were, but she knew things were missing. He was right, her mind was starting to go. But she wouldn't let it. She refused to let what she was die.

She started humming and clicking in the language she had created in another life. She hummed and clicked her history, and her parents; she hummed and clicked her past, and her plans for the future.

For the next month her body and head continued to shrink. One day she heard a crack and found that she could open her mouth wider - she felt her eyes move upward slightly as her jaw distended. That meant something, something, she couldn't remember what, had happened... Then she remembered vaguely - her skull had separated. She opened her mouth wide and gulped water. Soon she would be complete.

Then she went back to her sing-song history of hums and clicks. She would remember, she would not let herself forget.

Towards the end of the month she began to feel curiously empty. She remembered something about this, a name, a word. She remembered hunger. She called for the ones who watched her. She remembered a name, vaguely, a Dalerul. He was a... She couldn't remember. She called out in her clicking and humming way.

She saw motion outside her tank.

"Kasana? What's wrong. This is Dr Dalerul."

Doctor, that was it. Doctor, doctor, doctor...


Oh right. "I'm hungry, I think."


She watched as he checked something. She had no idea what it was. She waited and kept saying doctor to herself - she didn't want to forget it.

"Wonderful! Right on schedule." She heard the doctor speaking again. "You're physical reduction is complete. You need food again. I'll be back in a while."

She watch him turn and swim away. Was swim the right word? She went back to her chant of memories. She wouldn't let herself forget. She added doctor. A while later she noticed a number of doctors return. One swam to the top of her tank and there was a splash and a bunch of little ones swam down around her.

The doctor spoke, "Kasana. We've added fish to the tank. You need to start eating them."

Eat? She remembered eating... that's it - she needed to swallow them. But why? She had never done so before. But she knew she had to listen to the doctors. She swam over to one and distended her jaw and swallowed it. It was good, it filled the hollowness inside her. Then she swallowed another one. So this was eating...

She had fed well and was resting when the doctors came back. She heard them talking. They were saying something about preparing her from birth and conditioning, and something about her mind not being quite what they wanted for the rulers to escape what was coming, but she wasn't sure what they meant. Eventually one of the doctors spoke directly to her.


She swam over to the edge of her world to look at him. "Yes." she clicked and hummed back.

"The procedure is finally finished. You're complete."

Complete? That meant finished. Then she remembered - she had once been like them. They must mean that her new self was done. "I won't change anymore?"

"Its done and its successful. We're going to release you."

She was happy here. "Why?"

She heard the doctors whisper amongst themselves. She started chanting her memories while she waited. Finally a doctor spoke, "Don't you remember? We're going to release you into the oceans so you can create a new species. It's why you accepted this change."

She stopped and tried to remember. Oh, right. "I'm the first mother. It's all finished then?"

"Yes. We'll release you tomorrow. Then you'll be visited once a month to check how you're doing."

A month? She dimly remembered it - something about days and time passing. In the last week it had become easier to remember, even though she had gaps, but she still chanted because it helped. "Ok." She turned and started swimming around looking for food. The small ones had become harder to catch.

The next day she woke up from her half asleep state and saw the doctors walk in. She swam over to the front of her world.

"We're going to lower in a smaller tank. We need you to swim into it so we can take you to the ocean. Do you understand."

Ocean? She remembered - it was where she was supposed to go. It was a much larger world. "Yes," she hummed and clicked as she swam up towards the top of her world.

There was a splash and some bubbles and a large box was lowered in. It was only a little bigger then she was. She swam into it and carefully used her other fins to straighten herself out. It was really small. She heard a rattle and a thump beside her and looked - the entrance was closed in. She guessed it was time to go.

She watched the walls of her new world as it was lifted out into the what? She thought and remembered the word. Air. She said it to herself a couple of times and added it to her chant of memory. She watched as her world was carried outside. Outside? But it was so bright. There was only a single light that she couldn't look at. Ah, it was the sun. She started chanting sun to herself as she was loaded onto a truck and driven to the ocean. There a crane lifted her tank into another vehicle. There was a word for it. What was it? She tried but couldn't remember.

"What are we going on?" she asked using her hums and clicks. But there was no translation, and nobody answered.

She just let herself float as she was lowered onto the vehicle. There was a bang, and some shouting, and then a few minutes of silence. Then there was a roar of something - a motor? - and then her world began to rock. She looked around and could tell that she was moving.

They traveled for a while but eventually stopped. She heard scraping from above and looked up. It looked like something was being moved. She thought it was the top of her world, but she wasn't sure. Then she heard a doctor speaking to her.

"We're going to tag you so we can keep track of you. There'll be a moment of pain, but then you shouldn't notice anything."

They were doctors and so Kasana wasn't worried. She just waited and watched as some arms reached into her world. They were holding something metal. There was a sting in her first dorsal fin, and she flicked the fin and pulled herself to the bottom of the tank. She waited and the pain mostly went away, but she could still feel it if she tried. She was getting hungry. She realized that her first dorsal fin felt strange, like something was there. But she didn't worry - doctors would only do what was good for her.

"We're going to release you now. We'll keep monitoring you and we'll be back in a month."

"Yes," she hummed and clicked back.

She felt her world tip, and then saw the front being raised. Water roared out and she was swept along. She fell and splashed into colder, dirtier water. It tasted odd, but somehow right. She let herself sink and watched the boat. The roar started and it moved away.

She looked around her. This must be ocean, her new world. She was really hungry. She looked around for some food. There, in the distance, she saw one. She swam towards it. Boy was this world large. She reached it and gulped it down. Strange, the food was easy to catch once she found it - the doctors had indeed taken her to a better place. She saw another small fish and dashed after it, and gulped it down too. It tasted different from the ones in her smaller world, in fact it tasted better, and it filled her hollowness. She went off looking for more, slowly swimming deeper into the darkness since the light seemed too bright.

She was returning to the overhang she had adopted as home when she heard the rumble of another vehicle approaching. It must be the doctors! She was so lonely, there had been no one to talk to, only herself. But she had kept her memory chant. She swam out to greet the doctors.

It didn't take long until she reached a large, smooth, fish. It looked different from others she had seen, and had avoided, but she knew it was the doctors. It stopped as she approached. Then it spoke to her.

"We're glad to see you're still alive. Are you doing all right? Are you managing fine? Do you need anything?"

It took her a second but then she remembered the meaning of the words. Her memory was getting better. She hummed and clicked her answer. "I'm fine. My new world is wonderful. Thank you for bringing me here."

"You have enough food?"

"More than enough."

"Good. Then we'll see you next month. You should have laid your first eggs by then."

Eggs? She remembered they were very important. They were why she existed. They would become others like her. She hoped they could talk to her. She was so lonely when the doctors weren't around.

Time passed in endless boredom. Sometimes it was light, and other times it was dark, but always there was no one to talk to. The smaller fish grew more wary of her just as she remembered to be wary of the occasional larger fish. She was glad that there weren't too many of them. As time passed she felt herself grow and start to become bloated. She knew it had to do something with her eggs.

Then one morning, while she was still in her half asleep state, she was jerked awake by new muscles. She felt a clenching behind her stomach, and a stretching by her anal fin. Then the muscles popped shut. She turned and saw a transparent bubble start to sink to the bottom of her crevice.

So that was an egg.

She felt another clenching, and another stretch, and another pop. And another egg. And another. And another. Soon she lost count. Eventually, though, it ended. She felt like herself again, the bloating she had felt was gone. She swam down and saw all of her many eggs sticking along the bottom.

Her eggs.

She felt so proud of herself!

She didn't go very far to hunt after that and made sure to chase any other fish away. Fortunately none of the larger ones came. Unfortunately, the eggs wouldn't talk to her.

Eventually the doctors came again, and this time she waited for them. When she told them about her eggs, they were really happy. Their happiness made her feel good. Now if only she wasn't so lonely...

Eventually her eggs hatched and she watched all the little ones swim around. She had a small urge to eat them as they looked like food, but she remembered that they weren't food. They were children. She wasn't forgetting things anymore. She stayed close and tried to keep her children happy. She tried talking to them, but they didn't answer.

When the doctors came, she was glad as she was lonely and missed the conversation, but they didn't stay long. So she stayed with her children. Gradually some began to talk, and she began to teach them. She kept the smart ones very close as she didn't want to be lonely any more.

A long time passed and she laid many eggs and had many young. Most couldn't talk, but some did. She made sure to keep the talking ones with her and she taught them her chant of memories. She remembered something about the way they would breed, and that if an intelligent child mated with a dumb child, all of the children would be dumb. She tried to keep that from happening so that she would have more children to talk to.

The doctors kept coming, and she kept her smart children hidden from them. She remembered that they didn't want her to have smart children. But if they really didn't, then they wouldn't leave her alone. She didn't want to be lonely ever again.

She was very old, and had many smart children that stayed with her. Some of the dumb ones tried to stay, but she and her children and her children's children, always drove them away. She still had young, but had never needed a mate. She wondered why but remembered it was something the doctors had done for her. She added that to the memory chant she and her children shared between the stories they told each other.

One day the water felt odd. It felt quiet, like a calm before a storm, whatever a storm was. The children were worried and wanted to swim but weren't sure where. She led them out and they started to hunt, but it felt odd. There was no food. They started to swim deeper since it felt wrong to go to the surface. Some tried and said they would come back, but they never did.

She and her children were far deeper then they had ever gone before and the water was black. Then the water was lit up with a bright light, like they were at the surface. But then it passed. They saw some other fish and went to feed. They fed for a while and then the water was suddenly sucked away. They were pulled, and swirled, and tossed helplessly. Kasana tried to keep her children with her, but they had separated to feed. She could only keep close to a few.

Gradually the water settled and it was dark. Some of her children came back, but most were lost. They tried to find their way home but couldn't, but they found another home. But it was dark. They swam upwards and it stayed dark. They finally reached the right depth but it looked like night. It must be night.

The stayed, and the oceans stayed dark. That was wrong. They went to the surface and it was still dark. The world must have changed. They went back to their new home. Fish were scarce, and some of her children died. But others survived. They separated to hunt as individuals, coming back only to rest. When the sun came back years later, they kept hunting during the night. They were use to it and it was safe.

But as the years passed, the doctors never came back.

She would have been lonely but she had her smart children to talk to. She had her smart children, and her smart children's smart children. They all learned their chants of memory from her until finally she died.

As the centuries, the millenia and the eons passed, the coelacanth's survived. They hid in their caves during the day for safety where they talked and chanted the memories. At night, when it was safe, they hunted. The smartest married the smartest, but some were still born without the ability to remember. Those tended to be more brownish in colour and were driven out. The culture evolved and the eggs were lain in secret caves in the dark depths where the young remained hidden until they could join coelacanth society.

They survived the ice ages, they survived explosions and tidal waves, and so they survived until today, hidden and secret. Except for the ones who can't learn the memories and are driven out to be caught in gill nets just before Christmas.

Home Other SF

Website Copyright 2004,2005 Michael Bard.  Please send any comments or questions to him at mwbard@transform.to