Number 17 of the eighteen stories in my debut short story collection, Mammals, I Think We Are Called.
A visit by a mysterious coelacanth floods London with collective hallucinatory dreams, reuniting its citizens.
Read two excerpts:
It was as if the fish, displaced to the sky, had brought with it dense dreams from the depths. Waves of rich colour unspooled through its gills and seeped into buildings, drifted in through windows, crept under doors and up staircases and into people’s bedrooms, where they lay sweetly sleeping or loudly snoring, reaching even hardened criminals in their cells. Lost children, huddled together in doorways, stirred and smiled. And all of them were filled with a wondrous sense of home.
All night, the rainbow tides surged through the brains and bodies of the Londoners, before the coming of the rosy dawn, and they woke with a feeling of mysterious ancestry. They smiled to themselves on their way to work, but did not talk of their strange new happiness. It was
ungraspable, a sense of something missing, now filled in, and they could not put it into words. Besides, they were not used to talking to each other. It was just a silly dream, they told themselves as the day wore on and their new-found happiness ebbed slowly away. And they bent their heads
once more to their desks.
The fish rose from the table and swam out the window by instinct, something stirring in its fatty brain.
It made no sense and it made some sense.
And as it flew over London, the Londoners rose from their beds and went out onto the streets. They stood together, rich and poor and in-between, looking up in stunned silence as the fish swam in circles above them, gathering the rainbow trail up into its body.
The fish completed its spiral near London Bridge. And then, as suddenly as it had arrived, it dived deep into the Thames, stray dreams escaping from its gills and separating into strands of colour in a sunrise over the water, the like of which had never been seen in the great city of London. All along the banks of the river, to the very mouth of the Thames, the rainbow colours saturated the sand on the small beaches exposed by the withdrawing tide, and the waters were lit as if by New Year’s Eve fireworks.
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