Wednesday, June 10, 2009

Sleeping with the Fishes

Early in the night, he woke up in a cold sweat.

He knew what was wrong.

There were silver fish in the water supply. He had avoided drinking from the taps, purchasing cartons of bottled water instead. His fridge was just bottles of mineral water now.

It was close to the end of the month. His bottles were almost done.

He had, of late, employed a new maid.

The maid had found an empty bottle. In a fit of empathy, she had taken an empty bottle and filled it with water, placing it in the refrigerator for a pay hike.

He had come home stoned. His throat parched, he had opened the fridge door and gone for one of the three remaining bottles inside. Serendipity had ensured that his hand reached for the relevant one.

Silver fish, exclusive to Gurgaon’s water supply, are microscopic piranha equivalents. Once in the blood supply, they start biting. They don’t stop.

A clinic reported discovering a silver fish in a post mortem. The creature had fed itself to the size of an eel (a growth of over a 1000 times). The doctor said its eyes reminded him of a greedy and fat Chinese minister from the 70’s, also of his wife when she woke up in the middle of the night.

Now it’s interesting to note how these silver fish feed.

While an ordinary predator will try and ravage his prey, the silver fish tries to preserve it. For instance, while a piranha, once through your skin, will cut through your veins, a silver fish will consume the vein and instantaneously substitute it, rearranging its biology to form a surrogate vein that keeps the blood flowing. This keeps the blood flowing until there’s none left, giving the silver fish a fresh supply of meat for the longest possible duration. This necessitates the silver fish to secrete an anesthetic to camouflage the substitution against the nervous system. Otherwise the host would choose suicide over the pain and hence compromise the quality of the silver fish’s feed.

That means that it’s a painless sort of death. Once infected, doctors recommend that you just sleep it through.

He knew that.

I’m not doing that, he thought. Getting up, he started stripping for a shower. Then he’d go to the Saket 24/7 and pick a chilled beer and a pack of smokes. He’d play his favourite playlist on his ipod.

1 comment:

Altar Ego said...


Here's an interesting bit on these creatures:

The reproduction of silverfish is preceded by a ritual involving three phases, which may last over half an hour. In the first phase, the male and female stand face to face, their trembling antennae touching, then repeatedly back off and return to this position. In the second phase the male runs away and the female chases him. In the third phase the male and female stand side by side and head-to-tail, with the male vibrating his tail against the female. Finally the male lays a spermatophore, a sperm capsule covered in gossamer, which the female takes into her body via her ovipositor to fertilize the eggs she will lay later on.