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The Skeptic Tank George Stewart Alone and annoyed, he awoke to the chorus of a thousand voices, as he had every time now, for just about as long as he’d remembered. They shuffled swimmingly, a golden orange infirmity of existence ricocheting back and forth, from one side of the box to the other. They had all been saying different things. Some screaming, some crying, some laughing, but when confined to the restrictions of the box their voices became one basic, boring, blast of noise that ultimately wasn’t even worth attempting to comprehend. Occasionally, he would try to make out the sounds, in hopes they contained some sort of information that could give him some basic insight as to why they were there, what their purpose was, and who the strange, lungless, meat-sacks were who held them captive. Ultimately, the information usually proved to be pointless. There was one theory floating around, that air drinkers were Gods, those who followed it believed the box was some form of aquatic purgatory. Some of the other golden backs like him, believed that if you’re good, if you didn’t swim about bumping into others, if you ate your fair share at meal time and no more, and of course if you didn’t consume the flesh of fallen friends, the gods would smile down upon you. Every so often these Gods or, air drinking meat-bags as some of us liked to call them, would pick up a net and use it to make contact with our world. With it, they carried us off. Our living, our dead, it didn’t matter. The dead were dumped in a small, grey, box on the floor but the living had two options, in the bubble or another box. The Gods theorists believed that the bubble fish were granted true freedom, free to roam worlds of both air and water as escorted by the gods themselves. That was all a bunch of algae. He’d seen what Gods did to golden-backs, and so far the only system in place determining if you ended up in a strange bubble, the trash, or another box filled with bigger and scarier fish didn’t care how kind or good you were. He’d seen plenty of good golden

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2017 Freshwater Literary Journal  

Professional literary journal produced at Asnuntuck Community College

2017 Freshwater Literary Journal  

Professional literary journal produced at Asnuntuck Community College

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