A Tight Fit
By Michelle Pichette and Holly Cushing
Kowalski tapped the fish bowl sitting on the lab table. The fish lashed about, flicking water out and catching Ski right in the eye with the splash. "Stop bothering the specimen," Doctor Babin, the Admiralís new assistant told him, not looking up from what she was doing. Dominica Babin had been Kowalskiís friend since eighth grade and he was kind of happy that she was working with Admiral Nelson now. Some of his previous assistants and some of the scientist that had come to work on the Seaview had left a whole lot to be desired in Kowalskiís eyes. Dom had been working on the Seaview for about six months now and not only did she have no intention of leaving, most of the guys would have been heartbroken if she decided to do so for some reason.
Dom wasnít mad at him. He knew that without any doubt. In fact, he was one of the few guys that was welcomed in her lab whether she was working or not. "Whatís so special about this bugeyed little guy anyway?" Ski asked her, tapping the bowl again. This time he stepped back fast enough not to get hit with the splash that came at him. "Heís consistent anyway."
"Heís also the Admiralís new little prize, so stop giving him nervous tension," Dom told him, looking up at him briefly with a grin.
"Itís a him, then? What is he, some kind of fancy goldfish"
"He is a him, but heís not a goldfish. We donít know what he is, actually. Not yet. The Admiral and I are working on it."
"So if heís so special, why donít you give him a little more swimming room. He looks awful cramped in this bowl here," Ski said, stooping down to look in the bowl again. The fish was barely able to move and he didnít look very happy about it. In fact, he looked downright depressed, if a fish could look depressed.
"Heís in that little bowl because he abused his privileges in his tank."
Ski looked up at her. "How do you mean?"
"Well, our guest here flipped himself out of his tank and when the Admiral scooped him up to put him back, he just about bit off the Admiralís thumb. So, now our finny friend is in the fish brig."
Ski grinned. "Youíre kidding."
"The Admiralís got three stitches in his hand to prove it."
"Whoa. Some sort of piranha, then, huh?"
"No. Like I said, we donít know what he is, but heís not a known species. Weíre doing some DNA testing to see if heís got any relatives that are a little more familiar, but itís not exactly a speedy process," Dom said. She made some notes, then looked up at him. "So, whatís everyone else up to?"
"Same old same old. The cruise is over, weíre headed back to Santa Barbara, no oneís in sickbay, everythingís running just fine, nothingís going on. Actually, things are pretty boring," Ski admitted. It wasnít that he wanted mayhem breaking loose on the boat, but he wouldnít exactly mind if something happened.
"Which is why youíre hanging around down here," Dom said. She leaned on her elbows and gave him a grin. "You must be really bored."
Kowalski leaned forward and cuffed her gently. "Like I never show up otherwise. Want some lunch?"
"Now that sounds..." Dom started, then stopped and looked at the fish bowl between them. "Now, thatís weird. That fish looks like itís grown substantially."
Ski looked down at the bowl. "Looks the same to me."
"The Admiral would never put such a large fish in a bowl this size. He would use up his oxygen too quickly," Dom told Kowalski. "Here. Put him this tank, okay?"
"Sure," Kowalski said, picking up the bowl and starting toward the tank Dom was indicating. Heíd barely gone two steps when bowl suddenly got heavy and all but lurched from his hands. Before him rose a bugeyed fishman that looked remotely like the fish that had just been in the bowl, only this creature snarled at him with big, shark like teeth. "What the heck..." Kowalski started, then the fishman smacked him hard across the head with one of his now arm length fins. Kowalski was all but thrown over the work table where heíd just been sitting and nearly knocked cold when he was. He shook himself back to full awareness, though, thinking only that he was the only thing between that monster and Dom. Dom wasnít afraid of anything, but she couldnít fight her way out of a paper bag.
Sure enough, the fishman had turned on Dom, but she was behaving like a typical scientist. She had picked up a camera from some place and as the fishman moved forward to menace her, she took itís picture. Luckily for her, the thing recoiled from the flash, then shrank, now again appearing to be a normal fish. Kowalski caught him in the fish bowl as he flipped wildly about, not about to catch the thing in his hands. He hadnít forgotten the nasty looking teeth heíd seen on the larger version or Domís tale about what it had done to the Admiral. "What just happened? Howíd he do that?" Ski asked as he put the bowl on the table and backed from it.
"I donít know, but I think it would be a good idea to put that bowl in the real brig," Dom said.
Kowalski gave her a pained look. "Everyoneís going to think weíre nuts, putting a fish in the brig."
Dom didnít seem at all bothered by what heíd said though. She walked over to the computer in the back of the room and hooked the camera that she still had in hand to it. She clicked off a few commands and less than a minute later, something was coming off the printer. Dom walked up back over to him, holding the piece of paper out to him. On it was a picture of the fishman, big shark teeth and all, facing right into the camera. "A pictureís worth a thousand words. At least the Admiral isnít going to feel so silly about those stitches now," she said with a smirk as she took up the fish bowl.
"Give me that!" Kowalski said, taking it from her. "For peteís sake, what if that thing decides to grow again?"
"You worry too much," Dom said as she opened the lab door for him.
"Yeah, yeah. Lecture me on it after we get done at the brig," Kowalski said, then gave the fish a wicked grin. "And once the Admiral finishes with you, Iím making you into fish sticks for socking me." He was holding the fish bowl at armís length before him, but the fishman still managed to flip water straight into his face.