Som was relaxing by his family’s private lake. His father was fairly wealthy, and on a whim, decided to build a lake on their property.
He was seated on a beach chair, with one leg’s foot on the other leg’s knee. Waiting for feedback from the fishing rod he held in his hands.
Som would often come to this lake, to enjoy some fishing. Every time he watched the fish swim around in the water, he would remember the days when he and his father were personally digging out this lake and choosing the fish that would live here.
As Som was staring into the lake, he could hear some footsteps behind him.
Som called out to his friend Mike, who he had known for a long time.
Mike knew Som’s routine, but he always wondered why Som liked fishing so much.
“Yup. The catch is good today.”
“Oh? That’s rare coming from you. Let me see.”
“Hehe, you’re in for a surprise.”
Som pulled out a bucket from the side of his chair and handed it to Mike, who showed some interest in the fish inside.
“Wow! You don’t see these every day. But still, is this enough to be considered a good catch?”
What Mike was looking at was a half black half white fish, with its scales alternating in colour. It was one of the rarer fishes that could be found in the lake. But still, these were common enough that just one, wouldn’t make today a good catch.
“That’s not all. Now prepare yourself for a real surprise.”
Som then grabbed another bucket and handed it to Mike.
“Eh? Another one of these has appeared?”
Mike was now looking at an extremely rare fish. It had silver scales, but they would reflect rainbow coloured light, making their colour change as it swam around. As far as Mike was aware, only one other fish like this had ever been found in the lake.
“Yes indeed. I was also surprised, ever since the last one got sick, I didn’t think we would see another one.”
Som remembered that tragic fish, he and his father had especially picked that particular fish to be the centrepiece of the whole lake, but one day it contracted an incurable disease. The disease itself wasn’t harmful to the fish’s life, but it caused it to act aggressively.
This wouldn’t have been too bad if it was just this fish, but they found that the disease was contagious, and they had to put the afflicted fish in a separate lake.
That first fish’s scales lost their rainbow colour properties and it became just a regular silver coloured fish, but it became the leader of the affected fish.
“Sigh. That was a real shame. If only we had spotted the illness sooner, we may have been able to do something about it.”
Mike also recalled these events. He also admired that fish.
“No, there is nothing we could have done. My father and I already knew that this could happen.”
“I see. But truly, this fish is enough to call today a good catch.”
“Just wait, you haven’t seen anything yet.”
“Eh? There’s something better than this?”
“Take a look.”
Som handed Mike his last bucket.
Mike was shocked at what he saw.
“I told you today was a good catch.”
Som said with a smile. He was rubbing his heel.
Mike noticed what Som was doing and jokingly said.
Som noticed his unconscious action. Som was recalling events of the past. Sometimes, that first fish would jump out of the other lake, trying to return to the main lake.
One time Som was walking past the lake and accidentally stepped on the fish, and it bit his foot in retaliation.
After that, his father enclosed the lake, so the fish wouldn’t kill itself. Every now and then Som would look at the fish swimming in that other lake and sigh.
“But seriously, how is this a good thing? The illness has returned!”
Mike was looking at a fish that was violently thrashing about in the water. He could tell it was afflicted with the illness, which meant there was a strong possibility that other fish were too.
“Mike. Did you really think we got rid of the illness last time?”
“This… We checked the fish one by one and removed the afflicted ones.”
“That would have worked if the symptoms were uncontrollable. It turns out that some of the fish from last time hid their tendencies.”
Mike was surprised. Ever since they removed the afflicted fish from the last time, there had never been another occurrence. To be told that the illness was present the whole time was quite unpleasant.
“Yup, these fish have been keeping quiet, slowly spreading the illness, trying to turn every other fish the same as them. But unfortunately for them, it seems not all fish are susceptible to the illness, some of them are immune.”
“This… then what will we do?”
“I’ve decided to let things be, I’ll also be throwing all three of these fish back into the lake.”
“Eh? Are you not afraid of a repeat of last time?”
“You mean this one?”
Som said while pointing to the special fish.
“I want to see if it’s immune.”
“But the risk. Is it worth it?”
“Pretty much. It would be a shame if it got the illness, but father and I have already investigated. The illness isn’t external, it’s present in all of the fish. It just depends on whether or not its effects will manifest.”
“This… so you’re saying that there was no point in the quarantine?”
“No, the quarantine actually played an important role. Now the fish know the consequences of acting up. This caused them to have to think carefully about their actions.”
“So it is very entertaining. Do you know that the fish believe they are fooling us?”
“Mm. I enjoy watching them trying to hide their nature. Watching them trying to spread the illness, they think they will be able to take over the lake soon.”
“But this is not good news. We may end up having to replace the whole lake.”
“There’s no helping it. We can’t stop the illness unless we replace all of the fish with toy fish.”
“That also works.”
“Eh? Weren’t you there when we tried that? The whole ‘toy fish’ idea was a flop. No one likes toy fish, you can easily tell they aren’t genuine.”
“That’s easy for you to say. You don’t have to clean up the mess afterwards.”
Even though Som considered Mike to be his friend, he was still employed by Som’s father, to watch over the lake and handle any problems, so he had to do his work properly. He was dreaming about how easy it would be to look after toy fish.
“We appreciate your effort, Mike.”
Som said this while patting Mike’s shoulders.
“Now, let’s see how this thing goes.”
Som threw the three fish back into the lake. This action would have a deep effect on the future.