Kieran has been kind enough to teach you how to swim. With the only other option being to wander aimlessly, you opt to follow his lead. He hops off the rock and floats down to the ocean floor; you hurry after him as he walks away from you.
“So,” you awkwardly start, “tell me more about this place. For example, how do you know where we’re going if there are no landmarks?”
Kieran continues the conversation without looking back at you. “Using your body, can you sense how the water is mainly flowing in one direction?” he asks. “That flow comes from the filter output. We use it as a kind of compass. This place may be enormous, but it’s still an aquarium. There’s a lot of automated stuff that help us survive. The light transitions to mimic when the day begins and ends. The feeder drops in enough food twice a day, a siphon sucks up old water every week, and clean water is added while the siphon works.”
While staring at Kieran, you make a mental note to never again take facial expressions for granted. You wish you could tell what he was thinking or feeling while he spoke.
“Just to remind you,” he says, “don’t forget to keep track of how loud you think. I could kind of hear you mumbling.”
You swim directly behind him to hide your embarrassment. “Right, gotcha.”
Before you know it, the two of you reach a large cluster of towering, green plants. Kieran walks right in without hesitation, so you follow suit. The plants are feathery against your skin. When the thought of getting lost in the brush crosses your mind, you swim a bit closer to Kieran and keep him in your line of sight.
Soon enough, a clearing comes into view. You’re met with what you can only describe as a small town. Just as it did when you were first peering into the aquarium, the colors and activity enthrall you. A multitude of structures are scattered. Some resemble hollowed rocks and some appear to be decorations purchased from a pet store. In the center of it all stands a tall, artificial edifice that you can clearly tell falls under the latter -- a castle with unnaturally red and blue trim.
Among the structures, fish weave around each other with purpose. Tetras and danios dance in clouds of schools. Several ghost shrimp wander about, foraging the substrate for any remnants of food. The animals’ movements are fluid, and with no one ramming into each other, you could almost believe that the commotion was choreographed.
“Welcome to Myrio Ridge!” Kieran finally turns to face you. “I can hang out with you today and tomorrow to help you fit in. After that, I’ll show you where you can find me if you ever need help.” He makes his way down to the city, and you cautiously follow while trying your best to not be distracted by the hubbub. “There’s so much you need to know,” he says. “If you want, I can introduce you to some of my friends… Oh shoot, you still need to find a place to live while you’re here.”
Written by iAteTheRamen on 13 June 2019
Meet some of the people