Fish Story

Paul slammed the newspaper on Cedric's desk and said, "How the hell did the newspapers get this before me?"

“You’d have covered it up. Someone had to make sure the people knew."

"I would have studied it! Finding complex life isn’t something that should be taken lightly. It’s just one fish," Paul said.

"One fish found in ice from Europa. How many do you need? There's life on Europa," Cedric said.

"The President gave a speech today announcing a manned mission. A trillion dollar trip! A trillion dollars we should spent on schools, hospitals and public infrastructure!" Paul said, his eyes bulged, and the vein in her forehead throbbed.

"We’ll win the Nobel Peace Prize," Cedric said and ran his finger over the newsprint photo of the perfectly formed fish which looked more alien now than it had in the laboratory.

Paul stood up, the red disappearing from his face and he said "They’ll probably have us on every TV show in the country. We’ll be celebrities."

Cedric glanced at the black and white picture and said, "You know I don’t like being in public. I'd rather you take the credit, like the other times. I'll stay here and study the fish. Someone has to get a skin sample."

Paul looked at the picture for a few seconds then said, "If that’s what you want that's what we’ll do," the smile now breaking his face nearly in half.


The news anchor droned on about half a dozen subjects but, like everyone else on the planet, Cedric was only interested in the shuttle which circled the moon of Europa with twelve men and women ready to start one of the greatest scientific missions ever created by mankind.

The mission had already paid for itself in Cedric’s opinion. Countries were working together like never before and several scientific discoveries had improved recycling and manufacturing techniques. Much of that was about to change.

What shocked Cedric the most was that in three years no one had bothered to get a second sample of the fish's DNA. It was simply too valuable to cut up and study and he wondered for a moment if this had all went too far.

That meant that the only one who knew that there would be nothing found today was Cedric. There were no fish, in fact there had been no signs of life at all.

When that happened there would be a witch hunt. And when people began to check the DNA findings they would find see Paul’s name as the only one who took samples of the DNA thanks to his need for glory.

Cedric then glanced down at the envelope. The letter in it reminded Paul of the ideas he had stolen and pawned off as his own three years ago. Then it explained, in the most cryptic language Cedric could devise, how he had gotten even with a small rubber fish.

Author's Note

I wrote this story most of a decade ago and it is one of the few stories from that time that I still actually like. It is pretty simple and it is in part due to the frustration of the government dropping the ball on space exploration. I suspect the name has been used for a number of other stories, but I hate titles enough I didn't bother looking to find another.