The Ninth Archive

A small fish leaping from a viscous, inky cloud in the sea towards lighter waters with a hazy glow and other fish swimming.

E号-R004

The Fish’s Night

A fish believes that cold and black is the natural state of the universe, believes that there is no sun or moon, and that the sky it swims in is a smooth void of hunger and predation. It lives in a geography not of space but of light. “Upwards” to the fish is the continent of a gray warmness, where the ashes of dead scents drift like birds migrating. “Downward” is the drear abyss, where darkness itself crushes life.

But even in the deepest abyss where daylight has never shone, there is a kind of night, spoken of in aquatic whispers and burbles of dread and danger. The Umbratide it is called, a generational happening, the casting of a dire shadow across the underchasms of the ocean, as though Leviathan swam slowly on above. A barnacle-crusted whale recalls it being as though the lights of the eyes of the deep were snuffed out by fingers cut from raw emptiness, or hope siphoned from the floundering heart of the sea by an amorphous, ciliated mouth. It was to the never-lit ocean bottom as midnight is to noon.

Rarer still is the rumor of a “Lumentide,” that will one day as well come to the deep, but none claim to have yet experienced it.