The Salamander

I used to get the bus at the same time every morning, and return the same time every afternoon. The house on the corner always had the lights off. The green glow of a large fish tank in the front window was the only proof someone lived in the building.

Every day, twice a day, there wasn’t anyone in. I was leaving my flat soon, to somewhere walkable to work. The opportunities were running out. I had to know what was going on. 

The time of this mission would take thirty seconds tops. Hop out the bus, dash through the flowerbed, ogle through the window, and then sprint away. Mystery solved. 

I remembered to say thank when I got off the bus. The jade illumination of the fish tank lured me in like a chum bucket. I launched myself up the drive, squelched through the flowerbeds, and slammed against the glass, pushing both my palms against them to steady myself. Two sweaty palm prints left ideal proof of my crime on the glass. 

Every strand of hair on the carpet was pristine. The sofas a soft leather, and still in the wrapper. There were even picture frames on the wall, although the glass displayed empty backboard.

Inside the tank sat a creature with a tail made of blue scales. Halfway up this change to pale skin. Two tiny arms sat beneath a shrivelled and wrinkled head. Manky hair floated in the water, and its mouth opened up and down, revealing tiny teeth. Gentle singing flowed through the air, and thirty seconds passed five times over. Then ten. 

It’s been two hundred thirty minute cycles. A bus has hissed past me five times, and the rain has gone from a whisper to a full-blooded scream. But the song drowns them out. The song drowns everything out.