The Aquarium

“What are they?” Tad Chester from JQIK TV,  asked as he looked in to the depths of the biggest private aquarium he’d ever seen.

It was massive, circling the entire 20,000 foot mansion and was a 100-feet deep. Burt, the mansion’s owner watched what the reporter was pointing at with a secret amusement.

“They’re called Oscars,” he replied. ‘They’re very territorial little beasts and have a habit of vigorously defending their space. To keep things interesting there’s also fish-eating Piranha in there. They’re really glutinous little bastards and will attack any living thing that invades their space.”

“I see fresh water fish and ocean-going fish in there. How’s that possible?” the reporter queried.

“It’s possible because of genius engineering. You can’t tell, but there’s a glass barrier between the two types of water separating the species that allows for them to appear to be next to one another.”

“That’s simply amazing Mr. Peters. Thank you for giving me a fascinating tour of your world-class aquarium. I can’t wait to share it with my viewers, he said while giving the cameraman his clue to stop filming.

“You’re welcome. I’ll show you both out now.

Later that night.

Burt moved among the guests chatting and laughing at their lame jokes. As usual he had an eclectic gathering ranging from the super wealthy to starving artists. He loved to show off his aquarium and frequently had his butler, Mr. Keets, arrange affairs like this.

Mr. Keets made sure all the food being served was seafood cooked by gourmet chefs. The dinner settings including ocean-themed silverware, with mermaids on the ends of forks and spoons. The knife handles were adorned with Neptune’s likeness.

The dining room was at the center of the mansion, with hallways that spun off it like spokes on a wheel. Each hallway led to different sections of the building. A blue-lit corridor ran alongside the outer walls next to the aquarium.

Visitors could only see about 40-feet of the aquarium which continued down another 60-feet underground. Burt had cameras covering every square inch of the aquarium, but they weren’t for public viewing. He had a small control room equipped with cameras and computers that controlled the temperatures in the various sections of the giant fish habitat.

The world knew Burt Peters as the man who discovered Atlantis. World fame made him rich enough to invent a past based on fiction, but difficult to verify. And rich enough to spend millions on his one-of-a-kind underwater world and labyrinth.

It was stocked with thousands of types of fish from all over the planet. Everything from tiger sharks to minnows glided by the glass barrier, entertaining and titillating visitors.

After all of the guests were gone Burt took a concealed elevator to the top floor of the mansion. He stepped out into a room that looked down at the top of the aquarium. He could see fish swimming below him through the glass floor. He went to a trap door and lifted it up. Taking off all of his clothes, Burt climbed down a ladder and slid into the warm water.

Aiolos Pileidis, aka Burt, was the last survivor of the Atlantean civilization. His fate was to outlive his peers and culture. Old age didn’t come to Atlanteans, but death could still come by violent means. Over the centuries killer sharks and other lethal sea creatures took their toll.

Aiolos became the ultimate survivor when he decided to live on land. Like his peers he was able to live underwater, and on land. He got lonely after 10-years of no companionship after his friend Niclas fell victim to a school of sharks. He was left with no one but the fish to talk with.

It was time for a change. It took him a year to gather an expedition together. The investors believed he was an expert on Atlantean lore. When the big discovery was made, Aiolos instantly became a worldwide celebrity.

Money poured in. It was still pouring in after the first three years it took to build his gargantuan aquarium. With the help of the greatest engineers on the planet he designed it and oversaw the construction.

The only thing lacking in Aiolos’ life was danger. The creatures of the aquarium feared him, recognizing that he was the ultimate predator. Sharks would swim near him, but guardedly kept their distance when he went for his nightly swim.

Preversly, he missed seeing life and death struggles between his peers and the denizens of the deep. He was pondering possibilities one evening when he saw an intruder outside with his security cameras.

The idea came to him full-blown. 

He needed to capture this would-be home invader. That part was easy. He went to the front door and listened for a moment as the man picked at the lock with something metallic. 

Aiolos whipped the door open and as the man fell forward off-balance, he kicked him in the head. Just one swift kick put his erstwhile visitor to sleep. Aiolos went to a storage unit off one of the corridors and found what he was looking for.

A divers setup. One oxygen tank, a breathing apparatus, and a pair of divers’ goggles. He had to wear the gear or attract attention when he led the dives down to Atlantis’s ruins. He loaded it into the elevator and went back to the man lying unconscious on the marble floor. After he loaded him into the elevator he pushed the button that said “Top.” 

It wasn’t easy fitting the apparatus onto the slumbering man. By the time he had everything in place the man was regaining consciousness. He opened the trap door and let gravity do it’s thing. When he hit the water the man was fully awake. He was treading water when Aiolos called down to him, “Better put the mouth piece in and start looking for a way out. I’ll give you a hint – you’re going to have to dive down to find it!”

Aiolos took the elevator to the first floor, and stepped into the blue-lit corridor next to the aquarium’s glass. He waited patiently, then saw the man go past him as he sought greater depths.

He didn’t feel guilty about telling the man a lie. The guy was a crook. He ended up providing hours of pleasure for Aiolos who watched him trying to avoid the tiger shark and a few other nasty creatures.

It was like throwing out bait, which he found to be highly stimulating and entertaining. Especially when the tiger shark took a bite out of the terrified victim and caused a blood frenzy among the other sharks who came from the dark depths to feast!

His problem was solved. He’d start a very private swim club. The challenge would be finding members. But that was alright. He had all the time in the world.

As It Stands, Atlanteans are often portrayed as enlightened humans, so I thought I’d look at their dark side in this tale.

Author: Dave Stancliff

Retired newspaper editor/publisher, veteran, freelance writer, blogger. Married 47 years (8/31/74). Independent thinker. A sense of humor. Defender of truth. Give my poems, essays and short stories a read. I look forward to feedback. Write on!

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