The Great Beast was dying.
For as long as any of my brethren remembered, it had been there – hiding, often, but living nonetheless. Our species, and our closest relatives, believed that it had been brought here by the gods to destroy some sort of infestation. We feared that we would be next, but we never had. Our legends also suggested that there had once been two, but the other one had been dead since long before I came here.
The Great Beast had always been reclusive, of course. Even so, it was strange to think that one day soon, its presence, warned of by parents to frighten the young into behaving, would simply be gone.
These thoughts disappeared as suddenly as the death they concerned, when, one day, a new object appeared at the edge of our domain. It was roughly the same size as the Great Beast, but it was rectangular and flat. There was text on it, written in giant letters that we could not decipher.
At first, we were afraid, a feeling not helped by the fact that the Great Beast also seemed apprehensive. Eventually, however, our curiosity got the better of us. I was one of the first to approach – the other eleven members of my species waited, hiding behind one of the giant plants that dotted the area where we could breathe. Cautiously, I approached, noticing the presence of both the Great Beast and the Cleaner, the only other creature that came close to matching the Great Beast in size. While the latter lay on the rocks, the former appeared to be trying and failing to escape the strange object. Nervously, I steeled myself and carried on.
Reaching the object, I cautiously touched it. As if in response to my touch, it began to move. It seemed to be anchored to the walls of our safe domain, incapable of straying inward or passing to the Unknown, where we could not breathe and where our gods lived. The motion roused the Great Beast, which was able to move slightly away from it.
Though the object’s movements were slow at first, it rapidly accelerated. I charged backwards, hoping it would not discover how to detach itself from the wall. It continued moving, but I managed to calm down enough to get a good look at it. If it was a living creature, it was unlike any I had ever seen: no eyes, no mouth, no way to breathe at all, no limbs, no scales, nothing at all.
I inched closer to it, hoping to figure out how it was moving, when I saw it. On the outside of the walls, in the Unknown, was the same presence that appeared every morning to bring light and a filling meal upon us. This was a deity, and the object, clearly, must have been some sort of divine gift. Or, I thought worriedly, it could be a curse. Quickly, I began praying.
“Great gods, please spare us from your wrath! Though my people are few, we are devoted to your teachings!”
The object stopped moving. I could only assume that our prayers had been answered.
Satisfied, I swam back to the plants where my school had been hiding. The thermometer sat on the wall of our tank, the human having moved away from the magnet that attached it to the glass.