Title: Goosebumps – Something Fishy, a.k.a. “Super Eric 64: Secret Aquarium”
Author: R.L. Stine
Illustrator: Frederic Rebena
Summary: A boy living in a hot apartment finds out that he can shrink down to the size of a fish.
Backstory time before we get into recapping a story I’ve already recapped. Again.
Over on twitter, Mg_Bzd informed the Goosebumps fandom of another lost international bit of Goosebumps history. There was apparently a short story involving piranhas which ran through a French literary magazine in the 90s. [Wing: This is too cute.]
To say I flipped my shit when I learned of this is an understatement.
I eventually managed to track down all of the respective issues of Je Bouquine that featured this story during the summer. However, I didn’t need to translate anything as the illustrations seemed vaguely familiar. When I paid closer attention and saw the protagonist was named “Eric,” I realized Je Bouquine used “Something Fishy” from More Tales To Give You Goosebumps.
Disappointing, yes. I really thought we had found something different to shed light on.
BUT, Je Bouquine did include illustrations which the Goosebumps fandom as a whole haven’t been exposed to yet so I’m using this post to share them. I do have to apologize because these photos aren’t that spectacular. I’m useless with tech and had to use my smart phone.
The contest was basically an identification game involving the different types of fish mentioned in the story. “Something Fishy” was featured in issues 148, 149, and 150, with the contest winner announced in 153.
While scanning this and thinking about the story, I realized during my first recap I missed the chance to invoke a certain aesthetic. Specifically, a Super Mario 64 aesthetic.
Jam with me to the soothing underwater tunes.
Eric couldn’t believe it. This was the worst thing to happen to anybody in the history of anyone EVER! Not only are they NOT going to the lake like they do every summer, Eric’s gonna be stuck in his sweltering hot apartment ALL. SUMMER.
Eric’s mom tried to reason with him, reminding her son they just didn’t have the money for it this year. Ugh, it seemed like this year kept getting worse. See, this was the year Eric’s parents got divorced and his dad was completely out of the picture. Seriously, Mr. Dad’s whereabouts aren’t even expanded upon. Eric doesn’t even propose the idea of spending the summer with his father. He’s simply… not there.
Eric knew this wasn’t really his mom’s fault, so he tried to pretend it was okay. Even though it wasn’t. Stuck in his bedroom, he tried to conjure up soothing images of clear, cool, lake water.
Boy, I’ll bet Sarah Maas wishes she could trade places with THIS kid!
Oop, sorry Wing. That’s from a book I haven’t recapped yet.
Eric’s thoughts on submersing himself in refreshing lake water were interrupted by his annoying little sister, Sarah. She doesn’t even bother to knock.
(PFFT I swear the Sarah Maas reference was incidental; I haven’t re-read this story in years)
Sarah and I are different in lots of ways. I have brown hair and brown eyes. She has red hair and green eyes. I’m nice, and she isn’t. I knock, and she doesn’t.
I can never figure out if Stine loves or hates redheads.
Sarah told Eric what he already knew about not going to lake, and he didn’t like being reminded of it. After telling Sarah to leave, Eric realized if it was THIS hot in June, how bad would August be? Moving to feeding the fish in his fish tank, watching as they fought over the morsels floating at the top of the water, Eric figured they were the lucky ones. At least they get to swim all they want.
The next morning it was already 100 degrees. Eric’s mom was preparing a nice, hot breakfast of bacon and pancakes and mentioned something about buying fans. The heat made it hard for Eric to focus beyond taking a few bites. [Wing: No wonder! That’s a terrible breakfast for a hot day.]
All Eric had the strength to do was gaze at the fish tank in his room.
The fish seemed fresh and happy. They were flicking through the water like silver and gold flashes of cool lightning.
At that point Eric wished, he wished, he wished he coulda been a fish. Eric was lost in thought for a while when his mom reminded him it was Allowance Day. She suggested he could go out and buy some ice cream, or maybe another fish for the tank. He did love his exotic fish so.
I didn’t want to buy a fish. I wanted to BE a fish. In the lake.
IF YOU LOVE THE LAKE SO MUCH WHY DONTCHA MARRY IT?
Eric thought about contacting his other friends, but they were all away for the summer.
- BENNY – In Colorado
- LEO – In camp
- DWEEZLE THE WEAZEL – At grandma’s house
Who the FUCK is Dweezle the Weazel, and how did he even get that name? Stine you can’t just throw in a tidbit like THAT.
Eric used his allowance to buy a pink castle for the fish tank. All those doors and windows, the fish certainly enjoyed swimming around in it. The following week, Eric added a purple rowboat. The week after that, a plastic diving figure. With a sharp, pointy spear. That certainly won’t be relevant later.
…just how big IS this tank?
[Wing: Not big enough for all the fish and the decorations! Those poor fish are going to die.]
Eric’s fish dominated his life. Well, when he wasn’t at the playground or watching TV or using the computer. They were his only escape from the heat.
One night the heat was particularly horrid. Eric’s clothes, including his shorts and socks, were sticking to his soaked, sweaty body. WHY THE FUCK ARE YOU WEARING SOCKS TO BED IN A HEAT WAVE???
Unable to sleep, Eric pulled up a chair and got ready for another episode of “The Aquarium Show.” The gourami and the platys were especially lively in this episode. Entranced by the rising bubbles, Eric lifted his left index finger and traced the edge of the water. Then he did something… strange.
My finger seemed to have a mind of its own. It moved in a circle, then draw a perfect figure eight. It formed another, and then another. Five times clockwise. Two counterclockwise. Three to the side. Again, and again, and again.
In the hall, I heard the clock strike ten times. I drew one more figure eight through the water with my index finger.
And then, as I sat there with my eyes half closed, the weirdest thing happened.
YOU DON’T SAY.
Eric blinked, suddenly feeling very cold and VERY wet.
He was underwater! Not just underwater, but face to face with his very own fish. Who were now HUGE!
Eric didn’t know what was happening. He was not only tinier than a goldfish, but he was inside his fish tank and he could breathe underwater!
Oh I know why Eric.
[Wing: These illustrations are too cute.]
Deciding not to question this bizarre turn of events, Eric took advantage of this momentous occasion to seek the relief he’s so desperately craved. He swam to the bottom of the tank and then back to the top, doing a dozen surface dives and somersaults. Eric hadn’t felt this alive in ages.
However, Eric’s actual goldfish didn’t seem fond of the intrusion. Like there goes the neighborhood!
Eric swam to the purple rowboat for safety, which managed to support him without sinking beneath the water. The goldfish was patient, and circled the boat. Terrified at what his pet was planning, Eric spent the rest of the night hiding in the rowboat for safety.
The presence of dawn’s early light alerted Eric to morning’s arrival, followed by the faraway voice of his sister. He’d never been so happy to hear Sarah. Too bad Sarah couldn’t hear HIM. Eric watched as his sister looking around his room before Sarah peered into the fish tank. Just as she might’ve noticed him, a gourami blocked Eric from her view.
…wait so is the boat at the top of the water or under it, Stine?
Well, in any case, Eric’s excitement was replaced by anxiety. How long would he be stuck in the tank? He had to get out. The goldfish had other ideas and rammed into the rowboat, throwing Eric back into the water.
So he WAS above the water, then.
Eric felt nauseated as the fish swam up against him, its scaly body rubbing Eric the wrong way. A disgusting, sucking sound alerted Eric to the realization that the fish wants to eat him!
Remembering the diver figure he purchased the other day, Eric desperately swam towards it and stole the spear. The other fish swam away as Eric prepared for mortal combat against his goldfish.
Man we shifted from Super Mario to Legend of Zelda pretty quick!
Eric dived back down to the tank, spear in hand as the goldfish circled him above. He took his shot and Eric missed. Now the goldfish was pissed off and smacked Eric with its tail. Momentarily stunned, Eric sank back to the bottom before he made another grab towards the spear.
The goldfish attacked one more time when Eric drove the spear into its underbelly.
It then dawned on Eric that he just murdered one of his pets in cold blood.
[Wing: Why in the world is a spear from a decoration sharp enough for a tiny boy to drive it into a goldfish through water.]
Would the other fish make a move?
Grabbing the spear again, Eric ready himself in case his two neons were hungry. Yeah, they were the smallest fish in the tank but they were HUGE compared to Eric. If they unleashed a tandem attack, Eric would be doomed.
That’s when Eric heard the faraway voices of his mom and sister. How would he get their attention?
Sarah noticed the dead goldfish floating at the top of the water and called her mom’s attention towards it.
Eric watched his mom reach for the small white net and saw a chance for escape. Ms. Mom was gonna remove the dead fish from the tank, he had to act quickly!
Eric managed to reach the underside of the fish just as the net entered the water and his mom hoisted both creature and kid. Unfortunately, Eric’s rescue was stymied by being hidden underneath the heavy body of the goldfish. Smothered against his dead pet, Eric struggled to make himself heard as his mom carried the net…
To the TERLET!
Frantically Eric climbed up on top the dead fish, waving his arms and trying to make himself heard to no avail.
“Please, Mom!” I cried, shoving the dead fish off me. “Please don’t flush me! Please don’t flush your only son, Mom!”
Eric’s mom tilted the net to release the fish to its final resting place, and Eric felt himself falling…
Oh Eric when did you get here?
Eric’s mom was startled by his sudden appearance in front of her. He stammered he’d just been in his room before rushing out of the bathroom, wanting very much to leap up and shout how great it was to be big again.
Thinking long and hard, Eric tried to deduce what had returned him to his normal size. Had the act of being dried off by the air restored him?
Eh, sure, why not.
Sadly, the temptation of cool water proved too much for Eric and two days later he made a plan. He bought a small bag of stones to cordon off one section of the fish tank for his private use. That way he could swim to his heart’s content without committing any acts of necessary pisciscide. Then all he has to do is stand up on the rocks and let the hot air dry him off to revert to normal.
Yep, Eric sure was smart about this.
It’s too bad he never explained to his mom or sister about this newfound pool, or his gateway to a cooler, wetter world. Otherwise his mom probably would’ve held off on delivering her little gift.
“Look, Sarah,” I heard Mom exclaim. “Eric built a perfect little swimming pool for my present. He piled up the rocks and moved the fish to one side. I’ll bet he guessed what I was going to buy for him.”
“What is it?” I heard Sarah ask. “What did you get him?”
Mom held the bag over the top of the tank. Then she dumped the two new fish into my private swimming pool.
“They are Siamese fighting fish,” Mom told Sarah. “The meanest fish on Earth! Look at them snap their teeth. Won’t Eric be surprised?”
Recapping this again gives me a chance to clarify Eric’s mom was NOT aware he could shrink down into the tank like I did the last time.
Still, even though this is retreading old ground it’s nice to revisit a work once in a while to give a new perspective on it.
And join me by being plagued by the mystery of WHO THE FUCK IS DWEEZLE THE WEAZEL????