Hook, Line, and Sinker

Addison Smith

Story image for Hook, Line, and Sinker by

T he man in the mirror has dull, bulbous eyes above a gaping cartilage mouth. Its gills breathe in and out with expanding and contracting motions as I stare into eyes that should be my own. I adjust my tie beneath the faux fish facade.

“I wouldn’t worry,” my tailor says. “That’s pretty normal these days.”

She works my hemline as mirrored bubbles rise from my mouth, the shop a lost city beneath the sea. A hook protrudes from my mirrored lip and I touch my own, human, face. There is no treble hook puncture or skewered worm dangling at my chin. Still, I feel the pull.

My phone vibrates in my shirt pocket and I check its notifications. Search alerts report an uptick in social media posts tagging #apocalypse. I put my phone away and stare out the full-wall windows into the street.

“Leg up,” my tailor says, tapping the back of my right knee. I raise it as instructed.

Her phone buzzes now. We all have our search alerts these days. I wonder idly what hers might be. Or maybe it was a text from a loved one.

“Looks like another one,” she says, not glancing at her phone.

“Make me look nice for it.” I turn my phone off and slip it back into my shirt pocket.

The hook tugs in my lip and I feel it pulling my body ever skyward, even if it is only in my reflection. The fish face stares into my eyes. It looks nice in its suit of navy blue. I glance down at my tailor in the mirror. Her face is a carp now, mouth opening and closing in a dull-faced rhythm. A hook hovers before her in the mirror and I look away, to her human face. She stares as if she can see it – as if she is making a decision.

She turns back to her work. In the mirror, her carp face swallows the hook and its bright red lure disappears down her throat. My own hook tugs stronger, more insistent. It gets us all in the end.

She finishes her work and I step off the platform. “No charge today,” she says, waving off my money.

The car waits outside, unmarked and unremarkable. Security is high, but subtle, invisible. I step into the back seat and the driver takes off for my press meeting. As we pass the people on the street, I see hooks hanging from smiling mouths both fleshy and cartilaginous. It’s a good thing, I think. It’s unity.

The car turns into the garage of the massive white building where I will give my speech. As I step out, my entourage embraces me with broad shoulders and unworried glances. “The press room is ready,” one of them says. The hook dangles before his flat flounder face, and somehow he has not yet struck. It was so easy to take the hook, I knew. It was the easy choice.

Something grates beneath my feet and I lift my shoe to investigate. Colored sand pits the sole and gathers at my feet.

“That’s pretty normal,” one of my entourage says, “I wouldn’t worry.” The hook is already deep in his mouth, as if he had taken it gladly long ago. I smile and nod.

I walk through tiny pebbles of pink and blue and shiny glass marbles scattered upon the floor. The people need guidance, and so I am here.

I enter the press room to the left of a podium like an ionic sculpture. Cameras flash and the press goggle in their seats. I look out over the assembly and behold their variety. Television news reporters with the faces of black and orange oscars hold up their microphones. Newspaper representatives open and close their goldfish mouths beneath blank and distant eyes. The hooks dangle before them all as they await the word of their president.

“Good evening,” I say, and the murmur quiets to a minnow’s breath.

Brightly colored rocks cover the entirety of the floor. Plastic seaweed creeps in from the sides of the room – now great walls of glass with nothingness beyond.

“This is all normal,” I say. “Just go with it.”

The reporters sigh with collective relief and all through the room they bite down on their hooks. My head raises as my hook tugs me upward, and all around the world the people bite.

I give in to the hook’s pull. It’s easy and perfectly painless. As I look up, tiny flakes of food drift down to my waiting mouth.


Thanks for reading - but we’d love feedback! Let us know what you think of Hook, Line, and Sinker on Facebook.

Addison Smith

Author image of Addison Smith Addison Smith (he/him) is an amorphous being constructed of suspended cold brew and kombucha. His mind is a symbiotic culture of bacteria and yeast formed around a brainstem of Ophiocordyceps Unilateralis fungus. He’s doing his best, though. His fiction has appeared in dozens of publications including Fantasy Magazine, Fireside Magazine, and Daily Science Fiction. Addison is a member of the Codex Writers Group and you can find him on BlueSky.

© Addison Smith 2024 All Rights Reserved

The title picture was created using Creative Commons images - many thanks to the following creators: Ben Phillips, Dinielle De Veyra, Tima Miroshnichenko, and Jess Loiterton.

Mythaxis is forever free to read, but if you'd like to support us you can do so here (but only if you really want to!)