Bertie stared at the messy kitchen counter, the knife ready in her hand. She wasn’t crazy. She just wasn’t.
Her husband stood in the doorway and watched – unable to decide if he should be laughing or worried. “I’ll show you!” she exclaimed. She reached out slowly to see if it would happen again.
The couple had gone out for the morning in their little boat.
It had become a wonderful ritual as soon as the weather turned warm enough. Every Saturday morning, they would go out fishing then come back for a home-cooked meal out on the patio. That day, they had been lucky enough to catch a decent Bowfin.
In the beginning, she had been squeamish in preparing the flopping creatures – fish in the form of sticks in a box was what she had grown up on.
However, she had found a few tricks to make the process easier. Except, this time, something completely unexpected was about to happen.
First, off came the head. It sat in the sink, staring back at her in an odd way. Next were the scales.
They flew off like smelly snowflakes or sprinkles. Today would be simple salt, pepper, and fresh lemon. Bertie grabbed a towel and laid it over the meat. What she saw out of the corner of her eye made her scream.
“What’s wrong?” her husband asked, running in from the patio.
She pointed at the fish and said, “It moved!” He walked over, removed the towel, and stared at it. Nothing. “Um, honey. It’s dead. She shook the shock out of her head. Maybe she had seen something else? Something out the window?
Her husband left to get the patio ready. Bertie went back to the counter.
She looked at the sink and then at the fish. She reached out her finger and poked it. Nothing. No movement. She couldn’t help but let out a laugh. She was about to remove the tail when she felt something twitch in her hands.
This time the scream echoed all over the house.
She dropped the meat on the floor and scrambled to the other side of the kitchen. Again, her husband comes running in. “What is going on?!” She pointed to the floor as she got up on a chair. There the fish sat…
…Doing nothing. Her husband picked up the meat and flopped it down on the cutting board.
“I’m not making this up!” Bertie said. “Honey, it’s just a fish. We’ve eaten hundreds.” But before he could walk out, a realization popped into her head. “Wait! Look inside of it.”
She felt so silly. Maybe there was something inside the remaining cavity.
After all, water creatures had been found with very strange things inside – anything from garbage to parasites and who knows what. She watched him in trepidation as he pulled back the opening. She held her breath. He poked his finger inside.
Again, nothing. It was just a freshly cleaned fish.
“Honey, this isn’t a zombie fish or anything.” She approached the counter slowly. She reached out with her knife and gave it a poke. This time, the body twitched and flopped itself right back into the sink. Her husband was the one to jump back this time.
Both of them stood there, mouths hanging open and wondering what to do.
Her husband furrowed his brow in confusion as he pulled out his phone and opened the search engine. His eyes darted back and forth over the screen. And then … he leaned back and let out a bellowing laugh.
“How is this funny?!” she asked, ready to battle the zombie swimmer if it got frisky again.
“It’s fine, honey. It says here it’s called muscle motor neurons. It can happen sometimes.” She grabbed the phone and started reading while he finished preparing the fish so she wouldn’t have to. How was this possible?
Despite the animal being perished, sometimes very fresh specimens can still have electrical currents run along the nervous system.
There’s no pain to be felt because there’s no head, however, the body can still move. She searched for other videos and found a surprising number of them. One involving a frog and salt.
Aside from touch, sometimes sodium (like when we add salt to our meat) can kick these reactions off and often shock people who aren’t used to them.
One situation involved a man preparing frogs’ legs. It was just the legs, but adding salt made the toes move. In the end, what did this mean for Bertie?
There was a scientific reason for the reaction, and there were thankfully no such thing as zombie fish or zombie frogs.
However, she wouldn’t be cleaning any fish for a long while. Her husband could take care of it. She would prepare the salad … or possibly become a vegetarian.