They seemed so peaceful …
Rimmer thought as he stared at the little bowl. Just swimming round and round, unknowing of anything, unaware of the real world.
He … he was aware, so aware of the crushing weight of reality. A new exam coming up, crippling anxiety, being a failure, again. Of course he'd be.
Lister had brought them in, little mechanical fishes and a little bowl. He adored it, though he'd never tell him. He was supposed to hate everything the goit did. Or atleast pretend to hate it.
But he could never hate this, it was much needed.
When he was a child looking at fishes was the only thing that could calm him. It helped him breath, settle his mind. Out in deep space, there had been no fishes, no calm. Over a decade of stress.
Weirdly he'd never thought of plastic fish …
He had “allowed” Lister to put them on his desk. They had helped him through endless hours of study.
He could sit there for hours now, pretend he was sitting at a river in nature. He could breath, and for an hour or two he felt calm.
He had read about it in one of his grandmothers magazines: Fish Tank Therapy or Aquatic Therapy they called it. According to the articles “aquariums may help reduce stress, anxiety, improve behavior and lessen frustration and aggression.”
Hearing about Rimmer's mid exam break down had brought the idea to the forefront: “I am a fish”. What if Rimmer liked fishes and needed a break from the boring monotony of the Dwarf? The poor guy had been on board since his late teens. He seemed weighed down by many things. What if fishes could help him?
The ship wouldn't allow an aquarium, of course, and he couldn't buy anything expensive. The fishes also had to last a while … Also Rimmer shouldn't ever suspect it was all for his benefit.
In the end he'd settled on two fun looking mechanical fishes that looked very real.
Rimmer had scoffed about them, telling him they were a waste of money but … of course they were welcome to his desk …
That night he'd clocked Rimmer staring at the bowl for quite some time, following the fishes on their endless circles. The next day … he seemed calmer. The next day; they talked.
Three million years later.
The bowl was dirty now, the water grim. A sad eyed hologram stared at fishes that had not swam in a very long time. Everyone was dead, except for a young-old man safely sealed in stasis. The hologram hoped that one day he could make them swim once more ...