Big Mouth Billy Bass

11/13/22 - this was an interesting prompt ! so we were assigned to go out to a thrift store and find something that looks like you can write a story off of it. something with history. something that looks like it has a story behind it.

so naturally, i chose this!

big mouth billy bass. christmas edition. still works and everything, sang and stuff, was really gross. i saw it while out with my friend looking for objects to write about and fuck dude i loved that thing and immediately had to bring it home. and Write. build a whole world off of this creature. and i did!

admittedly i broke the golden rule of "if you introduce a gun, it has to be used"-- aka i introduced dangerous giant killer fish and never did anything with them. bummer. but i suppose i can explore this world another time


The weather proved ideal for scavenging today, as the sea tides receded a safe distance away from the makeshift wooden docks of the floating neighborhood. Anya and her brother  waited the entire month so they could set out on their own again— a rare treat only allowed when conditions were safe. The seemingly endless rain ceased overnight, and left a sweltering sun in its place to beat upon a much calmer sea.

“Come on, I told you to be up early!” Domi dragged his sister across their hut. The two were already dressed, but Mari woke slower than her brother, and was now dragging behind.

“I know, I know—stop pulling on my arm!” She shoved him aside to grab her satchel from the door. “The beach isn’t going to disappear without us. Just let me grab something to eat first…”

“We can eat outside!” Domi whined, pacing around impatiently. “Didn’t Papa say his friend had a yummy soup place down the boardwalk?”

“It’s better to eat something here than waste dollars out there, Dom.” She grabbed a small plastic bag from the cooler. It contained an omelet and an empanada, surely with fish filling. You could never have too much fish out here in the Marina, even if you got sick of it—it was rare to find anything else.  “Besides, soup isn’t breakfast. Omelet is. Here, take one.” She tossed him a plastic bag and an apple from the same cooler. Domi caught both, and waited until she looked away to make an expression of disgust, but opened the bag up anyways and munched on it as they exited.

Their parents were outside, taking in as much of the daylight as they could before more rains poured down. They hunted for fish around the hotspots usually crowded by anglers trying to get the smaller, less dangerous fish as they swam to the now clear, undisrupted surface to feed. The two kids had other plans, however—exploring the shores. 

Each month the tide receded back and uncovered the elusive shores which were usually inaccessible. Most of their community, located in what was once Miami many generations ago,  built their floating neighborhood way above the past sea level to brace for the Great Flood. Some moved to houseboats, some lucky few lived on the peaks of skyscrapers left behind from the former world, but most chose to set up camp in close-knit communities set upon wooden docks and boardwalks, set high above the dangerous roaring waters below.

But now the kids set off away from their wooden docks, and finally stepped foot upon the white sands of the shore. The first step into the sands, after a month of anticipation, was equally as exciting as the rain’s cessation. It seems like other neighborhood kids had the same idea, as the shores were filled with fellow scavengers crawling the sands and looking for treasures washed up from the mysterious waters. Domi immediately set off towards the back, which looked less explored, and Mari had no choice but to follow behind. The sand beneath her feet was hot and soft, and a bit difficult to run in.

“Careful!” She called out. “Look where you’re stepping, you might—” She heard a loud crack, and her brother toppled forwards, immediately grabbing his foot. She gasped and caught up to him.

“Augh!” Domi immediately cried out, curling in onto himself. 

“What did I tell you?” Mari sighed. “Come here.” She kneeled down and inspected his foot. It was fine, just a bit of a chipped nail. Knowing Domi, however, she took his hurt toe and ripped a small strip of bandage from her bag, wrapping it around it gently. “There. Better now.” 

Domi began to sit back up, brushing sand off of his shirt. “What did I trip on? It didn’t feel like a rock.”

“What’d it feel like?”

“Kinda hollow, I dunno.” He crawled over to the spot next to his Domi-shaped crevice in the sand, and began patting it down. “It was kinda like—hey! Right here!” He patted his hand on a brown shape jutting from the sand. He was right—it didn’t look like a rock. It was much too smooth to be natural, and when Mari patted it, it definitely felt hollow and…fake.

“Huh. Weird. Almost feels like plastic.” The two began digging, moving sand aside with cupped hands until the shape began to reveal its true form. It was large, and in the shape of a strangely chiseled oval. Moving sands revealed buttons and knobs on its surface, a pattern of little holes arranged in a circle, and a strange ladder-shaped mechanism. Domi’s digging grew more and more frantic, shouting exclamations like “Woah!” and “Get it out!” the more it revealed. Mari only grew more puzzled, and a bit apprehensive. Was this safe? She wondered. 

Finally the sand cleared enough so that Domi could grab it by two dented sides and unearth it, brushing off falling sand. He held it up so the darker side faced him, with the holes and ladder mechanism. He tilted his head.

“What is this thing? Some alien console?”

Mari, however, saw something totally different. Her eyes widened.

“Domi…turn it around, will you?”

Domi’s eyes flickered to meet hers for a brief second before he quickly turned it around.

“Agh!” Upon being greeted with a largemouth bass nailed to its surface, head reared to stare directly at him, he chucked it away from him. 

“Careful!” Mari tried to catch it, but it was much heavier than she expected. It fell into the sand again, fish side up. “It’s fake, Dom,” she laughed. “Look, it has a little hat!” She crawled over and picked it back up, ran her hands over the fish’s skin. It definitely felt rubbery and fake. “It’s a really tiny bass, too…”

Domi crawled over to meet her, and stared down at it with scorn, as if it had hurt him personally. “It’s ugly,” he mumbled.

“I think it’s kinda cute. Like a baby bass, if they were nice and festive.” She put a hand on its head. “Wonder why it’s bending like that…basses can’t bend like that, can they?”

“I hear they can,” Domi said. “And they can move their heads directly to you just like that when they see you, and that’s the last thing you see before they eat you alive.”

“Come on now,” said Mari. “Who told you that? Mama?”

“So what if she did! They’re still dangerous! What if it’s a baby and the mom’s looking for it?!”

“It’s fake.” She slapped the fish, and its head cracked back down to its resting state. “See? They put a hat on it and everything.”

Domi cautiously reached out to feel its latex skin. As promised, it was fake.

“Oh…still! Who would even make something like that?!”

“Dunno. Looks really old though—like plastic, almost.” She shook it around, and the small ladder on the back came loose, smacking against the dry material. It had been chipped away at and eroded, and the fish was missing one eye. The hat was in tatters, but it looked to be of some red and white material. A little bell was tied to its tail, and it barely rattled around dryly as she shook it. “So weird. Wanna take it to Sanders and see what it does?” Mari looked at Domi and gave him a small smile.

“I guess. Only—only after I find something cooler, though!” He shouted, getting onto his feet. “You take the fish thing, I’ll look for more treasure!”

They scoured the ruins of the maritime forest near the shore, one hollow and devoid of life. Large stretches of beached seaweed and tattered shreds of kelp hung from the bare branches of trees that had been there ages before them, almost like a makeshift canopy. Along the way they collected as many sand dollars as they could, hoping to have enough for a treat at their father’s friend’s soup shop later that evening. Mari gathered any small washed up creatures like sea snails and crabs, knowing her mother would appreciate new ingredients to work with other than fish. Domi was on the hunt for anything outside of the norm, outside of the realm of fish and crabs and sea snails—to hell with it all. He was on the hunt for fun.

And finally, at the end of the day, he came back with only one treasure. In his hands the entire way back he held a small toy car, racing it along dead tree trunks and bridge railings, making engine noises with his mouth every second of the way. He had found it in the branches of a tree, evident by its neon green coloring amongst the dead brown and white of the environment.

They found their way to Sanders’s hut, a larger dwelling with a smaller hut functioning as a library and collector’s nook connected to it. Sanders was known among the community to be a bit of a historian, collecting as much as he could from the time before the World Flood that landed them here in the first place. If anyone knew what this relic did, it was Sanders.

They knocked on his straw door, and after a “Coming!” and a few thuds of objects hitting the ground, it opened up to reveal his lanky self. 

“Ah! The Ruiz twins, is it? Your parents out fishing like the rest of ‘em?” He straightened his back and lowered his little glasses with a tanned hand. “I respect anyone brave enough to risk it out there fishing, y’know, you should probably thank ‘em when they come home…”

“Yeah, yeah,” said Domi, waving him off with a hand, “We found a fossil while they were gone!”

“Not exactly,” Mari quickly added. “Just something weird, we were hoping you knew what it was?”

“Oh?” Sanders cocked his head. “Let me see, then, come in.” He invited the two in. The community was close-knit enough to trust each other inside their homes—you never know when you’d end up caught in another storm, so forming close trust with your neighbors was encouraged. Naturally this meant Domi felt like the world was his personal playground, so he immediately stomped in and began looking around. Mari stepped in clutching her satchel, and upon being directed she laid it down onto the main table.

The rubber bass slid out, and upon its form being revealed, Sanders gasped. 

“Are you serious?” He laughed. “You found a Big Mouth Billy out there?”

“A wha?” Domi peeked over the table, clambering onto a chair. 

“A Big Mouth Billy Bass. There used to be a label here, but I guess the ocean and the sands wore away at it…” He pointed to a small elevated label at the bottom of the base. “What these things did—actually, hold on. If we’re lucky, we might have some batteries around here to spare…” He got up and began looking through his disorganized storage hut until he came out once more with a handful of large, fat batteries. “Here. Let's see if it turns on.”

They pried open the back of it and took out the gross, slimy, and corroded old batteries from inside. Sanders got to work drying it up and cleaning it of any rust until it was almost as good as new. Finally, they inserted the new batteries, and flipped it around.

“So, if it works, you flick it on as so, and press here…” He pressed the button as the two watched eagerly.

The animatronic fish opened its mouth, and with a distorted, screeching noise like an injured seagull, it began rearing its head and flapping its tail. Domi looked terrified, and Mari’s confusion only grew. 

“Ah, it…must be broken, of course, after so long…well, it used to sing a little song,” he explained. “This used to be a little Santa hat—we haven’t seen those in a while. It’d sing a song, and you’d hang it up on your wall.” He looked down at them. “Back then, most fish were small enough to mount on your wall, and a lot of hobby fishermen did as trophies.”

“Huh…” Mari stared at the bass. “I thought it was just a baby bass?”

“Nope. This was an adult fish from way back when.” Sanders grinned. “Sure, they could get bigger, but nowhere near as big as they get now.” He propped the toy bass onto the table. “I’m sure your parents will love this guy. They used to be a popular thing back then. The World flood wasn’t so long ago, you know!”

“Of course it was,” Domi said, “our parents were kids back then. That’s ages ago!”

Sanders laughed sheepishly.

“I…if you say so. Here, I’ll let you keep those batteries, just be careful with them, alright? I’ll see if we can somehow restore these old ones…although they’re probably dead.” Sanders took the old batteries and stood from the table. “Run off now, before it gets too dark, alright?”

“Got it!” Domi gave him a salute.”

“Thanks, Sanders!” Mari waved as they turned to leave, new treasure in hand.

The sun began to slowly set on the Marina, drawing a long, eventful day to a close. The sea slowly began to rise as was common at night, gradually eating up at the shore. Lanterns were lit across the boardwalk, and the two followed them to meet their parents at the soup bar.

“Domingo, Marisol! How was it!” Their mother greeted them with a big smile and a warm hug. Their father, who was making chatter with the owner, turned to greet them, eager to hear their adventures.

“We found a bass!” Domi shouted. The two looked horrified until he fished the trinket out from Mari’s bag, and they soon turned to relief.

“Now where did you go and find that?” Their mother laughed, taking it in her hands.

“I haven’t seen one of those since I was your age,” their father signed, peeking over and pressing the button. This cued its horrifying shriek, which was quickly silenced by their mother flicking the off switch. 

“It’s a bit broken,” said Mari, hopping onto a stool next to her. “Sanders said they were popular. Do you know the song?”

“Oh, it’s been so long, I don’t think I do. I can tell you though, my own papa had one of these, and lord, did it go off on its own sometimes...”

“Did you catch any fish?” Domi asked his father, tugging at his pants from below.

“We caught a big one,” he signed back, “with the help of our neighbor here.” He motioned to a gruff, scarred up older man sitting next to them working away at a big bowl of steaming hot soup. He tilted his hat as Domi gazed upon him. He had heard tales about the man, how each of his scars came from a different wild fish encounter.

“She was a wild on’, you bet,” he spoke, white seafoam beard bouncing on his lips, “but yer dad is wilder.” He gave a creaky chuckle, chest heaving with each laugh. Domi tried to mimic him, puffing his chest out far and wide.

“When we get home, you can help us cut it up. We’ll need more bags to put the meat in,” their mother began thinking out loud. “But for now—ah, the bass toy… here, let me tell you…”

The four, united by a curiosity for the past and an eagerness to share it, sat around the bar, sipping on hot ramen by torchlight, safe from the oceans below. The wind blew cold as the moon rose, bringing the tide higher with it. And once it was nearing its highest, they headed home, safe inside their hut from any toothy maws and thrashing tails from the depths below. The only thrashing tail allowed in their home was now hanging on the wall in its fake, rubbery glory, a breath from the past.


i am feesh, i want to go home