Once upon on a time, a long, long time ago, in a lake far, far away there was a fish named Kory.
Kory was a little blue fish who lived in Elkwater Lake near the old pier that had the fallen tree beside it. The log had come to be there after a big storm last June that caused everyone to huddle in the reeds and hope the wind went away as quickly as it had come up. One big gust blew the tree over and it made a terrible splash and nearly took out the pier. Now, the log had become famous for catching fishermen’s lures on its bark. Not everyone who came to the lake knew it was there lurking below the surface. All the experienced fishermen stood at the far side of the pier so they didn’t lose any more lures. It was only the visiting weekend warriors who stood nearest the log.
On Monday morning, schools of school trips would come and visit the log and watch while the lake librarian would come to catalogue the new lures. He said it was part of a research project for his thesis on Human Behavior. If he could inventory the types of lures used, chart it against the weather patterns, compare it to the full moon cycles and such, he would be in a better position to be able to track the humans and make a chart that would indicate the safest swimming times.
All the mom fish were in favor of this. Safety first and all. They were the same helicopter moms who would tell the little fish they had to wait two hours after lunch before they could go swimming or their scales would fall off. No one was actually sure if that was true, but no one wanted to totally test that theory for fear of being bald. Kory certainly didn’t anyways. He loved his shiny scales. While they were mostly blue, they were also silver in certain lights. Fish were kind of like humans in some ways Kory noticed. The kids on the beach had to wait until a long time had passed after their lunch before they went swimming too. He wasn’t sure why though, they didn’t have scales like him. He would hear their moms shriek at them if they tried to go swimming too early after eating also. Huh. Maybe it was just a Mom thing. His mom wasn’t a helicopter mom at all, like some Mom’s were. There were plenty of audiobooks that she listened to to make sure she was a good mom though.
Actually, on a swim up the lake earlier last summer the family had listened to one called The 7 Secrets to Having Happy Caviar. Among 6 other things, it talked about once the fish eggs were old enough to play on their own, they needed to find their own fun; not be always be entertained by the parents. It was supposed to make for a more self confident fish when they got older. His mom was regularly listening to parenting books like this. Kory often wondered if she had misplaced the manual on how to be a parent or something.
This particular morning Kory decided to explore a newer part of the lake that had only formed after the big storm. All the snow melt had made the rivers full that spring and as they fed into the lake, it began to rise. Soon there were new pockets along the shores that weren’t there the previous years.
Kory, although small, was mighty in spirit and he loved exploring more than anything. Well, except racing. Racing was in his blood. No matter who the challenger was, he would race. He didn’t always win, but he loved the rush of the race. He was really looking forward to the race at school that was coming up. He had been training hard but there as one trout that always seemed just a little bit faster than him, and he wasn’t always a very gracious winner. He would say things that weren’t very kind. Every once in a while a tear welled up in Kory’s eye. His mom would notice when he came home from school if he was a bit sad and did her best to cheer him up. Perhaps this time he would win and things would be better.
He swam as fast as he could wriggle to the newest corner of the lake. He had seen some ferns growing on the banks of the lake last summer and he wanted to check them out. The librarian said he needed to do a bit of research first to be able to accurately identify them, but Kory was pretty sure he had heard the words “Bean Fern” come from Mr. Klingers lips when he was talking to another trout the other day about them.
When Kory arrived, he marveled at how quickly he had made it over. I must be having another growth spurt and developing new muscles! He thought he had looked bigger in his reflection that morning. Or perhaps it was the new protein regimen Dalton had told him to follow if he wanted to bulk up. Either way, Kory loved seeing if he could beat his time when he could. He decided to swim back and see if it was faster on the downstream current by much before he went exploring.
The scales on his fins glistened as he ripped by the three fish that were loitering by the bulrushes. They barely noticed him as they were instead watching Mr. Klingers come out with his clipboard. When Mr. Klingers got closer, they scattered. He may have asked them to help count lures again and that sort of stuff bored them to tears.
On Kory’s return, he flipped a fin high and did a little jump splash as he called a cheerful “Good morning” to Mr. Klingers. He briefly saw a wave of his clipboard as he zoomed through the weeds. He was indeed on track to go faster than he had that morning. Flapping his gills quickly, he caught his breath as he checked his time….five seconds faster!!
He was happy with that and now even happier as he was about to explore this new corner of the lake. It wasn’t long before he found what he was looking for. There was indeed a new plant taking up residence. He had to look carefully, but it was slightly different. However, the biggest difference was the smell. It was almost like the water smelled and tasted like Brussels sprouts mixed with squash. He wasn’t a fan of either, but his Mom said he needed them to be healthy, so he ate them. She kept telling him that he needed to keep an open mind and that his taste buds would change as he got older. He had to try two bites of everything that was on his clamshell at night before he could be finished.
Their smell, though! It wasn’t very appetizing. The ferns looked delicious, however. He could see now why they were called a Bean Fern. They were shaped like a bean, and they were brown like a bean, and they were the size of a bean. He wondered if they tasted like beans too?
Ok, here goes. Even though he didn’t like their smell, he took a small nibble. Hmmmm…..not bad! He took another nibble. It actually tasted pretty good! If he closed his eyes and nibbled again, and didn’t think about what was in his mouth, he might also think he was eating beans!! Those beans with molasses and the fatty pork chunk! These ferns were delicious! It wasn’t long before the whole bean fern patch had been gobbled up by Kory. Looking at the time, and feeling how full his belly was, he decided he needed to go for a good long swim so he would have an appetite for supper or his Mom would be upset at him for ruining his dinner.
But how could he?!?! After eating this much he could hear his Mom’s voice in his head telling him to wait two hours before swimming so his scales didn’t fall off! Now what was he going to do??
He decided to start verrry slowly just wiggling his back fin to propel him forward and back in the direction of home. He was afraid it would take him too long to get home, but he had to at least get started. It felt like forever had passed as he made his way back towards home, but his watch said it had only been half an hour. He was feeling quite uncomfortable soon afterwards though, and he could not only feel, but hear his tummy rumbling.
Just as he passed Mr. Klingers at the log, he felt a massive eruption come from his belly that he had never experienced before. Brrraaappp! He was suddenly thrust forward and barely had time recover before another one hit him. Bvvviiippp!!! This one was even bigger! There were large bubbles, small bubbles and even a few greasy bubbles in the mix as he rocketed past the librarian. He was holding his clipboard when Kory initially wiggled by him, but as he shot past, his glasses were blown off, his clipboard was ripped from his hands and his nose wrinkled in disgust.
What was happening to him?!? He had never moved so fast in his life, even when he was swimming his hardest. He finally stopped erupting and came to a stop. He could see looking back that Mr. Klingers’ papers were scattered everywhere and he was flipping around looking for his glasses, but they were beyond his view. Kory swam back to help him.
Mr. Klingers was quite shaken when Kory arrived, and the two of them were at a loss for words. Finally Kory broke the silence. “I’m sorry Mr. K, I am not sure what happened just now. All of a sudden my belly was swelling, and a feeling came over me like none other. I was propelled forward and before I knew what was happening, I was moving faster than I ever had before!”
He handed the librarian his glasses and papers and flipped his tail back and forth nervously. He wasn’t sure what the old trout was going to say.
“That was AMAZING!! I have never seen a fish swim so fast in my life! How did you do it??” Mr. Klingers asked. He wasn’t upset at all. The scientist in him wanted to understand what he had just experienced. He wanted to know everything!
The excitement was contagious! Kory began to smile as he told him all about his morning. From finding the Bean Ferns, to how they smelled, to how they tasted and finally his super speed he achieved as he went past the pier. Mr. Klingers was a bit grim when he commented that the smell of the bubbles made him want to throw up a little. “It was like a mixture of squash and Brussel sprouts washed over me as you blew by.”
“YES! I knew it. It must have been the Bean Ferns I ate that caused everything. When I was investigating them, I could smell the same thing, but wasn’t sure what it was. What do you suppose happened to me just now?” asked Kory.
Mr. Klingers swished his tail thoughtfully before answering. “Well Kory, I have only ever read about this in books and journal articles. I have never actually seen it, or experienced it myself…….Buuuut, I would postulate that it was what the humans call…A FART! Dr. Jan, the veterinarian over in Medicine Hat wrote an article about it back when she was in her residency I think. I should probably investigate this further.”
“Can it wait until tomorrow Mr. Klingers? I can’t be late for supper or my Mom will be very upset. Mind you, I’m not sure I have any room yet to eat anything else. I am still stuffed from the ferns! I’ll come back after breakfast and I will take you to the spot I found them.” Kory swam away towards the reeds by the pier hoping supper wasn’t going to be a big one tonight.
The next morning, Kory found Mr. Klingers waiting for him by the log, clipboard in his right fin and looking like he wasn’t able to contain his excitement. They set off and Kory found Mr. K was keeping pace with him quite well, for being an older fish and all. They easily passed the three thug trout who were known to harass Kory at school. The biggest one teased Kory and said, “You better be practicing Kory! The big race is tomorrow at school after recess and I intended to win again this year. Bragging rights for the year I will have!!” Kory replied, “Oh I’ll be there Mike! Don’t you worry. This isn’t a certain win for you this year. I’ve been training!”
On the way, Mr. K said it would probably be a good idea if they kept this find to themselves until they had more information. Kory nodded and replied, “We are almost there.”
Rounding the bend, the two fish came upon the Bean Fern stems that Kory had gnawed on yesterday. They had to look a while, but Mr. K shrieked when he found a new patch. Kory slid over right away and confirmed the Librarian’s find.
“I knew we were close, I could smell them.” Mr. K wrinkled his nose in disgust.
Kory waited eagerly as Mr. K began to document what he was seeing. He pulled out a measuring tape, calipers and was writing furiously all the while making noises of satisfaction. He was quite excited with Kory’s find.
“Are you going to try one?” Kory asked quietly. Mr. Klingers looked over at him and raised one eyebrow. “I think I just might.” he said as he took a small nibble. Kory watched him thoughtfully contemplate the flavors of the fern. “I agree! They do taste like beans! It is actually quite delicious. This will make an excellent research project!” Mr. Klingers seemed lost in his own little world. Kory swam around just looking at all the new rocks that had shown up since the lake had grown with all the winter run off. There were some exceptionally pretty ones. Time passed quickly and when the Librarian looked up from his clipboard finally, Kory noticed his belly was a bit larger than it was when they set off that morning.
Suddenly a strange expression came across the older trout’s face. Before Kory could ask what was going on, there was a great wave of bubbles that washed over him as Mr. K rocketed by Kory out towards the middle of the lake. Right away, Kory took off after him swimming as fast as he could to try and keep up.
He found him looking dazed as he had the previous day. “What happened to me just now!?!” Kory said gently, “I think …. You farted Mr. Klinger! Are you ok?” The librarian burst out laughing. “I definitely need to research this more. I have never experienced anything like that before. Let’s head back to the pier and discuss this along the way.”
The rest of the afternoon had the two fish comparing their experiences and marveling at this new fern. Kory explained near the end of the day he had to go home as he had school the next morning, and he wanted a good nights sleep. He had a big race with Mike this Monday. He needed to be well rested so he could swim as hard as he could. This year, he REALLY wanted to win.
The next morning, the three thug bull trout were waiting by the log to jeer Kory as he swam by. “I sure hope you are ready today. Mike is going to win by a mile. Might as well not even come to the starting line. I think you should call yourself a shrimp, not a trout, you are so tiny. Ha ha!” Kory just held his head high and flashed his scales in the morning sun as he went with the other fish to where the teacher was gathering the students. “Alright kids, I know everyone is excited about the big race today after morning recess, but we need to study our times tables this morning. Gather round. Ok, if you have 3 groups of scallops, and there are 4 in each group, how many do you have altogether….?”
The class got to work on their math and Kory kept wondering to himself if he was really ready. Was there any last minute prep he could do to help himself win the race? He was tired of always having to defend himself against the three bull trout. Recess came, and his sister came over to give him some encouragement. “You can do this Kory! You have worked hard and deserve to win. We’ve all been there with rude fish. It will be great.”
All of a sudden a beam of sunlight broke through the clouds and Kory had an idea! He thought of what his sister had said. “We’ve all been there with rude fish.” Been there….bean there! The Bean Fern! He could have the help of the Bean Fern and fart his way across the finish line!! He swam up to his teacher and said he was going to be right back. Before the teacher could say a thing, he flashed away to the south east corner of the lake. He found as many Bean Ferns as he could chomp on and then hurried back just as the horn signaled the end of recess.
All the fish were lined up by the log. The Gym teacher was outlining the rules of the big race. Each racer’s tail had to be touching the log at the start of the race. When the flag went, it was game on! Each fish had to swim to the big buoy in the middle of the lake and turn around and head back to the log. The first one to plant a kiss on the log wins. It was a big race, and not only did you have to be fast to win, you had to have stamina. Fatigue was a big factor in who made it through.
Kory lined up right beside Mike. He felt good. His mom had made him a bowl of Carnation hot cereal that morning, so he could start his day right! He was excited to get this race going. All the other fish knew it was likely going to be Mike or Kory that won, but they still wanted to do their best and see how their times compared to last summer’s big race.
Mike looked over at Kory and growled, “Eat my bubbles!” just as the race flag dropped. 26 fish, big and small all started to swim like they were being chased by sharks. Kory and Mike were among 4 others who leapt to the front right at the very beginning. The other 20 fish fell into a second pack that was also headed to the buoy.
The cheering at the log from the other fish encouraged the racers, as did the parents who came to watch along the raceway and at the buoy. Mike and Kory were nose to nose, each jockeying for position. Dodging reeds, rogue waves and unsuspecting swimmers who happened to be at the lake for the day. All the obstacles made for an interesting race. As the two competitors rounded the buoy, Mike cut Kory off in a very un-sportsman like maneuver pushing him out of the way. Kory redoubled his efforts, his fins flapping like never before.
The familiar rumbling in his belly was beginning. It was good too, because Mike was getting a sizeable lead on the little blue fish. All of a sudden, Kory could see what Mike couldn’t and called out, “NET!!!!!” There was a aluminum 14 foot rowboat just ahead that had a net in the water and Mike was swimming right for it. As much as Kory wanted to win the race, he didn’t want his classmate scooped up and turned into someone’s supper. Mike couldn’t hear Kory as he was single mindedly focused on the log at the pier, and he was headed straight for the trap.
Just then, the bubbles started stream from Kory’s backside. He felt the familiar rumbling and was propelled faster than he was really able to fully control. His nose ran right into Mike’s tail fin and rocketed the two fish right into the path of the net. Closing his eyes, Kory tried to focus on saving his classmate and his own scales too! He knew that Mike didn’t know what was coming, and probably wondered why he was being pushed by the little blue fish at record speeds.
It appeared at the very last second; Mike saw the net and swerved right. Kory didn’t have time to react and headed straight into the net. Luckily he was small, but not small enough to swim through the strings of the net. It was like the afterburners had fired up and Kory blew a hole right through the net as he came blasting right out the other side as hundreds of HUGE greasy bubbles popped behind him, leaving the water reeking of Brussel sprouts and squash. The bubbles were so greatly numbered, the whole pack of remaining racers were engulfed in them and started to sputter and shake their heads as they tried to dodge the stinky farts that were right before them.
None of the other fish had ever farted before, let alone had swum through a virtual sea of farts and confusion reigned amongst the youngsters. Luckily, the fishermen in the boat were so amazed at what had just happened to their net, the other fish were able to get by without getting netted either.
Back at the log, Mike and Kory both touched it with their lips at the same time. Finally Mike had a chance to talk to the farting fish about what had happened. Kory explained what had happened while they both waited for the gym teacher to announce the official winner.
As the remaining racers trickled to the finish line, some looked quite confused as to what had happened. They all wanted to know how Mike had dodged the net, how Kory had blown right through it, and most importantly, what had caused the smell.
Mr. Kringles and Kory took a long time to explain everything that had been happening to their lake since the snow melt had started filling the rivers, and thereby raising the lake and creating new areas and new ferns available to the fish to snack on.
While all that was happening, the gym teacher was doing calculations, rechecking the underwater fish cameras and was finally able to render the verdict.
“It is my pleasure to announce for the first time in the history of this race, we have a tie. We have two winners today. Congratulations Mike and Kory, you will share the bragging rights for the next year as both being the fastest fish in the lake.” He slapped the fins of both boys and the watching crowd cheered.
Mike stepped forward, and everyone expected him to start boasting, like he was known to do.
The crowd and Kory especially, were shocked when he turned to his co-winner and announced, “In fact, we don’t have two winners. I declare Kory the winner, and the hero of the lake. Despite the fact I am ashamed to admit I haven’t been very kind to him over the year, he sacrificed the race, and his own safety to keep me from being put into someone’s frying pan tonight. I can’t thank him enough for that. Had he not done that, I would surely not be here, and he would be kissing the log far ahead of me. Please, put your fins together, and help me congratulate Kory for being the fastest, and fartiest fish in Elkwater Lake!” Everyone roared with laughter and swam away quickly, as Kory shouted, “Here comes another one! Brrrraaaappppp!!!!”