• Seaman Diary - 7 Days in the Life - Sega Dreamcast

    Saturday
    12:13pm
    Having decided to get myself a pet, I ordered a "Sea Man" Dreamcast kit, guaranteed to give its owner an actual living talking creature. Arriving at the local post office mid-morning, I employed my usual routine of brandishing a tea towel whilst yelping in a high pitch so as to avoid import tax. It worked as always, this time being kicked only once as I left.

    The box containing my future friend was unusually small, conjuring up horrid childhood memories of when mother bought us all "Sea-Monkeys"; "just add water for the little parasites to spring to life" it said. Luckily within this Dreamcast kit, there was nothing that resembled sherbet packets, thereby avoiding any rerun of unpleasant events.

    I have heard this breed of Seaman is American. As a result, I will have to amend some culturally different things. For a start Fish and Chips will be removed from the daily menu I had devised. I will also take the preliminary step of replacing all my vowels with the letter "a". "Jast laka thas, mastar saaman."

    16:05pm
    Upon complete set up of the aquarium and acquisition of something called a VMU with sixty-four free blocks, I switched on the light. Suddenly greeted by the booming voice of Doctor Spock, who clearly thinking himself superior, tried to tell me his name was Leonardo Nermoy or something.

    After much of his rambling, freedom was mine to play around with the items contained within the starter kit. Eagerly I flooded the tank with oxygen and cranked the heat up to a pleasant 18 degrees, the water filled glass tank at last ready for the Seaman egg. Mere minutes after submersion, it lived up to its name and burst into several tiny white tadpoles. The slimy creatures were woefully uninteresting, preferring to affix themselves to the side of tank, whilst glaring at me with their vacant single eyes. Being bored and more than a little creeped out, I instead chose to play around with a strange Shelled Squid that had magically found its way into the tank.

    Imagine my glee when it soon started to devour those hideous little eyeball tadpoles. The fact that they chose to follow my tapping hand wherever it went filled me with a sense of godlike power as I led all but three of them to their timely deaths.

    It's at this point I must offer a warning: Anyone who is suddenly amazed at the lifelike beauty of this kit because their feet are wet, should check they haven't left the bath running like I had.

    16:20pm
    Eager to show off my new Squid pet who had now been named Derek, I gathered the local village children around to my aquarium. On my return I found that Derek was not so well, excreting all manors of dark substances and shaking uncontrollably. Suddenly he ripped his flesh from the shell and proceeded to bleed out into the tank, at which point it became apparent that inviting the village children around had not been such a good idea.

    The room filled with horrid screams as the children pleaded for Derek to open his eyes and wake up. It all ended horribly, with several in tears. Which taught me a valuable lesson: Seaman was to only be played with alone.

    16:46pm
    With the previous fiasco out of my mind, I again returned to my pet project, at which point Spock told me that I was visiting the tank too much.
    Before me were Derek's murderers, five small man-faced fishes. They looked unhappy, as they should, yet still I chose to add extra oxygen and raise the heat. They seemed quite partial as well to the snack biscuits that had been given to me with the kit.

    I attempted to converse with them, and though they gave the appearance of understanding my English accent, they replied only with babble. Too much oxygen I thought. Prolonged attempts at dialogue conjured up the occasional discernable word, but it was mostly in vain.

    Curiosity and intrigue soon turned to blatant sadism though as I lifted each each and every one of Derek's murderers in turn and flicked them until they cried pitifully and babbled for me to stop. Derek would have his revenge I vowed.

    23:27pm
    Had trouble sleeping, felt restless. Went to the tank to flick the fish. Felt much better afterwards, went to bed.


    Sunday
    09:54am
    Awoke early, eager to see if my record for keeping a pet alive had been broken. According to Spock, it had! There were five live Gillmen floating about, though the tank was not without the presence of death this morning. The eyeball slimes having perished, were now playing "floaty float boats" with an air leak that had formed in the middle of the tank. A quick shifting of rocks soon stopped the nasty bubbles that kept escaping. As for the eyeball deaths, if treachery was involved, the Gillmen were keeping quiet about it....

    Once their incessant moaning had been stopped by adjusting the oxygen, heating and giving them more of my precious biscuits, I found that conversation was more rewarding. They actually attempted to answer my questions this time, and managed to speak real English. The conversation quickly turned to politics and it was revealed that as well as being simultaneously both hardline left and right winged, they also had a penchant for eating bees. Though attempts to get them to recognise "hungry" with a Texan accent was fruitless.

    This was an excellent opportunity also to gauge exactly what words they understood, and to aid in the refining my US pronunciation, though as at time of writing, the list is restricted to "at, as, stall, hat and mass".

    13:05pm
    A return to the tank, and again death had been playing his games. Spock revealed that the little bastards had killed one of their own in my absence, and sucked his blood. Survival of the fittest apparently, and this would continue, since "in the end there can be only one!"

    Suddenly it was like back in my days of running an illegal cock fighting arena. I knew what I had to do, choose a prime specimen, toughen him up, and let the battle for brain sucking commence! A candidate was soon selected, thanks mainly to his overly large eyebrows, since everyone knows that fish with large eyebrows are always the toughest. For the meantime, I have nicknamed him Bob the fish, or perhaps just Bob.

    My strategy is simple, build up his strength, whilst mercilessly flicking the others in order to dampen their spirits. To aid in this, "Eye of the Tiger" will be playing throughout his training. I have found that the more one speaks to the creatures, the faster they develop, so all attention will now be focussed on big brow Bob.

    He adjusted well to the new regime of constant tickling and lengthy speeches, most of which inevitably involved cheese. I can only hope he isn't lactose intolerant. After an initial session that produced good results, he went on to faultlessly perform twenty high diving drops into the aquarium. Then it was back to flicking the remaining the three, once their faces had a sufficient scowl on them it was time to rest up.

    17:15pm
    They're onto to me! The three that I was intentionally flicking and emotionally neglecting have formed some kind of pack. They huddle together and watch Bob as he innocently swims about. I also believe they have a leader now, he has been nicknamed "Big Lobe". Regardless, they are no doubt jealous of the affection and love Bob is receiving. I can no longer trust in his safety and fear some form of foul play will occur. To combat this, the aquarium light will be on at all times, as I sit wide eyed, keeping tabs on their nefarious activities. Bob must survive.

    Whilst "Big Lobe" and his cronies go about their plans, I decided to increase Bob's currently limited vocabulary. Excellently I found that hidden away in his psyche were a selection of special non-existent words that he actually understood. So far "Snarfle", "Gerpluk" and "Lorboon" have been discovered as part of this secret vocabulary. It is just a pity that he still refuses to understand words such as "hungry" and "friend". Still, I am certain that "Snarfle" will suffice as a replacement for both.

    19:38pm
    The constant wide eyed vigil has not been easy. Needing sleep, the aquarium light was turned off. On my return, Spock insulted me by implying that I had no social life for visiting so often. I must find where he is hiding in the aquarium and put an end to his pointy eared madness. Luckily Bob was still alive, and so I gave him a hearty wave. Unfortunately the idiot was so fixated on my hand that he dizzied himself and rolled upside down. Hopefully he will learn from this and use such tactics against the others should they try to jump him.


    Monday
    11:03am
    Another morning, another start to the routine, at the aquarium it was the usual releasing of gases into the tank and turning up the heat. None of the Gillmen were dead, and none of them seemed to have matured in anyway. In desperation, my week's supply of Yak loin was bartered with a friend in exchange for written notes he'd made when using his own purchased Seaman kit. An "Efaycue" as he put it.

    His guide was incomprehensible, and I vowed never to read such things in the shower again. I was now clearly on my own with my fishy friends. Conversing was useless, since there are only so many times one can "hi" or "got milk?!". In the end I sadly reverted to flicking all of them, even dear sweet Bob. But frivolous cruelty soon turned to panic, as I feared they may leave the tank while I slept in order to exact probing and painful revenge on my person. Something had to be done to protect myself when I was away from the tank.

    A quick rummage in the neighbour's house revealed the tools needed to construct a protection device. Using some old boxes and wetted shirts, I created what I like to call the "Cardboard Sock". Said device fits over the top and sides of the aquarium, preventing any Seaman escapage. Thus ensuring my safety in the event they grow vengeful.

    16:25pm
    The "Cardboard Sock" has been abandoned in order to stop people asking silly questions such as:
    "What is wrong with your telly, love?"
    I have quickly grown tired of the need to repeat "It's a cardboard sock pulled over the top of an aquarium in order to stop man-faced guppies called Seaman from coming out at night and whipping me mercilessly with their forehead tentacles! Do you see?"

    Instead the door to my bedroom will now be locked.

    17:10pm
    Another trip to the tank, and another disappointment. No new words, no fresh deaths, nothing. It is almost as if the tiny beings have stopped growing. Frustration is mounting, as is the temptation to break the tank with a tin of kippers. If there is no change by tomorrow, I will take the advice of the aforementioned friend and utilise something he called time travelling.


    Tuesday
    09:34am
    What at first appeared to be some form of bizarre forced mating ritual, soon turned out to be the death of my beloved Bob. No sooner had the oxygen and heating been adjusted then one of the patch faced Gillmen attached a tentacle to Bob's underside, sucking his innards dry.
    All of my training has gone to waste.

    Before the limp dead body had even touched the surface though, "Big Lobe" came over and started sucking the very life out of the patch faced one. I soon came to terms with the loss, and decided that "Big Lobe" would have to be Bob's successor.

    The rest of the morning was spent getting acquainted with my new friend, who over the course of the previous night had grown and developed a slight golden hue. Speech was now also far more successful, with more words being recognised and whole short sentences being said. With child like aplomb, they attempted to understand and engage with me, though much like human children, conversations soon turned to farting or they simply floated there pouting.

    Worryingly though, our biscuit supply was running low, so I decided to take a break and allow the mornings events to fully sink in.

    20:01pm
    Revolution had been going on in my absence. When I returned late in the day, I found that the baby-voiced Gillmen had been replaced with deep voiced adults capable of full speech. Whilst away, the boy had finally become a man, and I was filled not so much with pride, but confusion and melancholy at the inevitability of life as one ages.

    In my excitement the heating was accidentally pushed up way past the 20 degree mark, and the proceeding lengthy wait had to be spent listening to him moaning about hot he was, though the only song he broke into was "Alabama" when pulled out of the tank. Once it was suitably cooler, I decided to put his new found maturity to the test, and so questioned him on various alcohols. Apparently my mother quite likes beer, and he doesn't drink it very often.

    The quizzing soon took a strange turn, as he mistook "videogame" for the word "name". Suddenly on the spot I had to christen him, Big Lobe wouldn't be appropriate, and with his new found gravely speech, he sounded far more like a Max. So Max it was, and after clicking my heels and saying it 3 times, it was done. Max developed a new golden colour, and a far heartier disposition. Though I couldn't help fear his demise what with the constant menacing presence of one final rival Gillman floating around in the background. No doubt plotting.

    Suddenly the pet shop owner's words were ringing true; this truly was an animal that I could communicate with, though I was still reluctant to develop any form of emotional attachment to the golden creature swimming before me, especially with the memories of Derek and Bob still so fresh in my mind.

    It was now my companion's job to ask questions, and he soon had my age, birthday, star sign and credit card numbers memorised. Except he didn't ask about my numbers, you see, I was lying about that.

    After getting very chummy, we started having flashbacks. His recollections of the Frenchman, Gasse, were interesting, especially since it revealed the location of an insect cage with moth larvae. Whilst no doubt intended for Seaman, I was certain he wouldn't mind sharing.

    Once all this new info had been digested, a startling event interrupted our conversation. A large rock-like object splashed into the water and sank to the depths. Questioning of Max yielded no results, but it seemed to resemble some form of seed, which I hope sprouts and delivers some much needed foliage into the bland surroundings of the aquarium.

    I was eager to push the conversation limits further, to find precisely what his opinion of Descartes was, and if he believed man could be truly free. Not to mention the possible parallels with him and Plato's allegory of the cave. Finally I thought, humanity was about to break the interspecies communications barrier. It wasn't to be sadly. He bluntly told me that he'd had enough talking for today, and wanted to be left alone to sleep. Pushing the issue had no luck, and I had to agree, it had been a trying session. Three days of childlike babble, enough to bore even the most ardent fans of paint drying. Then suddenly, an explosion of thought and activity. We both needed time.


    Wednesday
    08:02am
    Up early and straight to the tank, I was desperate to see if Max's rival was to have his blood sucked out. After dispensing with the niceties plus daily ritual of air and heat I waited. Absolutely nothing. It seemed there would be no natural selection this morning.

    It was time to get a better look at the world of the insect cage. Populated within its foliage filled innards were tiny chubby slugs, which actually strongly resembled cut open watermelons, though the same cannot be said for their taste. Max seems to think they taste like chicken, which proves to me he is quite insane. I decided to dub them the Melon Slugs due to their appearance. With only three left, they will have to be rationed.

    The world of the cage brought about further daily chores, since I now not only had to attend to constant demands of a Seaman, but also have to ensure the cage is constantly moist.

    Back in the tank, not a fish was stirring. Any attempts at conversation were soon shunned, and I thought the ungrateful cad might need a few days without feeding to put him back on the straight and narrow. Perhaps spending the rest of the day in abject darkness will cool his heels?

    18:12pm
    With the lights back on, I called out to my fishy friend. He recognised his name well and placed his face against the glass. A quick tickle and he was again smiling. I need never forget my duties, since should anything be not quite to Seaman's liking, I can be sure he will whine ceaselessly until satisfied.

    I decided to pick him up, get a good look at just how fat he was getting. He seemed healthy, if a little small for the booming voice he used.

    Today had been slow, with only really the appearance of Melon Slugs causing any great peak in my interest. Tomorrow had better bring about results, otherwise there shall be much flicking going on.


    Thursday
    09:40am
    Fresh Melon Slugs for breakfast, just the way Max likes them. It's just a pity I cannot stop the rival fish from getting any, but they both seem to get a decent share.

    One the daily chores had been taken care of, I tried a more direct approach, demanding that Seaman say something to me. As if a tap had suddenly been turned on, the rest of the morning was spent answering twenty questions. Curiously starting with "How's yer father?".
    Once I had assured him that my father was indeed quite alright, and revealed his birthday, the subjects then turned to mothers, then myself and then suddenly I feared I may have opened Pandora's box. He couldn't seem to stop! Less than a day ago, I was shunned and told to go away, yet now my entire family history was being mapped. He seemed pleased, grinning evilly and cackling like a maniac. Except perhaps without the cackling part.

    The moment I had gotten comfortable with this routine, it was decided that he'd had enough and I should leave. AGAIN! Well, no one ever said keeping a pet would be easy or predictable, and I can be thankful he doesn't need any shots. (Though that doesn't mean I won't give him any, should I feel like it.) Keeping an animal, a talking one especially, is certainly enough to keep you on your toes.

    After a quick moistening of the Melon Slugs, I reconciled myself to the fact that I was indeed in the presence of a madman..... madfish..... mad-fishman even.
    Would a Seaman by any other name not be as weird?

    18:30pm
    You know you've been hanging around Seaman too long when everything seems to have his face. In the bug cage, a shrill voiced Melon Slug seemed to rip part of its face off revealing a tiny seaman face, only to quickly plunge it back into its chest again. There was a moth now too, like a tiny winged Seaman with antennae. For safety I decided to not visit any relatives that evening, and switched the light off in my room.

    20:52pm
    Returning to the habitat, Spock informed me that Max would be undergoing some form of change, one that wouldn't involve him turning into a skinless freak apparently. He wasn't wrong either, switching on the light it was revealed that Max had found a large plastic doll and had stapled its legs to his belly.... Or possibly he'd just grown some small legs of his own, perhaps. Still, he had grown in size to the point where I could no longer grab him by his tail, and instead took up the whole of my hand. My little fish was finally growing up.

    Further discussion with my freshly legged up friend brought about a new side to his personality. Seaman PhD! Therapy directly into your face, courtesy of an American fish. He began another Q and A session, this time enquiring about myself. What I like about myself, what I don't, whether others like me or not, encroaching upon some very personal material. Feeling strangely like a "Goats Anonymous" meeting, we finished off, concluding that indeed I was loved and I truly was a special person. Having had quite enough of these touchy feely shenanigans, I hit his face and left. A cold night in the dark would hopefully toughen him up. No legged talking fish of mine was going to be a pansy.


    Yesterday (14th May 2004)

    Seaman is dead.

    What started innocently, a young man purchasing a pet for companionship, slowly descended into the kind of depraved insanity that would rival a narcotics fuelled night in Vegas. Perhaps. Regardless, the fact remains, that as of the 24th of March, Seaman and his entire ilk have died.

    I awoke in the morning, dazed and confused, with dry Melon Slug stuck to my face. A quick dash to the tank and Spock revealed that they had grown tiny legs, and would soon be mating. Max's rival, Ed as I had named him, must have been an Edwina then.

    The light went on, and the beginning of the end was signalled, as they cried out in vain for food, I frantically searched the insect cage. No more Melon Slugs. Only two moths and two large seed pods. Why, why had I eaten them so heartily?! Being desperate I dropped a moth into the water, tapping furiously at the glass to get his attention. He ignored me, and continued his begging for food. I was powerless to help him.

    The moth soon withered and disappeared. Next the seed pod. It fell to the bottom and then also vanished from sight. All that was left was a single moth. I needed time to think, so left the tank for a while.

    Coming back, Spock again told me death was imminent unless I could feed them. If I tried the final moth, there would be nothing left to lay eggs for further slugs to hatch from. Something had to be done, it was a crazy last ditched attempt at saving them, that and I was curious to see exactly how Podfish mated with each other.

    The final moth hit the water, its fluttering stopped. Seaman seemed to go near, but suddenly stopped and turned away. THEY WOULD NOT EAT IT!

    I dropped my head in despair. Seaman had signed his own death certificate with that final moth; there was no longer any food, anywhere. All I could do was watch as he swam backwards, or rolled onto his back, looking pitifully at me, desperate for food that would never arrive. For all he knew, he could not foresee his own demise. Like an old deaf and blind man helplessly driving a motorised cheese wagon over the edge of a cliff,he was oblivious the impending doom about to befall him. This was his last moment, his final song, the moment when all Seaman meet the maker. The desperate begging continued, and the only thing I could do was watch on helplessly.

    Desperate screaming of profanity at the tank did nothing. They both ignored me, lost in a world of hunger and incessant pleadings. Everything was tried, but nothing helped. The cage and inventory bag were empty, the tank was barren.

    Returning 6 hours later, they both still lived, but no food had miraculously made itself apparent. It was at this point I decided viewing this scene to completion was futile. No one would benefit from seeing the demise of Max and the other Podfish. The light in Seaman's world was switched off for the last time at 23:20 on May 14th.

    Perhaps I will again return to the mad world of the half-man half-fish. Perhaps I will succeed where others have failed, and maybe discover the secrets of Dr Jean-Paul Gasse. But until then, I have a large dead fish stuck in my U-bend, and it doesn't seem to be budging.

    Diary by John Szczepaniak