I used to work at a research facility that keeps marine mammals. We had eight sea lions, three dolphins, two porpoises and an orca. And we had Hannibal the beluga whale.
Hannibal had always been my favorite among the animals. Every morning when I passed his basin, he would lift his head out of the water and give me his best Anthony Hopkins smile. And I would stop and wave at him in greeting. My actual research, sadly, did not have much to do with him, but we had a kind of connection.
And then he started talking to me.
At first I refused to believe it. I thought that work-related stress and habitual drug use had driven me mad. But the answer was much simpler and much saner. Hannibal the beluga whale was a telepath. And he had chosen me to be his first human contact.
Initially, his messages were short, disjointed and somewhat sententious. “The tragedy is not to die, but to be wasted.” he would say, and then, a few minutes later “Have you ever seen blood in the moonlight, Will? It appears quite black.” My name is not Will, but why bother with technicalities? I answered as best as I could, tried to sustain a conversation. My superiors reprimanded me more than once because I stood at Hannibal’s basin instead of doing my work. But I did not care. This was more important than anything else.
At first Hannibal was reluctant to open up to me, but I was patient and persistent, and soon we talked openly to each other about our lives, fears and desires. His biggest desire, it turned out, was to taste human flesh. “The feast is life.” he told me “You put life in your belly and you live. I have never been ashamed of eating anything.”
Of course I was reluctant to grant such a wish, but the more I tried to dissuade him, the more withdrawn he became. At last he threatened to cut off all further contact. So I did what I had to do.
I dropped acid to dull the pain, went down to the basin and cut off a superfluous body part. I threw it into the water, where Hannibal devoured it with obvious glee. Suddenly, someone pulled me back from the edge of the water and started screaming at me.
“What the f*ck have you done, you f*cking idiot?” a beefy, distorted face yelled. Disoriented, I mumbled something about invaluable research that could be done with the beluga. “What the f*ck!? You are not a researcher, you are the cleaning guy! And there is no beluga in that basin! We don´t have a beluga!”
In the basin, Hannibal lifted his head out of the water. His bloodstained snout was grinning. “Well, Clarice – have the lambs stopped screaming?” he asked cheerfully.