The Human Pet Emporium – A Goldfish? [Short Sci-Fi Story]


Even though humans were about average in the galaxy when it came to height, when going into some of their businesses, you would think they were as large as spaceships. This building appeared to be three {stories} tall, but for storage space, not for different levels. The sheer width and depth of the Human Pet Emporium was sufficient for that.

“Okay, I’m here,” I murmured. “I’m here, so I have to buy something now.” All four of my eyes blinked as I saw a human approaching me.

“Hi there,” he said. “I’m Daniel. I’m a Pet Guide. Do you need some assistance?”

Humans have a very polite way of saying that someone looks completely lost. “Thank you, Daniel, I do. I think. My name is Dililia. A friend sent me here. Well-” I fidgeted with my graspers. “A colleague. I separated from my mate, and I’ve been sad, and I realized I’d like a pet as company. And I told Grintili, and she said that I can’t even keep an office plant alive! She said I probably can’t even keep a goldfish alive!” I said, the words all coming out in a rush. “And I said of course I could. I’m female, I could have children, and I would keep them alive, so I can certainly keep a goldfish alive if I wanted to.”

I took a long breath. “What is a goldfish?” I asked, my voice on the edge of panic. “Is it hard to care for?”

Daniel made a hiccupping noise that my translator told me was laughter. “It is very easy to keep a goldfish alive. I think that’s why your colleague said that. That idiom is something she would have learned from a human. It’s an insult.”

I huffed. “Thinks she’s so smart. Fish are…they swim? The Earth creatures with the tails and the fins?”

“That’s them,” he said, bobbing his head. “But forget about your colleague. Getting a pet is about you. My job as a Pet Guide is to help you figure out what pet would be best suited for you. There are other humans here who specialize in certain animals, and if you figure out what you want and have specific questions, we’ll go to that section and they’ll take over. Can I show you our photos?”

“All right.” I followed him to our right, where one of eight video stations was situated, a large, angled screen showing photos with writing in a language I didn’t recognize. Flipping through the photos of furry animals, I realized from the labels at the top that it was divided into sections and subsections. It seemed it had photos of all the animals here. “Gosh, okay. Um…if I get a fish, what does it…do?” I asked, looking at him.

“Not much,” Daniel admitted.

His human smile came back, but it was smaller, and I had the feeling he was amused at how little fish actually did. Humans always seemed so happy, at least the ones I interacted with. I realized I wasn’t at all surprised that they’d created a business such as this. Chatting with other species and introducing them to all the little pets they kept in their homes? I’m sure it was a dream job.

“Many humans find little fish cute and endearing, though. You sprinkle some food flakes into the water once a day, clean the tank regularly, and that’s about it, so it’s actually a common first pet for a human child. But if older humans are fond of them, they can get more fish, different bigger fish, a bigger tank, really rare fish that are expensive. Many decorate the tank with lots of fake water plants and such. It can almost become a hobby.”

“Oh wow, okay.” Flipping the pages, I looked at the animals in the section that had been open, clearly all dogs. I’d seen videos of large animals playing with humans, but that seemed like a big responsibility. Maybe something that stayed in a tank would be best. “I do like the idea of something that doesn’t…roam.”

“There are other animals that you can consider that would fit that preference. Any other characteristics I should consider?”

“Hm.” I turned the page and gasped. “Oh my gosh. Is that- What is that?”

“That’s a dog,” Daniel replied, laughing earnestly.

“How big is that human?” I squeaked.

“As big as you think they are.”

“Oh my gosh.”

“I agree. Not the pet for you, then?”

I darted my four eyes to him in a panic. “Definitely not!”

“Probably would be a bit much for most humans, if that makes you feel any better,” he told me. “Large dogs are only for planet-bound humans, only when the human has a large area for it to roam, and often they’re used for work. Like on a farm herding other animals or pulling sleds.”

“Sleds!” I exclaimed. “I’ve seen those. Humans live in places that get temperatures down to {negative 60 Celsius}! The dogs that pull sleds down there, they use those instead of cars. It’s incredible.”

“I absolutely agree.” Daniel flipped to another section. “What do you think of these?”

There were eight photos on the first page of what looked like two different species. One looked remarkably like an altabita from the long body, legs that stuck out, and claws and antennae, but from the items around it giving me perspective, it was much smaller. The other…

“That…looks like a shell,” I muttered, moving my eyes closer to the screen. “Is it attached?”

“Those are hermit crabs,” he told me. “And no, they live in the shells, but they’re not attached. They gradually grow and molt and since they’re captive, the pet owner leaves various bigger shells in the tank so when their pets are ready, they move into a new house, so to speak. And I say pets, plural, because hermit crabs are very social, so we mandate that you buy at least two.”

“Fascinating,” I remarked. I shook my head. “Living on the beach and then wandering around to find a new home when yours gets too small. Much easier than searching for a new apartment.”

“It’s an easy life for a hermit crab,” Daniel agreed with a nod. “They are nocturnal, though, so you might not see them much, and you shouldn’t even handle them because it scares them. Now those are crayfish, little landscapers, those ones. They like to dig and burrow and make little hills. Not exactly exciting stuff-”

“But more exciting than a goldfish,” I finished.


I clasped my graspers together, looking at the photos of the crayfish. “They’re kinda cute. With their tiny little eyes. If I want to give them company, can I buy something else in the future?”

“Mm, no, sorry. These guys have claws and know how to use them. Even if the fish stayed away from it, that’s not a fun life, trapped in a box with something that wants to eat you.”

I clicked my tongue. “Yes, I believe I would agree. But…” I leaned back. “You know, I don’t think that matters. Just one pet is fine. And I do like the sound of them. Can I see some?”

Daniel bobbed his head and smiled. “Of course. Right this way.”

“It looks like an altabita, from my home planet,” I told him, keeping pace by his side. “Except a lot smaller.”

“Oh, we have ones that are bigger too, called lobsters, about…” He measured with his hands. “That’s about average, I think.”

“Wow! Are those available as pets too?”

Daniel paused for a long moment and the muscles on his face contorted strangely. “Um…” He hesitated. “Before synthetic meat they were a…prey species. Crayfish too.”

“Oooh, you ate them,” I said. “I understand. My species is omnivorous also.” Daniel’s face muscles relaxed. “We caught many wild animals, including altabita.”

“It wouldn’t surprise me if there were some humans out there that had them as pets, though,” he noted. We took a left turn, my eyes busy scanning all the fascinating animals I caught sight of as I listened to him. “As others have learned, humans will bond with anything. Even if they can’t keep it in their home, if they have to keep it outside. I’ve seen videos of people with pet gators.”

“What are those?”

Daniel paused. “Hm.” He came to a stop and took out his phone, moving to his left so we wouldn’t block the path, and I did the same. After a few moments of poking around with his little fleshy fingers, he glanced up at me with that same small smile and turned the phone to show me.



Editor’s note: This is the second story taking place at the human pet emporium. For those interested, the first one is here.

Republished with permission from the author, karenvideoeditor. Image created using Stable Diffusion.

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