In the mountains of Northern Vietnam, near the Chinese and Laotian borders, there has been an outbreak of aqueous animals, especially aqueous mice. This has doubtless been triggered by the local wet season and runs the risk of causing incredible damage to the local food web.
Aqueous animals look identical to their solid counterparts, except they are apparently a translucent liquid. A myth about these unusual creatures suggest that they are formed from homeopathic principles, so that a tiny particle of mouse, deer, or whichever animal is swept up in a large volume of water and vibrated in just the right way so that the “memory” of the animal is retained by that water. Under certain unusual circumstances the memory of the mouse can then concentrate inside that large body of water and reform in an aqueous body. This is ridiculous of course, as homeopathy is bunk. In fact aqueous animals are a kind of incredibly rare cryptid micro-organism: a paranormal slime mould.
Mundane slime moulds are interesting organisms in their own right, as they live as individual amoeboids during good times, but come together to form swarms during times of food scarcity, and can even learn their way around mazes. In some species individuals will sacrifice themselves so that other cells can form spores and escape to other more productive environments. The cryptid species are similar, except that instead of pulsating tendrils or slug-like masses they swarm and replicate the nearest mammal. Other animals, like insects or birds, are ignored. Aside from their liquid appearance these aqueous animals replicate the behaviour of the originals in all respects, travelling, finding food, etc. In periods where many aqueous animals form they can devastate local ecosystems, as they eat the food the mundane animals would have otherwise eaten, but cannot be eaten by predators, breaking the food chain in two directions. Aqueous animals aren’t inedible (although they do not taste of much), but upon death they splash apart into their constituent cells, depriving the predator of a meal.
After travelling far from their initial position, and eating and growing in size, the aqueous animal will sporulate, forming bizarre, short-lived structures which look like a hybrid plant/animal/fungus. These spores can be carried by the wind for a very long time and will only germinate upon finding suitable ground. Some people have been able to keep aqueous animals in their animal state essentially indefinitely by feeding them a precise amount which will neither starve nor grow the swarm. They are difficult and expensive pets, but at least one rapper has boasted of keeping one.
Vietnamese government has taken the threat seriously, which is commendable, but their method of shooting and dispersing the swarms risks short termism. The aqueous swarms will reform next wet season and continue to do so until a more permanent solution is found.
The image above shows a partially-formed example of an aqueous mouse.
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