Joey: The Magical Axolotl

James Raleigh


Joey, the magical axolotl, made me feel whole. While I lied down and cried, he comforted me. He spoke to me in John Lennon’s voice with my father’s words. Or, sometimes, he would speak in my father’s voice with John Lennon’s words. Meanwhile, Joey danced through the stuffy air, dripping golden flames from his tail in patterns that I had never seen. When I asked what they meant, he’d float silently in place.

The more I stared at Joey’s fiery trails, the more the symbols started to make sense. Surely, they couldn’t be gibberish. At first, I thought they might be Mexican characters from a time long ago, but wouldn’t that be wrong? To assume their origin is Mexican just because he’s an axolotl?

Then, I thought, perhaps the symbols were a code. I knew that computer code looks like 01011100 and biological code looks like AGGCAT, so it couldn’t be either of those.

What could he be writing? I stared at Joey intently as we weaved and bobbed in front of the dark television. He opened his wide maw and said “Love is the flower you’ve got to let grow.”

Before I knew it, there was another intricate golden inferno before me. I peered into it, stepping closer and closer. Was it cosmological? Did Joey know the language that had been used to write reality? As soon as I thought it, I knew it to be true. First, the television disappeared, and in its place sat a bowl of tomato soup. The pattern faded and Joey began writing anew. What would he eliminate next? What would he create?

The questions rushing through my head led to one conclusion. If Joey could rewrite reality with this code, others could learn to do it too. If anyone saw my magical axolotl friend writing as he did, they could bend the universe to their whim. Of course, they might not understand what the symbols mean. Even so, powerful men don’t need to know the language to use a resource to their advantage.

My mind conjured images of Joey being tortured, manipulated, multiplied. A giant engine of flying salamanders rewriting the world’s code. First they’d get rid of mosquitoes. That wouldn’t be too bad. But it gets more complicated from there. Then, the engine starts producing diamonds from thin air, driving down their value and causing a financial crisis in Botswana. Once the Botswanians start rebelling, the powers that be will have no choice but to wipe them from existence. Joey’s life essentially guaranteed a genocide.

I cried harder and harder, to which Joey said “Turn that frown upside down, kiddo.”

The doorbell rang. Without another thought, I sprinted to the kitchen. I grabbed the steak knife and bolted back toward Joey. He seemed to be halfway done with his latest glyph. I plunged the cold blade into his amphibious heart, dragging him to the floor. I turned my attention to the incomplete symbol. It was now beginning to fade, and the rest of the world faded with it.



James Raleigh is a twenty-one-year-old writer from Brooklyn, New York. He recently graduated from Stevens Institute of Technology with a bachelor’s degree in Biomedical Engineering and a minor in Pre-Law and Policy. “Joey: The Magical Axolotl” is his first published piece.