Coin Locker Babies
Ryu Murakami, 1995
Translated by Stephen Snyder

From Chapter 5

Anenome's pet got bigger every day. In a year's time, it measured a full two meters. A write-up in a newspaper prompted a visit from scientists at a reptile research center who came to the conclusion that the animal was an Indian gavial. The crocodilian order, they said, included at least three families: crocodiles, alligators, and gavials. The latter have long, slender muzzles that flatten into an octagonal shape at the end. The long snout and the odd, bulging eyes give the gavial a slightly comical appearance, explaining perhaps why gavial babies once enjoyed tremendous, if short-lived, popularity as pets in a certain city in the U.S. Children, it seems, loved the baby gavials, but the parents were less charmed, and the fad came to an end when hundreds were flushed down toilets all over town. When they disappeared down the drain, they were no bigger than a man's finger, but some managed to survive and prosper in the pipes, and eventually they attacked and killed a sewer worker. Faced with dozens of huge monsters in its bowels, the city government had called in the army; gasoline was fed into the pipes, and the animals were burned alive. End of story.