A fish heading for slaughter in a New York market shouted warnings about the end of the world before it was killed, two fish cutters have claimed.
Some Hasidic Jews reportedly believe people can be reincarnated as fish
Zalmen Rosen, from the Skver sect of Hasidic Jews, says co-worker Luis Nivelo, a Christian, was about to kill a carp to be made into gefilte fish in the city's New Square Fish Market in January when it began shouting in Hebrew.
"It said 'Tzaruch shemirah' and 'Hasof bah'," Mr Rosen later told the New York Times newspaper.
"[It] essentially means [in Hebrew] that everyone needs to account for themselves because the end is nigh."
'It's the devil!'
Mr Nivelo told the paper he was so shocked he fell into a stack of slimy packing crates, before running in panic to the shop entrance and grabbing Mr Rosen, shouting: "The fish is talking!"
However his co-worker reacted with disbelief.
It is very rare that God reminds people he exists in this modern world. But when he does, you cannot ignore it
New York resident Abraham Spitz
"I screamed 'It's the devil The devil is here!', but Zalman said to me 'You crazy, you a meshugeneh [mad man]!" Mr Nivelo said.
A disbelieving Mr Rosen then rushed to the back of the store, only to hear the fish identifying itself as the soul of a local Hasidic man who had died the previous year.
It instructed him to pray and study the Torah, but Mr Rosen admitted that in a state of panic he attempted to kill the fish, injuring himself in the process and ending up in hospital.
The fish was eventually killed by Mr Nivelo and sold.
God in fish form?
Many members of the city's Jewish community are now certain that God, troubled by the prospect of war in Iraq, has revealed Himself in fish form.
"Two men do not dream the same dream," said Abraham Spitz, a resident who visited Mr Rosen's shop to observe the site of the miracle.
Ah, enough already about the fish, I wish I never said anything about it
"It is very rare that God reminds people he exists in this modern world. But when he does, you cannot ignore it."
The incident also relates to the beliefs of some Hasidic Jews, who say that righteous people can be reincarnated as fish, the British Observer newspaper reported.
New York story
Others are more sceptical, with New York comedians already incorporating the story into their stand-up routines and one fish company even contemplating changing its slogan to "our fish speak for themselves".
Mr Rosen also seems to have become rather tired of being questioned about his incredible experience.
"Ah, enough already about the fish," Mr Rosen said.
"I wish I never said anything about it. I'm getting so many calls every day, I've stopped answering. Israel, London, Miami, Brooklyn... they all want to hear about the talking fish."