Creatures of the Deep

“Do you know what I miss, Moby?” said the Kraken, idly spinning on his axis, flicking out one tentacle after another. “Wooden ships. I really miss good, old, wooden ships.”

“Ahuh,” answered the great sperm whale, not really paying attention.

“The ones they send out these days are all tough and made of steel, no good for crushing or tearing apart. I mean you still can, obviously, but it’s so much more work. And you just don’t get that same satisfying crunch of timbers.”

“I never did it for pleasure, Kraken. You know that,” said Moby, peering upwards.

“Sometimes sailors would get caught in the sails and drown,” the Kraken continued reminiscing. “And that’s another thing – ships these days don’t have the same crew compliment. Bigger ships, smaller crews. Sigh. I broke apart a big, long one off the coast of Chile, and you know what happened? All this yucky, black gunk came flooding out. It was horrible!”

“What is that, Kraken?” asked Moby.

“Well that’s the thing – I don’t know! It got stuck all over my tentacles and floated on top of the water…”

“No, that thing up there. Look!”

The two giants of the seas looked upwards to see a small, unnaturally bright light descending through the depths towards them, it’s path wavering uncertainly from side to side.

“You know, I have no idea,” said the Kraken.

There came a whirring sound as well now, and as the thing drew nearer, it became clear that it wasn’t just one light but two, mounted on either side of a roundish, metallic object.

“Is it a fish?” said the Kraken.

“I don’t think that’s a fish,” said Moby. “It looks man-made. What on earth have they come up with now?”

“I don’t like it Mobs.”

“Me neither, let’s go find Siren. She’ll know what to make of it.”

The two of them turned to descend further into the gloom.

* * *

“Do you remember when the humans used to come down in diving bells?” said Siren, running a webbed hand through her shimmering hair.

“Oh yes, they were lots of fun,” said the Kraken. “You could really toy with them before you ate them.”

“Well this is like one of those, only it can go much, much deeper,” explained Siren.

Over the years of seducing sailors, Siren had taken to drawing information from them, about the latest goings on in the human world, before devouring them. It provided her with a far more detailed insight into the machinations of mankind, than any of her fellow inhabitants of the depths.

“And what did you say it was called again?” asked Moby. “A summer-bubble?”

“A submersible,” corrected Siren. “Think of it like a man-made bubble. You know what they’re like with wanting to explore everywhere. There’ll just be one man inside, making notes, researching.”

“I blame ruddy Jules Verne,” scowled the Kraken. “This is all his fault.”

“I’ve never known one to mange it this deep before though,” frowned Siren. “Never so close to our domain.”

“What will we do? We can’t let them discover us,” said Moby. “I could probably swallow it, but then I don’t much fancy having it hanging around in my belly for the rest of eternity. My Great Uncle Albert swallowed a man called Jonas once, spat him back out again, but said his guts were never right again afterwards.”

“I could just crush him,” said the Kraken, rubbing two tentacles together with fervour.

“No,” Siren shook her head. “Because there’ll be some sort of research vessel up on the surface, waiting for the submersible. If it doesn’t return, or comes back up in bits, then they’re going to be even more curious and send down more of them.”

“No, that won’t do at all,” said Moby with an anxious shake of the tail.

“So what to do?” asked Kraken.

The three creatures of the deep pondered this for a while, very much aware that from above, the unwanted visitor was drawing ever nearer.

“I’ve got it!” said Siren, a mischievous curl slipping into her smile. “You’re going to have to do exactly as I say though.”

“I don’t know,” said the Kraken. “Last we did as you told us, I ended up being chased by a swarm of irate jellyfish.”

“ Trust me,” said Siren. “Oh – and we’re going to need the Mer-folk as well.”

* * *

The moment Dr Bernard Klauffman, of the Dresden International University, had stepped into the sub and felt it sway from side to side atop the waves, he’d realised it had been a dreadful, dreadful mistake. He had turned to say “no!”, that he had changed his mind, that he had suddenly remembered some pressing engagement that would require his immediate return to his cabin, but already the steel hatch was swinging down above him, sealing him in with a resounding clunk. The sound of wheels being twisted from above were like nails being hammered into his coffin.

After quietly having a panic attack and throwing up in his rucksack, Dr Klauffman began his descent. The flickering beams of light from the waves above, bidding him good bye as they faded from sight. Adrenaline kept him going, trying to remember the routine of what gauges to check and which buttons to press. After a while, the strange sensation descended over him that he was doing it, that he was actually managing to pilot the craft and face his fears. That didn’t make matters any less terrifying, but at least gave him the warm feeling that if he were to die, then at least he would have achieved it doing something positive.

As he descended, he observed lanternfish and nautilus and all sorts of wonderful creatures, previously mere pictures in his textbooks, but now gliding about before him so beautifully. He made notes every so often, before descending a little further. Then he saw it. The dark curve turning in the darkness before him. What was it? It looked… it looked like a whale, but surely they didn’t come this deep? Then he noticed two more things as the creatures slowly turned before him – first was that it was indeed a whale of some sort, the fin and black, pearly eye confirmed it. Second however, was that a long, pinkish tentacle was wrapped around it. Then more tentacles, came into view – some wrapped tightly about the whale, others waving freely in the water. Surely not – a whale and a giant squid? And were they fighting, just as the old myths had always stated? Klauffman could barely believe it. He would document this and write himself an award-winning research paper of the back of it. Fame at last! He stared at the vision before him for a moment longer and then had to blink a few times. There didn’t seem to be much struggling going on in this fight, although both creatures were very much alive. In fact, it was quite serene and beautiful, they were moving in the water and occasionally… bobbing. Now Klauffman noted that one of the squid’s tentacles was wrapped around the whale’s fin, whilst another was around, what one might have called, it’s partners waist.

“You have lost your mind, Bernard” said the doctor, out loud.

It was too ludicrous to believe, but there was simply no other way to describe the act that was taking place before him. The squid and the whale were waltzing. There was a definite rhythm and grace to their movements, the bobbing and the swaying. The whale even flicked its tail as a female singer might flick a fan, seductively.

Things became even more surreal then, as the water around them filled with naked people… no fish… no… mermaids and mermen.

“I am not well at all,” said Klauffman, feeling the heavy beads of sweat upon his brow.

The mer-people formed pairs and began waltzing around the whale and the squid, then, in the style of some big Broadway number, they started splitting off into lines and forming stars. They clapped and waved, with practiced perfection and flawless grins. This all carried on for another five minutes, Klauffman sitting frozen, unable to compute what was taking place, then the dancing creatures fell into one long, horizontal line and bowed in unison. When they raised themselves once more, the glistening eye of the squid winked – winked – at Klauffman.

Klauffman jabbed at the red “emergency ascension” button on the dashboard and the submersible starting climbing upwards again, as rapidly as it could.

* * *

“Well, I think that worked rather well,” grinned the Kraken.

“I’ll say,” said Moby. “You can take your tentacles off me now.”

“Oh. I was rather enjoying that,” said the Kraken.

“Well done, gentlemen! Well done!” said Siren joining them, as the Mer-folk dissipated.

“I think the praise really needs to go to you, Siren,” said Moby. “The poor fellow in that summer-bubble will be convinced he’s gone crazy. There’s no way he’ll tell anyone what he saw down here.”

“Indeed,” Siren replied. “Now we just have to hope that thing didn’t have any cameras on it.”

“What on earth are cameras?!” said the Kraken and Moby in unison.

Title image courtesy hanuman

Published in: on January 24, 2013 at 9:19 PM  Comments (13)  

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13 CommentsLeave a comment

  1. So that’s what sea monsters gossip about when they’re not eating us. Very cute!

    • Cheers John. I thought this one would appeal to you!

  2. Summer-bubble – such a great malapropism.
    Adam B @revhappiness

    • Thanks Adam – I have to admit I made myself giggle with the summer-bubble.

  3. Excellent concept the Kraken really had a personality which made it enjoyable.

    • I did enjoy writing the Kraken – he takes such joy in what he does.

  4. Sea monsters with a twisted sense of humor! Love it!

  5. “What’s a camera?” *rimshot*

    Awesome. Thoroughly enjoyable!

    • The ending was actually almost an after thought – I suddenly thought “jings – don’t those things have cameras on them, how am I going to work that out?” and then it occurred to me that maybe I didn’t need to work it out!

  6. Ah great fun! Touches of “Under The Sea”

  7. Oh, this was simply delightful! Absolutely loved it!

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