This story was the winner of the Issue 13 Reader’s Choice survey! Enjoy.
Four Household Tales
(As told by the Giant Squid)
A Master and Student on the Muddy Road
Once upon a time there did travel two monks: a wise Giant Squid and his student, Abram Lincoln. Long did the two wander throughout the lands, delivering to the common folk such limited enlightenment as might pass through meager human sensory faculties to sear itself into the spongy grey matter stifled in their shallow brain pans.
One day the Squid and his student came upon a broad and swift river. Where the watercourse had once been straddled by a bridge, there remained only a crumbling abutment. Upon the old stone foundation of the washed-out crossing stood a crestfallen maiden, most beautiful and supple of skin, with exceptionally large breasts ill-concealed by her simple silken négligée, a rear as symmetrical as the twin hemispheres of an atomic device’s uranium core, and a pair of wonderful iron boots which might crush to dust any foe who had the ill luck to inflame her wrath. She wept as she paced, wondering aloud how she would ever cross the river.
Lincoln blushed deeply, looking away; he and his teacher were chaste monks, and had sworn to abandon all contact with women, including correspondence by postal mail or dwelling in any way upon the geometry of their vexsome and alluring forms. But, despite this proscription, the Squid cordially approached, offering to ferry her across the rough waters. The maiden blushed and demurred, gigglingly, and in a single debonair swoosh, the Squid swept her off her feet, tore her limbs from her trunk, and consumed her completely, stripping the meat from her bones and using the delicate tips of his daintiest tentacles to draw out the least bit of slick smooth muscle, savory organ meat, and sweetbreads.
The Squid then rinsed his tentacles in the raging waters, lifted his student high and dry, and crossed the river.
All day, Lincoln worried on what he had seen; he worried over the image of the buxom maiden, her mammaries and rump and fascinating boots, and worried over the grave transgression that had been committed by his venerable teacher. Finally, as night fell, the Terrible Liberator steeled himself and asked:
“I am very concerned by that which I witnessed this day, and have been unable to forget what I have seen. Teacher, with such a casual and cavalier attitude toward our sworn traditions and values, I feel that we cannot long endure. How can you explain what you have done?”
The Squid thought on this, and then he spoke: “We are proscribed from dwelling upon the female of the species. I ate that maiden and left her crunchy bones at the riverside this morning. You have been carrying her around all the day.”
Seeing the wisdom clear, Abram Lincoln admitted such was true, and nodded his assent. Reaching up into his crooked stovepipe hat, he drew out the maiden’s slender femur, hearing it rattle against the few remaining snacks he kept atop his head. Lincoln cracked the bone gingerly betwixt his hands and meditatively sucked out the sweet, sweet marrow as they walked on into the night.
Three Travelers Upon the Ship Titanic
Once upon a time a lawyer, a doctor, and a Giant Squid were passengers upon the ill-fated ship R.M.S Titanic. The boat, being ill-piloted, burdened by a theoretically solid but untested design, and crippled by a poor understanding of the performance of a variety of structural materials under several stress factors, struck a floating ice burgh and began to sink. Although none of the inhabitants of the ice burgh were injured, several would later make claims upon their homeowners’ insurance policies in an attempt to cover the cost of damage from previous uninsurable instances.
Immediately after the collision, one of the ice men of the ice burgh called out: “Ahoy! You flesh-men will surely die, for your barge is tipping into the ebon deep!”
Another ice man snickered: “Yes! Send us your brides and your babes, and we shall care for them, and tell them of your valiant sacrifice.”
As the large ship sank, the doctor did shout: “Quickly, my comrades! Quickly load the women and the children into the too-few and poorly-mounted life boats!”
The lawyer, being selfish, screamed, “Screw the brides and children!”
And the Squid did reply “I would prefer you not do so; your corrupted semen will mis-flavor their meats terribly.”
An Actual Occurrence in the City of Las Vegas
Once upon a time my cousin’s ex-business partner, an Architeuthis hartingii with a knack for the finance, did find himself in Las Vegas, Nevada, on matters of business. Wandering the Strip in the dark of evening and taking in the great and varied sights of that terribly dry and friscilating burgh, he happened to take up in conversation with a female human who was immediately enamored with his rapier wit and scorn for lower-order creatures, such as shrimp and vertebrates. This lady gruntchimp offered to purchase for him a variety of alcoholic beverages, and he assented. Entering the bar of the hotel in which he was staying, they had several drinks, which had a much stronger effect upon his ponderous architeuthic brain than one might expect. In a fog, he recalled leading this glitzy lady to the elevator car, and then to his room, at which time, upon their gigglous and stumbling entrance, his memory of all events ceased, slipping into inky darkness.
Hours later, awakened by the sun’s savage and unfiltered rays, he awoke in the room’s bathroom’s bathing tub, discovering himself packed in ice. Upon extricating himself from the icy grasp of the tub’s water, he saw a paper note taped to the glass of the mirror, and inscribed, “Thank you for the kidneys, kind squid. I hope you enjoyed your beverages.”
Sure enough, upon inspection he discovered that his rooms had been roughly and thoroughly searched, and the six human kidneys he had brought in his luggage stolen. Denied his intended pre-dawn snack, he was left both peckish and out-of-sorts.
Once upon a time there was a teenaged gruntchimp who, in exchange for a pitiful sum of currency, did care in the evening times for the children of other humans so that those humans might briefly divest themselves of their responsibilities toward their bloodkin and become inebriated over a dinner, view a kinetoscopic performance, and rut savagely in the rear seat of their Ford Escort conveyance. This teenaged girl was of the bépimpled, béspectacled, well-meaning and innocent sort which populate the world of real things, and not of the buxom, hot-and-horny variety which populate the Internets, many DVD videos, and the imaginations of grown manchildren who had really ought to know better.
One evening, as this babysitter sat watching the televisual display unit with the three larval primates, the telephonic communicator did commence to ring. She lifted the handset, and a terrible and mucky voice did whisper:
“Perhaps you like cakes, and perhaps you like pies, but you shall not see daylight with your béspectacled eyes.” Her breath caught in her throat, and she made to ask what this might mean, but when she could again speak, already the phone’s line was silent.
“What was that?” asked the adolescent boy.
“Nothing,” she said, “A dialer made an error in dialing.”
They continued watching their programming, but got little further before the phone rang again. With trepidation, the babysitter did answer.
“Perhaps you will scream, perhaps you will run, but I will eat you all four, as slices on buns.” The babysitter, ensnared by panic, slammed down the phone. Had she been capable and of the right temperament, it is sure that she would have sprayed the room inky and jetted off to hidden safety in the intervening cloud of obscurance. But she was not that sort, and she looked at the three children, and thought of herself, and held little doubt that they were the four to be served upon buns before the sunrise.
“Quickly, children!” she said in a hush, “Run and take the baby and hide as best you can, all together and quiet.”
The children, wide-eyed and obedient, took their baby brother and pounded up the stairs to the darkness above. There they hid deep to the back of the family’s large closet of linens.
The babysitter caused to be mute the television box, and lifted the phone’s receiver and called to the operator of the telephone system. She explained her plight of the threatening calls, and the operator assented to track the next call to its origin and send the policemen there without delay. Further, the operator reported, she would immediately deploy policemen to the home where the babysitter sat, and that these officers of the peaceful destruction of monsters would arrive in no more than one-quarter of one hour’s time.
The babysitter, somewhat relieved but still quite nervous, thanked the telephone system’s operator. As she awaited the next threatening call she looked upon the muted television, watching the shifting mist of colors and shapes without noting their meaning or intention. The babysitter could hear the children above, their quiet, terrified muttering, the baby’s whimpers.
Her wait was not long. The phone trilled shrilly, and before even the first ring was complete it was in her hand and held tight to the moist, gentle curve of her seashell-pink ear.
“Breast and rump and sweet, sweet marrow, sweetbreads and slices of uncorrupted meat; some I have roasted and some I have fried, but you I shall suck raw from head to feet.”
The babysitter slammed the phone into its cradle and it immediately rang again, the operator calling with the locale of the terrible, terrible man who had made these loathsome telephonic calls.
“Flee!” the system’s operator did scream, “Flee now! These most threatening calls originate from inside the hou-” and the telephonic handset went dead. The babysitter looked up, and she saw that the cord to her telephone had been torn from the wall’s socket by just one of the multitude of tentacles that had now descended the stairs. At the top of the steps, in the gloom of the unlit second story, she could just barely discern the glint of a single, optically perfect eye, as large as a dinner plate, deep and glittering and pitiless.
The babysitter did realize that she could not hear the baby’s screams, nor the babble of scared children. The house was silent, save for the meaty slaps of the tentacles against step and banister and rail and wall and rug.
She made to scream, but there was no time.
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