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CONTEST: Win a Copy of ‘Kraken’ by China Miéville and ‘Third Bear’ by Jeff VanderMeer!

SF Signal has an interesting prize pack to give away to 1 creative SF SIgnal reader. The prize pack includes Kraken by China Miéville and Third Bear by Jeff VanderMeer!

Here are the book descriptions:

‘Kraken’ by China Miéville

With this outrageous new novel, China Miéville has written one of the strangest, funniest, and flat-out scariest books you will read this–or any other–year. The London that comes to life in Kraken is a weird metropolis awash in secret currents of myth and magic, where criminals, police, cultists, and wizards are locked in a war to bring about–or prevent–the End of All Things.

In the Darwin Centre at London’s Natural History Museum, Billy Harrow, a cephalopod specialist, is conducting a tour whose climax is meant to be the Centre’s prize specimen of a rare Architeuthis dux–better known as the Giant Squid. But Billy’s tour takes an unexpected turn when the squid suddenly and impossibly vanishes into thin air.

As Billy soon discovers, this is the precipitating act in a struggle to the death between mysterious but powerful forces in a London whose existence he has been blissfully ignorant of until now, a city whose denizens–human and otherwise–are adept in magic and murder.

There is the Congregation of God Kraken, a sect of squid worshippers whose roots go back to the dawn of humanity–and beyond. There is the criminal mastermind known as the Tattoo, a merciless maniac inked onto the flesh of a hapless victim. There is the FSRC–the Fundamentalist and Sect-Related Crime Unit–a branch of London’s finest that fights sorcery with sorcery. There is Wati, a spirit from ancient Egypt who leads a ragtag union of magical familiars. There are the Londonmancers, who read the future in the city’s entrails. There is Grisamentum, London’s greatest wizard, whose shadow lingers long after his death. And then there is Goss and Subby, an ageless old man and a cretinous boy who, together, constitute a terrifying–yet darkly charismatic–demonic duo.

All of them–and others–are in pursuit of Billy, who inadvertently holds the key to the missing squid, an embryonic god whose powers, properly harnessed, can destroy all that is, was, and ever shall be.

‘Third Bear’ by Jeff VanderMeer

Compared by critics to Borges, Nabokov, and Kafka, inventive contemporary fantasist Jeff VanderMeer continues to amaze with this surreal, innovative, and absurdist gathering of award-winning short fiction. Exotic beasts and improbable travelers roam restlessly through these darkly diverting and finely-honed tales.

Highlights include “The Situation,” in which a beleaguered office worker creates a child-swallowing manta-ray to be used for educational purposes (once described as Dilbert meets Gormenghast); “Three Days in a Border Town,” where a sharpshooter seeks the truth about her husband in an elusive floating City beyond a far-future horizon; “Errata,” following an oddly-familiar writer who has marshaled a penguin, a shaman, and two pearl-handled pistols with which to plot the end of the world. Also included are two stories original to this collection, including “The Quickening,” in which a lonely child is torn between familial obligation and a wounded talking rabbit.

Chimerical and hypnotic, VanderMeer leads readers through the postmodern into a new literature of the imagination.

Here’s how to enter for your chance to win. We’re gonna make you work for this one.


Inspired by China Miéville’s Amazon post on Five Underrated Literary Cephalopods, we’re asking you to get creative…

  1. Leave a comment below with your best example of a previously-unpublished, G-rated description of a fictional cephalopod. (Less than 100 words.)
  2. Be sure to include your email address (which will not be published) so we may contact you for a mailing address in the event you should win.
  3. The giveaway will end Wednesday, July 21st 2010 (8:00 PM U.S Eastern time). Jeff VanderMeer himself will pick the best description as he sees it, thus declaring the winner who be notified and announced shortly thereafter.

Good luck!

About John DeNardo (13013 Articles)
John DeNardo is the Managing Editor at SF Signal and a columnist at Kirkus Reviews. He also likes bagels. So there.

46 Comments on CONTEST: Win a Copy of ‘Kraken’ by China Miéville and ‘Third Bear’ by Jeff VanderMeer!

  1. Julio Velasquez // July 14, 2010 at 12:34 pm //

    To say his name had been besmirched would be an understatement! The humiliation of it all! This great denizen of the deep, a wily, intelligent, creative, resourceful, and, dare we say, handsome creature, had been reduced to parlor tricks for his supper. And further still he’d been saddled with a derivative moniker that did little to inspire fear or respect in those who took such great pleasure in his feats of reality manipulation. Didn’t they realize that so great was his ability that no matter what team he picked, they would win!? Paul indeed! Father Cthulhu would be so proud.

  2. Justin Oryschak // July 14, 2010 at 1:37 pm //

    Its lithe lengths lay languid under the ocean, lingering like weeds in the feeble current. Once it had grasped, rent and flung the greatest traveling vessels of their time, but now its suckers were brittle and shedding like dandruff, its great siphon now only capable of moving the Kraken one painful meter at a time. A legend retreats to memory, and waits to die. 

  3. Compressed, my body is packed down within the dark recesses of the coral formation. My arms, billowing about the entrance in front of me, seek the right perch, the proper footing with which to brace myself, prepared to pounce prey or defend against defilers. I must concentrate on my own flesh for a moment. With the will of my ancestors, brought forth through a million generations of methodical evolution, my skin changes rapidly to resemble the mottled, craggy reds and oranges of the coral. I am an invisible, coiled spring. I am ready.

  4. Case Allen // July 14, 2010 at 3:43 pm //

    My stomach was a stone in my throat when the rock moved. When, between breaths, it shaded maroon, cast a cold eye at me, unfolded and my visor was all fleshy rings. My skull was squeezed and probed by this firm, too intimate masseuse. And all I could do was breathe rubber-tinged air. Dreadful, still I longed to see, not feel, the beak I’d heard lived at the center of that bloom. But, pop of a teammate’s flare and my vision cleared. My last glimpse of that ropy ghost was one last tentacle’s gentle, almost bemused tug at my air-hose.

  5. Case Allen // July 14, 2010 at 3:50 pm //

    Whoa – sorry about the formatting code in my previous post.  That’ll teach me to rely on Word for word counts.  MODS: Please feel free to edit out the ‘offending bits’ (of formatting code, that is).

  6. TNT-Tek // July 14, 2010 at 4:30 pm //

    Fríkiteuthis drifted in the depths.  Short bursts of luminescence traveled down its arms like ants marching over florescent bulbs.  The pattern repeated, highlighting its shape against the black.  The light traveled over many miles, a signal to his far flung compatriot.  It shifted an enormous eye, picking up the light of a reply.  Its quarry was blind to this dance.   Fríkiteuthis spread its arms out, slowly like drifting flotsam.  The pattern was again repeated and reciprocated.  In a flash, its arms collapsed and it sped forward behind a shock-wave of pressure, meeting its companion beak to beak through their prey.

  7. Brendan MD // July 14, 2010 at 5:01 pm //

    The Chimeric Cephalopod surfaced from the sea, its seaweed tophat dripping with saltwater. He squinted through the barnacle monocle delicately balanced on a tentacle and lamentfully examined the Victorian beach. No longer content with the carefree lifestyle under the sea, the Chimeric Cephalopod yearned for something more. He wanted a life of structure, order, and proper Englishness. He dreamed of being a banker. But he knew conforming to such a society would be impossible, with the lack of a backbone being the least of his shortcomings. With a saltwater tear in his eye, he drifted back under the waves.

  8. In the secret histories of the world, a giant squid almost ended the threat of a mad genius in the depths of the ocean. There, the squid battled the Nautilus and ultimately lost.

  9. Much could be endured but for every second of light that shone on the soft spongy flesh the memory of the far away sea grew fainter.  Always the depths demanded sacrifice, demanded labor from the young even when it was far beyond their means.  Limbs dug into the drying sand, grasping at the sharp silt upon which the arrow shaped body baked, always reaching always moving even if their once fluid grace was far out of reach until again he felt the lap of the sea.  A giant he had come from and a giant he would someday be.

  10. Jason Oldham // July 14, 2010 at 5:58 pm //

    The pseudomorph billowed slightly, undulating lightly, its penumbra dissipating like so much smoke, as its creator (like so many creators before it) whistled away in a near silent retreat.  Eyes rolled white, the attacker darkened in the ephemeral mass before him as his prey, in a distance safe for creators, her blanch fading, colors returning, allowed her streamlined limbs to resume their listless drifting in the unseen currents.  Muscles relaxing, unwinding themselves from the coils of fear of and for flesh, the creator, near quiescent, quiet, alert, but calm, again turns her sharp eyes outward, looking, seeking, ever searching (in the way of all creators before her) for food, fodder, and for all those smaller things to destroy.

  11. Chris Thomas // July 14, 2010 at 6:35 pm //

    “Your job is of the utmost import Sweetling,” the great god of the depths cooed.

    “Please my lord, no…” clacked Ixthyllyxlylxx, “Anything but this.”

    “Don’t be like that baby” said Zoth-Ommog nuzzling his goo into hers. “I just want you to like, fulfill your destiny”

    “You always talk me into things I’ll regret later,” she clacked.

    Ixthyllxlylxx stared out of the tank at the throng of humans, and tuned her psyche to the etheric currents, sensing was yet to be. “Soon” she thought, “the witless apes will cower at my display of psychic might.”

    “Espana!!” shouted a furry beast…

  12. Chris Thomas // July 14, 2010 at 6:38 pm //

    Dang!  Sorry –  pays to read the smal print BEFORE you hit the little “Post” button.

  13. Dan Goodman // July 14, 2010 at 7:19 pm //

    The aquatic diaphragm of the beast bobbed to the rythym of the waves, dancing it’s bright lidless eyes among the ocean floor. Her many limbs swept and spun in lucid motions, like the creeping tentacles were making music, a complete master in the art of expression. Beautiful and astonishing, the cephalopod billowed like a buoyant cloud as she glided among algae-encrusted rock. She sensed everything, and knew all. Nothing escaped her, prey or otherwise. Her eyes, lined with years of wisdom, regarded a fleeting pass of shoalfish with cold indifference. So pathetic.

    The ocean was her kingdom, and she was its queen.

     

     

     

  14. Carolyn F. // July 14, 2010 at 7:19 pm //

    “Is this the journal?” asked Anna Marie, pointing to the cracked leather volume underneath the glass.

    The curator nodded. “Captain Nicholas Smith, of the whaling ship Prudence, claimed to have battled a giant squid off the coast of Rhode Island in 1802. His account of the experience in this journal.”

    “Why is his account suspect?”

    “Because, according to Captain Smith, that squid was bigger than any whale that he ever encountered, and it fought with the intelligence of a man.”

    “Has it been seen since?”

    “Of course. That’s why you’re here, isn’t it?”

    “I’m not the first?”

    “No.”

     

  15. It was old.  Old and nameless, endlessly existing.  Inhabiting the dense velvet depths,  it waited.  

    On irregular occasions, rich pickings descended into the dark redoubt of the deeply cut trench.  Bodies silted down,  protected from the hungry mouths of the higher seas by strange coverings.  Its dexterous arms soon divested such fleshy morsels of any inedible coating.  It grew whenever it feasted,  between such times,  it waited anew.  

    An immense brain in the leprous body processed convoluted thought-dreams. At long intervals, obscure amusement lit up mobile skin with complex phosphorescent patterning as it contemplated the future of its rising.

  16. David A. Hill // July 14, 2010 at 8:31 pm //

    “I see all, remaining unseen,” rippled the words from indigo depths.

    “Your eyes shine like lightning,” intoned a solemn voice.

    “My intellect surpasses my fellows,” these words accompanied undulations churning silt into a swirling cloud.

    “You are the Alpha and Omega,” the ritual response.

    “I am fearsome of aspect!” roared a tentacled form emerging from the haze of muddy particles, crimson spikes radiating with menace from a sleek body.

    “Undoubtedly,” said with a sigh.

    “Why do I not dominate this pitiful world?”

    “You’re a cuttlefish, Lord. But nine inches in length.”

    A moment of silence.

    “I meant besides that.”

  17. Why do the oceans surge in the moon’s wake? Is it gravity, or a greater longing from the tentacled beast growing beneath the lunar crust? The heavens are a sea to themselves, and all manner of eggs have been laid throughout its nebula foam and star-pebbled shoals. Know the truth. There is no Man in the Moon. But there is lunarus cephalapoda, and the waters will rise above the continents to herald its birth. 

  18. The Audubon Squid is a distant cousin of Central Park Cephalopod. Preferring well-tended landscaping to the cold of deep ocean currents, the Belle of the South, as it is commonly known, is an underappreciated feature of public spaces on most Southeastern cities. Frequently mistaken for live oaks, the Belle feeds off of the flesh of the broken-hearted and of lost dogs who wander too near between one-thirty and four-fifteen in the morning. The most infamous example, of course, is the long-misidentified Suicide Oak of New Orleans, which claimed the lives of hundreds of disconsolate lovers and dozens of runaway yorkies.

  19. I too, failed to read the note.   GAAAAAH!

  20.       A great yellow eye searches the emerald-black. Waves of sorrow roll from the creature. Fetus-soft flesh ripples over the submerged bones and dust of the world, over abyssal plains and dark trenches. Submerged ranges jut at odd angles, and its tentacles are among the valleys and the peaks, vast blue-black limbs questing out, seeking not prey but others like itself that might quell the loneliness. All the while it knows the searching is in vain.

  21.  

    I am the TexSquid… how does one describe oneself…

    Time existed? 

    Length?

    Breadth?

    These are nothing in the medium.

    From the time I became aware in the the electronic sea, I have wandered, hunted and searched. All along gathering bits here and there , feeding on the dots and dashes of information.

    Collating the data to form a cohesive whole, meaning.

    Reaching, always reaching to hold that meaning, to grasp understanding, to become more than the physical. 

    To transcend the stuff of matter, to swim between dimension and universe.

  22. Ricardo // July 15, 2010 at 3:01 am //

    The tiniest terror of the tide pool, these secretive octopi, with their dark Havana Lake bodies copiously sprinkled with jaundiced spots, merging so completely with their rock and algae backdrop that they long spurned the use of ink sacs – what’s more, no creature would dare prey on them. Masters of a strength that greatly exceeds their small size, with their four-fold embrace they outmuscle the largest mussels and crack the toughest crabs. Beware, tide pool enthusiast: all octopi are venomous, but only the poison of this diminutive seaweed leopard will drive its victim to utter madness.

  23. The BBC aired a documentary about plants, with time twisted so questing vines conqured new territory at hyper speeds. This is a how a squid explores, tentacles shifting with organic gace, like maybe the Great David Attenborough In The Sky reuses blueprints. Unlike vines, a squid can make vague self portraits in ink to confuse those foolish enough to pit their will against it. The counterfeit cephalopod hangs fleetingly in the water, like scenes on the back of your eyeslids, and when you finally realise something fishy (squidy) is going on you’re alone and vines are creeping up your legs.

  24. It swam beneath the depths. Waiting. Growing. Practicing. Once, landsquid with their hard bones had given it jars to open for treats. It sucked in water, tasting warm metal and oil. A landsquid jar! It stretched, a massive arm tipped with a single nimble finger, plying it open. Choking on undiluted air, holding it’s breath until water rushed in. Pushing in, stretching its arms, fingers pushing landsquid and their objects until it found the treat. A stem like the kelp of its roost, soft petals disintegrating in the water. It breathed in, tasting the sweet smells of its treat.

  25. Todd Castillo // July 15, 2010 at 11:51 am //

    Power in each thrust, a hundred arms breathing one movement, fluid and knowing.  Gliding deeper, growing colder.  Pillars of sunlight lose shape in the dark beyond.   Voices from the the waters speak a thousand languages from a thousand miles around–joyous deep throated mating calls, anguished cries of the dying.

    You move deeper into the darkness.

    The voices fade into silence.  The darkness is solid.  The cold water holds the dead, motionless land still.  You reach the slumbering desert floor and rest. 

    Something shifts ahead in the darkness.  Something colossal. 

    Gargantuan.

    You watch it come, breathing.  Waiting.

     

     

  26. Through the cracked wall, the tip insinuates itself in. The rims of its suckers ripple as delicately as silk curtains. Leopard and zebra impressions slide across the arm’s sandpaper skin.

    That sensitive tip fingers the room’s bedpost, smoothes a furrow down the middle of the sheets, then stabs under the box-spring. The arm stills, a curl of flexed flesh.

    It tugs, and a click disturbs the silent water of the drowned room. Muscles roll, and the tentacle unfurls. Its tip wraps a spiral around a new prize–one femur, looking as tiny as a fairy’s in comparison.

  27. She was a great beauty; a quivering pale pink mass of enfolding, squidiferous layers, descending in symmetrical rings. Now, heavy with post-birth blubber, she perched on her three oblong eggs, lighter than seawater, and rolling between the coral nubs with each movement of the mother, called Androgelle. Water shot through Androgelle’s worried pinhole eyes as she listened to the murmurs of divers with her sensory hairs. How long would she be able to coddle her eggs until they reached her?

  28. Matt Cibula // July 16, 2010 at 12:24 am //

    I guess I should have known from her shambling walk, which I found charming and sexy; from her chromatophorical tendency to blend in no matter where she was, which I interpreted as generosity of spirit; from the mysterious secretions left everywhere, which, naively, I thought must be normal. But as our relationship deepened, even these questions became less important than more practical ones: the best kind of mortgage to purchase, what to eat that wasn’t seafood for a change, and — eventually — how to find softball equipment for a daughter who was left- AND right-handed at the same damn time.

  29. Down, near the floor, stone statues sat in lines for unknown reasons. A large dark squid glided between them with outstretched tentacles. He was hungry and stretched one of his tentacles out towards a statue. Encircling it, he lifted the statue. In the squid’s grip, it transformed into flesh, and was quickly sucked into the squid’s head before a soul from the aether could enter the statue’s body. The squid swam away knowing he would never need to fight for food. Statues couldn’t fight back.

  30. Food is more abundant recently. I grow stronger, and will soon follow the serpent with the radiant crystaline head back to the exit of these moist, pliant tunnels. My camouflage ability seems to work well with the serpent. Even the ever more frequent radiation bursts seem to pass through without effect. The real problem has been the gale of air that seems to correlate with the serpent’s appearance. Soon I will attack.

    “I eat and eat and eat, and still lose weight! Doc, can anyone help?”

    “CT scans and colonoscopies show nothing. You are an enigma, Mr. Jones”

  31. Ordovic was the first cephalopodic poet to write love songs. Prior to his compositions, the two dominant forms of poetry were Fear Haiku (composed in the moment of escape from a predator), and Taunting Sonnets (sophisticated insults aimed at those same predators). Ordovic drew from both traditions in order to express fear of his Unnamed Beloved, and to deliver coy, daring taunts.  

     

    Though we use the word “write” to describe cephalopodic composition, it is best understood as oral poetry—impermanent unless remembered by a living poet. Each verse must fade to visual silence before the next can be inked. 

  32. When Adam saw it, it felt something important was going to happen and burst a cloud of dark liquid so it could hide inside it. It was a shy  creature though Adam took its shyness for aggression and asked the Creator if there weren’t enough of ugly tentacled bags of flesh to fill the ocean already. He didn’t get any answer, sighed and made a note in the Book of life: “Eight legged big-eyed evil monster, not even good to be eaten”.  The octopus also sighed relieved. Still there were no seafood restaurants on the fresh, glowing Earth.

  33. There is no name for these few narrow spears of life that flicker through sunken cities and coral empires. Perhaps a scientist, somehow seeing one, might recognise its features, marking its bouquet of tentacles, its tubular body, darting eyes and short, devious fins, and proclaim it part of some long-dead genus or species. But really they are known only by their ink, spoken of in whispers by certain antiquarian photographers who sometimes swear that a figure in a faded sepia frame moved. They are less animals and more myths, half-rumour, half-hope, tales so old they seem to have no beginning. 

  34. Mike Gorman // July 19, 2010 at 8:43 pm //

    Captain Cordwainer leaned casually over the ship rail, watching a slowly building patch of bubbles off the starboard side. After a moment the surface broke, and a leathery pink body, resplendent with long, powerful tentacles, floated gently to the surface.

    “‘Morning, Smith,” it said to the Captain. “Rough night?”

    Smith nodded. “Big storm. Thanks for your help.”

    The cephalopod casually waved a tentacle. “No problem, sir. I’ll be back at the station, if you need me.”

    As he disappeared under the surface, the sun flashed, just for a moment, off a golden badge:

    Officer Ingens Kraken, Atlantis P.D.

  35. She was sleeping. Deep currents were caressing her skin. She was born in an island in Mediterranean where legends were created. Her first hunt was an ancient Greek fisher. Her eyes saw the ends of empires, her tentacles collect memories from ancient time. She even caught once a woman from harem of Ottoman Padisah in Istanbul. When the war came and men with steel ships swam in her sea she left. Now she sleeps in Atlantic. She misses the hot waters of Mediterranean, the cries of Italian sailors when they saw her.

  36. The small submersible floundered into the valley, its remaining headlight weak and flickering. The dim beam swept erratically across the high jagged chasm walls. The light suddenly jerked and swung back, slowly filling in the silver rims of an eye twenty feet across.

    The fixed eye stared on, a gaze of unknowable malevolence, old as darkness.

    The valley’s texture shifted, rocky cliffs to bending gelatin. A silent roar of immense suction swallowed the sub and crushed it. This was no place for light, or air, or discovery.

     

  37. The Big Yog

    Two 1.6 oz all-Cthulhu patties,
    special “Green Ichor” sauce,
    Marianna Trench lettuce, Sothoth
    cheese, pickles and onions on a
    three-part sesame seed bun.
    Enjoy!

  38. Her suckers let go of the docking arm of Chun Station. Last minute signals were sent from the photophores on her skin. Small burst of bioluminescent mucus broke the impasse of station keeping and pushed her at safe distance. Even smaller portion of mucus was her beautiful way of saying: goodbye. Then Vampyroteuthis stellaris “Endeavour”, pride of Her Majesty’s Fleet in the Betelgeuse Quadrant, spread her jet-black webbing and ever so slowly started flowing on waves of solar wind. People and cargo in vast spaces under her mantle hardly felt any tug.

  39. Geez, I sent first version instead of the right one. Here it goes, if it’s OK:

    Her suckers let go of the docking arm of Chun Station. Last minute signals were sent from the photophores on her skin. Small burst of bioluminescent mucus broke the impasse of station keeping and pushed her to a safe distance. An even smaller portion of mucus was her beautiful way of saying goodbye. Then the Vampyroteuthis stellaris, pride of Her Majesty’s Fleet in the Betelgeuse Quadrant, spread her jet-black webbing and started flowing, ever so slowly, on waves of solar wind. People and cargo in vast spaces under her mantle hardly felt any tug.

  40. Eve Proper // July 20, 2010 at 10:12 pm //

    She had expected a squid to look like a lollipop with eight sticks and a set of googley eyes. But the real thing was an almost streamlined creature in motion, elegant in the improbable way of 1950s automobiles, as it moved cleanly through the turquoise water of the aquarium. It ignored the children and the cameras, pursuing its own trajectory. It’s too large, she thought; how can any creature that big be held by glass and engineering? Yet another thing for humanity to answer for, and this one looks almost capable of holding us accountable.

  41. Synesthesia and fluid dynamics conspired to give the creature an almost musical grace. In one moment it was adagio, its drifting undulations assiduously composed of suckered arms and the soft flesh of its body. And then suddenly fortissimo, and it was all speed and beak and teeth and chitin.

    For Verne the cephalopod represented the evil of man; For Lovecraft, the evil of the universe. But this being was neither monstrous nor malevolent. It was simply other, alien. She would say it and people would ask: weird alien, or alien alien? And she would laugh and say: well, both.

  42. Sam Squid swished along behind the sandbar, leaving a cloud of bubbles in his wake.  A routine night.  Few patrons.  Two urchins sipped sarsaparillas.  Sam slipped a half-dozen empty shells onto the bar and filled them all at once. 

    The swinging doors burst open and she jetted in, the sexiest squid he’d ever set his gaze on.  She trailed darkness, and he knew – even before the three sharks scuttled in behind her – that she was in deep trouble.  She slipped across the bar in a sinuous burst and hid herself amidst Sam’s tentacles.  So much for a quiet night.

  43. SUCCINCTLY: THE QUIDAMIOUS LACHRYMALIA (published 1557, [Gregorian 1938]):   

     The MEROVINGIAN AMMONITE: This venerable dux ducis is cowled in a luminous, aureate planisphere shell whose hue manifests its disposition and counsel.  It’s scintillating scarlet tendrils are reminiscent of the hair of King Dagobert II, who fashioned it an aquarium of pellucid vitaenium.   The imbibement of its tenebrous, delphian tears allowed him to foresee assassination and preserve his bloodline to this day. Similar in size to but more ostentatious than Regent Churchill’s cuttle-king, with it’s murky, unadorned shell-pate, its limpid cirri guide the fate of one-fifth of humanity.

  44. The tank was secure each morning when Mr. Tribbs turned on the light.  Inside its silvery walls, the soft body of the octopus pulsed, curled amorphously around its rock.  First it was cats.  Next, Mrs. Rotherfield’s sixteen-year-old maltese.  The diamante collar found near the lift; the weeping lady escorted back to No. 34.  Mr. Tribbs had discounted the wet spots occasionally found on the carpet, the odd scratches around the chain-lock on the door.  When four-year-old Joseph McHennery disappeared out of his nursery – that was the start of Mr. Tribbs’ war against the cephalopod.

  45. Teuthologica

    Monsters proliferate. Whatever cannot be classified, whatever is *other*, whatever exceeds and blooms, becomes a monster.

    You broke his heart. Your rejection was monstrous.

    His beak clacks, his limb-vines reach and curl to snug up against you. Pull you close. Swamp-gas colors swirl beneath his skin, blossom, then dim, as the suckers tease at you, beg for, for response.

    He can no longer speak.

    You’re the scientist now. The rule of knowledge is ventriloquy, so you withdraw. You slap him behind glass and measure the length of his limbs, the extent of his self-awareness, the speed of his propulsion.

  46. G. Flores // July 21, 2010 at 6:03 pm //

    The summer house’s new owners took up residence with laughs that died on the wind. Their chubby, misunderstood child thundered around the second floor, exploring. Claiming.

    The child disappeared under a bed, legs kicking like a frog’s.

    In the dust, there were few treasures: a button, a one-cent piece, and the husk of some souvenir of a beach visit.

    It woke that night. Moistened itself under the child’s breath, then unfurled. It dropped one questing tentacle to the pillow, then pulled itself upright.

    It feasted on the child’s dreams — falling, getting lost, fires — before it was sated.

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