How many years does a giant squid live?
Dr. Emet O. Brown
I offer an illustrative example:
The day began, as so few do, with a burst of violet light outside my tank. Where once had been a janitorial cart replete with mop, paper toweling, solvents, cleansers, and fresheners of the air (as if that would help mask the scent of murder and explosive decompression that hangs in the air) there was now a trio of humans soaked in sweat and dressed in motley rags and a chimp in a leather cap, who I recognized immediately to be my dear associate, Claude; although I should be accustomed to such occurrences by now, they do still tend to startle.
My once again constant companion, the cuttlefish "Mr. Kalmarrochki", stirred from his nap and shouted in heavily accented Russian. "What! What! Who is putting dick in my tea!?!"
I was, at that time, somewhat surprised to see him; "WHERE DID YOU COME FROM, LITTLE ONE?"
"Originally? I explained, da?, I was in Belle Isle Aquarium with very ugly turtle, and then . . ."
"NO, I MEAN HOW DID YOU RETURN—" but I was brought up short as I recognized the three ragged humans who had materialized afore me. How could I not recognize these three who had been so close to me these past years?
Rob stood and gawped about, shivering and steaming, "Are we? Fuck, are we back? Did we make it back?" His hair had grown long and hung in lank curls on his shoulders. He was bearded now, whereas but seven hours ago, when he left the office, he had been but a few days unshaved. Gone were his stained khaki trousers and Threadless t-shrirts, in their place he wore a kilt made of pressed tin and a shirt of dull metal links held together with twine.
Molly stood next to him and grimly surveyed the office from behind an eyepatch. "We made it. Oh Rob, we made it," she embraced him, "We stopped it. The Event never happened!" Molly's midsection was swathed in blood-soaked bandages. She wore silken pirate pantaloons. Bullets were slung across her shoulders in a bandolier. All in all, I found it a fine improvement over her previous work attire.
Devo wept, pressing his face against the cold, cold linoleum. "God," he wailed, "Oh god, I . . . I thought it would be better when we were back, but," he coughed, sucked down a ragged breath, "What if it wasn't worth it? 52 dead in the Bone Canyon campaign alone, 52 just from screechers . . . what if . . ." The bald and homosexual mechanic was tattooed more fully than I remembered. Black ink animals scampered, frozen in time, from his neck down his spine, then further to his feets.
"It was worth it," Molly said flatly, "By definition, it was worth it."
A tiny clockwork velocitator, like a copper and crystal recluse spider, tick-tocked from behind Molly's voluminous trousers, then lay a single long, copper leg on Devo's spine, "Is OK," the other "Mr. Kalmarrochki" in the tiny walking suit said, "Is OK for a homosexual man to cry about lots of dead peoples. Is OK. Maybe later we all have a good, hot chai and some of the little cookies with the powder sugar, and then, everyone is less sobbing on floor, da?"
"OK," the cuttlefish in my tank said, "Me, I am not for judging all the time, da?, but it's a little strange to be the guy in the tank, and looking at you who is also the guy over there, in the clockwork space suit."
"YOU WILL GROW BORED OF IT, OVER TIME," I explained.
Frequent readers will recall that I, myself, am no stranger to the vagaries of time travel. I have supped with Benjamin Franklin as he bombed Paris from his Zeppelin of Extraordinary Wrath. I spent four months living in a submarine with Nikola Tesla and Mark Twain at the bottom of the sea, disguised as Fly McMartin-Fly, and ensured that my grandparents met and mated in the gladiatorial musical contest in the valley of the hills. Other journeys have been chronicled here in this humble Almanac(k), from time to time (or will have had been such chronicled, depending on your own temporal context, Dear Readers); if one but looks briefly, he or she cannot help but stumble across my timelost wanderings.
Staring at the three sweaty, oddly dressed employees I recalled Oscar Wilde once telling me that "Traveling in time is much like performing a comedy in France: You never know what you'll drink, you never know who you will sleep with, and you never know what the locals will laugh at."
I fixed Molly with my gaze. "MOLLY. I SEE YOU WEAR A PATCH OVER YOUR LEFT EYE. DOES THIS IMPEDE YOUR PERFORMANCE AT THE PINGS PONGS?"
All three of the sodden strangers stared at my tank and gawped in horror. They looked upon me as if I were a sperm whale diving upon them, jaws reeking of death.
"We didn't go back far enough!" Rob screamed, spittle splattering on the glass wall.
The cuttlefish in the clockwork suit looked up, "Hey!" he exclaimed, "Look at me! I am in the tank with Mr. Big Answers! That's a funny thing!"
Devo sat up and I could, for the first time, see that he was cradling a chrome sphere bedecked in knobs and switches, with what appeared to be bicycle handles protruding from it. "Brace yourselves for emergency travel! We have enough juice for one—" He flicked toggles in a mad panic, grasped the handlebars, and the trio of humans, chimp, and cuttlefish disappeared in a flash of violet light.
I expected further exclamations from the cuttlefish, and when none were forthcoming, looked and saw he was gone, as well.
Rob walked in an hour later, tardy for his shift. He was softer, shorter of hair, smoother of jowl, and more jovial than his doppleganger had been. "Smells like chimp in here," Rob noted as he tossed his jacket onto the floor. he sniffed more deeply, "Chimp and . . . like, the transformer from one of those train sets." He sniffed again, "You know, I don't remember how the Hell I got here."
"I BELIEVE WE SHOULD HAVE A MEETING TO DISCUSS THINGS," I opined.
Rob turned to face me, blinked rapidly, and asked "Will we have a sandwich platter, for the meeting?"
I sighed, then nodded. "PLEASE POST A NOTE IN THE BREAK ROOM, SO THAT ALL KNOW TO ATTEND; IT WILL BE A LUNCH MEETING, HELD BESIDE MY TANK. AND FETCH THE SANDWICH PLATTER AT YOUR DISCRETION."
Suffice it to say that the only ones in attendance were my eldritch graphic designer, Ysslena Almiras of the Miasmic Mists, and our CPA, Mr. Leeks. The sandwich platter was not in evidence.
In any event, all apologies to you, Dr. Brown, I have wandered afield of your question. In direct answer: All Giant Squids live for exactly one-hundred non-consecutive years.
Ah . . . "too live", she is a mystery of her own making, that phrase is.
For Today, at Least, I Remain,
The Giant Squid
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Copyright (c) 2000, 2004, David Erik Nelson, Fritz Swanson, Morgan Johnson