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Squid #443
(published July 16, 2009)
Ask the Giant Squid: The Beastmen Cometh (Re-birthed from the Darkest Horde; part two of three)
Who is Poor Mojo's Giant Squid?
Dear Giant Squid,

Where do Giant Squids come from?


Dear Unsigned,

If you will be but patient a moment longer, I shall tell you where squids do come from, both giant and regular-sized, vampyroteuthis infernalis and Humboldt alike.

I continue: Once in a hazy time that was not yet a time, in a place that was not quite a place, I found myself trapped within a sphere too small for my girth. I could not recall my capture nor my name. All that was or had been was washed from me like so many grains of sand. There was once a beach that endured a mighty siege from the sea. Every hour of every day waves pounded that beach. It was a war of attrition; the water carried away the grains of sand. And after a time the war was lost and the sea had won. The beach had been robbed of all its sand.

Encased in my sphere, I was that beach without sand.

As I regaled you last week, three people had come to me. Found me—if it is accurate to say that the land finds a ship tossed there by tempest—and knew me for what I was. Mamda was stout of hip and a warlike leader by trade. Weasel Kor was a man born to thieving as sure as breathing. Thirdly was the pale girl, whose name I never learned. She, though least of the three, worried me more than beasts.

"Mamda," Kor whispered.

"Shh! They're coming. Stay still or be dead, but I won't save you if you draw them on us, fool." Mamda hid beneath a cloak that winked and shimmered like golden coins in candlelight. Against the treasure hoard she disappeared.

The roaring beast voices grew closer, chanting in coarsened tongues, singing songs that were rough parodies of their masters' dark eloquence. They gibbered and howled and their footsteps tramped nearer. Hounds on a trail, the beastmen entered the treasure vault.

In my crystal sphere, my world bound up in a nutshell, I had rare vantage over the proceedings. From my den I witnessed the beastmen enter taking care to disturb no treasure, lest their master's scourge fall upon them later. They walked in shuffles and stutters in the manner of a film accelerated unevenly. The beastmen had the faces of wolves, of boars, of lizards grafted atop cobbled human bodies. Their arms ended in claws, hooks. For clothing they wore the skin of man, tanned with human rennet.

The leader of the beastmen, a foul lynx-faced creature named Solvor, snuffled the air and bared teeth. He growled words in his beastly tongue and one platoon drew their bows and fired a volley of arrows through the room. Weasel Kor screamed as notched heads took an ear and an elbow from his lanky frame. Mamda howled as her thigh was pierced by no fewer than four shafts. The misshapen bowmen dropped their recurves and drew misericords, approached in hunched postures ready for their kills.

The pale girl, whom I could see hiding behind an especially large pile of gold, whispered words not meant for the pert geometry of her mouth and the weasel Kor's body jerked as a marionette under her distant hands. With one optically-perfect eye trained on her and one upon him I witnessed her eldritch skill at play. Under her ministrations Kor leapt forward into the fray, swinging his club with terrible, clumsy force, terror plain on his face. As Kor's body made contact with the hardened savages his bones snapped and splintered, his flesh peeled away like snow shoveled from a sidewalk.

The pale girl raised a second hand and injured beastmen leapt to her bidding. They turned on their compatriots with wild, uncomprehending eyes and stabbed with brutal might.

Anthropomancer, I named her. Flesh-worker. Organ master. All bodies were gut-puppets in her reach. The pale girl—daughter of my jailer—stuck the tippity tip of her tongue between her pale lips and squinted as she plucked distantly at her thralls. I was, in case it fails to go without saying, quite impressed, even to the point of jealousy.

Mamda, skewered to the face of an oaken tea chest by the thigh-piercing arrows, recoiled. "Girl, what in the name of Hades are you doin?"

The pale girl, the nameless girl, paid no mind.

"We agreed on this!" Mamda bellowed, the gilded, jeweled teardrops of the crown she had pillaged from the horde dancing and jigging about her face like tiny revellers at a bone fire. "We agreed to find another way!" Mamda roared her displeasure, but the beastmen roared even louder, raging at their corporal rebellion, and drowned her out.

I saw a half-goat half-dolphin bleat as his very bones crawled forth from his gullet.

I saw a panda with the head of an asp defecate his own organs upon the floor and I watched in fascination as those very organs wrapped themselves about the aspanda's neck and strangled what life was left out of him.

As I said, it was all quite impressive, like a wonderful, firework-bedecked parade of carnage.

The pale girl muttered arcane phrases, cocked her head. Her flesh began to crawl on her body—a still pond now disturbed. Torch-cast shadows fell from her like ooze, writhing and fecund.

This fight—though truly it was no challenge—was nearing an endgame. The pale girl stood and thrust her fists before her as if shoving away an invisible brother and at the far end of the chamber I saw ribs explode from the remaining beastmen, flechettes tearing flesh.

A fire was lit in the pale girls eyes and I felt her touch crawl across me. "This is what clay feels under the sculptor's fingers," I thought. It was not pleasant. Grinning she reached past me with her distant manipulations and caused Mamda's flesh to spit out the arrows. Mamda howled and clutched at her leg.

The girl turned toward me again, her mouth open and smiling. The shadows writhed once again.

"Now," she said in a voice that was all voices, was within me, was even mine, my true voice, a voice beyond the blush of chromatophores or the vibration of wind in the throat, "Now listen—"

And Yet I Remain,
The Giant Squid

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see other pieces by this author | Who is Poor Mojo's Giant Squid? Read his blog posts and enjoy his anthem (and the post-ironic mid-1990s Japanese cover of same)

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The Next Squid piece (from Issue #444):

Ask the Giant Squid: From The Frying Pan Into The Gymnasium (Re-birthed from the Darkest Horde; part three of three)

The Last few Squid pieces (from Issues #442 thru #438):

Ask the Giant Squid: Once I Was A Treasure (Re-birthed from the Darkest Horde; part one of three)

Ask the Giant Squid: A Guide to the Selection of Business Partners

Ask the Giant Squid: The Squid-Man of Alcatraz (Squidapalooza; part three of three)

Ask the Giant Squid: Emperor Norton's Hat! (Squidapalooza; part two of three)

Ask the Giant Squid: A Rum Night on the Barbary Coast (Squidapalooza; part one of three)

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