Ocean

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Status: In Progress  |  Genre: Other  |  House: Encourage Writing Inc.

Chapter 3 (v.1) - Many, Many Tides Ago

Submitted: August 16, 2016

Reads: 64

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Submitted: August 16, 2016

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MANY, MANY TIDES AGO…

The three little creatures swam slowly amidst unfamiliar rocks and coral and seaweed for what seemed like years. Phyllo trailled behind the other two. Every time he heard a noise, he would freeze as still as a seashell in terror before darting for shelter under a rock, only his swivelling red and blue eyes visible as he camoflauged himself. 

Seemingly concerned more with the primal need for food than fear, Planes stopped to dive under a rock to fetch some strange looking creepy crawlies. Curious, Taen followed, circling the rock in inquisitive circles, waiting for the cowfish to surface. Finding himself alone, he dived for the safety of a large clump of dark seaweed. From the safety of this cocoon, Phyllo poked out one of his eyes and looked around reflectively. The sun was setting over the ocean and the water was turning from greens and blues of day to the purples and pinks of twilight. Soon it would be black and they were far, far from home.  He shuddered, his bony little plates rattling. He sucked up a batch of micro fish eggs in an attempt to comfort himself. They should have been delicious, but what could taste good when you were stranded in the open ocean?. Suddenly, he froze in fear as a dark shadow passed above him. He looked up and stared into the ghostly white underbelly of a wild giant mantle ray.

‘Swiiiiim!’ He screamed loudly to the others, a terrified froth of bubbles coming out of his little mouth. The three little creatures darted towards him and together they swam as fast as they could, looking for somewhere, anywhere to hide as the huge creature flapped its powerful wings menacingly,its terrifying mouth getting  so close that it was almost snapping at their fins. One after the other they managed to squeeze into a narrow crevice in a rock. They huddled together, shaking violently, looking out of the tiny crevice they had just swam into as the terrifying creature flapped around menacingly, before slowly disappearing into the murky distance.. They had escaped, thought Phyllo, as his little heart beat frantically in his long colourful chest. He would live to see another tide!

As his heart stopped thumping and his eyes adjusted to the dim light behind him, Phyllo looked around at what appeared to be the dark, dank cave that they had swam into. Jagged rocks adorned the walls, some covered in algal slime. There was nothing on the cave floor except for some seashells and the carapaces of wild crabs who had found their way in but never out again. Phyllo noticed a pile of rocks in the corner furtherest away from the thin pale rays of sunlight that were filtering in from the narrow round entrance hole. It almost looked deliberate, like it had been placed there.

‘Where are we? Asked Taen, bumping herself in the darkness as her eyes adjusted.

‘Cave’. Said Planes, beggining to scour the cave’s dark floor excitedly for creepy crawlies. Phyllo thought he was a lot less talkative now that he’d promised not to trick them.

‘Let’s stay here for a while until that thing is gone’ said Phyllo, shivering at the chilling memory of the ghostly looking creature. He thought of his how great his patch had been, and of the ocean’s very long future. He cursed Planes silently to the moon, which was starting to become visible through the surface of the water.

They all flapped their fins in agreement.

Suddenly, a large cloud of sand began to rise all around them, enveloping them totally and rendering them completely sightless.

‘Guys?’Phyllo yelled out. ‘Guys?

He was reassured to hear Planes’ reply. The sand begin to clear. It was so good that Planes and Taen hadn’t bee –

Wait? Where was Taen?

He looked fearfully at a mysterious trail of wild crab shells where she’d been swimming before the sand cloud. 

Phyllo’s bony plates rattled anxiously. What if something had taken her? What if...it was even worse than the death with wings thing he had just seen?

‘’Planes did you see where Ta –

He didnt get a chance to finish.

A long slimy thing  emerged from a crevice in the cave wall, thumping on the ground to create another sandstorm. From amidst its protective cloud of sand it wrapped itself tightly around Planes’ little horn. Phyllo watched in horror as Planes disappeared into the cloud, which propelled off somewhere in the beyond. Phyllo swam back and forth on the spot, confounded. Where was Taen? What had taken Planes? How many of the kidnappers were there?. He peered around the side of the cave in the direction that the creature had taken Planes. The tip of one of its horrid tendrils was just recognisable through the sand cloud. Planes was nowhere to be seen.

What should he do? He reminded himself that living sometimes meant not being afraid of not living. He closed his eyes in fear and tried to rake up all the courage he had in his long thin body to...well, he didnt exactly know, he just knew he had to do something. He charged at the sandcloud, bracing himself for a tendril around his purple throat or fin. He waited, and waited. When he opened his eyes. Taen was in front of him. She was uninjured. In fact, she was...giggling?

With his backwards eye, he could see Planes was behind him also. The little fish looked dazed, but unafraid. The terrible creature was nowhere to be seen.

‘Hi! Taen said, oddly unruffled.

‘You’ll never guess what t-’

‘Did you hurt your head? Let’s go before that thing comes back!’’ Phyllo gurgled urgently, grabbing her by the dorsal fin and chubby by the horn to tow them away.

 She resisted. Suddenly, the tentacle emerged again in the distance.

‘Quick...!’ He pleaded.

 ‘No, no!’ She said insistently.

‘Ít’s OK’. She looked over at the tentacle.

‘Achtus, you can come out! ’.

Confused, Phyllo watched the dust cloud as the horrible blue and yellow thing emerged from it – and another, and another, and another, until there were eight of them. Finally, the creature’s head squeezed out akwardly from the tiny crevice, having been almost squashed flat to do so. It went to wave sand out of its eyes, with one of his front two tentacles and promptly wound them up with each other, causing it to lose balance and fall onto its right side.

‘Pleased to meet you’ the creature said awkwardly in a deep gurgly voice as he looked up helplessly from the ground. He put out one of his other tentacles for Phyllo to help him up. ‘Er, would you mind – ‘He said, going red. Phyllo took the tip of the creature’s tentacle with his dorsal fin and helped him up.

 ‘Thank you! He said, slapping himself in the face with the left tentacle as he wrenched it free from the right one with some force.

‘I’m sorry for scaring you!’ he gurgled profusely. ‘I’m rather embarrassed at having to get your attention in such a way, but there was no other option, you see’.

He dusted himself off with his back tentacles and shook Phyllo’s dorsal fin. He turned to Planes to shake his fin. As he did, he leaned in, peering closely at the creature with intense curiosity. He pulled out a pair of spectacles with his back tendril. He put them on and peered at the creature again his eyes blinking.

‘Extraordinary! He said. A short horned cowfish! Why, none of you have been seen for many many tides!’. He pulled out a flat seashell from another tentacle and began to write notes on it with a little tube filled with black, inky liquid. As he did, he little bits of the liquid splattered all over Planes.

‘Oh, terribly sorry…was just making notes…er Pleased to meet you!’’

‘What are you?’ Planes asked, wiping sticky ink from his eyes.

‘He’s a blue …what was it?’ Taen looked at the multi-legged creature uncertainly.

‘Octopus’ He said. ‘Achtus Octagonus is the name’, he added. His tentacles changed from blue and yellow to a more relaxed shade of muddy brown. He picked up a lone crab shell from the ground and began to nibble on it, holding out the other to shake their hand, which they shook back with their tails. 

‘So what are your names?’ He asked, bits of shell stuck all over his face.

They tried not to look. ‘Phyllo and this is Taen,’’

‘Oh, unusual monikers, I must say’.

‘You have some, um –  ‘ Taen indicated with her dorsal fin towards her face.

The creature put his front left tentacle up to cover his face. He went bright red before propelling off suddenly in a cloud of sand.  

They looked around. He was nowhere to be seen.

‘Achtus’? Called out Taen. ‘Achtus where are you?’ She swam around, following a trail of the tiny bits of crab shell her eyes swivelling everywhere. She pushed over a nearby seashell with her fins. As it rolled over on its side Achtus was revealed hiding in it. He emerged sheepishly, the offending crabshell gone. He cleared his throat ‘Ér, I was just...’He trailed off.

They ignored his little flight of embarassment on the octopus part - he didn't seem like he was used to others being around him. From what they could see, he lived totally alone. 

‘So, do you live in there?’She asked, swimming up closely to the crevice that Achtus had emerged from. She swivelled her forward forward looking eye right into the crack to try and see what was in there.

‘Ýes, as a matter of fact I do’’. He said, looking slightly put out at her nosying into

‘But, how do you fit?’ She asked in pure astonishment.

He chuckled. ‘’Sometimes with great difficulty!’’ But if an octopus’s beak fits through a hole, everything else will too, you see’’.

‘’Do you live alone?’’

Ýes, have done for quite a while. But I don’t mind you see. I quite enjoy it here with my shells...’’

‘’Shells?’’ Taen’s eyes lit up. She loved shells, she’d used to collect them as a young hatchling.

‘’Yes, to read and write on of course. The shell is mightier than the sting, I always like to say!’’

He reached into the depths of his deep dark cave with his back tentacle. He rustled around, making clanging and banging noises until he pulled out several seashells covered in tiny black ink in strange writing. Phyllo couldn’t help but wonder how many things he’d broken inside his cave. 

‘’Áh-hah!’’ found them without having to squeeze in again ! He said triumphantly. He handed Taen one of the shells. ‘’Have you read this one?’’he asked her. She looked at the strange squiggles in confusion.

''Er, have I what them?'' 

'Read them!'

He shoved one into her hand with one of his tentacles. 

She looked as if a realisation had dawned on her. ''Óh, no thanks, I don't eat seas- ''

''Eat! Of course you can't eat a seascroll, it's not exactly tast-''

Now the octopus looked as if a realisation had dawned on him . ‘’You don't know what reading is?’’ He said.

‘’No – I didnt have a mother of father to teach me things’’. I only learnt how to eat and swim and hide. I want to know things, though''.  Does she ever thought Phyllo. 

The multilimbed creature's oblong eyes flashed with sympathy and then realisation, before he smacked himself in the forehead with his front tentacle. ‘’Good heavens, of course! I should have known''. He began to wave his other tentacles with excitement. ''You’ll have to learn sometime! It really is a smashing book...A Short History of  Octopus Evolutionary Patterns.

Taen looked impressed as Mr. Octopus babbled on pleasantly about the history of his kind. Phyllo tuned in and out listened to bits and peices. 

'' ....written by a scholastic squid many moons ago... become a seminal text for young people interested in cephalopod hist..’.

He was more interested in observed the octopus as he spoke.   Somehow he trusted this reclusive nerd with a good heart. He watched the octopus move about clumsily by crawling on his arms. He wondered of the creature could step up to the plate if he was attacked.He had a number of squiggle covered shells in his eight tentacles now. He was reading bits and peices of them to Taen , illuminating them from the blue lights that emits from his body.

''O-c-t-o-p-u-s'' - defined in the Cephalopod Phychological Compendium as introverted -  craves company but is inhibited by social anxiety...can often revert to hiding in objects at any self perceived display of social ineptititude...

Phyllo suddenyl tuned into Taen's questioning, which was becoming incessant. Mr. Octagonus? What is in your cave? Don''t you ever get lonely?

Mr. Octopus suddenly disappears under a rock.Taen! Phyllo admonished her. 'Don't be rude!. 

Achtus appears from a rock suddenly. ''Í'm sorry'' said Taen. I'm just so excited to have someone to answer my questions!'' Achtus smiled forgivingly at her. His oblong eyes then took on a more serious squint and his tone became more regal. 'Questions lead to answers, and answers lead to truth…just make sure you ask important questions! Don’t concern yourself with the trivialities of the whole wide sea! She nodded. ''And one more thing little seadragoness...sometimes in this ocean, you don't need to ask questions. If a creature wants you to know something, they will tell you''. He caught Phyllo's eyes too and Phyllo nodded. 

Octagonus kept speaking. Í'm very surprised to see talking creatures out in the wild sea - and that they don’t know that there are others! Of course you're welcome to stay here for nightfall. There are - dangers around here at night. ''. Phyllo shuddered in memory of the terrifying creatures he had already seen on this strange journey. 

That evening, they settled around his cave and he told them about the history of The Whole Wide Sea to pass the time. 

‘Many, many tides ago, before the fish uttered its first word (praise the moon), mighty finless fish ruled the surface. They had multiple heads – ancient sea scrolls detail one such creature named ‘RushMore’. They lived in mighty caves that stretched for miles high. They could float the surface and roam the sky, even flying towards what is thought to be the Giant Glow Worm that rules all living things in the absence of the moon (praise the mighty moon). For many tides, The council of Great Squid, Cuttlefish and other learned molluscs have disagreed about these mighty creatures. The squid have always believed that these creatures upset the Almighty Moon, and the moon brought a tide so strong, and so heavy, that these great creatures were wiped out’. The cuttlefish, however, do not see the science in this, they think this is mere whimsy’.

Achtus  then paused dramatically, blowing a self important little cluster of bubbles. ‘I guess I must be boring you two young dragons and er…Plan-e-s was it?’.

The fish grunted in agreement as he swallowed yet another creepy crawly. 

 ‘No, Mr. Octagonus, please go on, will you?’ gurgled Phyllo excitedly. Taen, waved her swimming fins up and down in excitement. Even Planes even momentarily stopped feeding his face and cocked one eye over towards the octopus.

‘Oh good…said Octagonus, whipping out a bunch of seashells from one of his tentacles. ‘Because I wanted to show you this’. It was a picture this time, not the series of squiggles that required 'reading', whatever that was. 

'This is a thereom I have constructed about the 

‘Er, professor, that’s really good, but can we please get back to the story? Said Phyllo.

‘Oh, yes yes, of course’, Octagonus gurgled pleasantly. He carefully placed the seashell aside, put a tentacle in front of his mouth, cleared his beak and  resumed his serious voice.

‘Thousands and thousands of tides passed. And something miraculous happened. Some sea creatures went from being pure savages, unable to communicate, to intelligent beings. They went from hunting together to speaking. And then they were able to write. They began to live in primal societies. But they were still savage. The earliest sea shells tell of of wars between sea creatures so brutal that whole colonies of creatures were nearly wiped out. But finally, the first civilised sea socieities were formed.

‘They still exist? Said Taen, incredulous.

‘So, there are…other talking creatures like us? A whole city of them? She flapped her tail with glee.

‘Oh great moon! Yes, yes. By the grace of the moon, I’m sure your mother would have told you all about it, had she lived after spawning. I’m guessing she was a civilised fish. That is how you must be able to talk’.

Some live in their own neighbourhoods of caves. Others have offices in wrecked ships. Rich creatures live in the rooms of sunken luxury ships or the ruins of old luxury residences. Poor fish just float around’.

‘How do you get there?’ Asked Taen. Phyllo knew where this was going. She was asking the questions again. And she had the the same contemplative flapping of the tail that she’s had when Chubby fed them the fishy story about the next patch. Somehow , though, Phyllo trusted this creature much more than he had trusted Chubby.

‘The way to the city is through the ocean floor, otherwise known as the ‘underbelly’ of the ocean. It is populated by crabs, sea worms and sea lice’, started Achtus.

 

Chubby tries to  convince Achtus to take them through the underground. Achtus doesn’t want to go – instead he begs them to stay so that he can have company. They stay for a while, hanging around his cave and learning about various things. However, Chubby has another pearl of wisdom – there are many good places and good creatures in life. But it doesn’t mean your place is with them forever. Taen agrees thinking, like Phyllo, how wise Chubby is , if not often very graceful. How did he know all these things? She makes a note to ask him where he came from, but she forgets.

He knows the way, but when they ask him he has a tantrum and hides in his cave. Chubby tells him he must face his fears. But he is unable. He tells them the way, and says they must fend for themselves. ‘Terrible, terrible things await me there’ he tells them sadly. ‘Will someone hurt you?’ They asked. ‘There are worse things than physical pain. ‘Whats that? Asked Taen. You will find out.’ says Achtus. 


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