This novel is limited to 100 free copies due to its part in Inkitt’s Novel Contest.
the Be-Yond Jellyfish
The shadow of the sole street lamp laid upon the cobble stone street the impression of a fishing hook. Looked at alone it was weighted, heavy. But against the larger view of the tight buildings constructed of their ageless stiff and solid material the street lamp itself looked frail, leaning, uncertain. Not a meat cleaver, but a fish hook. Its yellow light, however, fought bravely giving hope and possibility to the otherwise uninviting corridor of the lean, tight street corner.
The street lamp stood at a Y-intersection where the pedestrian sidewalk thickened just enough for the tri-cornered cafe to snuggle in four tables; two were against its exterior brick wall and large windows, and two opposite them threatening any unfamiliar patrons head to swiftly moving autos of the street traffic. Though at this starlit hour the streets were empty and the dining tables tucked and stacked inside the quaint cafe.
Behind its glass door the cafe was clean, still + dark with the exception of one candle light drippings its wax curiously + unwatched onto the edge of a small rectangular wooden coffee table. Given a few more melting minutes the wax would pool enough, creep to the table's end, and spill upon the old weathered Turkish rug. The wax then will be sharing its resting place with a clothed meat body, our hero, passed out fully clothed in a red vino induced slumber.
Aren't his pudgy cheeks cute? His sun orange puffy down coat slightly too small and tight on his near modest belly and frame. He lies oblivious. One walking shoe thrown a few feet away, the other still on foot. His slacks so perfectly worn that they hardly differentiate themselves from biological leg. He appears dead but for two details: the subtle play of candle light off of his rising and falling chest of puff coat, and the ebb + flow of his swelling + shrinking nostrils living in harmony with his heavy breath. Two small brown + white mice argue in the corner:
- How strange is the way of man?
- Oh, strange.
- Does desire ever satisfy?
- Look at his teeth!
- Is there no cessation of thought in such a big head?
- Such a large funny head.
- So many words we have learned, eaves dropping upon the moaning, syllabic symbols of man, but what for?
- For funnies.
- His words only confuse him. To name transitory things is to get caught in a trap.
- Cheese, yes!
- No no, you don't understand me. These big mammals spend lifetimes calling + naming + figuring. They are constantly setting up concepts to a million things they don't understand.
- I understand.
- We don't speak of cheese as 'cheese'. Because we know it shall spoil tomorrow. We act. We smell and decide upon the sensation to either eat or not to eat.
- Mm, cheese.
- Ah, beezlebub! These is no use in talking to a mouse. On day i'll figure out this larynx of mine, I'll work it night + day and get my voice strong enough. Flexible + capable I will holler into man's ear. A scream of his timbre + frequency, pinpointed so that his dumb, tiny spectrumed ear will hear me.
The other mouse applauded in ignorance, merely responding to the excitement and rise in the tone of voice of his intellectually superior companion, Herman, who continued:
- Alas, I cannot yet communicate with my own kind. So much work to be done. Wake up, Mehow! I am disgusted from waiting and from your inabilities!
The tiny wordy mouse leapt at a great speed, without a trace of acceleration. From still to motion. From feeling to action manifested in some invisible realm. From static + still to tiny legs scrambling over patterned wood, and now across the softer fabric of the Turkish rug. The change in footing only revealed itself in a lowering of Herman's posture and a slight decrease in the speed of his mouse body. He was approaching the face of our slumbering hero, Mehow, and he let out a bellow! a bellow. a bellow…
Oh, how untamable of a beast is relativity. Who can expect to hear a peasant with laryngitis in the foothills while they themselves are in a blizzard at the summit? Or wilder still: it is speaking Mandarin through an unplugged telephone at the bottom of the sea which blurts the message out of one speaker of some recently wrecked automobile's AM speakers to an English speaking passenger who is on the verge of slipping into a head-trauma induced unconsciousness.
The most impact the mouse's voice could hope for was that Mehow was now dreaming of pure white flags dazzling with light refractions in the wind before pure blue still skies. These did not come across as surrender flags in Mehow's dream state, but rather as graphic-less, region-less, country-less flags. They seemed to say:
Not nothing as the absence of things, but nothing as a very profound + specific thing. A flag for the flagless. Some alternate reality where history unfolded into a different origami bird, or a more sophisticated zero-pointed paper airplane. The dream was not quite a piece of alternative history written as if the allies were crushed by the axis, or some other similar literary curiosities, but Mehow's dream reality had somehow warped, bent, mastered or confused premises of physics and/or biology. For suddenly, as Mehow's mind was wrapped in the eloquence of the dancing flag, slowly and clearly merged from behind it a jellyfish. Mehow chortled with a rediscovered joy he had never known. To our little mouse, Herman, back home this small hiccup of Mehow's appeared to be some kind of physical response to Herman's previous bellowing.
Herman glowed + smiled clear from ear to ear showing every single one of his tiny, sharp, off-white teeth. A brief 4-noted victory melody fanfared in his mind.
- He can hear me yet! Maybe I have not as far to go as I thought! Mehoooooowww!
Meanwhile the jellyfish rose out beyond the flag. It was almost completely translucent yet contained hues of violet + purples though predominantly blues. It moved as if in the sea. Calmly, confidently, free yet precise. This creature was not blown and moved by whims of the wind. It seemed to have a mastery of some current or force hidden to the understandings of (wo)man's brain, and outside of even the subconscious habitual evolutionary gatherings of any animal existing on earth.
With one more pulsation the end of its tentacles were out from behind the flag and fully visible. Mehow felt awed and at peace, not without a hint of some faint fetish of sexual satisfaction. It became clear to Mehow that the jellyfish of the sky was the maker, flyer + proud creator of the pure white flag.
Something else permeated this dreamscape. A sense of mystery and depth, that no thing or moment was left unfelt, that every color, object + movement was a history + pivotal moment in the endless unfolding of time. The pulse that propelled the jellyfish through the open vast atmosphere also sent a pulse of attention, pleasure + foreign knowledge into the essence of all surrounding creatures including Mehow. Waves of the primordial big bang being experienced and felt again. PULSE. Gliding frictionless flow of translucent blue…PULSE…tentacles in a slow ripple of whiplash from the body's thrust…PULSE…the dream was too much to sustain…PULSE…Either Mehow lost touch + contact with this strange place or not even his subconscious mind was creative enough to continue to extrapolate upon such anomalies of place, pleasure + mystery.
His body began to stir and his limbs began their puppetry. Herman the mouse darted to join his kin near the wall of the café.
- Oh, the buffoon rises! Not at all like the sun on its precise schedule, not like the moon as measured by its patient pagan observer, but oh, the buffoon arises just like a man. According to no truth, aligned with no natural cycle. Not even according to a mouse, though hard as I try. He awakes from whims to execute whims.
"Whimzzz," the other mouse laughed in belligerent delight at the sound of the word rather than at the impact of the transmitted message it contained.
- Does he not see it? You buffoon, Mehow. Where is your intellect now? Such capacity in that enormous head of yours. But do you not once use it to reflect upon yourself, to arrange order in your life, to live according to something?
"Ugghahh," Mehow gasped, moaned + coughed, stirring further out of unconsciousness he apparently was hiccupping on his own saliva. He quickly sat up, legs and torso coming to a full 90 degrees before opening his eyes s.l..o…w….l…..y. No…not yet. Only 1/4th of the way. The comic relief mouse, Ernest, was pointing and laughing while Herman played bored and annoyed though inwardly apprehensive of Mehow's waking.
Halfway with the eyes now, Mehow was in a stupor. His jaw hung low, every fiber of muscle + loose skin on his face + neck completely forfeiting every thought of tension, action + movement over to gravity's dominion. Dangling details.
3/4ths of the way now. Is Mehow present of the room? The fact that he's on the floor? That one foot feels cooler than the other because of its shoeless uniform? What about the candle light's shrinking, growing + dancing shadow on the windows and walls? What about the two mice in the corner that have been unwelcome in his house for so long that in order to excuse his laziness for not setting traps or finding other means of ridding them, he has convinced (or rather) bullshitted himself into pretending they were not pests but invited, welcomed cordial friends? Is he aware of them yet, as his eyes are now 7/8ths open?
"Ahhhaha," the giggle and shout of Ernest was of pure hilarity.
Herman sighed and rolled his eyes, "This is poor suspense building for such a lame chicken footed story."
Without warning, "Ah-chew!". Mehow let rip a headbang of extraordinary power-chorded Marshall half-stacked proportions. His head returned to level as calm as before and stayed for a moment. Then his eyes finally began to scan the room.
. . . . .
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Steve Lang: I thought this story was imaginative, and well thought out. I also think it was an original piece, and not a rehash of previous scifi stories I've read in the past.Thank you for the effort put into this tale, and I look forward to reading more of your work!
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FreakyPoet: "you made me laugh, made me cry, both are hard to do. I spent most of the night reading your story, captivated. This is why you get full stars from me. Thanks for the great story!"
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