Twitch Stream Stories Redux #1: The Ninth Tentacle

These stories were written live on stream based on prompts provided by the viewers. They have been edited, with this second more in-depth edit occurring much later, but not meaningfully rewritten or expanded so as to preserve the spirit of the exercise. Sadly, the prompts themselves were not recorded until many stories in.  Sometimes the prompts were silly challenges, or quirky thoughts, or dark ideas, or utter nonsense.  I did my best each time.

If you enjoy this, please check out the other activities from the stream. If you would like something longer and much more thoroughly planned, simply investigate my more traditional work at the top of the page.

The Ninth Tentacle

prompt provided by DarkLordofSheep

Jeremy’s can hit the water with a splash smaller than he would’ve liked. Its bubbling green contents leaked out into the lake while he leaned over the edge of the kayak to watch the guppies that had scattered on impact.

You shouldn’t litter,” Stephanie chided him, pulling her pale blonde hair back into a ponytail in case he tried to get the bigger splash he’d sought.

Who says I’m littering? The can’s in there… but maybe I’ll fish it out. It’s only littering if I leave it there.” The guppies failed to investigate the bobbing can, perhaps scared away by Jeremy’s snaggle-toothed grin.

How are you going to get all the lightning chug back then?” Ryan asked, referring to the bubbling caffeine concoction leaking out. “I don’t think the fish want it.” He grabbed the paddle and turned the orange kayak just enough to grab the can himself. “This is my aunt’s cabin and I don’t think she wants any hyperactive fish jumping out of the water.” Usually the quietest of the three, Ryan felt emboldened by their position in the middle of the lake. They couldn’t ignore him out there, especially since the trip was his idea in the first place. Jeremy’s only idea was to invite himself.

Is there any left in there?” Jeremy asked of the can.

Eww, gross,” Stephanie declared with a curled lip. “There’s probably algae in it… or something.” She grabbed the second paddle away from him even though she was positioned in the middle of the kayak. With the day’s light fading, and the first fireflies blinking overhead, she was ready to get out from between that boy BO sandwich and curl up in her sleeping bag. She was there for a snug view of a star-filled sky and not much else.

But the sky was filled with a very particular set of stars that night, containing an unusual patch of light from an unusual star that only existed on rare occasions. Its sickly purple glow did not draw the attention of the camping adolescents, save the sunken one, which was very interested indeed.

Below the kayak, below the lightning chug, below the guppies, and below the mud… something stirred. Something Ryan’s aunt had never seen. Something human eyes had never seen. Yet humanity had touched it horribly. Even it, with its ancient body, with its cursed mind, with its hollow whistling soul, was not immune to man’s callousness.

There was a time when an endocrine disruptor had been dumped in the lake, along with a cocktail of other pollutants. It took away a generation of frogs, the eyes of three generations of fish, and as its last hurrah, corrupted the sleeping creature beneath the lake.

Tell me again why we’re not supposed to swim here?” Jeremy asked, letting his fingers trail in the water as the other two rowed.

It hasn’t been fully cleaned up yet,” Ryan told him, “and dumping cans isn’t going to make that go any faster.” Near the shore now, the flap of their blue tent waved at them in the light breeze. “I don’t remember leaving that open,” he mumbled.

Thoomp! Stephanie and Jeremy squealed; the girl went so far as to stand for a second and then drop back to her knees before she lost balance. Something had struck the underside of the kayak.

Oh my god! What was that?” She asked, wielding the paddle like a whack-a-mole mallet.

I don’t know, but I want the paddle back,” Jeremy whined, realizing he was the only one unarmed. A black lump surfaced, rose up to greet them, to greet that eerie purple star. Stephanie reared back to strike the lump, but Ryan threw his arms in front of her. A new part of the thing broke the lake’s skin, tiny beady eyes regarding them. A red stripe traveled down the creature’s neck.

It’s a turtle!” Ryan warned. “It’s just a turtle! A red-eared slider! It can’t hurt us; they sell ’em in pet shops.”

Oh no,” Stephanie groaned. “I almost bopped the little guy!” Their course unchanged during the scare, the kayak suddenly jerked as they struck mud. The red-eared head, after taking a short breath, vanished back to the depths. All three teens disembarked and made their way to the tent, with Jeremy immediately tumbling inside and rolling around on his sleeping bag. He grabbed a plastic package of hot dogs, still wet from the cooler, and waved them at his friends.

Is it time to roast these bad boys now?” His emphatic shake caused one of the sausages to slip free. The three stared at it in confusion, even after it stilled on the tent floor. Their evening snack had been chips covered in powdered cheese, orange as the kayak, and a few cans of lightning chug. No one had opened the hot dogs.

Bending cautiously, Jeremy picked it up between two fingers as if holding an angry crawdad by the tail. A piece missing, but they couldn’t call it a bite. Something gruesome had happened to it, punctured as it was in a hundred places. Shreds of its processed flesh had been scraped out from under the skin, and it dripped clear juice from the end.

What do you think did- Ahhhhh!” Two long purple tendrils slipped over his shoulders and wrapped around his arms, yanking him backward into the tent. The flap was blown shut, leaving the other two stood, paralyzed, as they heard a wail of pain the zipper teeth couldn’t muffle.

It was the other adolescent, disturbed by the light of the intermittent purple star. Bearing no sex, no mind, at least compared to the minds they understood, it was a cluster of instincts from another galaxy in another reality, placed beneath the lake by its parents, like sea turtles burying their eggs on the beach, except where turtle hatchlings would be snatched by all sorts of predators upon emergence, the adolescent of the lake did it quite the other way around.

Nature, someone else’s nature, intended it to emerge, fully mature, three ages after the current, with man long gone and making himself cozy in the stars, but it had been touched by his pollution. It suffered as the frogs, as the fish, only far worse. Normally, normal at its kind’s great distance from our perception, a radiant symmetrical creature of great power, its body had been warped by toxic influence. Eight tentacles it should’ve had, one for each of the cosmic eyes that keep reality moving with their unblinking stares.

Yet the adolescent from under the lake had nine, the corruption of nine. Nine, it thought, if its processes could be called thoughts. Nine, Nine, Nine… So it had no choice but to emerge early, by the light of the purple star. This world, of camping teenagers and lightning chug, would have to do. Nine tentacles had to belong in this world, in this time, or nowhere else; it could never stand to be seen by the eight eyes in such a state. Perhaps this creature, that had bounded into the tent alongside it, was offering assistance.

The tent had looked so inviting, blue and round like its first of many slime cocoons. Could this thing with no tentacles at all be its sibling, deformed beyond recognition? There was one way Jeremy could help; it noticed the boy had such strong teeth gnashing back and forth as he tried to escape its grasp. So the other adolescent forced its obscene ninth tentacle down Jeremy’s throat, quieting him for the longest duration that day, and waited. Instinctively the sputtering boy bit down, severing the connections and filling his lungs with its otherworldly ichor.

The ninth was gone, the adolescent pure in the eyes of the cosmos once more, and Jeremy choked on his pride for being such a great help. It departed, delighted to flaunt its symmetry to the fish with three jealous green eyes on the way down. Whether or not the ninth could be extricated from the landborne adolescent was not its concern. After all, the lake had taken his contributions stoically, and he could do so in turn. This was still an age where something had to choke when something else took its first breath.

The End

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