Reeling in the Crocosquid

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What do you want to do with your life?

It isn't really the easiest question to answer. The inverse is fine enough — everyone can name a litany of things they don't want to do with their life. For August Jorel, that was a simple answer: not the Foundation.

He's sitting on a small boat, as it crashes through stormy and grey waters. It's beating down horrid rain outside, water on all the windows. It was not a great voyage, but it was a necessary one. The angler at the back of the ship, the one who never took off his hat, was one of the Tuatha de Danaan — the fair folk. Only he can reach their destination, and if you pay him enough, he'll take you along with him.

All of this had been clearly laid by the Foundation fixer. Leaving the Foundation isn't easy, even if you know where to look and what to do. (Well, if you wanted to keep your memories intact, which was essential for August.) August didn't have a clue where to begin, but he needed out, so he found someone who did. Somebody willing to look the other way, get him on a transfer to the right Site where he could walk away and get on a boat and make it to Hy-Brasil.

Hy-Brasil. A mythical, fairy island off the coast of Ireland. It had been devastated a few decades back, by something that hadn't been especially clear to August. The fixer had only alluded to "the incident". August doesn't care — as long as it is livable, and free from the Foundation, it's good enough for him.

August lays back in the seat. They still have another hour or two to go. He turns his head to the window, and tries to answer the question, but only succeeds in drifting off to sleep.

there is someone else here in the dream

hello? who's there?

the presence doesn't respond there's tension

he tries to look around he doesn't see anything there's just darkness, all around him just like SCP-7256 could he be trapped again he wonders so he looks down but sees nothing - there was light back there but this time theres nothing not even the door that let him out and return to the world

no, he's dreaming, he can tell the difference well years - or however long it was - in a space like 7256 leaves you able to tell reality apart from the rest so this is a dream but he doesn't think it's his

then who?

show yourself!

no response.

then — a presence, a stir and

LEAVE ME ALONE

whatever he is dreaming with is large. great. she (how does he know that?) is not a force to be reckoned with lightly

the dream shatters around him and he wakes with a jolt

The immediate concerns have been dealt with. King Delbáeth was sympathetic to the cause of a Foundation defector, just like the fixer had told him he would be. Especially one who hadn’t gotten up to much of anything during his time in the Foundation.

He was fortunate to not expect the Foundation to chase him here. The Site Director of the island's facility (a facility he had not known existed before today) was at the hearing for asylum. His heart had dropped when he walked into the throne room and saw her perched at the side of the King, only for her to abruptly leave when he recounted his story. Delbáeth had told him she would have only cared had he done something truly grave; a run of the mill defector like him wasn’t worth her time.

Arrangements had been made for a place for him to stay for a few weeks. He'd need to find something else — get a job, get an apartment, figure himself out — but at least for the next few hours August was safe. Free from the Foundation.

He looks up.

It seems like he had absent mindedly wandered after leaving the palace, and found himself in what appeared to be a memorial. Several massive cairns surround him, each burning with their own flame. They're all made of unusual materials: jade, gold, a black metal he didn’t recognize. He's alone, except for one old man in the middle, inspecting a blue cairn.

August turns around. The cairn garden stretches on for a while, rows upon rows of cairns. What exactly they were a memorial for is unclear to him — there are no names on any of the cairns, and he hadn't really been paying attention on his way in. Should he be here? Is he allowed to be here? Nobody had stopped him, so … he turns a corner and the old man is there again.

Turn back, keep going straight. Avoid the other guy. August gets one cairn across before the old man is in front of him again. The guy is old, difficult to tell by how much. Human, which has to be noted on this island. Tall — taller than August, at least. Big white beard. Ripped like hell — is he old or not? Simple outfit, nothing but a black t-shirt.

"You there! Stop running!"

Russian accent.

He's approaching.

"You! Are an outsider. You're not one of Danu's people. American, if I had to guess. Not Foundation, you're too skittish for that. What is your deal?"

"I, uh, I actually am Foundation as it happens-"

"No, you are not. I know the type."

"Um. Well."

"Ex-Foundation, maybe. I can see it in you."

The old man is squinting at August, scanning him up and down. After a few moments of eye contact, he reaches out a hand.

"Ah, I'm impolite. The name is Stanislav Nikolaev, д.б.н., former member of the Main Intelligence Directorate, Psychotronics Division, former Director of Bioengineering for Prometheus Laboratories. Retired, for the last few years, and on my own."

August tentatively shakes the hand.

"August Jorel. Former Foundation. Botanicals."

"Ah-ha! We share a research category. I never got much into the plants, though. I was always more concerned with anatomy."

Stanislav lifts one arm up and flexes the bicep. His veins flash with light, a dim red glow. He turns back to August and smiles a wide grin. His teeth are not human.

"I'm uh, really sorry but I'm in a bit of a rush and-"

"No."

"Sorry?"

"You're not in a rush. Listen, kid. Do you know how many outsiders like us there are on the island?"

"No…?"

"Three dozen. Total. Three dozen outsiders who aren't of the fair folk or the Foundation. We're a small bunch. We're going to be seeing a lot of each other, because you don't strike me as the type to click with the fair folk, and you're certainly not going to slum it with your former employer."

"I guess."

"You even speak Irish?"

"A little but-"

Stanislav laughs.

"Kid, you don't even know what's going on. Here, look: I'll hire you for the next few weeks as a personal assistant. Nobody else on the island will take you for shit, but me? I'm lonely and want company."

"Um. Can I take a moment to think about it?"

"Sure. But let's do it somewhere else. You don't know where we are right now, don't you?"

"No…?"

"This, right here, is a memorial to the attack of a giant monster. Godzilla-like. She was beautiful, massive. And you're not treating the space respectfully."

the dream that night is the same as the one from earlier in the day on the boat but this time august can make out some more of the other presence and has a better sense for what she is and who she is and he can see her she reminds him of

wait a minute no she does not remind him of she is the monster from earlier the kraken the one from the memorial the one that stanislav talked about for hours upon hours after

ARE YOU FINISHED

sorry

I WAS RESTING

what are you i'm sorry i don't want to be a bother but i keep ending up here in this space and i don't know where i am or what is happening to me

I'M THE CROCOSQUID

A FRAGMENT OF HER, AT LEAST. A PIECE OF A PIECE, BLOWN CLEAR BY THE ONEIROI WEST'S POWER. LEFT ME IN THE END AND HERE I AM, DECADES LATER

oh wow that's really something august says and then he looks down at the crocosquid she's blasted in half and only part of her remains its really something how much has been removed from her only a skeleton and some of her spirit clinging to her

THAT'S VERY RUDE, YOU KNOW

sorry

i think i might be going now okay

DO YOU THINK YOU'LL BE BACK?

i don't know maybe a part of me hopes so because wow you are fascinating and this is really interesting and i'd love to

LOVELY

BUT I SUPPOSE, IF YOU ARE GOING TO COME BACK AGAIN AND AGAIN WE MIGHT AS WELL GET TO KNOW EACH OTHER. I'LL GO FIRST.

WAVES CRASH AROUND AND SURGE AND FLOW AND BREAK AND BREACH AND SWIM AND SING. SHE CURVES THROUGH THE WATER AND TWISTS AND TURNS IN A GREAT SPIRAL, TENTACLES AND ARMS PULSING. SHE IS BEAUTIFUL IN THIS LIGHT AND IN EVERY LIGHT. SHE IS NOT JUST THE KRAKEN BUT ALSO THE GODDESS AND ALSO THE WOMAN AND ALSO THE DREAM AND THE NIGHTMARE AND THE GIRL ON THE INTERNET BEHIND THE COMPUTERS ALL AT ONCE AND THROUGHOUT TIME

august is a man, molded by a gray force. four arrows pointing in at him at his very heart — three for his former employers and one that has just hit and is bleeding right now — is that a heart on the end?

"What do you do for fun, then?"

"Movies."

Stanislav flicks a peanut at August. The old man is not somebody August ever pictured being friends with. An ex-Soviet mad scientist, just over ninety years old. He looks younger — the treatments and research he had pioneered at Prometheus had kept him young for far longer than a normal man. That was where he had made the money that he had alluded to when they first met — research documents pilfered from a Prometheus Labs installation that, according to Stanislav, had literally been burning down at the time.

"Everyone watches movies. If your passion is movies, you can say more about it than the one word answer."

"Movie nights. Used to hold them at the Foundation base-"

"Ah-ha! They must have loved that!"

"They didn't-"

Another peanut, right between the eyes.

Right. That was sarcasm. August briefly rubs the spot where the peanut collided, then returns to the story.

"I always used to screen these bad movies. Terrible ones. The worst of the worst. Old Godzilla stuff and the like-"

Stanislav claps and sits upright.

"Another parallel! We're more alike than you want to admit, Jorel!"

Stanislav hadn't always referred to August by last name, but he started during the last few days. August wasn't really sure what had started it, but it was by all indications something that Stanislav had intentionally decided to, and Stanislav tended to be very set in his ways when he decided on something.

"I love kaiju movies, of all kinds. Showa, Heisei, Millennium, anything. Not just that Godzilla, of course. Gamera too. What's your favorite?"

"1954."

Peanut. It was freakish how good Stanislav was at aiming them.

"You and everyone else in the world. Give me a real answer. One with some personality. My favorite is vs. King Ghidorah. I saw it in theaters on opening day, 1994. Tried to put it together what they did at the end, but they had already chopped up the crocosquid too much by then. Shame. Could have been great."

"In theaters? Do you speak Japanese?"

"The south half of Sakhalin, land of my birth, was under occupation of the Japanese Empire from the time of my birth until I was eleven years old. Yes, I speak Japanese. Stop dodging the question. Favorite kaiju movie."

"Okay. Fine. I like Ghidorah, the Three Headed Monster. It's the one where Godzilla finally turns and becomes a good guy."

Stanislav claps his hands together.

"There! I knew I could choke something like that out of you."

The waiter walks over with their drinks. Stanislav had taken a long look at the menu and ordered a specific IPA he wanted. August looked at the menu and decided to just order whatever Stanislav was having, hoping that Stanislav wouldn't yell at him for having poor taste if he did. Instead, Stanislav called him boring and a follower.

August didn't like Stanislav very much, but there really wasn't anyone else to talk to on the island.

"I think I've really always wanted to make a movie. Maybe that's what I've always wanted to do with my life — that's something meaningful, right? That's something major. Something interesting."

"What kind of movie?"

August looks down and took a healthy swig of the beer. He sighed.

"I mean, I think I always wanted to do a movie like the old Godzilla movies. Maybe something cheesier, like Gamera. But there isn't the market for that anymore—"

"—and you wouldn't have the budget."

"No. I don't even know where to begin with it, really."

"Documentary, then. About the crocosquid. I'd be happy to fund that."

August looks up. Stanislav is staring at him dead on. He's serious. He's being serious about it. This is one of the first times that Stanislav has said something even vaguely complimentary to him — even if it was Stanislav's idea.

"Uh. Yeah. Let's do that."

production on the documentary is coming along really well these last few months we've been able to interview a ton of the survivors and we even made contact with a lot of the ghosts to get their thoughts. princess mor rioghan, for example. queen i guess she is more accurately called I think

WHAT ABOUT ME

huh oh yeah right that's

WERE YOU NOT PLANNING ON IT? I'M OFFENDED

i mean honestly we actually were? stanislav and me at least, not all the producers really agree with us and it would be really controversial. the two of us definitely think that we should try to make it an apology for you try to exonerate you a little if thats even possible

I WOULD LIKE TO GIVE AN APOLOGY, YOU KNOW. IF POSSIBLE. I DON'T KNOW HOW WELL IT WOULD BE RECIEVED AND I'M NOT EVEN REALLY SURE IF I AM WHO I WAS ANYMORE. THIS STATE OF BEING IS STRANGE AND I SHIFT AND FLOW BETWEEN MY ITERATIONS ONLY LOOSELY PATCHED TOGETHER BY THE THREADS OF NIGHTMARE

but it would mean a lot if you could make that gesture. i'll talk to stanislav about it.

he moves in closer AND SHE WRAPS HERSELF AROUND HIM and he rests in the crook of one of her arms and looks up at her he is so small SO SMALL in comparison to her and neither is sure what this is what this relationship is OR WHAT IT CAN BE but they want more from it and he'll do anything for her

scenes from the documentary play out as they watch it together. the footage of hy-brasil as it is today. images from the attack. the aftermath. the prelude. it cycles through, in a curve around to the center and there is nothing there

i think i was always going to have to incorporate you into it. that's the shape of it: you have to be there

To his absolute surprise, Stanislav is fully on board with the idea of using the documentary to exonerate the crocosquid and present her apologies. Stanislav has never been this excited before. He can't sit still. He's grinning ear to ear, laughing with August.

It makes August immensely uncomfortable to see. Stanislav had always boasted to August about his past as a mad scientist, but up until now he had never really showed it off. Sure, there were the long anecdotes of his past and the various body modifications he had performed (according to him through Lysenkoism, a field that August firmly knows is bunk). But this, right here? This is mania. This is what you need to be a mad scientist.

Stanislav has told August that he has, on multiple occasions, attempted to end the world by way of awakening all the sleeping monsters and unleashing them upon civilization. August can see how in this moment — he has the fury and passion to do it. August can only thank Jesus that Stanislav is directing this vision into a slightly-poor taste documentary.

"When can she start? Your dream-lover? When can we break open that pretty little skull of yours and pull her out? How did you even get in contact with her? She's never appeared to me before. Only ever the offspring that I had to kill in '92. Why you?"

August doesn't know the answer, and he isn't going to try. He is going to respond to some minor portion of Stanislav's dialogue.

"She's not my lover. I don't think. Not officially."

"Oh, please. You are a love struck little puppy. You're head over heels for that woman. God! I wish I was you. You don't even know what you have. You lucky son of a bitch."

Jealousy? That's new from Stanislav. The expression and veneer of disdain that he paints everything in is familiar, though, all too well.

"I think I might not have explained the relationship well enough-"

"You have. This denial? Tsk, tsk. You've been hit!"

Change the topic. Get him off this line of thought.

"She's ready to go whenever, but I'd rather we not uh. What'd you say? Break my skull open?"

Stanislav sighs and turns back to face the library. He throws several books off the shelf, before pulling out a single text. A small, leather bound book. No title on the face or spine.

"Fine. Fine. I was going to put it back together, you know. I'd stitch it back better than it ever was. But if you insist… I'll grow a butterfly to sneak into your head and watch your dreams. I'll collect it in the morning, crush it up and pull a video of your conversation out. Something we can put into the documentary."

August nods.

"Yeah. Let's uh, go with that."

the debut is tomorrow MY BIG SCREEN REVEAL. I CAN'T WAIT. yeah it's going to be huge, everyone is going to be there from the island. i had the advance screening yesterday with the king and the queen and even the foundation director from the island and it went over well

EVEN MY PARTS?

a memory: the king watching the documentary as the dream sequence began, nodding along as it happened. a memory: the king speaking with stanislav and august after the movie, telling them how grateful he was. the movie was good, he thought. respectful. stanislav pushes on the dream. he says he had spoken to another part of the monster, and he knows there is sincerity in it.

ANOTHER PART OF ME? THAT MUST BE — SHE REACHES THROUGH HERSELF AND TO THE GREATEST STRETCHES — AH. THE GIRL. YES, YES. SHE WOULD HAVE CONTACTED HIM, WOULDN'T SHE HAVE? the girl is unfamiliar to him but she's mentioned her before.

i am worried about how everyone else will recieve it. we try to be as respectful as we could, and most people on the island suspect that something is in the doc along these lines but (he has already seen the protests and the discussions there are those who don't approve of this angle and wish the documentary had just been focused on the victims)

YOU CAN'T WIN EVERYONE, DARLING. YOU DID IT FOR ME

the dream lifts and swoons — yeah. that's what is all really about, isn't it?








This is my submission to RomCon, featuring August Jorel, a character by PerdohPerdoh, and my own crocosquid! Be sure to check out their piece for RomCon here!








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