Admonitions for Hungry Divers

It is common in this degenerate age for hedonistic tourists to combine extreme diving with gustatory satisfaction, often trailing a cloud of hooked fishing lines behind them as they explore the ruins of sunken ships. In a spirit of public service, Mrs. Parvati Schiff has assembled these “Ten Cogent Suggestions” for safe and enjoyable culinary diving.

One

Use common sense. If jellyfish stings send you into anaphylactic shock, restrict yourself to devouring the bloated gasbag.

Two

Zombie pirates are not a main course. If you must indulge, slice them thinly and serve them on minitoast as an hors d’oeuvre.

Three

Do not attempt to eat a live great white shark, particularly not while recovering from the stresses of your dive in a bath of luxurious blood-based broth.

Four

Remember: many species of whale are “endangered.”

Five

Don’t be gluttonous! Leave some of the Great Coral Reef for other hungry divers.

Six

Atlantean nobility are prone to many communicable diseases. If you must eat one, verify that there are no electric eels, giant octopi or squids, whales, seagulls, or huge seahorse-mounts inside your kitchen. Then, cook at a high temperature.

Seven

Do not eat one enormous octopus tentacle without first verifying the location of the other seven.

Eight

Pufferfish can expand to fifty times their original size. Always check whether your recipe refers to bloated or shrunken pufferfish before mixing ingredients.

Nine

Real life singing crabs are limited to an operatic repertoire. If your target crab begins to sing something to the effect of how life is better under the sea, you are suffering from oxygen toxicity.

Ten

If you accidentally hook an icthyosaur, do not eat it. Report it to the nearest marine authority at once; icthyosaurs are notorious criminals and ruffians.

It’s a Wonderful Murder

Cain sulks in his Caincave.

“Why was I born, ” he says, “into a world full of sorrow?”

Clarence attempts to console him. “So much would be different,” he says, “if you’d never been born. There wouldn’t be any leavened bread. Angels would speak Japanese. Great white sharks would be captured, belled, and released. People would generally be a lot less apologetic about murder. It would be madness.”

“Ha,” Cain says. “I’d like to see that.”

The next day, the angel Clarence shows him.

Interjection

Frogs rain down. Newts rain up. But only axlotl rain sideways. That’s their special gift, given only to them and to nobody else.

The greatest shark ever captured was Menace, a horror weighing more than thirty thousand pounds. He slew more than twenty ichthyologists during his capture, but it is the character of scientists to forgive; so he was belled and released, never to trouble the beaches of humanity again. At times, he tried, but the ringing of his bell drove the swimmers out of the water before he could taste of their flesh. He found himself forced to subsist on fish, and so he swam deeper and deeper into the ocean, growing great on grouper and halibut, and ever as he swam came the tolling of his bell.

Today, Menace is a great bulk that one might easily confuse for Atlantis. He sits in the deep, tolling, tolling, ringing, and chiming, like a great angel-winging machine. That’s the problem, after all. He’s giving wings to too many angels. They’re breeding as fast as they can, which is arguably “not at all,” but they’re still running out of the wingless kind.

It’s not just because Cain was never born. This problem has been looming for centuries—ever since a meddling gang of theologians and their talking dog discovered that angels exist in finite numbers. A finite number of angels means a finite number of wings. A finite number of wings means a finite number of rings. Sooner or later, despite the best efforts of the Unringers that dwell under Northumber Abbey, they’re going to run out.

Dramatic Reenactment

“Jinkies!” declares Thomas Aquinas. “What’ll the angels do when they’ve all got wings and bells are still ringing? It’s a mystery!”

“A rifftery!” agrees their talking dog. “Uh-huh!”

“Surely,” argues Teilhard, “that occasion will mark the completion of the world’s evolution towards God.”

“Revolution towards rod!”

“Rod is dead,” snarls Scrappy Nietzsche. Standing on two legs, he punches at the air. Without the art of leavening, humanity cannot make Scrappy Snacks, and the younger dog has grown up cold, hard, and philosophical.

Some have hypothesized that, once all the angels are winged, ringing will convert directly into luxury goods—every time a bell rings, an angel will get a Lamborghini. Others have theorized that this occasion will mark the Singularity, when the terrible chiming of bells will fill the air above Earth and humans will grow wings as one. But the angel Clarence knows the truth. Every time a bell rings, in this terrible alternate reality, an angel will get their gills.

It begins.

The endless ringing of Menace’s bell begins to draw them there, gilled angels in groups of one or two. They bring presents before him—grace, and wishes, and power.

Then one bleeds.

Flashback

“Why was I born into a world full of sorrow?” Menace asks Monstro.

A swift school of carp dart by.

“It is not sorrow,” Monstro says. He breathes the deeps. A puppetmaker, somewhere inside him, screams. “It is simply existence.”

“But is there not good and evil?” asks Menace. “Are we not creatures that should strive for something higher than the savage ocean of Hobbesfish’s anarchy?”

“Good is a beam of tachyons,” Monstro says, meditatively. “To create pure evil, reverse its polarity. To create pure good, revert it to base values. Yet a society bombarded by tachyons cannot survive. Remember this, Menace: the fish of mind must make his own path. Were you not born, the world would still be every bit as cruel.”

“I am sorry,” says Menace, sincerely, to the angels. “But I am entering the blood frenzy now.”

“Hai, wakarimasu,” Clarence says.

“Wow,” realizes Cain. “It really was a wonderful murder, after all.”

Observations

Humans are mostly water. The oceans are mostly water. It is redundant for the world to have both. In future revisions of the universe, the Creator should pour humans into the ocean bed. Fish can swim in them, jumping from mouth to mouth. Coral reefs would be a fashion statement. When it is hot, humans could evaporate and become “cloud people.” They’d then freeze over the mountains and rain down as “snow people.” Geothermic activity would melt them, allowing them to run briskly down to the sea.

“Hi!” they’ll say. “Sorry about that. Water cycle.”

Everyone will nod understandingly.

There won’t be boats on the human ocean. Boats are redundant with currents. There will be an undertow. Sometimes animals will try to swim in the people. Then they’ll get pulled under! The current will rapidly convey them to a butcher, where they will be turned into fine meals. In addition, many vegetarians will drown hapless tofus to make Morningstar Farms meals.

T is for Tofu. Tofu goes “baa!”

The plaintive songs of the whales will sound through the deeps. Whales can live far under the ocean, where the humans are all squishy. They can do this because they’re hypothetical creatures. They exist entirely in the mind, and transmit themselves from mind to mind by plaintive songs. As proof, one need simply stroll through downtown Seattle, carefully looking for whales. They’re invisible! That’s because they’re in other people’s minds. There are also giant squids. Squids live in the heart. They have one tentacle per aorta. When the heart is full of sorrow, that’s not melancholy—that’s the squid plugging the aorta with tentacles and then jetting forth its ink!

The heart and mind are often enemies. When a squid meets a whale, they have to fight! These battles determine the course of human lives.

My housemate’s cool glass art is up at the pitcairn scott gallery at 2207 2nd Avenue (between Blanchard and Bell) in Seattle, Washington until July 31st. Do go see it if you’re in town.

An Unfair Advantage1

1 requires familiarity with the Bible and Sailor Moon2
2 either the original or the terrible English dub.

In the beginning, there was the lake. It was placid. It was calm. It was empty. Then the Creator came, and moved his hand across the waters, and from the ripples of its passage came the world.

“But is it good?” asked the Advocate.

“I shall give it time,” the Creator answered. Years passed. Millennia passed. The Advocate grew impatient. He gathered darkness about himself and dove into the lake. In its depths he built a world of his own.

“Has aught formed of interest?” asked the Creator, turning from his meditations.

The Advocate did not answer; so the Creator passed his hand across the sky and a new Advocate was born. “No,” the Second Advocate said. “There is life; and civilization; and the Romans have created vomitoriums; but there is nothing of true interest there.”

The Creator nodded, and returned to his thoughts. The Second Advocate paced through the skies beside him.

“Look,” he said. The Creator looked down.

“Ah,” said the Creator. “They have made something worthy of my admiration.”

The Creator dressed up in a Sailor Moon costume. “Moon Prism Power — MAKE UP!” he cried.

“Admirable,” applauded the Second Advocate. “Admirable!”

“In the name of the moon, I’ll learn you!”

The Second Advocate looked nervous. “I’m already very learned, sir.”

“Ah,” agreed the Creator. “So you are.”

The Creator wrapped his glory around himself and dove under the lake, descending to the shadow world of the Advocate’s creation. He rapped his scepter upon its gates.

The Advocate’s Ancillary came and peered through the gates. “Hello?”

“Open, in the name of love and justice!”

The Advocate’s Ancillary held up his index finger. “One moment.” He went inside and spoke to the Advocate. “Sailor Moon is at the gates, sir.”

“I didn’t know she was real,” admitted the Advocate. “Nor can I understand how she was damned.”

“Her heart was true,” answered the Ancillary. “But I suspect that she did not abide by the instructions of Leviticus.”

“Ah, yes,” said the Advocate. “It’s the technicalities that damn even the best of them. Well, let her in.”

The Ancillary returned to the gates. “I shall take you to the Palace of All Shadows,” he said, and bowed. “The Advocate is rather a fan.” He led the Creator of all things before the Advocate’s throne; and bowed; and then withdrew.

“You do not kneel, Sailor Moon,” said the Advocate. “Surely you recognize that Hell is not Neo-Tokyo, and thus you are not its Queen.”

“You skulk in darkness and collect the souls of all humanity,” declared the Creator, “committing the worst of crimes against their virtuous hearts! In the name of the moon, the pretty sailor-suited soldier of love and justice will destroy you!”

“Bah,” said the Advocate. He waved his hand and tendrils of his shadow rose from the floor to wrap around the Creator. The Creator struggled helplessly. Suddenly, a rose flew into the room to thunk into the Advocate’s head. He blinked, and the shadows dissolved.

“Tuxedo Kamen!” cried the Creator. It wasn’t actually Tuxedo Kamen, however; it was the Second Advocate.

“As you walk in the valley of darkness, Sailor Moon,” cried the Second Advocate, “remember that you have infinite cosmic power!”

“She doesn’t have infinite cosmic power,” frowned the Advocate. “She has Moon Prism Power.”

The Creator looked embarrassed. “Well . . .”

“Now, Sailor Moon!” cried the Tuxedo Second Advocate.

“Right!”

Music played. The Creator swept his scepter around. “ALL-EMBRACING LOVE — EXPLOSION!”

“I recognize this power,” wailed the Advocate. “You’re not Sailor Moon. You’re . . . you’re . . .”

Hell exploded. The Creator’s all-embracing love consumed the shadow of the Advocate and shredded it into tatters. The Creator took everybody’s souls and went home.

The Advocate drifted, lost and alone, in the outer darkness. A whale swam up and ate him.

“Omnipotence is unfair,” he said, bitterly, as the digestion process began.