The Waterwood Box, 80

Catch up!

In the distance, Adam could already see a manta coming their way. Admiral Pinch and the Urchin Army were no doubt atop the manta, delighted at the prospect of handing over such vile trespassers to King Altern.

“Look, Spot, seem familiar?” Adam directed Spot’s attention to the manta.

Spot sighed. “Our old friend, Admiral Pinch.”

The manta stopped a good distance above the three travelers. Adam, Ramata, and Spot looked up at the manta’s underside. Urchins dropped off the manta, at first one-by-one, then they plummeted in droves, slowly sinking to Ocean’s floor, landing on top of each other, and rolling around to claim a spot of individual space.

Soon, the urchins covered all the seabed around, where they chattered and barked amongst themselves.

“We could still swim for it,” said Adam. “These things can’t follow.” Wide-eyed and nervous, Ramata looked with hope at Adam. The water-folk turned to Spot.

“We’ll be fine here,” Spot said. Hope drained from Ramata’s face.

The last few urchins dropped off the manta like paratroopers without any chutes. On Ocean’s floor, one urchin among the many rolled its way to a front-most position. The other urchins quieted.

“And I thought taking you home would be the last I saw of you,” chittered Admiral Pinch.

“Well, Admiral, as a wise Turtle once told me, ‘That’s what you get for thinking.’” Adam said with a smile.

“Snarky, water-man. You may be certain that Altern will fix that part of you.”

“Good, good,” Adam said with no hesitation. Ramata and Spot looked at each other, unnerved by the cool, even tone in Adam’s voice. “I hope you take us to the King soon. That’s why we’re here, after all.” Ramata smacked Adam on the shoulder but he refused to acknowledge it and went on with his steady-handed charade. “Are we ready to go? Don’t you think you’ve kept us waiting long enough?” Even Adam was surprised at his confidence and surety. He knew answers were close.

“I warned you once, child, about your impudence. Don’t-”

“Admiral, take us to King Altern or leave us be to find the King ourselves. There will be no more talking.”

The Waterwood Box, 80

The Waterwood Box, 79

Catch up!

“Ugh! Urchins.” Ramata looked unsettled. No sooner did the water-folk get out the words then the eel from inside the hovel swam out. It took off along Ocean’s floor, rapidly undulating its way along a path towards the next hut. The three of them watched as the eel entered the next hut and then it, plus another eel, exited. One eel continued straight ahead while the other eel slithered towards the hut to its left.

“What’re they doing?”

Spot answered, “Raising an alarm!”

“We’ve got to hide!” Ramata said. “Adam, you’ve got your wish. We’ll be at Altern’s complex soon enough!”

Adam tried to calm her down. “Please, don’t worry.”

“How can I not worry? I’m so far away from where I’m supposed to be!”

“What the worst that King Altern could do? Send you back to Tiskaloo?

“Eh, nopes! The King will probablies kill yins!” The two urchins from the hut below had rolled out to see what was going on above. “All yins, water-folk. Everyones knows water-folk’s not allowed outsides the Tiskaloo.”

“I’m not a-,” Adam stopped himself from telling the urchin that he wasn’t Tiskaloon. If Altern did plan to kill water-folk, better Adam was with Ramata than not. Together they might be able to escape.

“Notta whats, you filthy cuss?”

“Not afraid of King Altern!”

The urchin barked a short laughed and said, “Dumbs and uglies,” then rolled back inside the hut. The other urchin just sat there, staring, not saying anything.

Adam didn’t want to put his friends in any further danger, “Should we run?”

“Yins can’ts just gets outta the here, briny half-breed,” came the urchin’s voice from inside. “Words is out. Yins the here and that’s the thats. Alls the outposts know yins here. Unless yins wants to be tortured and maimed before yins killed, smarter to stays right the there.”

Ramata gasped and Adam joked, “More waiting, Ramata. Like every other thing we’ve done so far.”

“Adam, how can you joke now? This is dangerous.”

“My school says, ‘Life is danger.’ We’re in no more danger now than if we tried to run.”

“AH! Stupid fish talks smarts. Must helps to bes in schools that tells yins how to thinks. S’okeys, thoughs. I’m justs teasing yins. Altern real nices. Yins’ll sees. Everybody maybe lives a little longer.”

The Waterwood Box, 79

Words Whispered While Weeping Water-side

Whenever we, the unexacting uninitiated, pioneer grey techniques leading to many more, to much more, to ever more…
Whenever we, the uninitiated in the old, witchy ways of rotting, river hags, come to the water’s edge…
Whenever we dip our dry, dusty toes into her moving mouth of gritty tears and life determined to swim under pebbles…
Whenever we, the wet-toed, now, descend to our waists in the flowing baptismal, her chilly fingertips threaten…

We, whenever, swayed by liquid promises and fluid assurances.
We, whenever, wealthy and worn.
We, whenever, uninitiated ’til the end,
     emptied into a larger body.

Words Whispered While Weeping Water-side

Under What Conditions of An Absolute Reality

Kick DJs with specific needs to help all others in their own special work

PJ’d pawns get sold early down the road for last lost lonely wages

Censorship she was and she enjoyed it he said later on

Thanks to spending time together with our new family

All around an oval table covered in the Grey ash of incinerated loves

In the morning the tasks remain open boxes yet unchecked

In the afternoon the lunch bags glisten and goo begging sandwich

In the evening the screens aglow with sprites and horror many covered beds

In the house open parens

Of the Home closed parens

Kicked DJs ampersand

PJ’ed pawns period

Under What Conditions of An Absolute Reality

The Waterwood Box, 78

Catch up!

The trip to Altern’s complex was laborious and fraught with many missteps. After hours of swimming in a single direction, Ramata would notice something, some clue or other, that would force them to backtrack and often change directions. It wasn’t that the complex was hidden, or even that hard to find, but since none of them knew where to go – trying to find the place proved much harder than they’d expected.

Had they seen anyone along the way, they might have been able to ask for directions. Trouble was, they saw no one at all. A few solitary, sea cucumbers watched the trio as they swam overhead and, at one point, what Adam though was the shadow of a manta turned out to be a sand shark shuffling around under its silty cover.

Finally, after all the turnarounds and misdirection, it became obvious to them that they were getting close to something. Along Ocean’s floor, spread out according to someone’s plan, small hovels built from coral began to crop up. The first few that appeared didn’t register with the group. But after noticing four or five, Adam spoke up.

“Slow down a sec.”

Ramata, never eager to slow their pace, wanted an explanation.

“Just look down there,” Adam pointed.

“At the coral?” asked Spot.

“And over there,” Adam pointed further away, where another of the coral huts sat in the distance. “And back there.” He pointed back the way they’d come.

Now Ramata was interested. “We must be getting close to something. It’s like a grid…”

Ramata was right. The huts were laid out in a grid. Directly under Adam, Ramata, and Spot was one of the coral boxes. A quarter mile or so to their left, to their right, ahead of, and behind them, were exact duplicates.

“What do you think they are?” asked Spot.

“We’ll never know from way up here. Let’s go look.” Ramata lead the way down to the small building below them. The group got closer and Ramata went all the down to look inside the hut. Two spiny urchins sat together within it. There were also a few plants inside growing from the ocean floor and in one corner of the hut was a cage holding an eel.

One of the urchins caught Ramata peeking into one of the hut’s four windows (one on each wall) and immediately barked something. Ramata didn’t understand and couldn’t respond so instead swam back up to the hut roof top where Adam and Spot waited.

“There are urchins in there!”

“Great! That means we must be close,” Adam smiled.

The Waterwood Box, 78