Saturday, April 4, 2020

Gods and Monsters Sample Chapter

All Kraken Must Be Kept on a Leash

A deep, gurgling, howling, reverberating moan shook Poseidon out of a deep sleep.  Medusa stirred next to him, humming as she woke, too.  “What was that?” she mumbled, spitting hair out of her mouth.  She wrinkled her nose and smiled, petting the dampened strands of hair, enjoying the feel of hair that didn’t try to bite her. 
“I’m not entirely sure,” Poseidon hedged, rolling out of bed.  “It sounds like it’s coming from deep water, though.  I’m going to go check it out.  Be back as soon as I can.”
“You do that,” Medusa groaned, turning over onto her side and hitching the covers higher.  “Just tell me what it was in the morning.”
Poseidon chuckled, planting a kiss on her bare shoulder.  He bent and picked his cutoffs up from where he’d kicked them the night before and padded from the bedroom.  He leaned against the wall in the hallway and untwisted them, then pulled them on, buttoning and zipping carefully.  He’d shed them when he went into the water, but people nowadays frowned on nudity at nearly any time, on this continent. 
The god of the sea could have gone back to the old world, but the people—and their priests—had made clear to him that he wasn’t welcome in any of the old places.  He’d stayed away for centuries, and now that he was welcome again, he wouldn’t go back.  Not for any price, not after the way he’d been rejected by his lands and people.
The sand under his feet had lost most of the heat from the day as he made his way down to the water’s edge.  He stripped the shorts off, felt for how strong the tides were and would be, and wadded them up to chuck them farther up the beach than the water would go, even with the added reach of a storm out in the ocean proper boosting the waves’ power.     There was a storm, but it was a lot further out despite what the cloud cover suggested, and he hoped to be done before it hit land.  He waded until the warm water lapped at his chest before he dove in.
Another burbling moan echoed through the water.  Poseidon relaxed and directed the currents to bring him and whatever was making that gawdawful noise together.  It had been a while since one of the creatures living deep had needed help, but that sound, now that he was in the water and could hear properly, was absolutely a cry for help.  And there was pain involved. 
Poseidon frowned as he darted through the water, and directed the current to move him faster.  He closed his eyes, relishing the caress of his ocean on his skin, and reached out with his power, checking through the rest of his domain for more trouble…or more trouble brewing.  There was…something, right at the edge of his perception, but he couldn’t figure it out, and he had other, more pressing concerns at the moment.
The overcast night, clouds speeding toward land, heralded the storm that Poseidon had sensed pushing the waves ahead of it.  He hadn’t left the daylight zone depth, yet, but with the cloud cover, he might as well have done.
And the storm in the Atlantic was picking up speed and force.  The currents would have it making landfall not far from where his home stood.  But by that time, he’d be long back, and the barrier islands would weaken it by a good bit.
It likely would do damage, even weakened, were he not who he was.  The ocean couldn’t harm him, or his home. 
But it could and would do damage to the homes around him.  He sighed.  Made a mental note to watch out for idiots doing stupid things in flood waters.  He couldn’t prevent the storm from making landfall, and wouldn’t redirect it, but he could prevent loss of life to water. 
Something loomed, changing the way the currents flowed, pushed by a different current from behind.  The conflicting currents eddied around, then slowed and stopped at Poseidon’s will.  A huge tentacle—almost as big around as he was—reached out, gently gathering him in while a massive body curled around him to protect him from the last of the eddying currents.  As he made contact with the creature’s body with both hands, he realized exactly what it was: the Kraken.  The Greater Kraken, the last of its kind that hid from sailors and scientists alike. 
The burbling moan shook the water again, vibrating along Poseidon’s bones, accompanied by a rumble from the creature’s digestive tract. 
Poseidon reached hard with his power and made contact with the Kraken’s mind.  “What’s wrong?” he murmured.
It answered.  Not in words, but in impressions that Poseidon’s mind automatically translated.  [belly.  Hurts.  Bad food.]
Poseidon took one hand off the Kraken.  Now that contact had been made for the first time, he didn’t need to touch to maintain it.  He only needed to maintain his position relative to it in the water.  He scratched the stubble along his jaw.  “Bad food?”
[bad.  Bad food.] the Kraken agreed.  [did not want to be eaten.  Still lives, still fights, hurts belly.  It bites.  It thrashes.  Bad food.]
Poseidon rubbed his forehead.  The alien thought processes were starting to give him a headache.  “What?  What was it?”
[do not know.  Rose from deepest.  Weak.  Strange.  Like food, not like.  I hungered.  I ate.  Bad food still lives, still fights, hurts belly.]
Poseidon shivered.  That sounded something like what his father had been warning them about.  “Can you bring it up?”
Poseidon winced as the thought stabbed through his head, from temple to temple.  The confusion in the thoughts was even more painful than the straightforward thoughts had been.  “Vomit.  Can you?”
The Kraken’s body heaved, then heaved again.  The great beak opened, and the beast heaved again.  Pieces started coming up.  Pieces of something Poseidon didn’t recognize until the Kraken managed to expel the head.  The head’s tentacles were thrashing, and the polydexterous hand-things were twitching.  No wonder it had harmed the poor Kraken.
“Ah,” Poseidon breathed out.  He gathered the fluid around the thing, using the salts from the waters and the acid from the Kraken’s digestive juices to create a massive crystalline prison that kept all the pieces separated.  He managed to finish trapping it just before the whirlpool it attempted to create was able to form and propel it to the surface.  “Charibdis.  I was wondering where you went, you cunt.”
[bad food what?] the Kraken asked. 
“Something I thought was dead that apparently only slept in the deep.  I had no idea she was immortal.  She was trying to make a whirlpool in your guts and eat you…no wonder it hurt.”  Poseidon sighed.  Patted the poor creature, reached deep with his power over all the creatures in the sea, and pushed healing until the Kraken twitched. 
[hurt gone.  Hungry.  Go hunt, now…]
“Go deep,” Poseidon ordered absently, considering asking for a mate for the monster from someone who could help him make it.  “There’s a lot of not-food on the surface.  Will hurt you again if you try to eat it, and some of it will try to hurt you if it sees you.”
[I go.] 
The Kraken flipped, surfaced for a moment, eyeing the clouds balefully, then dove down to the rocky bottom, below where Poseidon could see.  He could feel it scudding toward a trench in the deepest part of the ocean, where the waters were warmed by volcanic vents, and occasional food drifted close enough for the Kraken to grab without coming where it could be noticed. 
He sighed, then smirked as he felt the monster in the salt crystal prison trying to form whirlpools and put herself back together.  It…wasn’t working.  She couldn’t break the walls between the different parts of herself, mostly because there wasn’t enough water in any given chamber to really give it a good try. 
Poseidon grinned, set his waters to reject the prison, then followed it to the surface.  He urged the current to nudge the ball full of angry, hungry, dismembered immortal to shore, and followed.  He made it to the entrance of his private bay, and used the mouth of the bay to form a portal to his brother’s realm. 
He smirked, made the ball utterly indestructible with smooth coral growths, then launched it through to bounce to Cerberus’s feet.  A happy yelp echoed through the portal and he grinned as he closed it.  He started for shore but stopped as a cigarette boat flashed lights and blipped the siren as it pulled up and slowed to a stop. 
“You, in the water,” a young voice called out. 
“Yes?” he asked, using the water to push him upright so he could cross his arms across his chest. 
“If you happen to be Poseidon,” a young voice called respectfully, “I would appreciate you taking the time to have a word.”
Poseidon sighed, stepping up out of the water’s embrace (even as he kept a modesty-protecting ring of water around his hips—for the youngster’s sake, since he didn’t give a shit).  He moved over the suddenly glassy-smooth surface of the water to the boat.  He started to seat himself on nothing, and ended up seated gracefully on the throne that the waters put up for him.  “Yes?”
“About twenty minutes ago, I had a speedboat of Cuban cartel members turn themselves over, begging to be run in.  They said they’d dumped the drugs overboard, and just wanted off the water before the monster got them.”
“Sounds helpful,” Poseidon commented. 
“Was there, in fact, a sea monster?” the young voice—a woman, Poseidon thought—asked, “or were they sampling their own merchandise?”
“I suppose they may have seen the Kraken on his way in.  He’d eaten something that disagreed with him, and came to me for help,” he mused, feeling through the depths for the drugs.  He found them and fished them out of where they’d dropped, bringing them to himself. 
“Kraken.  Is that a sea monster?” she asked.  “Because the only Kraken I know of is the black rum my dad drinks.”
“Good rum.  Hundred fifty foot squid, not a monster,” Poseidon corrected.  “Why?”
“Do they even get that big?” she asked dubiously.
“Oh, yes.”  Poseidon paused in thought, then shrugged regretfully.  “Or at least, they used to.  The Greater Kraken are all but extinct, now, though.”
“Does it swim at the surface waving tentacles?” the young woman persisted. 
Poseidon nodded slowly.  “Rarely, but it does happen sometimes.  When it’s been hurt, or something it’s eaten has disagreed with it.  Like tonight.”
“That means they were telling the truth about the sea monster,” she mused.  “Maybe even about the dumped drugs, too.”
Poseidon smirked and brought the drugs—a bale of white the size of his torso, wrapped in plastic—to the surface, then flipped it into the boat.  “They were telling the truth about all of it,” he agreed.
"Wow.  Thanks," she said breathlessly.  "But I need to ask you to keep sea creatures that size out where they don't panic boaters.  Out of sight.  Or under obvious control.  It helped with the drug bust, but there's a lot of legit fishers out here, too.  And I do appreciate the assist, but I don't want to hear about Cthulu rising ever again," she said, her voice rising.  "Especially not on a night like this where it looks like he could!"


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