This was a mad scramble. At a debate tournament all day. Eyes rolling into the back of my head. Time was ticking toward midnight FAST. This isn't what I envisioned at first, but rather than bail because I was too tired, had to rush, and it wasn't going to be the way I wanted it-- I just powered through and Got. It. Done.
“Ken, I can’t feel my nose anymore, honey. Can’t we head back to the hotel?”
Marni Wexler stared at the top of her husband’s dark curly head, surprised that in their one year of marriage she had only just now noticed a shiny bald spot, the skin glowing unnaturally gold from the lantern inside the fishing hut. They could still hear the “hissy whistlers” of the Aurora Borealis, like a jungle of other worldly fauna.
“Yeah. Sure.” When Ken first brought her to Norway for their honeymoon last year, she was ecstatic to see the Northern Lights. She took nearly a thousand photographs of the luminescent sky, fascinated with the constant pulsing of colors, the ribbons of light stretching across the horizon. The soft swish and hiss of the sky, adding a dreamlike quality to the whole experience. Little did she know that every vacation she and Ken took would be heading to another Northern latitude to see this phenomena. The summer following their March honeymoon, Ken brought Marni to Battle Harbour, New Foundland. Marni found the trip pleasant because the ocean was thawed and they watched the Aurora from a fishing boat all the while escorted for much of the journey by beautiful orca whales. Thanksgiving, Ken introduced Marni to ice fishing in Northern Scotland. Again at Christmas they took reindeer sleigh rides in Iceland. Every location Ken wanted to fish. And every location, he caught nothing.
Ken lured Marni to Finland for this first anniversary with a promise of glass-domed igloos where they could view the aurora borealis from the comfort of a cozy bed, which was all Marni could think of right now. In fact, it had been a perfect night. After steaming in their private sauna they snuggled into bed underneath the green and purple glow of the Northern Lights. Marni felt as if she had only just dozed off when Ken said, “Fishing Time.” Marni contemplated rolling over and pretending to still be asleep but Ken was already handing her the down parka with the thick white fur around the hood.
“I think you’ve already established that pre-dawn fishing is unsuccessful.” Ken was already strapping his skis on outside their quaint glass igloo. The fishing lake was a short trip along the pine trail. “Good thing,” Marni thought as she glided along the white path, “that I love this man.”
Marni hopped around on one foot, then the other. She slapped her hands in front of her like a sea lion. Rubbing her fur mittens repeatedly across her nose, she tied her hood strings tighter, all the while the whistling magnetic waves of the glowing clouds made her stare involuntarily into the sky.
“Hey, Ken, I’m heading back. You ok by yourself?”
Pulsing green, blue, purple, back to green, then, yellow? Red? That was strange. Marni fumbled around her neck for her camera, clumsily trying to take the lens cap off without taking the overstuffed mittens off.
“Whoah, Ken, you were right, the Aurora is very different here.” Ribbons of red continued to crackle in the low horizon when a burst of gold came out for the southeast across the sky. “Ken?” Marni clicked at her Sony DSLR. The ethereal whistling began to have an equally unnatural warbling hum. The sky glowed more goldish red with each vibrato of the hum. “Ken?” Marni looked into the horizon and saw the silhouette of a large hovercraft coming low across the lake. “Ken!” Marni scrambled into the tent butt first still looking out the flap. “Ken?”
“I finally caught it.”
“Is there a military base around here?”
“Marni, help me pull this out.” Ken tried to widen the hole with his ice drill.
“The sky is red and there’s some kind of helicopter thing out there.” As Marni turned around she found Ken pulling an enormous incandescent gelatinous sphere up the shaft. “What in the hell?”
Ken stared in fascination at the refrigerator-sized golden glowing egg trying fruitlessly to get his fishing hook out of the thick leathery shell.
“Ken, what is that thing?”
Suddenly a limb sliced through the shell from the interior, a thin lissome tentacle undulated in the icy night. Marni’s fish gape was rivaled only by Ken’s saucer-eyed stare. Five more flowing arms in quick succession ripped through the golden leather egg. “Ken?” Marni could only gasp a whisper. Ken seemed to be in a trance.
As quietly, but as emphatically as she could Marni rasped, “Ken! Ken!”
Ken continued to stare.
“Ken. Let’s go, quick, before that creature of the deep hatches all the way.” It
was too late, the egg creature’s squid-like beak was chewing ravenously at the outer shell. “Oh my god, Ken, Ken it’s crawling up my leg. Get it off!” Marni shook her leg
in vain. Ken stared. The creature held its arms around Marni’s chest like a monkey infant. At first, Marni wanted to scream trying to pluck the dripping limbs off her in fear of it squeezing her to death. Yet, Marni felt an odd comfort to the creature’s touch, an intimate closeness she had actually never known, not even with Ken. She stroked the golden squidling’s head.
The hum from outside began to increase in volume. Ken continued to stare. Gingerly trying to move with the creature on her chest so as not to startle it, Marni slowly opened the fishing hut’s small door. The sky was blood red. She turned back to Ken before stepping out. “KEN!!” Marni let out a shrill but demanding scream. “Are you kidding me? You’re just -- you’re just going to sit there? You coward!” And like an Amazonian warrior with a golden breastplate, Marni stepped out of the hut feeling the vibrations of the hovercraft in her cheekbones.
The creature shivered in a kind of excitement.
“Is this your—your ship?” Marni felt silly talking to the octopus around her neck, but it seemed to concur and started to loosen its grip, slipping down onto the glowing golden ice. She couldn’t help but notice that one of the tentacles lingered on her lips for a moment before scrambling across the lake toward the hovercraft.
The squid-creature turned toward Marni for a moment, its single iridescent eye locked with hers. She ran into the hut to find Ken still staring, a blankness behind his eyes. She slapped his face and a slow hiss came from deep within him, an ether-like blue glow slowly drifted out of his mouth, out the door into the auroral arc. But first the misty blue swirled around the golden squid and Marni knew he was gone.