Last story, we saw an author pull out the stops to sidestep the purpose of their prompt. This time, @whimworm shows us an entirely different strategy, charging headlong into a brilliantly ludicrous brief by @benton_dan and tackling it with a straight face. The following story of guerilla resistance against a crustacean menace delivers a marvellous setting, and a killer punchline.
STORY NUMBER: 15
PROMPT PROVIDER: @benton_dan
Beatriz scuttled along the banks of the Beta Sluice, pushing on toward the central raceway. Her footsteps perfectly masked by the endless splashing of paddle wheels and harvesting drones. Once or twice she found herself forced from the vast shadow cast by the statue of Anunciación but did not dare to risk the crunch of broken tarmacadam shrapnel. No, the quiet was more important, the eyes were weaker than the ears. Raise no alarm, attract no attention.
She had never been this close to the statue before. Few people had. Four kilometers away now, and she could see the outstretched hands holding the offerings of Braunhut, the look of benevolence on Anunciación Alvizuri’s face. Traitor. She withheld the urge to spit in disdain. No sense taking any risks, now though, so close. The wet-road gave way to to the snaking de Morelos raceway and she knew it would not be much further to the hub.
As her footsteps splashed through the artificial pond, she thought of the favelas beneath the Toluca aqueducts. Sluicemother Cardenas had always taught Beatriz that tolerance was an error, kindness a sin. At night when the skittering footsteps raced overhead and the roaring began, she would sink into her Sluicemother’s arms and be reassured: “We are we, little wren. Concern yourself not with meaning. Chattel drive the paddles, and this is all we are.”
Once, when the roaring descended into the favela and they heard the rending of flesh through their sheet-metal walls, her Sluicemother had told her the story of Anunciación Alvizuri.
“She saw the suffering creature and misplaced her mercy. The world was an otherplace then. Her elderkin bequeathed a home to her, where she had been as young as you. And when the child came back to the hard mud home, with walls of baked earth cube, the skitterers lived there too. She had cared for them in youth, abandoned them in adolescence. In plastic tub they had old grown, and grown and wailed for food. Their water gone, they on-land trod, and clung in an embrace. Ten feet tall of stalk-eyes and chitin. They moved as one, but spoke as many. The ones in front did whimper as the belly-clingers did roar in rage. They wore their plastic tub as a snail wore shell. And Anunciacion took pity. She fetched them the food, the yeast and green from out the raceway pools. And soon they strove to forage for themselves.”
The wailing had died down by then, the skittering had ceased, and Beatriz wept until too weak to stay awake.
The central raceway around Sosa Texcoco was thick with algae. Blue-green anthrospira smothering Beatriz’ trousers as she waded through the aquafarm. Almost there now, clinging to the pouchful of tainted yeast. A few hundred meters more and she’d be at the door of the Spirulina plant. The splashing was perfect cover. The paddle wheels of the raceway pond, driven by distant human effort, were almost as loud as her desperate trudging. She did not hear the skittering. The millions of broad-leaf feet of the sea-monkey agglomeration, operating as legion. Nor did it matter. She was close enough to the core of the veritable infinity of brine shrimp that stretched from Mexico City to Newfoundland. When they fell about her, razor-like chitin and filter-feet reducing her to particulate flesh, she felt nothing but enlightened calm. As the poisoned yeast disseminated amongst the brine shrimp colony, hopeful her final malicious act would be recompense for Anunciación’s misguided benevolence, she mused:
PROMPT: Decades-old colony of discarded sea-monkeys reaches critical mass & evolves into its final form