Raji Singh’s Lore of the Lindian Woods
Once upon a time…
A powerful earthquake causes a violent tsunami. Jet ocean waves wrench a toddling octopus from her happy cove. Her eight arms whirl and whip like seaweed in a whirlpool. Her seafloor family reaches for her, barely touch her tentacles, unable to hold her safely in their suction cup grasp.
“Goodbye, Ollie,” is all she hears midst the crush of the ocean’s might. If only Ollie knew the rest of what they say. She would have hope. “We won’t stop searching for you, Dear Ollie.” Sadly, never again would she see Mother, Father, Sister, and Brother. How could she ever find them in the unending seascape, or they her? Never again would she look upon their family’s underwater garden – bursting with the deepest colors of purple, pink, and yellow – tended by seahorses stabled in their coral corrals.
Tens of thousands of miles Ollie travels, swept by the tsunami’s powerful force. She survives by swiping up fish that skim past her. Finally, she washes up hundreds of feet onto sun-scorched land not far from the Lindian Woods. She skids to a muddy stop. A sickening odor clogs her nostrils. The likes of she’s never sniffed in the ocean. It is the smell of fish, but a rancid odor – so not anything compared to fresh ocean fish. Ollie’s in a garbage dump.
She looks around. So ugly compared to her beautiful starfish twinkling waters. She looks up. So blue, white and bright! So different from the sea’s dark ceiling. Poppy Sol winks at her. Ollie squints, shielding her eyes.
She hears a familiar cree, cree. Circling overhead are gulls like those that hover over the sea. At her home, they swoop down to catch live fish that swim to the surface. Here in this strange place they pluck up dead fish. ‘Oh please. Don’t let a flock of them seize me and carry me away to be their dinner.’ Helpless, she cries. Out of the familiarity of water, she knows she will soon die. Tears streak her face and fall on a passing spider parade.
Her survival depends on these crawly, skinny creatures, the spiders. Ollie has never before seen the likes of them, and they haven’t encountered her kind. They are her eight leg compatriots of the land, kindred spirits.
Aghast, never having seen such a large version of their selves, Queen Spider from atop an empty tomato soup can proclaims an edict to her hundreds of dump subjects. “This visitor must be protected from Poppy Sol’s heat. See how sad and sickly she is becoming. Quick, we must cover her head.”
An army of spiders spies a discarded goldfish bowl. They heave and hoe it up a rubbish hill and drop it, open side down onto the octopus. Plunk! It helmets her head. Ollie’s tears come so hard they fill the bowl: Just enough so she feels at home.
Though Ollie weeps, already she is losing some of her sickly look. Queen Spider says, “She is obviously a creature of the water. We must immerse her, and very soon.”
A curious squirrel hears the arachnid chatter and leaps from a mountain of discarded refrigerators and stoves. He shouts. “There is a discarded tank full of water on the far side of the dump. But it is covered. I do not think the opening is big enough for her to enter.”
Ollie smiles for the first time while land bound. She nods proudly to the squirrel. She knows about a fact that every resident of the sea realizes – an octopus can squeeze through the thinnest of cracks. Ollie says, “It will suit me well, my furry friend. Lead the way.”
A new parade forms. Squirrel is in the lead. Ollie, and her hundreds of eight-legged passengers riding on her eight long arms, follows. Snake, lizard, skunk, and raccoon join in as they promenade past mound after mound of debris. When they arrive at the clear plastic tank, the spiders disembark. All watch amazed as Ollie contorts her rubbery torso and maneuvers, squirms and slithers, seeming magically, into a sheet thin as paper. She slips into the tank. She smiles out at her admirers. To bolster her spirits she dreams she is swimming through unending gardens. She is crowded but refreshed.
But this is no life for a creature that will grow more than ten times bigger than she is now!
And listen. In the distance, you can hear the rumbling sound of the caterpillars and heavy debris burying equipment as they move a little closer, every day, to Ollie’s liquid sanctuary on land.
Join us next week for Ollie’s thrilling escape – to an Octopus garden beyond belief.
(Join me every Sunday night at the Fiction House, your place for short story, lark, whimsy, and merriment. Meet the many residents as I archive their lives and centuries of adventures. You can read of their origins in my novel TALES OF THE FICTION HOUSE. They are completely different stories. My novel is available at Amazon, and Barnes and Noble.)
©2014 Raji Singh