The Wondering Holm was a small island, but larger than No Name Island. It had taken every bit of effort for David to pull it down into the clouds. He did not refer to himself as the Sky Kraken, that was the name the survivors had given him. His creator did not call him Sky Kraken either.
He vaguely remembered his life before being a massive sentient squid with 6 billion voices inside him. It was trying to remember his former life on the Wondering Holm that helped him focus, but usually once he started to think about Her then Paul would begin to emerge. The voices often didn’t talk to each other, didn’t hear each other, but sometimes there was connection between two and a bond could be formed, much stronger than communication. David and Paul held a bond, held a strong bond. David had gone in search of Draco Island, had found it, had been thrown to the surface, had met Dr. Erich Schwertfeger, and had learned the terrible truth.
David had died on the surface and had been eaten by the squidlings, they were not Sky Kraken spawn as Louella ‘Honesty’ Huckabee thought they were. They were in fact creations of Dr. Schwertfeger, they were supposed to save the world, and instead they ate it. Had Honesty looked closer at Dr. Schwertfeger, she might have noticed that he wasn’t as anywhere near human as she thought herself to be.
Dr. Schwertfeger had created a biomechanic Noah’s Ark in the form of squidlings that could fly through the air, they floated on an air bladder that expelled air to propel themselves forward. He had released them, they were supposed to collect samples of all the DNA in the world. He gave them the ability to procreate, and a hive mentality controlled by a super computer so that when the squidlings had returned to him with the DNA samples they would not all have the same samples. Then there was a storm, and lighting struck the computer, it altered the squidlings code, commands and purpose. They collected DNA by taking a sample, via a bite, then absorbing the DNA into themselves. Now they were killing and eating what they were supposed to just be collecting for preservation. They became telepathic, they could project an image into a prey’s mind, make it see something that wasn’t there, or simply think the squidling was something friendly. When they absorbed people’s DNA, somehow the mind got preserved as well, Dr. Schwertfeger assumed this was something to do with the squidlings new telepathic powers. The minds were usually alone, and in the isolation, many went insane.
That was where the Rainmaker came in, Dr. Schwertfeger now to had to save the world from his own squidling creations. It was in truth an anti-gravity device, he installed them into smaller landmasses and watched them float up into the skies. He flew refugees to the sky islands, gave them his plans to make more Rainmakers, and he returned to the surface where he spent his life trying to repair and reprogram the squidlings. Dr. Schwertfeger had met David before he had died, had told him the story of how the squidlings came about.
“I have zis new code,” Dr. Schwertfeger held up a syringe with a silver liquid in it, “However I can only get it into ze squidlings by injecting it into something before zey eat it. Zey have already eaten everything down here. Except you.”
“I’m not that altruistic,” David stated backing away. “I’m not going to die just so you can get control of your little pets.”
“No, I have forever lost control of zem,” Dr. Schwertfeger replied stepping closer. “Zis will give you control over them.”
“Inject it into yourself,” David was nearing the door. He heard Dr. Schwertfeger laugh.
“Oh zat is very funny!” The crazy doctor replied. He pulled aside his apron and shirt with one plastic gloved hand. His chest was full of gears, clockwork and what looked like wires and green and gold boards with little pegs and blinking lights on them. “As you can see, zere is nothing left of me for zem to eat. You are ze first fresh piece of flesh on ze surface in centuries, and I can see that you are not a squidling.”
David tried to make an exit, he gripped the doorknob, turned and threw the door open. Standing in the doorway were two men and a woman. They were in fact Mitch, Neis the Medicine Woman, and another man that Louella had not met. The doctor suddenly grabbed him around the throat.
“I’m sorry, but zey will eat you,” Dr. Schwertfeger whispered into his ear as he shoved he needle into David’s neck and pressed he plunger down. A cold sensation blossomed in David’s neck and began to spread upwards past his ear, and down his chest and arm. As the cold came across David’s face, his vision began to dim. “I’ve made sure your death will be painless.” David fell forwards to his knees, his body paralyzed. As his vision and mind began to fade, he saw the three people in the doorway flicker, in their places were three pink squidlings. They were hovering in the air, their tentacles wrapped around spears and knives, the hovered back and forth and as David fell over, the last of life exiting his body, the squidlings dropped their spears and knives and attacked David’s body, tentacles wrapping around him, beaks biting off chunks of flesh and gulping them down.
There was a sensation of floating, which meant there had to be an up or a down for him to be floating. He was surrounded by what felt like nothingness, no color, no light, and no sensation of his body. However he could hear. He heard whispers, he heard crying, and he heard screams, wailings, voices talking over each other, most were begging, pleading, babbling. Flashes came to him, were they of his life? Someone else’s life? He tried to focus on them, but realized he needed to focus on himself. He tried to remember who he was. He was a he, of the male persuasion, he was the opposite of the female persuasion. He had a name, his name was David… David Huckabee. Who was David Huckabee? The flashes grew stronger and stayed longer. He had a brother, Paul Huckabee, who had a wife, Louella Huckabee. David had been 35, had been a scientist, an explorer, had sailed the clouds looking for a fabled island. Why was he thinking of himself in the past tense? Had been a scientist? Had been… alive?
It suddenly as if the world exploded onto him. David was on his knees, dressed in the same clothes he’d been wearing in Dr. Schwertfeger’s crazy house of horrors. He looked at his hands, they flickered slightly and he saw the tentacles within them. David suddenly grew afraid, he stumbled backwards, it felt like he had stumbled and at the same time, felt like he’d only floated.
“Hey? You okay?” Asked a male voice and David turned to look at the speaker. It was the same man that had been at the door of Dr. Schwertfeger’s house with the other man and the woman. He was dressed in his black shirt, black pants and carried a spear. His blonde hair was ruffled by the wind. However he appeared slightly transparent and David could see the squidling inside of him. It carried the spear but only looked like the man was carrying it.
“What happened to me?” David asked, surprised he had a voice. He looked at the man and suddenly a voice whispered in his ear.
“Mitch,” said the voice. David turned and looked to see who had whispered to him.
“You’ll get used to it,” the man, whom David suddenly knew was Mitch, and that was who the squidling saw himself as. That was the mind that dominated all the other screaming 6 million that David could hear as a dull cacophony somewhere behind his eyes, to be projected by this particular squidling. Whas that what had happened to him? His mind had fought to be in control of this tentacled body?
“I’m a man,” David said defiantly, looking down at his hands, they did not flicker as before.
“You were a man, you’re one of us now,” Mitch explained, “Come down to the camp.” David shook his head, and stumbled on legs that didn’t want to work, but in the back of his mind, David realized he was just floating along. He was projecting himself with this body, and making these motions and his squidling body was just moving with them.
“No, David! Don’t think of yourself as a squid, think of yourself as a man,” came Mitch’s whisper in his ear, but David realized that the whisper wasn’t in his ear, he didn’t have ears, the whisper was in his mind. David turned smoothly and he looked down at himself. He hadn’t noticed that he had stopped stumbling and was just now floating. David wasn’t seeing himself projected as a man anymore. He was what he was, a pink tentacled, suckered, beak mouthed, floating squid. He turned to look back at Mitch, Mitch cocked his spear and threw it. David suddenly lurched upwards, and shot towards the sky and the clouds above.
He had considered going back to his life. He could project himself as himself, no one had to know that he was a squid. It would be his little secret. The clouds were right above him, he entered them, thinking of returning back to the Wondering Holm. How happy Paul and Louella would be to see him. Did they have children yet? If a squid could scream it did. What erupted from David’s beak was a screech of pain. It burned like a suddenly sun burn, he suddenly ducked backed below the clouds. He slowly reached a tentacle into the clouds and it burned like acid, he jerked his tentacle back. So that was why no one had seen the squidlings above the clouds, the clouds were like an electric fence. David floated in circles below the clouds, preparing himself. He was going to fly as fast as he could through the cloud cover and reach above it. David was just trying to prepare for the pain that he knew would be coming.
David took in a deep gulp of air, filling his air bladder and readying himself to go through as fast as he could. He exhaled, shooting air out from the bladder and he screamed as the clouds burned him. The moisture that formed on him felt like he was being stabbed with hot pokers. The pain was just too much, he passed out and fell back out of the clouds.
Mitch shook his head as he watched the limp squidling fall from the clouds and land hard on the ground, it splattered black ichor everywhere. It looked like jelly in a small crater. When Cloud People became aware they always tried to get back above the clouds and always died.
He sensed buoyancy, a floating, fluttering him. He was a he, he had a name. David Huckabee! Suddenly the world exploded onto him a second time. David was once again on his hands and knees. The sky was covered in clouds, rays of sunshine poured through. He was standing on a grassy hill with bleached bones poking up through grass. He reached out and picked up what was obviously a rib.
“Welcome back,” spoke Mitch and David got to his feet, but he once again realized he wasn’t David anymore. He was a squidling and he had… died as one? “You’re a strong one, usually once one of us dies, we don’t come back. I’ve only seen it happen a couple of times.” He was leaning on his spear, the tip jammed into the ground.
“How long have we been like this?” David asked holding up his hands indicating this life they had adopted.
“Centuries, long enough that the Cloud People have forgotten about us,” Mitch explained. “We usually don’t count the years too much anymore.”
“I’m a scholar, or I was, we’ve no legends, no stories or anything about how we’ve come to live above the clouds, and we’ve no tales of squid living on the surface,” David replied, “Actually we’ve no concept of the surface at all.” David looked around at the surrounding area. It was some sort of weird mining camp, or maybe it was once a mining equipment inventing business. He recognized tracks and what looked like funny mine carts, but the tracks went up steep hills and made ridiculous turns. The entire place was run down, abandoned, overgrown, and falling apart. David took a couple steps towards it. “Does the entire surface look like this?” David indicated the overgrown nature taking back appearance of the area.
“Yes,” Mitch replied.
“Why? I mean we’re squidlings pretending to be human, why do we live in a wasteland?” David asked. Mitch shrugged.
“It looked like this when I woke up,” Mitch explained, “I guess no one wants to do anything.” David seemed distant, it was as if he was listening to the 6 billion voices behind his eyes.
“David!” Came a voice that shouted so close to David’s consciousness that he jumped. He recognized it.
“Paul?” David asked outloud.
“David! Where are you?” Came Paul’s voice again. David wasn’t sure if he was being heard. Mitch suddenly flickered and was suddenly replaced by Paul Huckabee. Like David, he seemed to be seeing himself for the first time. “Am I dead?”