The Works of Philip Kaveny
Ffaldschaddar, Part IV
The steam cannon erupted in a gusher of super-heated 100 psi steam, driving the seven meter long, 100 millimeter thick, and fifty kilogram harpoon at 300 fps, twice the velocity of the fastest Major League fastball. The harpoon’s name was Erma and she was capped with 2 pounds of armor piercing explosives, molded in the form of harpoon barbs, which would explode as the shaft drove into the horrific, gaping, drooling, maw of the giant Kracken. The recoil seemed to lift the 6000 ton, steel hulled, clipper ship, the St. Georgina, several inches out of the water, exposing the ugly, oozing, formless creatures that live just below the waterline of all great ships, and reminiscent of unseen horrors seldom brought to the surface.
The recoil stopped the St. Georgina for an instant. The harpoon had done its work and the barbs exploded showering the main deck of the St. Georgiana making appear as if it were the floor of a charnel house exclusively for monsters, a chop shop for Victor Frankenstein’s team of street illegal monsters. Paul Rathbone should have been elated with his work with the harpoon but he was not. He knew he had done two things no mortal had ever done and lived. First he had seen the giant Kracken up close and dirty and lived to tell about it. But even more terrifying, he had killed an immortal. He had killed that which could not be killed. Worse yet he had not killed the Kracken, its own in the realm of scared. He had killed it in the profane and modern material modern world. The place where it had strayed using a technology that in a parallel and proximate universe, which they wer connected through, iconographic portals represented by multi- dimensional Venn diagrams, which represented multi-verse permeability that connected the worlds of the possible.
He had done something very much like what was done in a parallel and proximate universe in the Battle of Berlin to take out Russian T34 tanks. He had used his harpoon just like a weapon called a Panzerfaust, which, if not deadly real, would have appeared to be the product of a dwarf’s demented imagination ,a weapon so horrible that all creatures including inhabitations of Pandemonium where required by the chief consul of deities to have a complete background check before they could own one. Further, any winged demons were required to place themselves on the “no fly list” if they sought purchase approval. Very few did.
This was a weapon which would allow children to stand fast against forty-ton mechanical monsters, and allow grown men or women to make the gods tremble lest they storm heaven and liberate Hades.
Yet, though he knew all his with a deadly certainty, all that Paul Rathbone wanted to think about was home. But he was five thousand nautical miles away from home. And his extended, globally integrated, livelihood demanded that the St. Georgiana sail to the port of Seattle, where her precious cargo would be loaded onto the silk train for New York. The 19th Limited’ which made the cross- continental trip in less than 36 hours, sat with engines already waiting at full steam to not lose a second of time getting to the high fashion markets of New York.
Paul Rathbone yearned for his family thought about was his family. Melanie, little Eddy the 3rd, Anna and Great Uncle Philip. He wondered if the gods who he had made as enemies would be also be his family’s enemies. Gaia, mother of Titans, was a harsh mistress when angered, but she is the goddess of the earth, and she did not own the wind and weather. They were forces even beyond her kin. They were the elements. One of them, Susanoo-no-Mikoto, the Japanese god of storms, and no subaltern, was sent kamikaze to drive the St. Georgiana to her home port in Seattle at the unheard speed of five hundred nautical miles per day for over a week.
Paul’s newly acquired family was the morning and the evening star in his miserable life. (He had only met Melanie as a widow, and the mother of Little Eddy 3rd and Anna, six months earlier at a speech that Melanie was making demanding women’s suffrerage, and a ban on the imperial silk made with slave labor, under subhuman working conditions). Paul was a hard worldly man. However, he almost immediately fell in love with the lot of them, though he was not certain why, maybe he had thing for smart articulate women, something more men do than one might think. Melanie agreed to marry after Paul spent nearly 168 consecutive almost sleepless hours arguing, wearing the down the entire family, until they all agreed but with certain reservations which were to be stipulated at a later date, probably after Anna had figured out what the phrase “to be stipulated at a later date,” meant.
Just the then, at that instant, the entire Rathbone family snapped back into what the philosophers called the razor sharp edge of the specious present, that infinitesimally small point on the temporal spacial continuum between that past and future where consciousness dances on the 10th razor’s edge
They knew that for now the danger had passed and Paul Rathbone would survive, even in this frozen hell. So the family went back to Uncle Philip’s unfolding of the story as little Eddy the 3rd wanted desperately to hear what happened next to Isaac, the other little boys, and the magic sword. Anna was understanding much more than she seemed to and even Melanie wanted Uncle Philip to get on with the story, almost as if you she could not help herself.
Uncle Philip continued as he looked Little Eddy 3rd straight in the eye as he said to his three listeners.
“Little Eddy the 3rd asked me a very important question and he deserves and answer. Do remember your question Eddy?”
If nothing else Uncle Philip knew people and most of all kids though he never spoke of having his own. Still he knew that Little Eddy really wanted a chance to be recognized for being smart so he said:
“Yes I asked you what ‘Creation ex Nihilo’ meant.”
It was one of those teachable movements that light up a lifetime when generations of knowledge are transferred from one human mind to another usually in not more than a couple of sentences which act as a Shibboleth, opening into another reality of time and space. Like nested Russian dolls becoming ever smaller and smaller until they meet the point of zero area that equals infinity, where they burst full blown back into existence. All that Little Eddy the 3rd knew was that Creation ex Nihilo meant existence out of nothingness, or stories becoming real. And as he said that they all felt the rushing of air from the flapping of great wings. Then Little Eddy the 3rd got that Mara the Beast form the East, The Princess of Worms was not a monster. She was a messenger, and their lives, really everybody’s depended upon her message being decoded. Further what Isaac and his six little friends did a hundred generations before was deathly important now. Just then the pressure from the giant wings ebbed away and it was just another July night, and Great Uncle Philip, Anna Melanie, Little Eddy the 3rd and Anna, all retired safe at least for this night.
Meanwhile it was suggested very emphatically five days later when the Saint Georgina set the speed record from the Imperial Russian Port of Port Arthur, besting the previous record by five entire days that nothing would be mentioned about a Kracken sighting in any of the Seattle or San Francisco Newspapers. Further Paul Rathbone decided that he could not say for sure what he saw, and maybe in fact the harpoon cannon had gone off by accident, yet there still was the case of the hundred-meter tentacle which seemed welded to the hull of the St Georgina.
Paul Rathbone thought about his family in St: Louis, but business was still business and he trusted no-one but himself to guard his family’s interests and to make certain that this year’s imperial silk crop made it to New York Garment district. Because this year New York was going to scoop London, Paris, and Berlin with its theme of The Empire of Good taste.