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BatiGol Weekly 248: Seabeast

In which we discuss becalment and unbecalment.

Illustration of the Crew of the Alecton Attempting to Catch a Giant Squid
If this is the beast pulling us towards the east with mighty waves, let us look inside and pull out all your pride. You know it’s up to us.
Photo by Stefano Bianchetti/Corbis via Getty Images

Well, here you are again, gently enfolded in the doldrums of another international break. The sails hang slack and all you have to do (besides counting and recounting the food and water rations) is stare at the sun glinting off the water. Day after day after day, you look at the reflections and let our minds wander. Perhaps you travel elsewhere in your thoughts, back to land and those you love. Perhaps, though, you don’t bother thinking at all. Instead, you just lean and watch the waves, mind empty as your stomach, and try not to let anything into your thoughts; in fact, you try to avoid thoughts all together. That’s the safest way to pass the time.

As you lean on the gunwhale, gazing at the endless, featureless plain of the sea, you untether yourself from your existence. You’re not sure if your consciousness expands to encompass all of creation so that your own life becomes as nothing or if your consciousness shrinks so much that there’s nothing outside of your eyes, not even a brain to process the images that they see; whichever of those it is—or neither, since it doesn’t matter—you’ve become a security camera that doesn’t record: all you do is intake an image and then repace it with another and then another, never keeping any for longer than it takes to swap it out for its successor.

Your shipmates might busy themselves in slowly cleaning the ship, or coiling ropes, or praying to a pantheon of gods that won’t ever exist outside of this context, or just sitting and gossiping; everyone has their own way to pass the time. They’ve completely missed the secret, though, and the secret is that time doesn’t matter even if it exists. As your eyes drift out of focus, what would be a thought if your mind was capable of thoughts floats into view, and that perhaps you’ll always be here, although none of those words really register. “Here” is the only place and isn’t a place and is every place all at once because space is an illusion. “Be” is just as impossible, as you now occupy a state beyond being and can’t comprehend the term, as its existence implies a state of non-being or un-being that isn’t possible because your current state is the only state that is. And “here,” well, that’s just not a concept at all, because it implies otherness and you know that otherness cannot exist because everything is this and has been and will be.

Perhaps that’s why, as your gaze rests physically on the featureless horizon without seeing it, that you don’t notice a disruption in the waves. Perhaps it’s nothing; after all, the ocean is a perfect study in constant randomization. But this disruption doesn’t seem random. It has direction. It has velocity. It has a will and the power to act on that will. These ideas are so foreign to your existence that you can’t acknowledge them until they’ve presented themselves as guided dynamics in a matrix of mindlessness, arrowing perpendicular across the waves. Arrowing towards your ship.

You blink and shake your head a bit. You’re not sure how long you’ve been aware of the disturbance in the water. It could have been a second or it could have been an hour. It doesn’t matter. What does matter is that something is cutting through the sea towards you, just below the surface, so that all you can see is the foam of its wake, and it’s moving fast, faster than anything else out here. You squint, but you still can’t make out what this thing is. You want to look around in the hope that you’re not the only one seeing this, but you can’t take your eyes off this body in motion, this body that possesses an agency, this body that’s approaching.

Finally, when it’s too close, you yell. Everyone sprints to port and, after a moment, realizes that yes, there is something out there that’s coming your way, and it’s big and it’s moving too quickly. You hear the orders bellowed through the heavy air, but you don’t move. Nothing you do will matter because whatever that thing is, it’s going to arrive before you can take any preparations that could have any effect. So instead you lean on your elbows. Watching. Waiting. Your mind no longer absent from your physical self, but rather so intent on this new object that it can’t process anything else.

Just before impact, the thing vanishes. By this point, you’re not the only one watching, and your ears vaguely register the shouts of astonishment. You know the thing isn’t gone, and in an eternal second, you realize that it hasn’t stopped moving. It’s just changed direction. It dove. It’s probably directly underneath you now.

As this thought forms in your brain, your ears pop. It’s a pressure change. There are clouds on the horizon. There’s the lightest of breezes teasing your face, rippling through the tiny hairs on the backs of your hands. You’re no longer becalmed. But that’s not why the pressure changed. The pressure changed because something below you is now rising, ascending, rocketing upwards. Bursting through the surface, into the air, higher, higher, impossibly higher still, you see the tentacles and nothing else, obliterating the horizon which you spent so long staring at, and you still have a moment to think that you’re never going to see that horizon again.

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Which squid do you expect?

This poll is closed

  • 15%
    Giant squid (architeuthis dux)
    (3 votes)
  • 10%
    Colossal squid (mesonychoteuthis hamiltoni)
    (2 votes)
  • 31%
    Vampire squid (vampyroteuthis infernalis)
    (6 votes)
  • 10%
    Arrow squid (doryteuthis plei)
    (2 votes)
  • 31%
    Psych! It’s not a squid, it’s a cuttlefish, and it’s looking for hugs.
    (6 votes)
19 votes total Vote Now

Comment of the week

While the Fiorentina men’s side couldn’t eke out a win for us, at least one male Viola fan got a positive result. Congrats to baelfire, who probably shouldn’t mention this website for the first few dates.

That’s it for this week, folks. Keep those knives sharp.