TRANSFORMATION (or MERPUG: A CHILDREN’S STORY)
(7th in this challenge)
His friends were all oh so goofy. They showed off one-by-one, almost singing, “Look at me!”
Merzebra vanished first behind a school of white fish, then behind a school of black.
Mermeerkat froze in a solid line yet glissaded down the continental shelf, spiraling the kelp mysteriously without movement.
Merpeacock burst out its large, bright, colorful tail in front of an octopus, scaring it so much that it farted out all of its ink.
Meradillo cannon-balled through the ink into the floor at just the right angle to propel burrowing baby crabs up from the sand to their faces just as the ink cleared away.
They all loved baby crabs very much; they snatched them up and savored.
They all knew that Merpug only watched, that he had no ambition to be goofy. He couldn’t vanish or move gracefully without moving or burst any part of his body into any display of color that made any octopus fart its ink. And as for the baby crabs – every time that he’d try to swim into the floor, no matter how fast, the baby crabs always had plenty of time to see him coming and had their baby crab claws waiting.
“It’s no big deal,” his friends would say. “It’s not like we do anything really special.”
But Merpug just made a duckface and sighed out a little stream of bubbles. They didn’t understand. What they did was special if for no other reason than they could do something that he couldn’t and call it “not like anything really special.” Oh gosh he wanted that.
One day, Merpug watched as all of his friends were showing off for each other. And again, as the farted octopus ink cleared away, delicious baby crabs hurled toward them. Merpug ate, thankful for his friends, yet disappointed in himself.
But suddenly a shadow passed overhead. It was cast by a large ship blocking the sun. Merpug and his friends rushed to the surface and stared in awe just below the air.
“I bet that can carry more baby crabs than a whale,” Meradillo said.
“And look! Look at those fish flying so fast through the air!” said Merpeacock.
Fish! Merpug thought. Those are airplanes. It must be an aircraft carrier! (Merpug read. His parents told him that his talent could be knowing quite a lot of stuff. They were always trying to make him feel better.)
“And look how graceful they are without moving any part of their bodies!” Mermeerkat said. His mouth was open and a little shrimp was darting in and out of his mouth with a look on its face that said, “I’m so clever”—until Mermeerkat closed his mouth, looked down in surprise, swallowed, and said, “Mmmm.” They all laughed because they had all seen the little shrimp. Just as they were laughing, another shadow darkened over them. Then schools of black and white fish rushed by. Merzebra vanished for a moment.
The shadow was from a giant squid almost as long as the aircraft carrier! It grabbed onto the carrier and began to pull it into the ocean.
“Oh no! Look at what that monster is trying to do!” Merzebra said when he appeared again. “If he pulls that ship into the ocean, where will all of those flying fish sleep tonight?”
Merpeacock said, “I know what to do!” He zoomed toward the squid. Once he was in front of its face, he burst his tail. The squid only laughed a great booming laugh that scared more schools of fish away, then it smacked Merpeacock down. Merpeacock pooed a long line of merpeacock poo as he spun away.
“Enough of this!” Meradillo said. He cannon-balled upward. But Mr. Squid saw him coming, lifted the ship above his shoulder like a baseball bat and struck Meradillo down into the floor at the wrong angel. The baby crabs saw him coming and their baby claws were waiting. He rolled into a tight ball that couldn’t be clawed and the baby crabs soon got frustrated with him and went back into the sand.
Then all of the friends looked to Mermeekat and said, “It’s your turn to try, Mermeekat! You have to do something!” But he just glissaded down the continental shelf in silence as if no one was talking to him. (Such a scaredy, mermeekat!)
Merpug watched his friends. None of them turned to him, none of them expected him to do anything but watch. But Merpug felt in his heart that he should no longer be a spectator. No, no. They didn’t know what was on the ship like he did. It carried an important mission to keep its country safe in these dangerous times, in this dangerous world! There are merterrorists in the ocean too, you know? Not many know that but there are. And Merpug couldn’t do much about them but he could maybe try to do something about this squid who was just—at its core—a really big, scary merterrorist after all.
So he rushed toward the squid. “Riff!” he yipped in the cutest voice imaginable. “Riff!”
“Haha, you mere merpug,” bellowed the squid. “You cannot do anything to me! Go back to your friends.” He slapped at Merpug with one tentacle, but Merpug bit him. The squid roared and the whole ocean quivered. The squid slapped with a different tentacle and Merpug bit that one too, and this continued until the squid released the ship, determined to slap Merpug to the floor where he belonged.
But Merpug just yipped and swam out of reach. The squid was so angry that he pursued. Merpug led it just far enough away from the aircraft carrier that the men aboard could aim their missiles at the squid. When Merpug saw the first missiles being shot, he spun into the air, holding his breath, feeling the woosh of air from missile after missile beneath him. A great mushroom cloud of ocean rose from their explosions with Merpug on top. Airplanes zipped above him and he thought he could see all of the pilots giving him a thumbs up and he smizied you’re-welcomes. As he drifted back down toward the ocean, he heard all of the men on the aircraft carrier chanting his name. Oh gosh the ecstasy!
From then on, the friends ate crispy squid parts for the next week.
“This is so much more awesome than baby crab,” all of his friends and everyone else in the nearby ocean said at every mealtime. They ate and ate and praised his name. (All except for the squid’s family, who moved away.)
“You can show us your special trick any day!” they all almost sang. “Any day.”
Out of sequence again. Gosh darn. The wonderful photo can be found here.