He's less hunched now, but he's wearing a mask, a bright luchador mask in red and purple, with gold flames fanning around the eye holes. He can't let people know who he is --or rather: He wants to be known as: That strange guy sipping gigantic chai smoothies through a straw, through a hole in his luchador mask. He has a porn site at the alt-tab ready, incase passerby in the window are walking too slowly. They cannot know he is a writer.
He's just written about how the girl almost killed the Octopus, when it walked into her camp late at night. He spent pages explaining the history and evolution of the word peace in the girl's language. It is this:
| | is fortunately easy for octopods to sign with their arms.
She almost killed the Octopus with a carob tree spear. She showed the Octopus the welts, glowing red and pink all over her body. The word for "I'm sorry" takes all eight of the Octopus's limbs and requires two tight knots.
"Why are you wearing that mask?"
Reflexively, he alt-tabs to the pornography, then quick as he can, the man in the luchador mask opens a blank tab. The child does not need to risk seeing intimate midget women and their hulking men. "I wear it so people will remember me." He replies after a thought.
"Oh." the child is blonde, sexless, smiles nervously at him, "Is it scary?"
The man shrugs, "I don't think so." He says.
"You're very welcome."
The octopus asked the girl: why are you here? The Octopus's arms looked like this:
o ^^ _________
She told the Octopus how she had dreamed about her granddad whispering in her ear, and how this was her summer vacation. She explained that one of the wild boars had escaped death too many times, had become malicious due to her village's repeated failure to kill it, and so she was to sacrifice the boar to the village elders, or be a placative sacrifice to it.
At one point she saw the boar, sleeping during a rain --the water pulled a path of leaves down just so and glimpsed there, between the droplets was the boar, flanks and chest rising slowly and falling quickly.
"Dead, then?" Signed the Octopus, "Happy? Home soon?" The girl sighed sadly and proceeded to explain that, no, such was not her fate. This was days ago, beginner's bad luck: She had not yet made her spear.
The girl laughed at the Octopus, shook her head and showed the Octopus her knife. The blade of the knife was serrated, but short, less than the length of a tall man's hand.
The Octopus deflated with a little burbling sigh. The girl nodded, momentarily glum.
Almost immediately she brightened, though (such was her nature) she smiled happily and pointed at the carob tree spear. The spear was almost as long as she was tall, and it had a good girth to it, thick enough not to quiver or divert, but supple enough for her young hands to hold. The tip of the spear was split, naturally, and the girl had widdled both paths to talon point sharpness. The Octopus nodded approvingly.
The Octopus signed: Boar. Why kill?
The girl frowned.
The man looked up from his keyboard. This was the hard part. Creating a reason for the octopus to want to kill the boar, too. The villagers had created a dangerous spirit by failing to kill the boar, and the girl and the octopus were going to force the spirit to escape its bounds, its very reality, and transcend somewhere else, but he didn't know yet where he could send it. He knew that the octopus was the only one able to follow the boar spirit across realities --that's what octopods do, after all.
But why would the octopus go after this spirit? It isn't like the boar spirit killed the octopus's family or friends. Really, the spirit was only doing what it saw as "right." or "correct."
Could the man let the boar escape into . . . wherever he wrote it? Would it just stop? Would its journey change it?
What if the boar became more powerful?
Was the solution Morrisonesque in that the journey to a new reality mutilated the boar spirit to the point of powerlessness?
No, that couldn't be it. Spirits don't die, and time heals all wounds, ergo, he couldn't let the boar live, even in . . . some other reality. It wouldn't be polite, especially --what if the new reality weren't aware of spirits, or boars?
There had to be an answer. Clearly the octopus was the key, but in what sense? How? He sat, paralyzed, sipping uselessly at his empty chai smoothie cup.