Chapter 4 “Fatal Prophecy” 16

Calimari Cal watches impatiently, nervously tapping a tentacle on the floor, while Nataniel and Syro run their analyses in the Sanctuary room.

“You done yet?” he asks for the twentieth time in the last fifteen minutes.

“No,” Nataniel replies automatically.

“I am afraid we are just about as done as we were two minutes ago, Mister Calamari,” Syro notes.

“Don’ you call me that!” Cal hisses, stomping the floor with his tentacle.

Syro looks at him, a slight look of confusion on his perennially impassible face.

“I’m sorry, is that not your name?” he asks.

“No, it’s not,” Cal says with the cephalopod equivalent of a pout. “It’s a street name some squids gave me on account o’ bein’ almost cooked alive when I was jus’ lil’ ’n’ playin’ in tha street, close to a fried-goods stall. Stoopid squids. Cuttlefish will get’em all!”

“With flames an’ butter!” a child-like cuttlefish voice cries.

Cal turns around to look at his nephew. “Oh, there ya are, Frankie, ya lil’ hatchlin’!” he exclaims, placing a couple of tentacles vaguely where they hips would be on a human. “Where were ya when I needed ya?!”

“I went tah cook tha holy offerin’s fer yer lunch, Uncle,” Frankie says apologetically.

“Shut up, Frankie!” Cal hisses. He turns to Nate and Syro. “Sorry ’bout that. Kids ’n’ their big mouths.”

“And their way of telling the truth…” Nataniel mutters.

“Yeah… Real bugger, that,” Cal comments. “So, ya done yet?”

“No!” the Guardia officers cry in unison.

Calimari Cal throws four tentacles to the air in  exasperation, the chromatophores on his mantle flashing red and purple. “C’mon, guys! I got prayers tah say, people tah rip-o – oooooooooooff  tha jaws of their misguided beliefs.”

“And intoxicate with these sulphurous fumes, it seems,” Syro adds, shaking his head slowly. “The bathroom has a fissure on one of its walls, through which toxic fumes are infiltrating. I am afraid you will need to seal that room from public use, Mister Calamari.”

“Oh…” Cal whispers. “How ’bout private use?”

Cierra-la, Cal!” Nataniel nearly yells. “Just seal off the damned room.”

Cal hesitates for a moment, syphons flaring open in silent contemplation, but then waves a tentacle in agreement. “Fine, fine. Will that fix it?”

“Yes, provided it is properly sealed,” Syro states.

Cal nods in acceptance. “Good. So… you’s done now, right?”

“Yes, yes we are,” Nataniel says, probably as glad to get rid of Cal as the cuttlefish is of putting some distance between him and the cops.

“Good!” Calimari Cal replies, rushing Nate and Syro out the door of the Sanctuary. “A-di-ós, coppers!”

“Goodbye, Mister Calamari,” Syro greets, bowing his head slightly in old-fashioned etiquette before turning to leave. “Our colleagues will come by shortly to sort out the fines and fees.”

“Good, good,” Calimari responds, turning back into the Sanctuary. A moment later, he emerges again, nervously flushed. “Wait, what fees??”


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