Krish’s New Pet
by Charlie Allison
Krish went to the pound-zoo, galumphing as she galloped across the trans-dimensional plains. She traveled the normal way: one segmented bit in front of the other, passing through the seconds and between seconds, foot never in the same dimension twice.
Krish passed the usual supernovas and meteor showers, dipped clawed appendages in the pristine primordial pools of distant planets and whirled past magma-fields where the smell of burning flesh was as solid as a loving tentacle about the shoulders.
Krish had undergone the usual mourning rituals following the phasing out of her last creature during the latest time-cycle: the wailing, the churning of teeth and tentacles, the expected mushroom clouds of mourning. Now she was on her way, brushing through mangrove swamps and asteroid fields, to get a new pet.
It was only a few steps and as many eons before Krish appeared in the lobby of the pound-zoo. A human mind might have compared the place to an opened skull, or a deep canyon, open to the red-iron sky, circled by various strange flying creatures. All the doors to the pocket-dimensional enclosures were firmly locked and bolted. Warning sigils wiggled and burned in the perpetual twilight.
Krish kept her face a mask.
“Can I help you?” Pa-Suzu eyes leered, wandering across Krish’s form, his wings flapping lazily in the heat of the dying sun that provided most of the light for the place.
Krish said nothing, merely pointed several of her more distinguishable appendages towards the back doors of the pound-zoo, a clear message.
“Just got a load of leviathans, fenrisulfs, yoggoths and kujata in for the big rush, toots, you’ll have to wait,” Pa-Suzu informed her, taloned hand playing with something below the varnished wood of the desk. “Little bastards are twitchy and hard to unload, but we can never seem to keep them in stock. Everyone wants the best creature feature.”
Krish swallowed. Considered barging past the uppity clerk, then decided against it. She knew how to wait, eyes unfocused. So she did.
Pa-Suzu, however, seemed not to care and filled the dry air with words. “You know how it goes, doll,” the clerk continued. “Everyone gets in a big tizzy when it’s apocalypse time, wants to put on the best show.”
Krish thought of her last creature slowly disintegrating and said nothing. Its skull had become one world, its innards the core of another. She’d kept the eyes though, filed them on the shelf with the others in her home beyond the waterfalls.
“I don’t see what all the fuss is about,” Pa-Suzu growled as Krish settled onto three of her five haunches to wait, doing her best to focus on the wheeling bat-gulls that kept the foyer clear of fish flies and other aerial irritants. “All so vascular, crude, impersonal. A good plague is good enough to end a world, boils and clogged lungs...”
The clerk’s voice trailed off as Krish’s attention fastened on one particular bat-gull, wheeling and slicing through the air, dodging the subtly hidden webs of the jackal-spiders that had snared so many others.
Time passed, uneven and hobbling like a wounded animal. Krish lost herself in reverie, tongue clacking absentmindedly.
“You can go on back,” Pa-Suzu announced, scorpion-tail twitching irritably behind his back.
Krish unfolded herself from her crouch and cast a stray tidbit from one appendage to the circling bat-gulls. It had scarcely touched the stone floor with its wormy pictographs before the creatures were squabbling over it, barbed tongues and silver claws slashing.
Krish pulled open the door, popping its several dozen locks as if they were kernels of corn.
Pound-zoos kept beasts and creatures in nets or cages, enclosures or restraints. Krish had seen bone-cages, iron and copper crowns, nets made from the roots of mountains and the sound of a cat’s footfalls all impressed into the great task of containing the uncontainable.
This particular branch had all that and more. Creatures frozen in ice, snake-like noses untitled-beasts bent into unsolvable puzzles.
Krish took her time, gliding down the long, curved isle of pets. A manticore howled salacious greetings at her as she passed, a sphinx gave Krish a penetrating look, and a single mass of tentacles arranged fractal-like around an all-seeing eye boomed proclamations of eternal glory should she take it home.
Krish didn’t find herself in need of glory, eternal or otherwise.
Cipactli glowered at her from its leagues-deep tank, jaws snapping from each of its joints.
She passed by the bahamuts, roiling and churning, lidless eyes like rising suns in their hollow iron skulls.
Man-sized creatures with dozens of limbs and the heads of boars slavered and snapped at the iron bars that held them.
Krish ignored the fenrisulfs and their jaws that scraped the bleeding sky, eyes burning bright in their furry, lupine faces.
When she found what she was looking for, she knew it immediately. Krish stopped short at a bend in the aisle. She looked down through the green glass barrier at the creature contained within.
Krish had not seen anything like this beast before. Eight green, grasping furry tentacles around a central head with slitted, discerning green eyes. Its size shifted wildly. One second, Krish could have picked it up in one tertiary tentacle; the next, it was larger than a bear. Krish looked closer, saw that one of the eyes was scarred shut. It had a strange, foreshortened face, like a cat’s, under which curving canines glittered.
The creature’s one eye looked unblinkingly up at Krish. No trace of fear, only complete comprehension. Inside that eye universes and infinities flirted.
Its tentacles twitched up, then down, moving it with a strange grace across the air and space against the glass. The beast purred, the green glass thrumming with the sound.
Krish reached several of her limbs forward, pressed them against the glass.The creature’s purr grew louder, swelling, becoming a physical force that reverberated in Krish’s bones. Krish considered smiling.
The run back to her home was more difficult with the creature under her appendages. It hadn’t strayed from her side since Pa-Suzu unlocked the creature’s cage with bad grace and a black look.
“Damn felidopod,” he growled, a spurt of flame sliding out from behind his teeth to scorch the glass.
The creature had bared its teeth at the clerk, enamel shimmered in the light of Krish’s eyes. She had felt one of her three hearts skip a beat as she gathered the felidopod up in her appendages and flickered away.
Krish and her passenger passed stepped pyramids that ran red with blood and green with ravenous jungle creepers. The pair flitted past wastelands and metropoli, sterile expanses of empty space and gaping voids lined with subtle, easily missed mono-molecular teeth.
* * *
In the multiverse, nothing is free, Krish reflected as she finished her commute home, felidopod in tow. The plane where she’d made her home had cost her some non-redundant organs, effort, and her very existence in not a few of the more profitably inhabited planes.
Her idols had been broken open like rotten fruit, phylacteries burned, her worshippers erased from existence, but the bargain had been cheap at twice the price. Security, anonymity and the occasional drowned whisper filtered upwards through the mist.
For Krish, every drop of spittle that drips from Baba Yaga’s mouth as she shrieks out her fury, every errant drop in a storm that sinks a fleet or a wave drowns swimmers is molecularly tithed, regardless of its dimension of origin.
Tears, saliva, the living clouds sampled from across the multiverse into a plane composed solely of waterfalls and teetering above it all, Krish’s home. A congress of water-veils, standing guard around her ever-shifting domicile just above the persistent mists: The House Beyond the Waterfalls.
The home wavers on an ever-shifting amount of jointed legs, buried deep in the substrata of the plane but, while Krish lived it, they would never fall or splinter. From a distance, her home almost looked like a normal shack you might find in any number of planes: triangular roof, round door, wide glass windows. Krish had built her home from her pseudonyms and aliases. Instead of boards and mortar, her house was constructed by all the faces and forms she had assumed over her millennia of existence.
Guises, disguises, pseudonyms, past iterations stretching languidly across the gender spectrum made from stone, wood, bone and feathers, and not a few from scales or flesh. The House was protected from water and spray by the blood-stained eagle feathers of Quilaztli, the yew masks of the Paragon of Spears, Winnower’s toothless stone mouth, Irrogigan’s helm of thorns and Stazena Buh’s smooth human skin mask, to name but a few.
By the time the pair passed the threshold of Krish’s ever-changing House beyond the Waterfalls, the felidopod was nearly asleep. Krish felt a pang of empathy. Crossing the universe like a threaded needle a thousandfold times in seconds and centuries could really take it out of a being. She opened the door, ducked down into the main room, her new pet behind her.
The creature seemed to find the roaring rush of waterfalls soothing, flitting through the air and curling around a crude table made from flotsam and bone. Her purrs competed with the waterfalls bass roar. Somewhere, out in the mists and roars, a faint shriek or scream echoed up from the depths.
Krish had an unsteady grasp of time, even with all her appendages. She wasn’t sure how long it took her to dream, unsleeping, and awaken to find the felidopod curled in her lap, a warm little ball of tentacles. They dreamed together, creating new worlds in concert from the dross of the waterfalls.
She wasn’t sure how long they sat there, looking out the wide windows of the House Beyond the Waterfall, through the pounding curtains into the endless expanse of worlds, smoke and light. The fire in the stove crackling although there was no fuel for it to consume.
Eventually, as they always do, an idea came to Krish.
It isn’t easy to rise from world-dreaming, but Krish did.
The felidopod didn’t yowl in protest as Krish expected, merely glanced patiently at Krish as she walked to the eye-shelf.
It was the oldest thing in the house, crooked and odd, much cracked and dented with time. It held legions of eyes, each fully loaded with sights and visions, ideas and implications.
Krish selected a small orb with one careful tendril. It was smaller than its red neighbor, but larger than the hissing heat-ball that was its other companion. The blue sphere balanced between two suckers of Krish’s tertiary tentacle, perfect but for a slight wobble on its axis.
As gently as she knew how, Krish padded over to the felidopod, who was by now the size of a bus, stretching the house to accommodate its bulk. Krish didn’t mind, flexibility of dimension was a wonderful thing.
It meowed a question.
Krish answered, and the creature strained its scarred eye as far open as it could go, tentacles twitching. There was a note of hesitancy in the felidopod’s rejoinder, but hope as well, Krish thought. That was good, or as close to good as she was likely to get.
Krish moved three of her appendages forward and gently as a child plucking a fruit, scooped out the useless eye and replaced it with the blue orb from the shelf in a single motion.The felidopod should have screamed, twisted, fought, tried to rend Krish’s many limbs into nothingness with tentacles and fangs.
For a second, the felidopod looked as if it was giving the idea serious consideration.
Then the blue eye glowed, pulsed twice and the warning growl of the felidopod became a purr. One eye as green as moss, the other blue, filled with memories and other worlds.
Krish smiled through her mask.
Copyright © 2016 by Charlie Allison