When Squid Come Calling
Nelson raised his weapon, sighting at the
man’s midsection. Aiming for body mass. Not to disable but to
kill. Which one was which? Was this Lee? God help me if I’m
wrong1 . . .
I stared at the computer screen, my fingers poised over the
keyboard, waiting for the next line.
I’ve been waiting for the next line for about three weeks now. I
had started Doppelganger way the heck last summer and according
to my grand plan, I was supposed to have finished it by now.
So much for my grand plans. Well, this wasn’t the only thing I
was working on. Maybe if I switched gears and tried to work on
something else, I’d have better luck.
“Lee? Lee, this is the second time today, buddy. You trying for
some kind of record? Wake up pal,” Chip pleaded, hovering around
Lee as he tossed his head, climbing back to consciousness.
Slowly, Lee opened his eyes2.
And did what? I waited. And waited. Apparently the muses that
hung out with me all last summer have moved on to greener
pastures. Obviously I wasn’t meant to finish this one either.
Well, I had others. Surely I could stumble onto something that
would grab my attention.
I pulled up my ‘In Progress’ file and scanned the titles.
Lee-Chip-island. What the heck kind of story is that? I don’t
even remember that. Well, it’s different. Maybe it’s what I
I dragged Lee as far back against the cave wall as I could go.
Easing down by his side, I dropped one hand onto his right
shoulder. If he came around, he would know I was here. I had to
come up with a plan and soon. Lee needed Jamie and he needed him
NOW. In the daylight, we'd be seen too easily. That decided me.
As soon as it was dark, I would try to get us both out of here.
If I had to carry him, I wasn't leaving Lee to die here. I owed
him far too much to not try and get him back to Seaview.
I settled in, one eye on Lee, the other on the cave entrance, to
wait for the sun to set3.
Once more I stared at the screen. Nice scene, but what happens
next? It’s times like this I contemplate tossing the computer
into the nearest pond and never writing another lick again.
Maybe if I read something not mine, maybe I could get inspired.
I backtracked through my files once more, finding the one I had
cleverly labeled Fan Fiction. Let me see, what looks good?
Foam on the Large Wave?
Under the Influence?
I grumbled something I can’t put into print and kept cycling
through folders and subfolders. What about
I was still trying to find something I could settle down with
when something pink darted under the bed. I only just saw it out
of the corner of my eye and I thought it was my cat at first.
Only Missy--my small, four pound bundle of white fur--was
sitting on top of the printer, in the meatloaf position, her
eyes closed and grinning as only cats can. So if Missy’s on the
printer, then what did I just see?
“Cisco, is that you?” I asked, still glancing through folders
and titles. Cisco is another one of my cats. He’s a big orange
tom who likes to sleep under my bed. Maybe I had confused orange
But Cisco was sitting in the sink in the bathroom across the
hall. Don’t ask. He likes to sit in the sink. I never said my
cats were normal. I was still trying to find something decent to
read when I saw it again. Something pink was moving around under
“Toby?” I called out another cat’s name and lifted the corner of
the bedspread. A pair of deep blue eyes blinked up at me.
“Hi there,” said a voice.
“Holy $#@%!” I yelled and backed up, tripping over my feet and
falling flat on my butt.
Something pointy and pink peeked out from under the bedspread.
“Sorry about that. Didn’t mean to scare you,” the voice said to
Now I’d been hearing about these things since I joined the
SubPen. Over the years I’ve seen a lot of weird stuff that I
couldn’t explain but could somebody explain why one of Kim’s
plot squid was hiding under my bed?
The squid was about four feet long from the top of its head to
the tip of its longest tentacle. Somehow I always thought they
would be taller. It had a pair of bright blue eyes, and sported
a matching set of stars. The head-squid himself, how special was
“It’s polite to say hi when someone greets you,” the critter
said to me with an uplifted auburn eyebrow.
“Ah, okay. Hi,”
“See, that wasn’t so bad.”
I picked myself up and sat back down in the chair at my desk.
The admiral-squid (what else should I call a squid with a full
collar of stars?) wrapped limber tentacles around the bedpost
and pulled himself up into the top of the bed. He bounced a few
times and giggled.
“Oh, comfy,” he said.
“Glad you like it. Listen, is there a reason I’m being visited
by creatures born out of the imagination of a blond-crazed fan
The pink cephalopod settled himself down on my mattress and
blinked big sapphire eyes at me. “We heard you were having a
little trouble in the writing department.”
My turn to blink. “We?” I asked weakly. Then it dawned on me. I
had an admiral squid in my room, that only means there should be
at least two more roaming around somewhere. I turned back to my
computer and came face to face with a pair of liquid amber eyes.
I jumped plum out of the chair and landed once more on my butt
on the floor. The Lee-Squid was perched on the edge of my desk.
“Well, nobody’s going to believe this,” I muttered as I picked
myself up off the floor. I glanced at the two squid in my room,
still coming up short one. That’s when there came a clang and a
clatter from the bathroom across the hall.
I darted out of my room to find another squid rummaging around
in the medicine cabinet. I caught a glimpse of a caduceus,
glistening on one side of the squid’s neck(?).
“Hey, you don’t happen to have any gauze? Alcohol swabs? Some
Band-Aids? I figure before this trip is over SOMEBODY’S gonna
need some,” the Jamie-squid groused.
“That’s not fair! We only just got here!” wailed the Lee-squid
from my room.
“Settle down you two, we didn’t come here to argue about Lee’s
habit of landing in Sickbay,” piped up the admiral.
“It’s not a habit,” the squid skipper grumbled, crossing the
longer pair of his tentacles and pouting.
“Call it what you will, I’ll lay odds ten to one that before we
get back to the boat you’ll bruise something,” came the sharp
retort from the Jamie-squid as he slithered (?) his way across
the hall into my room.
That’s when my mom came upstairs with a stack of clean towels to
be put away. She glanced into my room, taking in the odd
“Friends of yours?” she asked me.
“You might say that.”
“That explains the one in the refrigerator,” she said.
“Refrigerator?” There was no doubt in my mind which squid was
raiding the fridge. I turned back to my visitors.
“You three stay here. Don’t go roaming around till I get back.”
I ordered and headed downstairs, ignoring the grumbling coming
from my room.
I passed trough the dinning room, past the big double windows
that looked out over my iris beds and into the kitchen. The
fridge door was wide open and yet another squid was intently
rummaging around in my fridge. On the cabinet next to the fridge
was a bowl of chips (no pun intended), a sandwich with all the
trimmings, a big dill pickle, some pickled pepper rings, the
left over coleslaw from last night, a chicken leg, also left
over from last night and a corndog from lunch.
“Hey, is there any ketchup?” The squid pulled out of my fridge
and gave me a wide-eyed innocent blue-eyed gaze. Blond eyebrows
wiggled at me.
“You’ll have to get a new bottle. We had corndogs and fries for
lunch. We had to feed the roofing crew. They used what was in
the last bottle.”
“Have they started yet? I told them not to start without me. We
skipped breakfast, Lee wouldn’t stop and I can’t function on an
empty stomach,” the Chip-squid announced, wiggling his way
across the floor, up the stairs, balancing a plate, a bowl and a
can of soda.
What have I gotten myself into? Has this ever happened to any
other the other girls? With a resigned sigh, I followed the
squid-exec up the stairs, wondering if this was Kim’s idea of a
By the time I got back to my room, the National Geographics were
scattered across the floor in a bright yellow tide.
“You can get some pretty good ideas from here, did you know
that?” the admiral squid asked without looking up from a
pilfered magazine. I sat down in the chair, trying to make sense
“I know actually that. I don’t have a problem with ideas. I have
enough ideas. It’s getting them into fiction form that’s hard.”
From the desk came a low weak moan. I spun the chair around to
see the Lee-squid staring at m computer screen, scrolling
through my story in progress. He was reading Doppelganger, my
latest problem child. His normally healthy pinkish skin tone had
turned decidedly pale. Was it possible for squid to faint?
“You can’t do that to me, it’s just not . . .I mean. . .it’s . .
Quickly I reached over and closed down the file. “Would you
relax? I wouldn’t kill off a main character, you know that. You
get rescued. Stop freaking out.”
“You fan writers scare me sometimes.”
“Don’t read it and it won’t scare you. Did you come here for a
reason other than trashing my room?” I asked.
“Oh, very nice,” the Jamie-squid was saying, up to his elbows
(squid have elbows?) in my sewing box. He had my pincushion out
and was carefully examining the collection of long beading
needles I had. “These would work in a pinch if I had to stitch
The Lee-squid scrambled over top the monitor and peeked out from
around the side. “You keep those things away from me. I hate
needles, you know that,” he said. Poor thing looked so scared I
couldn’t help myself.
“Nobody’s gonna stick a needle in you, Lee. Calm down.”
“I promise. Just settle down.”
“I don’t like needles you know,”
“Yes, I know. Chip, what are you doing?”
”Jellybeans! Starburst Jellybeans, those are the best.” The
Chip-squid was happily munching away on my stash of
I thought I hidden in the bottom of the desk drawer. The desk
came from my uncle’s house and had a ‘false bottom’ in the
bottom left hand drawer. Secret compartment, if you will. Some
“Lee, when you get some time, you might want to look over some
of these and familiarize yourself with these, just in case.”
The admiral-squid had moved on from the National Geographic and
was now digging through my collection of ghost books. In
addition to writing fan fiction for a couple of different
things, I’m fascinated by myths and legends and true ghost
stories. The admiral was flipping through a book about Civil
Wars ghost sightings.
“If it’s all the same to you, sir, I’d just as soon stay away
from that. I don’t want any of them getting any ideas.” Lee
At the point the closet door decided to open. On its own. All
four squid stared.
I sighed. This stuff is hard to explain if you’ve never seen it
“That’s probably just Dad. He likes to open doors and hide
things.” I said by way of explanation. It was the truth. Dad
likes to open doors that are suppose to be closed and close
doors that are suppose to be open. He thinks it’s funny.
The admiral squid peered curiously up at me. “Didn’t your father
die back in 2004?”
How does an imaginary creature know this stuff?
“Admiral, can we go now? I don’t think I like it here any more,”
said a very small voice from behind the computer monitor.
“You can relax. He won’t hurt you.”
“You sure? He doesn’t want my body?”
“No, you’re confused, that would be Sue, Rita and Kate. Probably
more, I just can’t keep them all straight.”
“Not you?” The admiral asked with a smirk.
The Chip-squid took a long look at me and squeaked, jumping over
the bed and ducking behind the other side.
“SHE”S ONE OF THOSE CHIPPETTES!! HIDE ME!” he yelped. I sighed
and counted to ten. The admiral was giving me one of those
“Is there anyone I need to be concerned about?” he asked drolly.
“Ah, maybe Helen and Stephanie.”
“Hold up, wait just a second. What the heck are you here for?
I’m kinda of busy at the moment. I’ve got dues coming up in a
month and a half dozen projects to finish. You’re not helping.”
“That’s what we came here for. To help,” the Chip-squid said,
slowly oozing up from the other side of the bed.
I leaned back in the chair. Clearly I was in the throws of
either one weird dream or I need to lay off the jellybeans. What
ever these four had come here for, it had better be good.
The Lee squid jumped out from behind the monitor, tentacles
“Sonar contact, Admiral, it profiles like another sub!” he
exclaimed, glancing wildly around.
From the top of my bookcase, Chip was taking in the whole room.
“Ah, Lee, she doesn’t have sonar equipment, unless that computer
is way better than it looks.”
I was going to have to have a serious chat with Kim about
keeping her critters in Florida.
“That wasn’t sonar, that was my incoming email. I have a new
“Your incoming email sounds like sonar?” Lee asked me. What can
I say? I’m a fan. I like sound effects.
“The Hotmail account sound like sonar, the Yahoo account sounds
like a whip crack. That’s how I keep them straight. Would you
move your tentacles so I can check my email?”
Lee oozed out of my way and I was able to see who it was. I read
the new message with a grin. I rolled my eyes up to the top of
my monitor and the hazel eyed squid staring down at me.
“I have someone you should meet. She has vodka.” I announced.
The eyes lit up. “Vodka?” Definite interest here. “What’s her
The skipper squid raised a dark eyebrow. “But is she nice?”
No way was I telling him about
The Weakest Link. I needed these
squid out of my house so I could get back to work. Diane was
willing to take one off my hands and I was more than willing to
“She’s really sweet. You’ll like her.” I blinked innocently. The
Lee squid looked over at the admiral.
“Sir, if you don’t mind? “
“Go ahead Lee. Just remember we’re due back at the sub at 0600.
We promised Kim we’d help her with her story. That still gives us
plenty of time to help Sharon here.”
Goody me. “See you back aboard then.” With a snap, the Lee squid
was gone. I sighed, thankful to be rid of one unexplainable
Now I just had to figure out what to do with the other three.
Another incoming email pulled my attention form the cephalopod
invasion. With a couple of clicks I pulled up the new message
and breathed a sigh of relief. If I played my cards right, I
could unload another squid on a fellow Subpen-er.
“Good news? The admiral asked me.
Oh yeah. “You know that Stephanie I mentioned?”
“Her son’s home this weekend. How would you like to spend a few
hours with a Navy SEAL?”
“I didn’t come up here to get pawned off on another fan writer.
We came up here to help you with your writer's block.”
I glanced around my room, the same room I had just straightened
up before setting down to try and write. Empty soda cans, dirty
plates and bowls littered the desk and selves. The floor had a
scattering of crumbs that my cat Andy had found and was doing me
the favor of cleaning up for me. My magazines were scattered all
over the floor and my books were riffled through, lying in small
stacks on the floor. Somebody had dug the notebooks I carry back
and forth to work and had done me the favor of reworking my
outlines, drawing lines through all the spots were I pick on Lee
and care carefully inserting Chip’s name. Now who could have
“I see how helpful you’ve been.” I had a good half and hour of
cleaning ahead of me before I could get back to work.
“You just have to stop trying so hard. Take it easy. Don’t push
“Easier said than done. Listen, you’ll really like Stephanie. I
think you’d have a lot to talk about.”
“She’s a writer as well, right? What has she written?”
I paused, remembering Lee’s reaction to my stories. Might not be
a good idea to mention Lost and Found to the admiral. When all
else fails, lie.
“Can’t remember right off. I do think you’ll get along, though.”
The admiral considered this. “It might not hurt to stop by for a
quick visit. Just to be polite, of course. Chip, Will, stay here
and help her out. I’d like to see that back log of stories
cleared out in two weeks.”
With a snap, the admiral was gone. Two weeks? Was he crazy? I’ve
been fighting with this block for four months and he thinks that
a visit from a couple of make-believe creatures is gonna inspire
me to finish the six stories I’ve been fighting with since
mid-December? Genius or not, the admiral was crazy.
Jamie looked up from my sewing box. He’d pilfered my scissors,
the needles, and the spools of thread, even my seam rippers and
everything was in the floor.
“I really should go after Lee, just in case. You’re not gonna
pawn me off on anybody are you?” he asked.
I had somebody in mind, if she was willing to take the doctor
squid off my hands. That would leave me with one squid. I can
handle one squid.
The blue eyes topped by blond eyebrows gazed down at me from the
top of the bookshelf.
Maybe I could handle one squid.
Now I was down to one squid. Jamie decided he better check on
Lee and I was more than happy to let Diane deal with him. That
left me with one squid to deal with and I had a serious beef
He was still sitting on top my bookcase. I raised one eyebrow
and glared at the critter.
He glared back.
I backed down. At four feet tall, he’s still intimating. Still,
the runty little thing was not going to throw a monkey wrench
into my carefully planed day. I’d been running back and forth to
my aunt’s house and my uncle’s house, moving all his stuff out
after he died. For a bachelor, my Uncle Danny had a ton of
stuff. This was the first week in a dog’s age that I didn’t have
to go to Louisville, or the grocery or work in the yard to get
the damage from the ice storm cleaned up or have a doctor’s
appointment. I was planning on using this weekend to write and
get some long overdue projects finished. I did not plan on
entertaining pink cephalopods.
“This used to be easy.” I grumbled as I sat back down in the
chair at my desk.
“So why isn’t easy any more?” Chip asked.
“It just isn’t. It’s not something I can explain. I’ve got three
stories that center around you, and I can’t finish them. I’ve
another Lee story that I can’t finish because I’ve reach a point
where YOU come in and the whole thing is your worry about Lee
and the admiral’s state of mind.”
“Sorry. The admiral said you had six stories and that’s only
four. I might be a squid but I can still count. What are the
other two about?”
I was discussing plot lines with a squid. This was a new one,
even for me. “One’s a Lee & Serena piece and the other is a
Lee & Jamie piece, plus I still want to rework Lost so I
the sequel for my dues. If I can get them done.”
I couldn’t stand it any longer. I got up and started gathering
up my magazines and books, replacing them on their shelves. My
back was to the bed and for a second I thought I heard a giggle
coming from under the bed. Please tell me there weren’t more
squid under there. Since when did the underside of my bed become
a portal for plot squid?
“The admiral’s right. You’re trying to hard. Stop freaking out
and just let it go.”
“That’s easy for you to say. You’re the product of somebody
else’s imagination who, for some random reason, turned up at my
house. I’ve got an idea. Why don’t you go find somebody else to
harass? I’ve got enough problems and you’re not helping any
“Oh no. The admiral told me to stay here. When he gets back and
finds out I left, he’ll rip me a new one. I’m staying right
here,” he said, crossing tentacles over his chest. I noticed his
eyes kept shifting to the underside of my bed. Something squidly
was going on here.
“Listen, it’s not that I don’t appreciate your help, I do, but
I’m not going to get anything done with you perched on top my
Mercedes Lackey books. I’m just starting to get into the groove
of things again and you’re blowing my concentration all to
pieces. Why don’t you go visit Fidelma?”
“I can’t. I have to stay here.” Again his big blue eyes shifted
to the floor and I defiantly heard something muffled.
“Cut it out! She’ll hear us!” came a muffled exclamation. The
voice was familiar, but I was drawing a blank as to who it was.
In my head, I cycled though all the episodes I could think of
that had female guests. The best I could come up with was Katie,
but this didn’t sound like her. I decided to ignore it. Maybe
once I got rid of Chip, who ever was under the bed would follow.
“Seriously Chip. You should go. Fidelma is really nice, in case
you’ve never met her.” As long as I didn’t mention
Epilogue, I was good. Let her deal with Chip so I
can get some work done. The squid could explain to Kim their
little field trip.
Chip slithered off the bookshelf. “She’s never lost me in the
jungle, has she?4” he eyed me with suspicion.
“No, that’s me. You turned up at the end of the story, what are
you griping about? Go say ‘hi’ to Fidelma. If the admiral comes
back here, I’ll tell him it was my idea. Go on.”
“Well, if you think I should.”
“I do. I can’t get anything done with you hanging around. What
are you waiting for?”
“Okay. Just do me a favor and keep an eye on the girls, would
you? I’m not supposed to let them out of my sight, but if you
watch them for me, the admiral can’t yell at me. Thanks!”
POP and Chip was gone. Girls? What girls? I had a horrible
thought. Surely not. My imagination isn’t that good, is it?
I dropped to my knees and lifted the edge of the bedspread. Two
more pair of eyes blinked in concert at me. One was bright blue,
the same color as Chip’s and the other had green eyes.
“Lady, you and I need to have a chat,” said the voice I always
heard when I wrote dialogue for Serena.
“A chat with me?” I asked. This clearly was not my day for
“Well, I didn’t tag along to play with the cats. Do you know how
much fast talking I had to do to get the admiral to let me come
along?” Serena-squid snapped.
“We have to take into account the space-continuum, alternate
universes, diverse time lines, I mean, really, this wasn’t not
an easy trip,” the Wendy-squid added.
Serena wasn’t done with me yet. “What’s this garbage about you
ditching my character? What did I ever do to you? Don’t you like
me? I like me. I like you. I like Chip and if you ditch me,
there can’t be a sequel to Snowlight and of there’s no sequel,
then obviously we don’t end up together, and that’s just not
going to work. I wasn’t created to just give up that easily,
lady,” the green-eyed squid said to me.
I’m pretty sure Kim put her up to this. I always knew the
decision to post Serena’s stories was going to come back to
haunt me one day.
1. Except from
2. Except from
Where Hope Lies
3. Except from random unfinished piece
4. See the short story Lost. Not yet public. Soon to be found
Thanks to Kim for coming up with these little darlings and for
letting me borrow them. Also special thanks for Rita, Diane, Fidelma,
Stephanie, Kate and Sue for their stories and letting me include
them in my little story. :)