Now, in the neighboring town, there lived the two friends Whale Head and Eyeball. Whale Head was known far and wide as the most beautiful maiden in all the land. Eyeball, on the other hand, was known as the smartest. Though they were very fond of each other, they were also very jealous of each other, as opposites are wont to do. On this particular night they were taking a stroll along the lake of red wine gifted to Whale Head by her 49th suitor, the 7-toed Prince of Terep. Whale Head took in the familiar scenery and sighed a deep and withering sigh:
“Oh, Eyeball, though I am the fairest in all the land, I cannot help but feel depressed today. After all, what worth is my beauty if I cannot fill the trees with truncated tesseracts and make love to the inexhaustible number zero, as you have done and continue to do?”
“Whale Head,” said Eyeball, “if you were as intelligent as I, you would see immediately how foolish that statement is. Your suitors number in the thousands, and mine are nonexistent. No man has ever looked my way, and I am certain that I will never know true love. Yes, I do receive some pleasure from the number zero, but we all know that a mathematical love pales in comparison to a physical one.”
“Perhaps, but…” countered Whale Head, or tried to counter. Just then they were interrupted by three subtle chimes, and then the forest surrounding them let out clouds of steam from between the gaps in the tree bark. The moon above them melted into two in a process of cosmic cell division. On the surface of the moons grew the faces of Echo and her sister.
The dominant sister spoke: “Your deepest wishes we have divined, and unravel them we shall. Listen my friends—all around us the sweetly ecstatic spells and abandoned magick come a calling. In our own way and time, we unseal you.”
The two moons then collapsed in on themselves, leaving behind a swelling wave of black jelly. The black jelly rapidly descended towards the ground and splattered against it, coating everything in a dark and sticky film. Whale Head and Eyeball were completely covered, and as the substance began to seep into them a very odd transformation began to take place. In the first second, they were flattened to the ground in a thin puddle of flesh. In the next moment, a form began to emerge from each puddle. From the puddle that was once Eyeball there emerged a large and beautiful bird, the most wondrous bird that had ever lived. From the puddle that was once Whale Head, there emerged an old and sagging crone.
“Bah, I feel so sore. So completely and utterly unpleasant,” said Whale Head the crone. And then she suddenly realized that she understood all calculations of the galactic vertebrae, and a few god notes, too.
Eyeball, on the other hand, could no longer even tell the difference between a saddled Jamaican sunflower and a Franciscan buzzlebee, and was busy flirting with the robins and sparrows who had suddenly congregated around her with bedroom eyes and poorly thought out marriage proposals.
With a little luck and a lot of effort, Whale Head pulled herself up off the disagreeable ground and hobbled back to town to take a much needed nap. She coughed a goodbye to Eyeball, who was too preoccupied with her growing mass of suitors to acknowledge Whale Head. (We shall return to Eyeball later.)
During Whale Head’s sleep her organs grew very impatient and bored, since they too had become hyper intelligent. In order to amuse themselves, they read all the books in a twenty-seven-mile radius by spatial osmosis, and also managed to solve the paradox of the radial ostrich, which had been plaguing the King’s court philosophers for many decades now. Around three in the morning the right lung climbed out of her ear and squish-squashed off down the road to tell the King the wonderful news.
Whale Head woke around eight, feeling very rested and content. She sat down for a delightful breakfast, but midway through it she heard a loud knock on the door. She opened it, and standing before her was the King’s Feet Man. The Feet Man brought together his two feet and with them silently mouthed these words:
“Greetings, illustrious and worthwhile maiden. My King demands, um, requests your presence in the castle immediately.”
Whale head was most definitely put off by the Feet Man’s impetuous tone, but decided that she had really better go along with him, and together they headed off towards the castle.
Now, the King of this land was a rather disagreeable fellow, as are all Kings. He was in the unique habit of boiling and eating all of the three-legged children born in his kingdom. This was because one of his court philosophers erroneously believed that three-legged children contained a variety of medicinal and healing properties, and had informed the King of his discovery. It had been an endless massacre at court ever since. In any case, when Whale Head arrived at the throne room the King reluctantly welcomed her, motioning for her to sit down on a nearby cushion.
“So, tell me all about it. How did an ugly old spinster such as yourself solve the radial ostrich paradox?” asked the King, as he suckled on the pickled toes of an infant.
Whale Head, having no remembrance of any such event, merely said, “Excuse me?”
“You know, the old paradox. A messenger came this morning to tell me the news. Your right lung, I think. Out with it, hag, or I shall throw you down the garbage chute,” said the King.
“Hmph, how very rude. I’ve quite enough of gods and masters, thank you,” said Whale Head, and she kicked the King’s smug head clean off his shoulders. It bounced off of a few of the throne room’s walls, eventually landing in the floating pigeon bowl. She then tore off her red cotton dress and swung it over her head in triumph.
The castle guards and holy men came rushing towards old Whale Head with drawn swords and stern reproaches, but she merely recited the exact permutations of the universal calculi, causing them to disappear in a puff of incomprehension. In their places stood a myriad of chickens, frogs, kiwis, and other kindly animal folk. Afterwards, she traveled down to the dungeon and released all three thousand and thirteen of the three-legged children the King had gathered over the years. In order to prevent any further Kingship-ing, they hired a local giant to squish the castle between his toes, and everyone went off on their merry way. Whale Head spent the rest of her days in her cabin on the outskirts of the town, writing various philosophical and scientific tracts and treatises, and generally being very happy and amused with her lot in life. On her one hundred and eleventh birthday, she accidentally stumbled upon the solution for serpentine coil squares, and ascended into the 17th plane of existence where she continues to live to this day as a flattened paper wig.
We now return to Eyeball, who we left among her starry-eyed suitors many years ago.
Eyeball had spent countless wasted hours among these suitors after Whale Head had left, listening to their pleas and playing their silly love games. At length, she had started to grow rather tired of these awkward advances, and was just about to leave, when from the depths of the lake there emerged a large, elephant-sized fish. He was soaked in fish slime, he exuded the obscene confidence of a pea brain—and he was exactly what Eyeball was looking for. They immediately engaged in passionate lovemaking, excitedly flip-flopping around on the banks of the lake and squishing to death all of the previous suitors as they rolled. When finally they were spent, they turned towards each other with dumb looks in their eyes, and in a deep voice the Fish said:
“Oh, sweet and beautificent lady, I have highly enjoyed our advantiginous lovemaking. Your gelatinalia are like sweet music to me, but I really must get back to my business meeting. Yes, business, in fact I am an incredibly important man. I make Tillywhigs at the Tillywhig factory. Surely, you have heard of them. Head to my sister’s yellow cabin at the top of Turtle Hill and later we can discuss future marriage plans and so on and so forth and whatnot.”
With that, he hopped back into the water, and Eyeball headed up the hill, happy as a clam. When she reached the yellow cabin, she knocked lightly on the door, and waited. The door opened, and standing before her was the Fish’s sister.
“Welcome Dearie, and who might you be?” she said.
“My name is Eyeball. Your brother has sent me here to wait, good lady. We are soon to be betrothed,”
“I see. Well, then, you may call me Mary. Please come in and make yourself at home. I do apologize for the mess” Mary said, looking Eyeball up and down and evincing a rather strained smile.
Eyeball sat down, feeling somehow guilty, and Mary returned to her cooking. In another corner sat the senile old mother of Fish and Mary, now completely occupied with her spinning and looking tolerantly on at all of what her children did. Mary was working up the small monkey children into a frenzy and then bashing them on the head with flower bulbs. Afterwards, she would chop the animals up and put them in the pot along with a dash of cumin and a sprinkling of asparagus stems. As she worked her way on down the line, she hummed a familiar tune, something banal and patriotic. Eyeball took all this in with mounting shock, especially when Mary sighed and commented to herself, “Really, what I need now is a bit of bird brain and milk. Something to expand the taste a bit.” She continued along with her chopping, stealing a few glances at Eyeball, and making soft little “hmms” and “ahhhs.”
Suddenly, she spoke loudly to Eyeball, startling her so much that Eyeball nearly fell out of her chair.
“Sweet little Eyeball, could you be a dear and come over here for a moment? I really could use some help.”
Eyeball begrudgingly obliged her.
“Yes, just mix that pot over there with that cute little beak of yours. Yes, yes, quite right. Just continue with that please,” said Mary, with a gentle and kindly tone.
She then went off to rummage in the closet for a bit, struggling with something or other. Eyeball grew increasingly alarmed, but tried to shrug it off as her own over excitability. Surely, someone as nice and polite as Mary would not be planning any sort of mischief? Suddenly, a hard thud cracked the back of her little birdy head, and everything went dark.
Fish came home many hours later, expecting to see his beloved waiting for him. Instead, tufts of feathers were strewn around the house, and sitting on the table in the center of the room was a very large pot of stew. Quickly divining what had transpired, he bellowed, “Woman! What have you done with my bride? I can’t believe”—and suddenly a spoon was lodged deep in his mouth by the crafty Mary.
“I—well—but that is quite a fine stew, Mary! I’ll be damned, let’s eat!” he said, and quickly plopped down into his chair at the head of the table. The two of them then proceeded to slurp down every last drop and felt very much content afterwards.
Steven Cline, Walrus, hand-cut collage 2015