Words by Franny Choi
Illustration by Molly McClurg
THE MANTIS SHRIMP SPEAKS
“Mantis Shrimp (Order Stomatopoda): Lightning-fast predators with the most complex eyes in the animal kingdom. Their powerful limbs spear or club their prey using one of the fastest responses known to man. They can deliver a blow that is equivalent to the force of a bullet.” — BBC Science & Nature
Sometimes, when the photoreceptors of my fears flare up, I see every possible shade of criticism refract out from each speck of word floating in the wind, and I am filled with a desire to crack every looking glass between my jaws. Sometimes, the world is six times more vibrant than I have the patience for, every outline electric and multiplicitous. Text / subtext / historical ripples / every television ad a screaming hyperspectral rainbow bursting with parallel deaths.
It is hard, being a prism in a burning city. ((from “In Case of Burning” by Fatimah Asghar)) To be such a quantum mechanical prophet, constantly slitting the throats of hypothetical cats for the sake of argument. For the sake of argument, I spread the cards and shoot a hole in every one, just to watch the smoldering ring become a thousand scrambled Warhol prints of itself.
This is the only way I know how to tell someone what I want, to describe the infinitely unfolded accordion of my heart. To love with a rage gone blind from the knowledge of the stolen lands, dirty wars, honor killings, false idols, forced soldiers, and buried throats haunting every sentence. Too many truths setting my retinas ablaze, and me, mad, mad, mad at the end of it all.
THE HINDSIGHT OCTOPUS
Northern Atlantic Ocean caves and Greyhound luggage compartments; often, several miles from the nearest ATM.
Omnivorous. Common prey include missed appointments, mistakenly sent text messages, unsuccessful jokes, wrong turns, right turns that look wrong for the first few blocks, and all manners of small errors.
The Hindsight Octopus is most notable for its ability to latch onto mistakes and insecurities with a vice-like grip. A normally shy and elusive creature, the Hindsight Octopus will often surprise its prey by camouflaging itself beneath a bed of justifications for its territorial habits. When hunting, the octopus will seize its prey with its extremely strong tentacles and continue to tighten its grip until it faints from exhaustion, often releasing a storm of ocean currents from special tear ducts in its many eyes. The Hindsight Octopus has often been found stalking the ocean floor alone or retreating to its cave after such instances. It has also been discovered that the octopus’s output of ink increases after these hunts, most notably in a intricate retracing of its steps. It is only after reenacting each moment several times through elaborate displays of ink that the Hindsight Octopus is able to lay the skeleton of its prey to rest in the garden surrounding its cave. Though this animal is widely known for its “performances,” scientists disagree as to whether this behavior is beneficial to the creature, or a debilitating evolutionary fluke.
DID YOU KNOW?:
The only way to kill a Hindsight Octopus is to release it into the wild. ◥