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N: A large marine animal, indigenous to arctic regions.

By cachilders in Fiction
Tue Oct 21, 2003 at 09:09:58 PM EST
Tags: etc (all tags)

"One more," the walrus said. "One more of these goddamn splinters, and I'm calling it quits."

But one more came and there was no quitting in the walrus's heart. He mumbled as he worked the sliver of errant wood from the soft of his flipper, just as he had upon removing each of its predecessors. Again, he swore that one more would be one too many.

The work was slow, but after days and days, a thing began to take shape. Where the desert had forever stretched out in every direction beyond the woodpiles and smokefactories and oilsoaked waterholes of his oasis, there now grew a stretch of wooden sea, painted out to the edge in blue and white, vanishing into the dangerous desert sun. There were rocks, too, jagged juts of painted gray, complete with frozen splashes of wooden break bashing against their sturdy forms.

So convincing was the illusion of the sea, that upon pulling the last of the splinters from his scarred and calloused flipper, the walrus lost all knowing of the falseness of his creation. Where the sea remained endlessly still, he taught his ears to know the nigh inaudible creak of aging paint. It was in that sound the tide would rise and the foam would spray.

The desert was not pleased, and the smokefactories, obscured as they were by the great rocks that dotted the artificial beach, were downright furious. Yet for all of that natural rage, the walrus sensed nothing more than the harsh anger of the sea. The blackest of smoke was only the thickest of mists, clinging to the dangerous spires of his imposing stones. The swarms of poisonous fauna that slithered toward the wooden shore along the painted waves were only the spawning wild of the unknown deep, an endless feast for the deluded beast.

In this way, the years were good. He came to know the laws of his world, and all fell into the rhythm of his dream. He grew fat on the flat ocean's bounty, so much so that in time he had only to open his mouth to be nourished. So seldom did he move that he began to forget the great wooden rocks that loomed behind him. So too did he forget those parts of him that made the moving possible. Eventually he remembered nothing of flippers and the flopping. There were only his eyes, from which the universe spread. There was only his mouth, into which the universe poured.

Imagine, then, his concern when the traveler came to his shore. A man, the traveler was far too large to climb into the great walrus's gape, but the creature held it wide nonetheless. Stranger still, was the man's demeanor. It behaved in such a way as to suggest that the walrus was not the center of the world. It behaved in such a way as to suggest that the walrus's beach was not what it appeared to be.

The walrus winced as the man pried up a faded-blue plank of wake. He winced again as the man repeated the action. Over and over the walrus winced, his mind reeling at the insanity of the moment. He considered moving away from the man, down the shore perhaps, but the idea seemed too ridiculous.

Should the center move, the walrus thought, the universe must, in turn, move at equal measure. Thusly, no motion is possible.

So the creature remained still, its mouth held wide for the eventual realization of the man that it existed only to be eaten. The man, however, never came to such a realization. Instead, it built a pile of busted water at the shoreline, and in the waning of the great and boiling sun, it set fire to the assembled planks.

At the sight of those flames, stretching high into the ink of night, the walrus cried. Something fragile had broken, though he was unsure of what it was. In desperation he called out to the interloper.

"Why do you burn my sea?"

The man turned in shock toward the walrus, as if it had not noticed him until now.

"I burn this wood because I am cold. What other reason should there be?"

The walrus had no answer. He'd never considered reason before. Until now, he'd never had occasion.

"Besides," the man said, "there's plenty to go around."

It was true, the walrus supposed. Indeed, if he closed his left eye, the man and his fire disappeared entirely. Through his right eye there was only the pristine field of moonlit blue, and so he learned to keep that eye open, and the other closed.

Weeks passed and all was well. The walrus taught his right eye to see more than it ever had, and he had forgotten about the man altogether. That is, until he felt the man chewing at his side. He couldn't see his attacker, but there was no mistaking the sharp of its teeth. In desperation, the walrus cried out.

"Why do you eat at my side?"

There was a break in the chewing as the man answered.

"Because I'm hungry. Why else?"

The walrus hadn't been hungry in years, but it sounded terrible. He imagined it was as good a reason as any, and set about ignoring the pain. Yet for every inconvenience he decided to tolerate, the man would concoct another, and another, and another; until there was nothing left of the walrus but the minimum required to sustain his existence. And when the time came that the beach and rocks and sea had all been reduced to ash, and the smokefactories and oilsoaked waterholes were all that remained to be seen, the man set about its preparation to depart.

With what little meat remained, the walrus asked, "Why do you leave?"

He had grown accustomed to the man, in spite of the pain it caused.

"Because," the man replied from atop a distant dune, "there is nothing left for me to take."

Next time, the walrus thought, next time I'll build a goddamn fence. And with that, the walrus expired. And with that, the desert was pleased.


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N: A large marine animal, indigenous to arctic regions. | 61 comments (36 topical, 25 editorial, 1 hidden)
Hippy. (1.71 / 7) (#6)
by tkatchev on Mon Oct 20, 2003 at 11:11:15 AM EST

Let's put some spiked, poisonous chains on trees in rainforests.

That should teach those humans.

   -- Signed, Lev Andropoff, cosmonaut.

Why don't the Against-voters speak up? (2.10 / 10) (#9)
by jonsg on Mon Oct 20, 2003 at 11:43:29 AM EST

'cos I don't see any reason for there to have been quite so many, and there've been almost no negative comments. C'mon, what's so bad about it?

It's Fiction (n/t) (1.00 / 4) (#17)
by KilljoyAZ on Mon Oct 20, 2003 at 04:20:17 PM EST

Creativitiy cannot be SPELT by over 98% of all American troops. - psychologist
[ Parent ]
It's <em>bad</em> fiction. (2.00 / 3) (#23)
by ZanThrax on Mon Oct 20, 2003 at 09:51:24 PM EST

And worse, blatantly allegorical fiction.

There is no spoon, there never was a spoon, and there never will be a spoon.
[ Parent ]

Do you really not know? (none / 1) (#27)
by gazbo on Tue Oct 21, 2003 at 05:37:04 AM EST

As others have said, it's nicely written and well put together, but the story itself...well put it this way: the title might as well be "We love you, Mother Earth!"

If you're going to write an allegory then for God's sake make it a little more original than how man is raping the planet.

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[ Parent ]

Hm (none / 1) (#39)
by bugmaster on Tue Oct 21, 2003 at 05:42:53 PM EST

I think there might be more to the story than that. After all, the walrus is not the traditional poor, defenceless bunny of some sort -- he is basically a self-centered jerk who prefers the escapism of his illusions to actually doing something worthwhile. I think this story is a parable about different kinds of humans, not about humans vs nature.
[ Parent ]
Either way, the story as a whole doesn't appeal (none / 2) (#41)
by gazbo on Tue Oct 21, 2003 at 06:29:57 PM EST

But as I said, the style of writing was actually very good. Hopefully we'll see some more stuff from him.

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[ Parent ]

maybe it was humans and nature (none / 0) (#46)
by Morally Inflexible on Wed Oct 22, 2003 at 05:11:27 AM EST

perhaps the point was that all creatures, not just man, see themselves as the center of the universe. given the chance, animals will hunt their prey to extenction even faster than humans.

Personally, I liked it. Yes, it was written in the style of a robert bly story, but the moral is somewhat non-obvious

[ Parent ]

"Up", said the against-voter (nt) (none / 1) (#32)
by nkyad on Tue Oct 21, 2003 at 01:30:43 PM EST

Don't believe in anything you can't see, smell, touch or at the very least infer from a good particle accelerator run

[ Parent ]
You forgot to mention. . . . (2.20 / 10) (#10)
by IHCOYC on Mon Oct 20, 2003 at 11:48:03 AM EST

. . . the walrus was Paul.
Luce extincta, periculum minus: adsumus, oblectemur!
Stultus me sentio ac pestifer: adsumus, oblectemur!

We can't help but feel that something is missing (2.73 / 26) (#11)
by K5 ASCII reenactment players on Mon Oct 20, 2003 at 11:59:23 AM EST

At last!  Odenobenic fiction!  But we think that
you forgot our proud cousin...
     \                          // //
        ___       The crying   // //\ 
       /   \      Native      ======   
      | o  o      American.    - - ##
      | = m=|               \  /_d  |
     /   / \ \                  =   |
____/   || || \                \___/
        |/ \|  \
   /           |
_ /           /\

Nice walrus, (none / 2) (#14)
by cachilders on Mon Oct 20, 2003 at 03:50:38 PM EST

but the crying native american could use some work.

[ Parent ]
Huh? (none / 1) (#42)
by zeigenfus on Tue Oct 21, 2003 at 07:00:49 PM EST

What do you mean odenobenic?

[ Parent ]
+1 section (1.66 / 6) (#29)
by daragh on Tue Oct 21, 2003 at 11:28:13 AM EST

As I quite like Walruses. Or is that Walri?

No work.

Me too. (2.25 / 4) (#38)
by jmzero on Tue Oct 21, 2003 at 03:55:41 PM EST

I was ready to vote it up as soon as I saw "walrus".  I spent a whole day at the New York aquarium watching the walruses.  Really.  

They're just great large things.  Walrus.  It's even a great word.  Walrus.

I liked the story too, though I wish it had had a slightly more happy ending for the walrus.  I think K5 needs more positive roles for walruses in its fiction/allegory.  Sure you can use them as "fat" or "all-consuming" - but why not powerful and wise?  
"Let's not stir that bag of worms." - my lovely wife
[ Parent ]

i liked it, it kind of made me cry for the walrus (none / 2) (#33)
by Please grow up on Tue Oct 21, 2003 at 01:30:51 PM EST

this is exactly the reason why i read kuroshin, please write more stories like this one
(my user name should be "Please be Nice", dont pick your user name when your feeling annoyed!!)
Desert Bounty (none / 2) (#40)
by bugmaster on Tue Oct 21, 2003 at 05:47:16 PM EST

I think I may be missing the central point of this story :-( But the concrete question I have is: why is the desert bountiful (at least to the walrus) ? What with all the factories and the sand and the oil-soaked water-holes, I would think the walrus would starve to death long before the man came.
Bounty (none / 1) (#43)
by cachilders on Tue Oct 21, 2003 at 07:08:40 PM EST

The desert is attacking the walrus in the only way it knows, by sending dangerous lizards and snakes to bite him. Unfortunately for the desert, the walrus is not picky about what he eats.

[ Parent ]
Galumph galumph (none / 2) (#44)
by celeriac on Tue Oct 21, 2003 at 09:45:26 PM EST

this is an awesome fucking story. (none / 0) (#47)
by thinkinganarchy on Wed Oct 22, 2003 at 06:02:40 AM EST

i am reminded of shel silverstein.

Thanks (none / 1) (#48)
by daragh on Wed Oct 22, 2003 at 06:29:15 AM EST

Enjoyed this.

No work.

Am I the only one...? (3.00 / 4) (#49)
by nowan on Wed Oct 22, 2003 at 10:26:21 AM EST

Who saw this as being about truth & reality rather than about environmentalism?

The man isn't some evil environment-destroyer. It was the walrus that did that -- the man returned it to its original state. The story could be paraphrased (badly) by saying that reality is nasty and ugly, and if you hide from that ugliness it will become uglier still.

Come on -- an arctic marine creature in a desert? How out of place can you get? And so he builds a wooden sea while the desert screams out in anger? And he convinces himself he doesn't hear it? It's all about self-delusion.

Not the only one (none / 0) (#53)
by bugmaster on Wed Oct 22, 2003 at 01:19:40 PM EST

That's also pretty close to the impression that I received. Although, I suppose, one could see environmental themes in the story in addition to truth/reality themes: after all, the factories and the oil pools and the general harshness of reality are, at least partially, of human making.
[ Parent ]
is this some indictment (none / 1) (#50)
by Cloudship Tacitus on Wed Oct 22, 2003 at 12:18:26 PM EST

of american hegemony? or has my rye bread gone so stale that it's covered in ergot acid?

I kinda thought that too (none / 0) (#54)
by JahToasted on Wed Oct 22, 2003 at 02:29:41 PM EST

It takes place in a desert, the walrus is trying to create its own reality there, and is oblivious to it being destroyed by the man. But who is the man?

But thinking about it more I came to the conclusion that the story doesn't really mean anything. Its just a bunch of weird stuff.
"I wanna have my kicks before the whole shithouse goes up in flames" -- Jim Morrison
[ Parent ]

the man = the world (none / 0) (#57)
by Cloudship Tacitus on Wed Oct 22, 2003 at 02:49:28 PM EST

after the US gets too complacent and goes into decline, similar to how the UK did (although this story would be a much more drastic rendition thereof)

[ Parent ]
Perhaps. (none / 0) (#60)
by Jel on Fri Oct 24, 2003 at 12:21:28 PM EST

Or vice-versa, perhaps.
...lend your voices only to sounds of freedom. No longer lend your strength to that which you wish to be free from. Fill your lives with love and bravery, and we shall lead a life uncommon
- Jewel, Life Uncommon
[ Parent ]
Question (none / 2) (#51)
by TheModerate on Wed Oct 22, 2003 at 12:47:05 PM EST

How does a Walrus paint with flippers? How does a Walrus feed himself without moving anywhere? What does a Walrus eat in a desert (there are no fish)? What kind of man nibbles on a living Walrus?

Its okay for a story to not follow exactly the laws of reality as we know it. But I can only suspend my disbelief so much before it snaps.

"What a man has in himself is, then, the chief element in his happiness." -- Schopenhauer

Fable (none / 1) (#52)
by bugmaster on Wed Oct 22, 2003 at 01:17:43 PM EST

I think this is less of a story, more of a fable. Fables, in general, don't have to follow any reality at all, since their events and characters are just symbols that stand for something else. Well, I could be wrong, that was just my impression of the story.
[ Parent ]
Nibbling on a living walrus. (none / 0) (#59)
by tkatchev on Wed Oct 22, 2003 at 06:10:02 PM EST

Perhaps the man is Swedish or something.

   -- Signed, Lev Andropoff, cosmonaut.
[ Parent ]

i thought (none / 0) (#55)
by hapbt on Wed Oct 22, 2003 at 02:42:00 PM EST

it was DAMN funny

even though (none / 1) (#56)
by hapbt on Wed Oct 22, 2003 at 02:42:50 PM EST

it's totally ripped off from that children's book "the giving tree"

Did ya hear the one about (none / 2) (#58)
by flippy on Wed Oct 22, 2003 at 02:49:52 PM EST

Did ya hear the one about the baby seal that walked into a club?

Consumption and Hegemony (none / 1) (#61)
by actmodern on Tue Oct 28, 2003 at 01:50:52 PM EST

This story speaks to me about consumption. Jean Baudrillard used Freudian theory to show how we removed our anxiety and put them into objects where they could be stored. This type of consumerism quickly surrounded us by objects which would hold our anxiety or issues, and keep them out of sight. I like the way the walrus began to remove splinters from his body and built a fake sea out of it (an illusion). It speaks a lot about modern consumerism (walk around your place and make notes on all the crap you bought to live with). What I don't see is how the walrus actually consumed. One would assume that things would come by and the walrus simply ate them. What I do like is the way the walrus rationalizes the man's simple responses. The way the walrus is willing to make small changes but not big ones (nothing revolutionary). It is not until the end that the walrus feels regret, and it's much too late then.

LilDebbie challenge: produce the water sports scene from bable or stfu. It does not exist.
N: A large marine animal, indigenous to arctic regions. | 61 comments (36 topical, 25 editorial, 1 hidden)
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