Inside Joke

Spirit Whale

 

From nothing there came to be a whale made of light at my open palm. The furthest tip of his great, glowing fin followed the shaky rising and falling of my forearm. I stood, poised in some absurd pose; my free hand dangling at level with my thigh. For a moment, thought eluded me.

 

 

He was disinterested in moving, though he whined all the same. A sound bellowed from him that was like a thousand trains braking simultaneously. It washed over me, and my hearing failed. My vision blurred but my legs retained their strength. I closed my eyes.

 

 

Releasing all the breath I had been holding back these last moments; I sighed and pulled my arm from the air. Before my first backward step touched down I was blasted by a sudden and massive gust of air. As I tumbled down, I caught brief sight of the whale's back end – his fin rising and falling with an unexpected and vibrant ferocity.

 

 

I twisted my body as best I could while airborne and landed with a jarring thud on the grass, rolling side-over-side before settling gracelessly in a fetal position at the base of the hill. Pain flared in my chest and upper back, and I waited for the air to return to my lungs. The ground shook and quaked beneath me. From over the crest of the hill I could see a wavering blue light, fading slowly with each passing moment. The whale gave its shrill cry, but its distance gave it a shimmering, almost ethereal quality.

 

 

“Spirit...”

 

 

I coughed, throat both dry and hoarse. No serious pain. I could walk, I was sure of it. So I tried.

 

I lifted my right arm and planted my hand on the ground, pressing into my knee and forcing my body upright. Each exertion brought additional aches, but none of them felt debilitating. Once at my feet, I began a slow, trudging march up the sloping hillside. Its peak overlooked a small canyon; thin at its middle but stretching for miles in both directions. The floor of this canyon was riddled with the bones of wayward men and wandering creatures.

 

 

On the other side of this treacherous rift in the land, there stood an altar to a legendary dark lord. Though said to only be a fairly tale, some believe the dark lord once existed, and that his spirit will still commune with worthy disciples. Some, like the nefarious priest Izak'Yami, even wished to summon the spirit and give him physical form, so that he may rule over the planet – and so that darkness may reign over light, forever. He was said to be crazy, and was cast out of his village for preaching the word of his blasphemous deity.

 

 

In front of the altar, Izak'Yami chanted with the whites of his eyes flaring from beneath his ceremonial hood. A ring of swirling gray clouds had formed over the chiseled obelisk as the haggard priest threw his hands towards the sky, uttering words unknown to humankind, save for Izak'Yami himself. Thunder rolled from the halo of storm clouds growing fatter and blacker over his head.

 

 

All seemed lost.

 

 

Each clumsy step I made shook my vision as I clambered towards the cliff's edge. I felt tired, hungry, empty; running on fumes and absentminded determination to see what would transpire across the canyon way. A silky, singsong voice unfolded in my head and spoke;

 

“Fear not, Ken. This is what I was meant to do. This is the only thing I can do.”

 

 

I felt tears sting my eyes, and I replied, my thoughts quickly spilling into frantic words;

 

 

“Spirit Whale, NO! You don't have to do this! We can find you something else! I know we can!” I cried out to him, feeling his presence shrinking away. I tried to increase my pace, but my body was giving in to exhaustion. If I pushed myself too hard, my legs might give out – leaving me stranded to helplessly look on as the world became ruled by shadows. Forever.

 

 

“There's nothing else, Ken – let's not kid each other. I've looked and looked; online, in person, even dialing random numbers from the yellow pages like some kind of stalker with short-term memory loss. I'm a Spirit Whale, Ken. I don't even have any hands.”

 

 

I felt the corners of my mouth draw down. I tried to sound concerned instead of annoyed;

 

 

“You didn't even contact the lady from that temp. office I told you about last month! She got me my job at the office, and you didn't even call her! YOU DIDN'T CALL HER, SPIRIT WHALE!”

 

 

I sobbed and snorted, at last coming level with the crest of the hill. Far into the distance I spotted a flickering blue light, gliding at high speed as its massive tail fin rose and fell in steady, glacial sweeps. I heard the echo of its cry bounding against the cliff sides that spanned between us.

 

 

Its husky and thunderous voice exploded into my thoughts;

 

 

“I DON'T HAVE ANY GOD DAMN HANDS, KEEEEEN. WHAT WOULD THEY NEED ME FOR AT AN OFFICE, KEEEEEEEEN? KEEEEEEEEEEEEEE....” The droning of the Spirit Whale's inner voice was like a loose propeller blade in my skull. I gritted my teeth and squinted against its simpering excuses as it rushed to meet the horizon, valiantly seeking to prevent eternal suffering for all of mankind. Forever.

 

 

A great and poisonous storm was gathering in the sky over the dark lord's altar. Even at my distance, I could see it growing and undulating and piling over top of itself. If Spirit Whale could not carry himself to the dark lord's altar in time, all would be lost.

 

All would be lost. Forever.

 

 

“Is that why, Spirit Whale? Is that why you NEVER did anything in return for all the time I let you stay in my tub? I STUCK UP FOR YOU! When Claire tried to get me to kick you out, I said 'Hell no!' I said it for you, Spirit Whale! I SAID IT FOR YOU!”

 

 

A column of white light erupted from the ground at the base of the altar.

 

 

Faintly, I could hear a frightening sound, steadily growing in volume. It grew to a terrifying clatter as the ground beneath me rumbled and pulsed violently. A shockwave of force passed over and through me, flattening my damaged body and pressing me into the shifting, gurgling dirt below. I felt the flesh on my cheeks ripple comically, as if I had been sat in front of a giant fan and strapped to a folding chair. My eyelids seemed to flutter with each wave of pressure.

 

 

“DID YOU WANT ME TO WASH THE DISHES, KEN? DO YOU THINK THAT WOULD HAVE BEEN A GOOD IDEA, KEEEEEEEEEN? I'M A GOD DAMN SPIRIT WHALE, KEEEEEN. WHY WON'T YOU LISTEN TO ME – I DON'T HAVE ANY GOD DAMN HANDS, KEN. WHAT THE HELL DID YOU EXPECT ME TO DO? KEEEEEEEEEEEEN.”

 

 

I saw the sky in uproar over me. Colors ran through it like living segments of a rainbow, straying away from their formation. Lights of every perceivable color flared and dimmed spontaneously, while entire sections of the stratosphere erupted into intricate, swirling patterns that upon second glance were not actually patterns at all. There seemed to be a million new forms of life interacting with each other between earth and heaven, and now they danced as if celebrating their liberation from whatever had concealed them.

 

 

But I could not marvel, for my thoughts stayed with the Spirit Whale, as he made his noble bid for man's continued survival.

 

 

“I EXPECTED YOU TO GET A JOB, SPIRIT WHALE! YOU COULD FIGURE SOMETHING OUT! I COULDN'T TAKE CARE OF YOU FOREVER – YOU EAT THE WEIRDEST SHIT! WE ALWAYS HAVE TO GO THROUGH PORTALS AND DO A BUNCH OF ODD JOBS FOR SOME JERKOFF CATFISH GHOST AND THEN HE GIVES YOU ONE PIECE OF POLKA-DOTTED SHRIMP AND THEN WE GO HOME!”

 

 

The ground ceased its shuddering. I my felt torso inflating with a hundred bruised and inflamed muscles. My face was wet with tears and smeared with uprooted dirt.

 

 

A strange warmth settled over me like an invisible blanket. I forced my eyes to open and saw the chaos unfolding just over my sprawled frame. The streaking colors bled and left swathes of themselves behind, the lights grew chaotic and searing in their brightness, and the mystifying shapes shattered apart, throwing pointed shards in all directions. I felt a sweeping sense of awe instill itself in me. My eyes grew wide, glossy, and unfocused.

 

 

Through my trance-like state, I heard Spirit Whale call out in his final moments;

 

 

“KEEEEEEEEN. ALL THIS TIME TOGETHER – ALL THE ADVENTURES WE WENT ON AS A DUO... I THOUGHT YOU WOULD LEARN TO UNDERSTAND, KEEEEEEEEEN...” The Spirit Whale cried forlornly. His inner voice was growing softer – it seemed to swirl inside of my consciousness, as if trying desperately to grab hold somewhere. I shook my head from left to right.

 

 

“What, Spirit Whale? What did you think I would understand!?”

 

 

I felt his presence in my mind weaken and dim; heard his hoarse inner breathing, and was given pause, wondering why he would need to br-

 

 

“KEEEEN... I THOUGHT WOULD UNDERSTAND, KEEEEEEN...”

 

 

A bubble of light and warmth broke inside of me, flooding from my gut into my extremities. I let the last of my tears drip from the corners of my eyes. I sighed dejectedly, feeling stale dirt exit from my nostrils. With what remained of my strength, I cried out to my oldest companion and friend;

 

 

“WHAT? WHAT WAS IT!? SPIRIT WHAAAALE!!”

 

 

Through my fading vision I could see the sky becoming clear and returning to its typical, boring shade of blue. There were no clouds to block my ailing view of it.

 

 

Darkness had been quashed by the Spirit Whale, who cried out, as he faded into oblivion;

 

 

“KEEEEEN... I CAN'T EVEN CARRY THE GOD DAMN SHRIMP, KEEEEEEEEEN...

 

I DON'T HAVE ANY GOD DAMN HANDS, KEEEEEEEEEEEEEEEN...........”

 

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