The Story that Started it All

In the process of posting links to my stories last week, I realized that one was missing:  the very first story I ever sold, a flash piece for which I received a payment of $5.42 from an online magazine that no longer exists.  The venue was called Everyday Weirdness, and the piece was titled “Grand Opening”.  

So look:  I think its best if I exercise some combination of discretion and compassion here, and spare everyone from a detailed analysis of the long, tortuous journey that has been my ten-year effort to become more consistent as a writer.  Mostly because I doubt I have anything useful to add to the canon.  Writing is like every other form of kung fu (literal translation:  skilled person, and hard work) – if you want to write, write.  If you want to learn to play the piano, play the piano (including doing your scales, alas).  If you want to learn martial arts, train.  The trick is consistency – and with something as hard as writing, it can be quite a trick indeed.

Anyway, I found the story lurking in the depths of my hard-drive.  Near as I can tell, since I only sold the nonexclusive web publication rights for my cost-of-a-latte several years ago, there’s nothing preventing me from posting it here.  

Full confession:  I always kinda liked this one.  It came out of a homework assignment from an online science fiction writing course I took through Gotham Writers Workshop (quick shout-out to my teacher, Michaela Roessner, who is all kinds of awesome.)  The task was to write weird, giving yourself permission to just kind of let go, which was just super fun for me.

Even better, the story is about a squid.  And that’s *always* fun.



Grand Opening

by Paul A. Dixon


The Rorschach squid!  We saw the Rorschach squid!  Oh, we saw it we saw it unquestionably we saw it and it was everything we thought it would be.

It’s what you’ll say tomorrow, my pretties.  When the show closes and you’re admiring your new paintings and my toxins are licking your minds.

The Rorschach squid!  Come and see the Rorschach squid!  Come tap on the glass and watch it swim circles and paint what you think you believe.

Those patterns, so complexly abstract!  So alien and what can they mean?  Black swirls on canvas in ink. Is it your childhood?  Just what are you seeing? 

It’s just art, my pretties.  Just a few harmless secretions, a pixel here, a pixel there, a little free-tentacle work for your viewing and purchasing pleasure.

Well of course you can buy the original to take home.  How could I deprive you of your very own portrait of poor little Rocko?  Such a cute Corgii pup.  If only the allergies hadn’t forced your folks to give him away.

And you – yes, you. By all means, keep my humble still-life of the daffodil and tulip bouquet you picked for your mother twenty years ago on the first of May.  If you like, you can also buy my little sketch of that Pashtun tribesman’s skull, after you put that M-60 round into the back of it.

And your ex-girlfriend – you can have her too.  I know you see her in there.  Yes, you know the time I mean.

Buy them!  Buy them all; take them home!  Did I not paint these things for you?

Oh.  Right.  There is one thing I should tell you.  It turns out I’m not just some new species of cuttlefish.  Not some blood-crimson Sepiid the size of a pizza pan your scientists found hanging about a couple kilometers under the surface of the North Pacific, one rainy Tuesday afternoon. 

Because actually?  They didn’t find me at all – I found them.  I had to; I’m not exactly from around here, you know?  Even if my ocean does resemble your own, except as seen from a couple thousand of light years away.

Well so what if I wanted to come?  So what if I swam into your clever oceanographers’ sneaky little pressure trap and waited patiently until I was acclimated to one of your Earth atmospheres?  Maybe I wanted to turn laps in a public aquarium, to secrete your thoughts while you eat waffle cones and listen to the seagulls and stare uncomprehending at this bizarre cephalopod on display.

If I didn’t, do you really think I’d be here? 

And there’s something else you should know.  The secret’s not in my patterns.  Not the swirls and whorls and blotches.  Oh no – it’s not those at all.

Lean in close tomorrow when you buy your very own Rorschach original.  And take a good long whiff. 

Then shuffle on home till I have need for you.  I’ll let you know when it’s time.

The secret’s not in my patterns, my pretties.

It’s in my ink.