There was a great quantity of tentacles. They rose, thin and delicate, from the top like sparse hair. Thicker ones, more muscular seeming (although the amateur biologist in Thomas informed him that such a one as this wouldn’t possess anything that could be accurately described as muscles) formed a grasping ring around its middle. And below these, like the thousand breasts of an archaic Venus pushed by the febrile imaginations of Her votaries beyond sensuality to monstrous and back again, a chaos of massive and heavy tentacles erupted, trailing below them a bridal train of impossibly long filaments.
It was dead, of course, had probably never been alive. It wasn’t an individual so much as a type. It had been drawn from an unknown number of specimens, each an imperfect example of its genus and species, and from these had been distilled a super-mundane archetype from which they all drew substance, definition. Haeckle could just as easily have called his book Platonischformen der Natur.
Thomas Meridian closed the book and blinked the afterimage of the jellyfish from his eyes. The Massachusetts coast reappeared in front of him. At some point, the sky had clouded over.
Back inside the seaside diner (predictably noisy and filthy, an archetype in itself) Thomas staked out a booth and began mindfully waiting. Leo and Carol and Max would arrive soon for coffee and hashed-browns and pleasantries. They were less friends than placeholders. Thomas caught himself thinking this, began to admonish himself, then forcibly stopped the admonishment when he realized that it wouldn’t be sincere. He frequently had such arguments with his superego.
They arrived and sat down with smiles of varying sizes and comments about the traffic to explain their lateness (they weren’t late). Leo was short for Leopold; Carol was short for Carolina; Max might have been short for Maxwell or Maximilian, but wasn’t. Nothing was short for Thomas, thank you very much.
There was a television in the corner of the diner. They all made self-deprecating comments on their eyes’ tendency to drift toward it, even when only commercials were showing. The amateur mathematician in Thomas toyed with the idea of the television acting as a strange attractor, but found that the metaphor didn’t really hold, unless that is one maintained that the machine itself arose from the multiple lines of sight that gravitated toward it. A case could be made. He was standing on the seafloor. The perfect jellyfish, the Jellyfish God, drifted before him all clean silver lines drawn on the black water. From the numerous bell-like organs on its underside came a voice:
Which came first- the form or the substance?
…the voice was tinny and stentorian. The belled flared in time with the words like cartoon loudspeakers.
Consider, the Four Forced did not come into being until micromoments after the big bang. Natural Law is the dream of Matter.
Leo was talking to him. What? Oh yes, good seeing you, drive safe.
Thomas Meridian walked to the ocean.