Contributor: Acquanetta M. Sproule

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"Blurrrpulrr'rr?" Wwurrburrlurrbela asked it's partner in crime -- for the third time.

Kerrplukkerrlurrkle gurgled it's amusement, "You worry too much, old friend! If these things are as unusual as you've said, I wouldn't miss perceiving them for anything. Besides, what could possibly happen that we two couldn't handle?"

"Very Well," Wwurrburrlurrbela glurmbled discontentedly, "I just hope that I won't be sorry for having mentioned it."

Kerrplukkerrlurrkle, demonstrating its confidence, oozed ahead even faster through and out of the porous rock, collecting itself into a handsome, brown puddle on the sandy beach. It jiggled with delight as Wwurrburrlurrbela struggled to catch up.

"Keep to the darker areas," Wwurrburrlurrbela warned, "the brighter ones hurt and make you dry out too fast."

Kerrplukkerrlurrkle obediently withdrew its fringes under the rocky shelf.

"Yes," it admitted, "that does feel a lot better."

Kerrplukkerrlurrkle began discerning the alien landscape, its most disconcerting aspect being that the walls of this place didn't go all the way up to the bright blue ceiling with its moving whiteness!

"How can you catch the meat up there?" asked Kerrplukkerrlurrkle, extending a pseudopod to point at the noisy creatures wheeling above and occasionally diving down into the water.

"I've never been able to," admitted Wwurrburrlurrbela, "except when they come down to stone."

"What do they taste like?"

"Like fish and not like fish."

"Not much of an answer," glumbered Kerrplukkerrlurrkle.

"Best I can do. Maybe we'll hunt a bit, later, and see if you're as good as you think you are ..." challenged Wwurrburrlurrbela.

"Glurplur'kl!" scoffed Kerrplukkerrlurrkle.

Ensconced beneath the rocky overhang, they jiggled so much they were both nearly foaming. It was a while before they got themselves back under control.

"Now, where," gurgled Kerrplukkerrlurrkle, "are those things that've been keeping you so preoccupied recently?"

"Follow -- if you can!"

Wwurrburrlurrbela kerplunked on to the hot sands, drew itself into a flap flopping cylinder, and raced around the rocky base.

"HA!" answered Kerrplukkerrlurrkle. With a pop, it puffed itself into a sphere and dashed into the lead.

"Do you know where you're going?" Wwurrburrlurrbela teased.

"Perhaps not! But I'll get there before you!"

Knowing what lay ahead, Wwurrburrlurrbela flopped to a stop and waited as Kerrplukkerrlurrkle barrelled 'round this particular bend.



Wwurrburrlurrbela unrolled itself and crept, bubbling uproariously, along the rock face. There Kerrplukkerrlurrkle deflated noisily, mired in some sticky glop that shrouded the sand and rocks, and water and assorted creatures. The stuff very much resembled one of Kerrplukkerrlurrkle's and Wwurrburrlurrbela's People, IF it was long dead and decaying and very, very, VERY big.

"You really should try to be less impulsive!" gurgled the still bubbling Wwurrburrlurrbela.

"You knew this would happen!" accused Kerrplukkerrlurrkle.

"Not really. But knowing you, it was a safe bet!"

"Are you going to hang there foaming, or are you going to help me out?"

Anchoring itself securely, (Wwurrburrlurrbela had much experience in the types of tricks Kerrplukkerrlurrkle was inclined to pull), Wwurrburrlurrbela cautiously exuded a pseudopod out to Kerrplukkerrlurrkle, who twined a temporary tentacle around Wwurrburrlurrbela's, then gave two quick tugs.

"If you don't behave yourself, I'll let you try and haul your own self out," warned Wwurrburrlurrbela.

"Just making sure you had a good grip."


"Wouldn't want you ending up down here in the muck with me."

"'Course not. You ready yet?"

"Ready!" gurgled Kerrplukkerrlurrkle.

Wwurrburrlurrbela retracted itself, reeling in Kerrplukkerrlurrkle until, with a sucking splurp, it broke free, somersaulted over Wwurrburrlurrbela and splatted safely on the rock face.

"You should have warned me about that stuff!"

"You're welcome. Come on, and be more careful!"

Wwurrburrlurrbela slithered carefully around the rocks. Kerrplukkerrlurrkle followed close on Wwurrburrlurrbela's fringes.

"There!" exclaimed Wwurrburrlurrbela.

It pointed toward the sludge speckled sands. Running and bouncing to and fro among narrower, taller form locked creatures that seemed to be trying to scrub the sticky, black glop from struggling meat, were the reasons for their upward quest. The things were a deep stone gray, flat surfaced and put together with many angles. Hanging between four obscenely stiff and truncated tentacles were transparent sacs, filled to different levels with the glop and sand and various other incidentals.

"Disgusting!" proclaimed Kerrplukkerrlurrkle.

"Yes, but watch this!" Wwurrburrlurrbela extended and flattened out a small section of itself and folded its end over, leaving a little space surrounded by loose membrane. It whirled this overbody, producing a thin whistling sound.

"You should do that during the next Festival," advised Kerrplukkerrlurrkle, admiringly.

Wwurrburrlurrbela continued signalling until several of the things ambled over to investigate.

"Now, remember," cautioned Wwurrburrlurrbela, "don't get too close to the sucking ends, keep a tight grip on the rock, don't let your ..."

"Yes, yes," interrupted Kerrplukkerrlurrkle, "you lectured me all the way up, Wwurrburrlurrbela! I remember, I remember! ..."

Wwurrburrlurrbela eased upward along the rock face.

"... You really are much too young to be such a nag!" continued Kerrplukkerrlurrkle.

Wwurrburrlurrbela oozed back into the rock's cavities.

"Where are you going, now?"

"Someone has to deliver the sad news."

"WHAT sad news?"

"The sad news about what happened to you," Wwurrburrlurrbela explained from the safety of the rocky pores.

"Wha ... !?!"


Trembling, Wwurrburrlurrbela compressed against the walls of its hiding places until the snuffling sounds from outside moved away.

Then, continued waiting, for a long, long time.

Finally, cautiously, it telescoped out a pseudopod. The things had returned to suctioning the glop from the sand. Some, with bloated belly compartments, trotted over to a cavernous container, spewing their loads into it, then resumed their cleaning.

Even from this distance, Wwurrburrlurrbela perceived that one of the things had a belly bulging full of a handsome, brown puddle.

"Thank you, thing," Wwurrburrlurrbela gurgled quietly. It retracted and began its long trek home.

Above, of its churning brown belly, some thing queried: "Bark?"

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