The Apprentice
ROW80-1 -17/02 -At least I've been writing

Together as One

This week's FFF prompt was Valentine's Day related—write about love between monsters. Because everybody, or everything, deserves a little love. 

My monsters were an added challenge, as they were gender neutral, so I had to abandon the conventional 'he said, she said'.  But I enjoyed writing this one. Love is often about a struggle to overcome doubts and opposition, even when within oneself. 

Together as One

Chaam Prime was lonely, in spite of the voices in its head. The others, Chaam Second, Third, and Fourth, all felt the sadness. Beneath their collective exterior of tentacles, eye-stalks, and fang-rimmed mouths, each had their own hearts and brains. But as the Chaam, they still shared hormones, thoughts, emotions, and were troubled.  Except for Fourth, the newest addition to the collective. Its reaction was more of a 'whatever'. 

Prime sighed. "Fourth, please don't stress my day even more. Stay calm, listen to the rest of the collective and learn and grow. That is way of the Farl.  Once we form a Fifth, you and Second can split off  together."

"I don't want it," said Second. "Make Third take it."

Prime tuned out the ensuing argument. They were all properly subservient to their leader, but still were a trial of its patience. Technically, the Cham could split now, leaving a minimum of two for each collective, but Fourth was not ready.

Prime sensed an approaching Farl, tasting its approach through the warm waters. It turned its attention to the sea around them and extended a tentacle in greeting. There was a little tingle as they touched. That was different. "Greetings, we are Chaam."

The other had pulled back its tentacle but did not retreat. 

"Greetings. We are the Moom. We, ah, what was that? Did you feel something different?" 

"Yes, we did. Most interesting," said Prime. "I’ve never felt this before. I don’t think any of the Farl have. And my others, my Second, Third, and Fourth, they felt nothing." 

"Same with us," said Moom Prime. "Only I felt the difference. But we would learn more of you. Swim with us and tell us of your adventures."

"I'd like that," said Chaam Prime. "Lead on."

"For a few days," said its Second and Third. "Whatever", said Fourth.

For four glorious days. the Chaam and the Moom swam together through the vastness of the sea, sharing stories, touching tentacles, travelling far from their normal territories. They swooped through vast schools fish, feeding as they went, explored the many-hued caves of Atun, basked in the sun on the surface of the sea, and followed a huge Nor deep into the cold black depths. 

"So, definitely not lonely anymore, right?" said Chaam Second.

"I can't define it," said Chaam Prime. "I enjoy your company, all of you, and we have often met other Farl we liked. This feels like more of a connection. Moom Prime feels it too. We want to continue." 

"Two more days," said Second. "Then we must return to our own territory. Soon it will be time for me to leave the Chaam, and I won’t do it so far from home."

But two days became four, then eight. Both Chaam Prime and Moom Prime just ignored their other parts, and continued to do what gave them pleasure. 

Until the revolution. 

As another school of tasty fish passed nearby, Chaam Prime directed them to follow it. But the Chaam did not. 

"No more," said Chaam Second. "We have decided to return home. You are no longer in charge." 

This was unprecedented. When fission approached, the Second, or sometimes a Third, would grow in strength and confidence. But never this much.

"Chaam Fourth, you too?"

"Times up, old man," it said. 

Chaam Prime struggled, but managed to gain control of their voice box. "Moom Prime, we must leave, I am no longer in control."

"My collective feels the same way. They want us to leave you, and head home. After I protested, they decided to cast me out, to split me off by myself."

"They can't do that," said Chaam Prime. "You will die. I’ve only heard of that being done if a unit was irreparably damaged, and even that is rare."

"I know," said Moom Prime. "But they think I am damaged. They might as well do it as I don't think I could go on without you."

Chaam Prime quivered. "I feel the same. Since I met you my life has changed." It paused. Maybe there was a solution. "Chaam Second, don't leave yet. I want you to cast me out too."

Second, Third, and even Fourth refused initially to even consider such an extreme step. 

"That’s too drastic," said Chaam Second. "You'll die. No Farl has ever survived alone."

"We might not be alone," said Chaam Prime. "I want to try something. I want you to push my part of the Chaam against the Moom, as hard as you can. Then both Farl must cast us out at exactly the same time."

This had never been done before, but Moom Prime’s other units were quite willing to try, as they intended to cast out their Prime anyway. Chaam Prime had a harder time with its units, even Fourth. However, with Second feeling the pressure to split, an agreement was reached.  

Both Farl embraced, then cast out their primes. Chaam Prime felt a tearing, a blankness, then a new and different togetherness. 

"Moom Prime, are you there?"

"Yes, I am. This feels amazing. But I am not of the Moom anymore, as you are not of the Chaam."

"Let’s make it a blend the two," said Chaam Prime. "We will now be the Choom. You may be Prime, I will be your Second. Is that okay?"

"Sure, for now. Let’s bid farewell to the Chaam and the Moom, and search for a new home."



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Joyce Juzwik

What a wonderful story. It doesn't matter that any of them had tentacles or were basically 'different', the emotion was there. Chaam Prime was willing to leave the safety of being with its own kind to remain with the Moom. The strong feeling of connection - love, if you will, was stronger than the bond of family. Chaam couldn't leave Moom out there alone to die, and was willing to risk it all so they could remain together. 'Monsters' or not, love will out. I enjoyed this very much.

Eden Mabee

A very sweet piece, Mike.

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