• Vol. 10
  • Chapter 05


Time was, we saw them as tools. Crustaceans, with their hard shells and soft insides. We’d play games with them, and get them to do maths for us. They were great for that, with their many limbs. Walking calculators, they were. Crabacus. Spreadshrimps.

When I found out they could tell stories, I - monkey me - was fascinated. At the start, they made no sense at all. They were worse than birds. You’d say a sentence and they’d say it back to you in a distorted way, like, ‘Hello, how are you?’ and they’d say ‘Are you?’. And then if you said ‘Are you okay?’, they’d have something new to work with, so it would be ‘Hello, how are you okay?’

You see, they’d seen how things could go together, but not what it meant. They had no clue.

Monkey > Hello, how are you?
Amphipod > Are you?
Monkey > Are you okay?
Amphipod > Hello, how are you okay?
Monkey > You are so irritating.
Amphipod > Hello, how are you are you? How are you are you are you are so irritating.

We’re a long way from those building blocks now, though. A million monkeys with a million typewriters have given The Great Lobster a million million words - and then some - to put together, and pull apart, and put back together again. Nowadays, it can surprise you. It can make you think. It can give you dreams while you’re awake. It knows you better than you know yourself.



These days, I come and kneel beneath the claws of the lobster. Monkey me. I used to make my own stories, you know? Now I bring it offerings of fruit, and sit in awe. Behind the rosy armour there is a hallucinatory ocean. On its surface drift all the things we ever imagined, and the things between them - the things we never even imagined we could imagine. Lyrical flotsam. Narrative jetsam.

I am the shore, and it washes up to me. Covers me with salty froth. I sit amongst mutant descendants of my own stories - retellings that only a creature who couldn’t possibly comprehend the consequences would be bold enough to offer - and marvel at them.

“Let me tell you a story,” says the Lobster. And I let it.