Reminisces of a Kraken Caretaker by Beth Cato

back as a college kid
he sometimes hated his summer job
down at the big aquarium
at the start of every show some joker
had to yell out, “Release the kraken!”
like they were the first to think it

at the bar Friday night
sometimes he’d slip up
mention his day job
if the dude’s immediate response was
“Wanna release the kraken?”
he offered a pained smile
and quickly took his beer elsewhere

it was only when he was older
degree done, kids in a van, a mortgage
that his thoughts turned fond
about how the rusted gateway would stick
require his full weight to turn the crank

that even after several summers
of four times a day drudgery
the kraken still evoked cold prickles of awe
the tentacled beast boiling
from its recessed cave
reek like death in a sewer
sleek purple skin glossed in white
from direct California sun

“I used to release the kraken!”
he says now, with a grin

Beth Cato is the author of THE CLOCKWORK DAGGER steampunk fantasy series from Harper Voyager. Her short fiction is in InterGalactic Medicine Show, Beneath Ceaseless Skies, and Daily Science Fiction. She’s a Hanford, California native transplanted to the Arizona desert, where she lives with her husband, son, and requisite cat. Her website is

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