Coral-line – A QUEUE Story by James Le Lacheur

The salt waters swirled around, the light from the azure sky effortlessly penetrating the shallow cove, and illuminating the sandy seabed.

There, in amongst the fine white grains, stood a polyp – well, as far as a polyp can stand, that is – its feathery tentacles, barely visible to the naked eye, swaying lazily in the current.

Before too long, a second polyp arrived, and paused, staring at the first with a hint of consternation.

“Are you alright there?” said the second polyp.

“Fine thanks,” replied the first.

“It’s just you’ve been sitting there for a damnably long time-”

“I’m standing actually.”

“Ah, forgive me, it’s hard to tell, but, erm, what are you waiting for?”

The first polyp looked at the second. Or rather, he twisted his medusa-like crown vaguely in his direction.

“Wait with me and you’ll see.”

The second polyp had no pressing engagements, because it was a polyp, so it waited with its cryptic brother.

Before too long (too long for what? Or whom? I cannot fathom) a third polyp arrived, and there unfolded an exchange much like the one before. And as two polyps are more persuasive than one, our new polyp promptly joined the queue, to wait for the mysterious prize.

Now this continued for longer than I care to say (but you can bet your perineum is was just shy of being TOO LONG) and our initial triumvirate burgeoned and blossomed into a long line of polyps, more than it was possible to count, stretching for miles across the ocean floor.

Eventually those at the back of the queue became curious as to what was going on at the front, and tentatively, some floated over the winding polyp-chain, to hear the pitch from the seahorse’s mouth, so to speak. They crowded around the alpha polyp, piling one on top of another in the hope of being granted audience. The first polyp merely sat there stoically, so they built themselves up, higher and higher, latching onto one another and forming huge, misshapen structures, some smooth, some jagged, some flat, some bulbous. Several looked like brains. They were proud polyps that made them. As though it followed they were somehow smarter than their less neuromorphous brethren. Their logic was painfully flawed.

The clusters continued to pile up, almost brushing the ocean’s surface, and when they could climb no more, they extended backwards, for miles and miles, hugging the coastline as they built their wall of bodies. Eventually they forgot the reason for their being there entirely, and sat (or stood), contentedly sifting plankton, siring offspring to take their place when they died.

After several decades of tranquil cohabitation, the second polyp finally asked the first:

“What was it you were waiting for, all those years ago? That prize? Why did it never come?”

The first polyp, by now in his dotage, looked around at the mass of sculpted colour before him, each piece a living being, and wheezed:

“My dear friend. It did.”

The End.


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