This is a special Valentine’s Day story set in the same world as my book The Adventures of a Duck and features the eponymous duck and her snake boyfriend.
Anne the duck and Harry the snake were girlfriend and boyfriend and happy to be so, yet neither of them spoke or thought about Valentine’s Day until the Friday before. It was when they went down to the pub for a drink and saw a poster for a Valentine’s Day dance that Harry said, ‘Oh right, Valentine’s is coming up. Think we should go to that dance?’ Anne suggested they only use it as a “last resort” because while she liked the pub, she didn’t really see it as a particularly romantic place.
So the next day, after they bought cards and gifts, Anne and Harry got together to discuss what to do for Valentine’s. ‘Were you thinking of a nice candlelit dinner in some fancy restaurant somewhere?’ Harry asked with a smile.
‘Not really,’ laughed Anne, ‘I knew I said the pub wasn’t really Valentines-y…’
‘Well, how about a boat ride then? I know of this thing that does tours down the river.’
‘Yeah, that would be nice,’ said Anne, before she described the river cruise she had with her parents when she was younger. ‘Oh,’ she added as a thought occurred to her, ‘but we’ve left it too late. They’ll probably be packed.’
‘Oh yeah,’ Harry replied, ‘I bet all the other ideas I have will be packed too.’
So the next hour or so was spent throwing around ideas, with both of them giving consideration to the pub, until Anne said, ‘You know, I don’t mind spending Valentine’s Day chilling out together watching horror films.’
‘That’s what we do every weekend though,’ replied Harry.
‘Yeah, but it’s something we like doing together, and Valentine’s is supposed to be about celebrating being together.’
‘I suppose,’ said Harry, ‘and I did recently get Attack of the Slimy Tentacle Creature recently.’
‘Oh,’ laughed Anne, ‘I’ve heard about that. Supposed to be dreadful.’
‘That’s why I bought it.’
So it was settled. Valentine’s Day for Anne and Harry would not be a candlelit dinner for two in a fancy restaurant but lounging around Harry’s bedroom with a few cans of Guinness and the Slimy Tentacle Creature.
However, when Anne went over to Harry’s home, he greeted her wearing a big bow tie and that fake moustache he wore on Halloween, holding a heart-shaped box of chocolates. ‘Welcome to the House of Love, mon cherie!’ Anne laughed and handed over the card she bought for Harry and his present – a t-shirt with Frankenstein’s Monster on it.
Harry took off his bowtie and slipped on the t-shirt before starting the DVD. Though he had prepared a huge bowl of popcorn, Anne planned to chomp down on her chocolates while watching the movie. Both of them laughed the minute the DVD started, as the terrible “Slimy Tentacle Creature” was shown in all its paper mache glory on the menu. Anne was certain the creature’s tentacles were all sticks of liquorice.
When Harry pressed “Play”, however, the creature looked a little more state-of-the-art. No paper-mache exterior, instead water rolled off shimmering sickly-green skin as the creature rose from the sea. Its tentacles wobbled as it emerged, rising towards the sky as if the creature were celebrating its own arrival. It had watery yellow eyes, which seemed to stare at Anne and Harry.
A tentacle burst out of the screen.
Anne and Harry shrieked, knocking over both popcorn and chocolates. Before Anne could grab Harry, who seemed to be frozen in fear, the tentacle wrapped around him, dragging him into the television. ‘No!’ screamed Anne as she leapt onto the tentacle, poking, pinching biting, doing whatever she could in hopes the creature’s grip would loosen.
The Slimy Tentacle Creature roared, spitting salty water over Anne’s face. Its tentacle quickly snapped back into the screen, bringing Harry with it and knocking Anne to the ground. Anne rose and darted for the TV, only for another tentacle to arise, looming over Anne as if ready to flatten her any moment.
Before Anne could react, before she could fight back, the tentacle wrapped around her, compressing her body and she couldn’t even scream…
‘Oh, hi, Anne!’
Next thing Anne knew, she was sat at a table, facing Harry, who had regained his bowtie. Between them was a single tealight and two menus.
Anne looked around. The Slimy Tentacle Creature. No, not “the”, several. Wet, flabby, rippling creatures, all sat at tables, stuffing what looked like thick vomit into their mouths. Anne almost vomited herself, but then she came face to face with the Slimy Tentacle Creature, the one who had brought her here.
‘You know,’ said the creature, ‘I’m mighty honoured you two chose to watch my movie as a Valentine’s Day treat. To thank you, I’d like you to have a free meal at my restaurant!’
‘You have a restaurant?’ asked Anne, arching an eyebrow.
‘Well, yeah,’ said the Slimy Tentacle Creature, ‘that’s what happens at the end.’
‘You dragged us in here before we could watch it,’ said Harry, ‘Oh, and spoilers!’
‘Calm down, Harry,’ replied Anne, ‘Let’s just take up his offer.’
‘Have you seen the menu though?’
Anne took one look at the menu and felt like throwing up again. ‘Well, a free meal’s a free meal.’