Out here in the Baja, there are animals that live underground their entire lives. Really. All you can see are their giant tentacles that rise up over the rocks and dirt of the desert, taller than some cacti and almost as green. Juan Alejandrez tells me he believes they aren’t really tentacles at all, but are something akin to a periscope they use to see what’s on the surface. His brother Porfirio disagrees because when you get close to them, you can tell that there are no openings on those long towering feelers. He thinks they are used like a cat’s whiskers to sense movement and temperature and things like that.
No one has ever seen what the tentacles are connected to. If you try to dig near them, they start moving away at a tremendous pace. I was told Juan’s neighbor, Diego, grabbed hold of one and it took off, slamming him into a large boulder. Some folks have even shot at the giant whatever-they-ares, and the things haven’t died, that’s for sure. They didn’t even bleed. That makes some people think they’re a kind of moving plant. When they do seem to die, the tentacle quickly shrivels back into the Earth. You can dig all you want, but nothing is ever found after that. What they do for food, or how far down the actual things they are connected to exist is anyone’s guess. Maybe they are just the tentacles!
Nevertheless, the town has a drawing competition for the kids every year to draw what they think is underneath the tentacles. Some draw monsters, others draw angelic-like beings that have tentacles above them like halos. Others draw strange-looking insects or plants. A local Catholic priest, Father Ignacio, tells everyone now and then that the beasts are hellish in origin and are designed to tempt people’s minds away from God. A few listen, and later tsk-tsk when others bring up the tentacles. But everyone, down to a soul, voted not to let the scientists come from Mexico City to investigate. “It’s the only thing anyone has here to talk about,” Juan laughed as the tentacles slowly glided about the desert in the distance.
Geoffrey Orens teaches English and Art History in New York City. His work has previously appeared in Eunoia Review, Potato Head Soup, Star 82 Review, and Terror House Magazine, amongst others. He enjoys and finds inspiration in traveling whenever possible.