The KrakenBelow the thunders of the upper deep;
Far far beneath in the abysmal sea,
His ancient, dreamless, uninvaded sleep
The Kraken sleepeth...
- The Kraken, by Alfred Lord Tennyson
The ocean is a pretty jacked-up place. It's home to giant stinging jellyfish, sadistic seal-flinging Killer Whales, man-eating sharks, and a vast assortment of other horrific, ungodly aquatic creatures – any of which would be more than happy to advance the process of natural selection by tearing your balls out through your nostrils and then using your eviscerated corpse as an incubator for their disgusting spawn.
What's worse than having your ass chomped in half by two rows of serrated, dagger-sized shark teeth, you might ask? How about getting a singing molest-o-gram from a half-dozen gigantor rubbery tentacles that bludgeon your brain apart while simultaneously tearing your ship into jetsam, leaving you either dead, retarded, or stranded in the middle of the ocean with no hope of salvation? While that's pretty much one of the worst things ever, to the Kraken it's just the way he enjoys spending his lazy Sunday afternoons.
The Kraken is basically a giant-ass emotionless cephalopod who lives solely to eat boats, destroy all life in the ocean, and violently implode warships with his ultra-powerful crush-o-matic appendages of doom. Basically, you're just some sailor chilling out minding your own business, cruising the high seas on a sweet boat and thinking about cool stuff like mermaid boobs and zombie pirates when all of a sudden POW – you're getting your ship wrecked by this godless multi-limbed killing machine from the deepest uncharted reaches of the ocean's asshole.
For starters, giant squids are probably some of the grossest, creepiest things ever. They have two humongoid colossal eyes that fall somewhere between The Lidless Eye of Sauron and the Uncanny Valley on the freak-out scale, and their unblinking stares never seem to register any emotion other than cold, unfeeling rage. If that's not enough, there are so many suckers and noodly rubber appendages flailing about on this thing that it makes even the most cracked-out Japanese hentai tentacle-rape porn look like an unmarried Mennonite couple holding hands at a funeral, which is just wrong in a vast number of ways. If you somehow survive being squeezed into Cheez Whiz by its eight legs or two barbed, suction-cupped tentacles you can always look forward to being violently inserted into a beaked mouth and crushed out of hand by giant champing toothless jaws for a while. There aren't too many creatures this side of a Hitchcock movie that are capable of beaking a man to death, but hey, that's the Kraken for you. If the Kraken possesses most of the same feeding mechanisms as the Giant Squid, after the beak your broken-down carcass will pass through something called the radula, a nightmarish mechanism which can best be described as saying that this thing has a cheese grater for an esophagus. After that fun stuff, you head for the stomach, where you're slowly devoured Boba Fett-style. Good times.
Crushing and shredding aside, the main thing about the Kraken is that he's really damn huge. Believed to be something on the order of like 50 feet long, these foul beasts have supposedly been so massive that their arms were able to reach to the top mast of some old-school wooden sailing vessels. Honestly, what the hell are you supposed to do against a giant tree-trunk sized, fifty-foot long hunk of suction-cup equipped fleshiness capable of generating the same destructive force as a wrecking ball? Sure, you could try to go out there Captain Nemo style and wave a harpoon at it like a spastic idiot, but unless you're a super-badass submarine commander who knows no fear and responds to every situation with extreme violence, you're probably just going to wind up getting a pointy tentacle jammed up your Krak.
As a completely non-sequitur side note, I'd also like to point out that real-life Giant Squids are also known to fight Sperm Whales, sharks, and other monstrously-large aquatic creatures when they aren't trashing ships or munching peoples' heads off. This, of course, is a fact I only mention solely so that I can follow it up with this picture:
The craziest thing about this Krake-sanity is that it's not even completely bullshit – there are actual accounts of multi-armed Krake-hem smasherating fishing boats and warships dating back to antiquity. The Greeks, Vikings, and others all have accounts of vessels coming under attack from the tendrils of some terrible ferocious Cthulu-esque sea monsters, which is pretty sweet. The Kraken as we know it was originally written about in the 16th and 17th century by some Scandinavian survivors of his insane crush-tacular wrath, but most rational people from that time period figured that the authors had just been hitting the crack pipe a little too hard or something. I mean, it kind of make sense when you consider that some of these accounts are so out there they sound like something out of a sci-fi film or an old Conan story – one group of Norwegians claimed that they camped out on a mile and a half wide Kraken and didn't even realize it until someone accidently stumbled across the beasts eye, which is a story so nuts that it gives all the other Kraken-spotters a bad name. It wasn't until 1870, when people started finding actual Giant Squid pieces, that people started putting it together that this might not be some weirdo delusional shroom-induced hallucination, and when a New Zealand crew discovered a 65-foot long squid in 1880 the entire scientific community pretty much crapped a brick.
Whether it's dragging ships down into the murky deep, leaving sailors to drown, or aggressively devouring seamen like Dr. Zoidberg assaulting a guinea pig, the Kraken isn't a monster you want to screw around with. It's huge, it's disgusting, it's emotionless, and it's at least somewhat based in fact, making it that much more terrifying.
Coleman, Loren and Jerome Clark. Cryptozoology A to Z. Simon and Schuster, 1999.
Jeans, Peter D. Seafaring Lore and Legend. McGraw-Hill, 2004.
Rose, Carol. Giants, Monsters, and Dragons. W.W. Norton, 2001.
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