The yellow Lada pulled into an empty space in the parking lot of the Oberhausen Aquarium and sputtered to a stop.
A slight, middle-aged man jumped out and ran around to the passenger side to open the door for his wife.
The woman was much larger than her husband—quite large, in fact. It was with some difficulty that she emerged from the car.
She leaned heavily on the man as they walked slowly to the entrance, her face obscured by large sunglasses and a floppy hat.
They paused at the entrance as the man pulled out his wallet and extracted some Euros for the admission fee.
“Wo is Oktopus Paul?” the man asked in badly accented German as he waited for his change.
“Paul die Krake?” the attendant replied without looking up. “Links, links, rechts, und geradeaus.”
The couple shuffled awkwardly inside without so much as a “danke,” and the attendant scowled.
“Amerikaner!” he thought dismissively, as he watched the enormous woman waddle away.
It turned out that there were many signs directing visitors to the tank of the famous octopus, who was obviously the aquarium’s main draw.
Soon the couple stood staring at the psychic cephalopod perched on a rock just inches from the glass.
Ah! Putin and Snowy!” said a voice inside their heads.
The man steadied the woman as she snorted in surprise and took a step backwards.
“Don’t be alarmed. Paul is communicating with us telepathically,” the man whispered to his companion.
“That’s right,” the octopus agreed. “And I can hear your thoughts as well. I’ve been expecting you.”
“Of course,” thought Putin, for it was in fact he and Snowy, the noble War Bear, who were disguised as a tourist couple.
“I am glad you’ve come,” Paul continued. “There is grave danger approaching, and time is short.”
“Then you know we’ve come to take you back to the Fortress of Opulence, beneath the Kara Sea,” Putin thought.
“Yes,” Paul replied. “But it’s not as simple as just removing me from the aquarium.”
“Are you two thinking at each other?” Snowy asked aloud. “Because I can only hear the octopus.”