Wednesday, 2 July 2008

The octopus

A man standing on a beach casts his pet octopus into the sea.
He holds it by three of its legs and swings it in dizzying circles before letting go to send it flinging back into the sea where it was spawned. As it plops into the water, a red ball, he hopes it’s the last he’ll see of that octopus.
Sinking into its new home, the octopus lingers in the swell, growing accustomed to the new tastes and sights, but soon it spreads its legs and swims off into the deeper waters, in search of dark rocks and things to eat.
The man sits down on the sand. He has had that octopus for three years. It was a treasured gift of a former lover, now gone.
The waves break ever so gently on this shore. So gently, in fact, that the short breakers have created a tiny shelf at the point where the sand remains dry and full. Upon this shelf climbs a green crab. It has come from the sea, allowing itself to be deposited there by the tide.
It sidles towards the man, unnoticed, then nips at his sandals and toes.
“Woah!” the man lets out expressions of concern. He looks for some flotsam to flick this crab away or something heavy with which to crush its shell. But before he can find this he hears a voice.
“Brian, what have you done?” He stares down at the green crab. “You have cast away your only friend.” The crab speaks. And it addresses him by name.
“Strange creature,” says Brian. “How came you to speak so, and know my given name?”
The green crab replied that he was one of the great seers of the sea, and with the lobster, the ray and the narwhal, views all that occurs both above and below the waves.
“The cockles sang to me, from the rocks over there,” continued the green crab. “And then the sprats and starfish whispered to each other that the octopus had returned to us, before his time.”
The green crab explained that the octopus was a great talisman, a conduit between the realms of sea and land. Such creatures were placed in homes throughout all the continents of the world, allowing the seers to get a clear view of the airy world above them, helping them make decisions and policies for life under the sea.
“Even your partner, Selkie, was put into your life by us. Once she thought a bond had been established between you and the octopus she knew she had to return to the ocean.”
“Now, you must go and retrieve your octopus, Brian. You must try. Only you can find it.” And with these words the green crab motioned with its right claw, beckoning Brian towards the sea.
Brian stood up, proudly and with purpose, now. He had to do this, he knew, though it seemed impossible. He would swim and swim, and search and search, until he found his red octopus once more.
He stepped into the light foam of the surf and pushed on until he was waist deep. Then he turned back towards the crab and waved. The green grab seemed to be waving too. Brian lifted his legs from the sandy sea bed and started to swim and swim.
It was difficult to move his arms though, and his legs cut sluggishly through the water. He looked to his arm as he tried to take it from the water. Fifteen small octopuses of various colours were clinging to it, dragging on it.
As he stopped swimming he felt the myriad suckers of a thousand tentacles attaching themselves to his body. Hundreds of octopuses grappled with him and he began to feel sharp stinging sensations across his body. A larger tentacle then wrapped about his head and Brian slowly disappeared beneath the blue waters.
The green crab, safe on the shore, stopped waving and skittered off across the wet sand, feeling satisfied and looking out for a warm rock pool to hunt in.


Bryan said...

That's some pretty sadistic sea life. They really should prey back, though. It's only fair.

I had to smile at the man's archaic manner of speech. I'd probably speak the same way if confronted by a talking crab, though.

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