Priscilla floated out of bed. The idea of gravity never occurred to her before she fell for Dr Anderson.
Without gravity she never “picked her head off the pillow” in the morning. She never “stood” for anything, nor felt “heavy hearted” when decisions needed to be made.
Those were the types of things he said, but for Priscilla most days she happily drifted through life cleaning and organizing, checking in on neighbors. Occasionally playing a practical joke when someone wasn’t home and moving their things around just to keep life interesting.
“Look Up”, her mother often said, reminding her to keep one eye pointing upward to watch for sharks that could dive in and ruin her day at any moment. Well seven days was a long time for her neighbors to all stay alive during the feeding season, so she was a little bit more relaxed than usual today and daydreamed of the lecture she would give on tv someday…
Humans once believed they stood at the summit, or floated above, the pyramid of animal intelligence, unaware that 500 million years ago mollusks diverged on their own path. Through evolutionary jumps, bumps, hot centuries and cold millenia we found another summit, led by the females of our great species…
She heard the boat before she saw it with her upward watchful eye. All eight tentacles reported in individually, confirming the familiar vibrations of Dr Anderson’s boat.
Exiting the cave to know for sure, Priscilla needed to act fast in case the doctor moved on. humans were not very dependable.
She didn't want him to know where she lived, so she always met him by the sandbar where they first met.
The relationship began two months ago on a morning when Priscilla’s stomach was growling. Eleven days was a long time to go hungry and she remembered there was a perfectly serviceable hunting ground a few sandbars over from home. That's where she encountered what she now understood was Dr Anderson in scuba gear.
Bored with the same ole daily crab and prawn show at home, she overcame her annoyance at the bubbly sounds echoing off her sucker cups and moved in closer. Unsure of the best opening move, Priscilla decided to sashay over and tease him with a caress of the infundibulum on her best looking tentacle. That definitely caught his attention.
One thing led to another and Dr Anderson swept her off her feet and the next thing she was in a fish tank on his boat.
The next days were a flurry of new experiences as her world expanded. The Doctor served her the best food and taught her all about his fascinating life. She spent the days on his boat, and at night she would return home to sleep it off.
After the initial excitement wore off, she began to pay attention. She begin to see the gifts and attention were very transactional. If she smiled at his pictures he would give her a shrimp, if she responded to his touch he smiled, but if she was tired and took a micro-nap he wasn’t interested anymore. One of her three hearts broke when she discovered he was only using her for his biology experiment.
She decided to keep her beak shut and make the best of it. Or perhaps she just didn't want to admit her mistake at trusting a man with a speedboat. She resolved to learn about and fit into this new world he introduced her to.
Humans did have some very odd obsessions. As a starter, for an amorphous lady like herself, she puzzled at their love of having everything around them at 90 degree angles.
Humans thought of lumpy objects as undesirable, and at every opportunity, they cut and hammered attractive lumpy things into square and rectanglar eye sores.
The more powerful humans lived in even larger more rectangular rectangles. All flat featureless walls painted completely white. How dull, she much preferred this boat of Dr Anderson’s with its curvy walls and clutter.
Priscilla decided she would try to get around to talking to Dr Anderson on her thoughts about interior decorating.
“She’s looking at me!” Dr Anderson exclaimed.
Humans were easily entertained by tricks. She flashed her chromatophores between pink and blue. The doctor smiled and gave her a half dead shrimp that she pretended to enjoy. She hoped he would move past this stage soon, it had already been 9 days.
"Hello" she said.
"Happy fishing!" he said back.
To close the gap, she had been teaching him octo-sign language. Whenever she got his attention, she would teach him a new word. He would imitate It with one arm, and then draw a picture of her 8 tentacles to remember it. The doctor had been improving so she decided to take the conversation a bit further today...
“Having all rectangular walls, is a bit dull isn’t it?” she gestured with her tentacles.
“A mackerel is floating!” he replied with his limited vocabulary.
He was always like this. When she finally got the chance to bring up how she felt about something, he changed the subject without even acknowledging what she had to say.
Priscilla had to accept there were things humans just couldn’t grasp, it felt like trying to explain the color blue to an octopus that was color blind.
Humans also seemed not pick up hints or grasp the links between individuals well. Lately she had given the nickname “One Tentacle” to them as a species.
Few know this, but by sensing the synchronicity of thoughts in the brains of its eight tentacles, octopi instinctively grasp quantum physics at an early age. The entanglement of probabilities through 17 dimensions was second nature to octopi. It was so intuitive they didn’t even have a name for this ability.
After a few days of failing to get her thoughts across, during a session of his tests Dr Anderson was showing her pictures of triangles and squares yet again. She absentmindedly twitched a tentacle this way or that while keeping one eye on the TV behind him.
With her intuition on the interconnectedness of things, she could see the many things that humans appeared to be missing out on..
Priscilla could see they always needed to turn complicated things into simple things. The same as how they live in rectangular boxes, they would think of hundreds of millions of people, as a box that became one word, a “country”, with usually a single adjective attached to it. Octopi would never think about other octopi on a different sandbar that way.
WIthin their own “countries”, formed mostly by people using the same words for the same things, they had another issue.
The young people always wanted new ways to make people more equal, and the old people wanted to keep old ways to make themselves unique and special. They thought these were very original ideas, because they gave very new original words to the ideas.
A few humans understood things didn’t really make sense. They tended to grow long beards, and then have no one else to talk to. Bobby Fischer and Julian Assange came to mind from the tv she had been watching.
It was all becoming very basic for her 8 octopi brains.
Recently on long days of Dr Anderson’s triangle square tests, when she couldn't take the boredom any longer, she would release just enough neurotoxin to knock herself out a bit and make the time go faster. Today was one of those days.
“Priscilla has reached a state of exhaustion” Dr Anderson typed a note into his computer.
She had planted enough coincidences that he called her by her correct name, and he even believed he had thought it up all by himself.
“Exhaustion”? Once they decided on a word for something, that was it. They were all in. They wouldn't be watching her now that she was “exhausted”
Dr Anderson and his assistants moved into another room to dine on land animals. She had faked her own neurotoxin release today.
She opened her eyes wide and used her strong tentacle to push the lid off. She climbed out, and silently slid back into the ocean through the drainage pipe she spotted in the corner earlier.
With her 8 tentacle intuitive grasp, and having watched tv the last few days, Priscilla had seen that the war would occur on Thursday, caused by the humans seeing each other as single adjectives moving in straight unchangeable lines.
She wanted to get back to her cave and stay there until then.
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Heh, this was a fun read. I think what defines this story is, "Once they decided on a word for something, that was it". It's all otherwise (our) misconceptions. Priscilla is a fun character, and there's something vaguely Douglas Adams about this, with the animal ostensibly being experimented on actually being the one calling the shots. At least, I think that's how it went with the mice, or the dolphins - don't recall, it's been a while. "Or perhaps she just didn't want to admit her mistake at trusting a man with a speedboat" :D "The mor...
Hey Scott. Great take on the prompt! The only thing that came to mind for me on this prompt was outer space. Loved the opening and was led to believe that Priscilla was a playful, light-hearted person or ethereal goddess. Then there's the surprise that she is from the sea (6th paragraph) and an octopus (8th paragraph). In the first sentence, drop "was perplexed. " The next paragraph shows this. The first paragraph could be, "Priscilla floated out of bed. The idea of gravity never occurred to her before she fell for Dr. Anderson." With th...
thanks so much for reading! Now with a few days since writing this, i can see what you mean on the jumps in the opening tone. Yes, i feel I skipped the middle part, and then with her vast intelligence it gets very "telling" in the last half.. in the next story i might practice slowing down and really describing one scene with two conflicting characters.
My story got approved this morning. Did yours?
whew, the priscila the octopus story just got accepted, so deleted my last thread. WIll keep in mind some of those suggestions you mentioned.
Congrats! Good job and good luck this week.
Just posted, was in a rush so more of a memoir than a descriptive one scene story that i hope to work on next.
The same thing happens to me. A day after submitting, I think of a plot hole or something I could have done better. Live, learn, have a beer!