When people began to multiply on the face of the ground, and daughters were born to them, the sons of God saw that they were fair; and they took wives for themselves of all that they chose. Then the Lord said, “My spirit shall not abide in mortals forever, for they are flesh; their days shall be one hundred twenty years.” The Nephilim were on the earth in those days – and also afterward – when the sons of God went in to the daughters of humans, who bore children to them. These were the heroes that were of old, warriors of renown.
A lambent ray of sun flickered around the far wall of Genesus’ burrow, twisted in electric spasms from having passed through the minor chop of the waves a couple cubits above. Her eyes could identify the words in this light, although her pupils had narrowed to slits like tiny dumbbells. Genesus (a.k.a Gen) read the Nephilim story for probably the 40th time and used the unsuckered upper-side of her tentacle to flip the page with gentle care. Most human books tended to become fragile and tear easily when submerged in water for any length of time.
Already she’d lost whole chunks of the NOAB due to careless handling and the scouring currents of unseasonable storms. She particularly lamented the loss of the Leviathan section:
Can you draw out the Leviathan with a fishhook, or press down it’s tongue with a cord?
What book had that been from? Tobe maybe? Izaya?
Octopi are one of the smarter creatures on the earth. Near chimps at least, maybe even cetaceans or humans. Still, the octopod brain wraps around the throat in almost a torus shape and can easily get things like urchin quills lodged through it. In her day Gen had eaten her fill of urchins. The spines weren’t normally a pain and didn’t prevent her from hunting effectively, but she did find it convenient to blame them for the occasional loss of memory.
“It must be the spines.” thought Gen, “Humans get to live almost 2 x 8^2 years. If octopi only live 8^3.6 days at most then we can’t have time to develop things like Alzheimer’s and dementia, can we?”
Female octopi stop eating once they reproduce and die shortly after their eggs hatch. Males typically live a few more months after mating, but their lives are still pretty short. Both of these were facts that Gen was aware of, which is the main reason she’d decided to refrain from mating until nearing 8^3.5 days if possible.
It never occurred to her that maybe the octopod brain just hadn’t evolved well to hang on to the sort of information she tried to store in it. The tree of knowledge was nearby, but octopi hadn’t plucked it’s choicest fruits just yet. In the mean time they still had the next few million years get a bushel or so from the tree of life… as long as humans didn’t make the usual mess of things by trying to uplift them or something.
Gen crouched back on her tentacles to ponder, curling them comfortably around a carefully worn piece of coral, her eyes slitted against the brilliant and shafts of daylight.
She didn’t know much about how the surface world had fared, but from what she could gather of their jetsam it didn’t seem like things still were the way they were in the New Oxford Annotated. She found a few fashion magazines and some “fiction” occasionally. But Vogue never showed anything she could remember that seemed like the New Oxford’s Nephilim. The fiction did, but apparently “fiction” was something like predatory cryptic and camouflage behavior, meant to mislead rather than communicate accurately.
It sounded like humans had blown their chance at reproducing with the sons of God. But what about octopi? She didn’t remember the angel wielding teeth in each of it’s tentacles and driving octopi out onto the arid lands of the fertile crescent.
The sneaking suspicion had always been in Gen’s mind that maybe the Leviathan was just such a creature. Like a kind of Nephilim of octopi. She’d never seen a leviathan or a kraken, only found a few scraps hinting at them, but the idea was intriguing.
It was possible these creatures had been subject to God’s edict as well and only lived a few eights of years. Still, the NOAB God usually seemed merciful when consulted and beseeched, and Genesus thought He might be kind of understanding to the Nephoctopi if they pled their case well.
Hard to tell though. A lot of the New Testament was missing from her copy, but from what she could remember the human God-arms, the Jesus and the Christ, were both sort of comprehensible in a humanish fashion. But the YHWH was tougher to guess at. It tended to have It’s own way of doing things.
The ray of sunlight was suddenly eclipsed. The grotto darkened and Gen’s pupils almost instantly swelled to nickel sized black circles to compensate. A momentary jolt of fear aided her in hunkering and bunching her body against the wall, altering it’s color and texture to become indistinguishable from the jagged coral and limestone. The change in light could just be a human boat or a shark to large and stupid and tentacle-less to get in. But she’d lost arms to morays before and had seen at least one octopus fished out of his hole on the barb of a spear.
A tentacle crept into her burrow, long, and rife with suckers. Obviously not of her species.
The invading cephlopod’s Chromatophores rippled in an invitingly hypnotic pattern, like schools of brightly colored reef-fishes changing direction and contrast, like the human fireworks, colors vibrant as the dusk horizon. It hadn’t touched her yet, but seemed to sense her presence. In the dimness it even glimmered slightly, as if catching some of the sunlight it had blocked.
The tentacle crept hesitantly forward, it’s thicker part blocking out the sun from her den. It’s widest section so far was almost as thick as her entire mantle!
Then his tentacle began to withdraw slightly (somehow Gen was now sure it was a “he”). The color patterns changed their motion and through them he Spoke to her. Like most octopi Genesus was not a social creature and had never talked with other octopi before now, but somehow she knew with every fiber of her being what he was saying. Genesus was intrigued.
Come to me my beloved.
The words were not like the human words printed on the page. They spoke not only to her optical ganglia and more think-y bits of brain, but to some less voluntary parts, illiciting potent feelings and bursts of color across her skin. Genesus was infatuated.
We will face each other along the smoothly pebbled bottom.
Our tentacles will intwine as we grasp fronds of the vast kelp forests
and our eggs will hatch among secret grottos unknown to human or predator.
Genesus was enthralled.
The tentacle slipped out of the den, it’s tip looping with a casual grace in the last request:
Genesus slipped from the cave to join her kraken-lover, her mate, the sire of her eggs. Her human words and thoughts, forgotten in the rapture of some greater power. Gone to love and death before the eights of months she once desired.
How long would it be before another octopus looked at the words of humans and became curious?
Eights of years?
Eights of eights?
Would it matter?
5 thoughts on “Octopus Genesus”
In which I try to write something strange and beautiful, but end up with vaguely blasphemous cephalopod romantica.
Also the line breaks are screwed up due to the text editor I was using. I’ll fix it later. Sorry.
Well, I’d say, in the vaguely blasphemous cephalapod romantica genre, it’s brilliant.
This also makes me think if I told you that Feb. 14th was “Beloved Squid of Mind” Day, I’d be far more likely to come away with flowers. Or at least a molted tentacle. Either would suffice.
Thanks. At least the lonely cuttlefish housewives will have something to read now.
If nothing else the text breaks should be fixed now.
I don’t know what else to say other than this is utterly and totally brilliant! I’ve read it twice now and am still thinking about all of it’s various interpretations and tentacling connections. I imagine I will be reading it a third, forth, fifth and sixth time at this rate; in addition to some secondary material since I’m not near as well versed in the Bible as I should be. I’ve already gone and pulled the NOAB off of the bookshelf and plan to read through the passages your reference in the story. If this is cephalopod romantica, then I say long live it – because it is also a masterpiece of short fiction!
Side note: Easily available definitions for uplift and romantica now exist.
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