Cella slid around the bed, reached out, curled an arm around the large, plastic box. She explored it, this foreign thing that had magically appeared in her room while she slept. She could see through parts of it, but it bent the light and distorted the parts of her room that lay beyond it. Photophores and chromatophores responded to her touch, to her strange mix of curiosity and anxiety, lighting the room in a faint, reddish purple. Cella felt something move at her touch, and a blinding flash of light startled her. Throwing one arm over her eyes to shield them, she grasped the box and tried to drag it and turn it, in order to get a better look at it. It flashed again.
Cella retreated, crouched on the far side of the room, and stared at the box, perplexed and a little bit afraid. As Cella contemplated the box, the chromatophores gradually faded to amber, and the photophores pulsed in time with Cella’s heart. She tried to calm herself, to slow down time, to clarify her thinking so that she could puzzle it out.
The walls were moving again. Muffled sounds, a soft blurp-blurp-blahblurble-blah resonated around her. Now and then, a sharp rap-rap-tapping vibrated; Cella could feel the vibration of it on her skin. Cella had grown used to this. She had grown used to the giant orbs – eyes? – blinking, tentacles pressed against the smooth, cool walls. It was odd, but the creatures generally stayed on their own side. They never touched her. Cella barely remembered a time when she was afraid of them, when their choppy, awkward, intermittent invasions caused her such terror that she would wet herself. Occasionally, they reached into the room with tentacled appendages to move things around, to add a plant or a knick-knack here or there. To clean. They provided food and water and medicine when she needed it. It seemed random and pointless to Cella, but apparently, it amused them to do it. Did they think this staved off her boredom? Cella could move things around, too, if she wished, though she rarely bothered. The box, though – this was new. Cella had to admit that she was a little bit intrigued.
Reaching out with all her arms and legs at once, Cella grasped the box and squeezed. Flash!
“Look, Dad! She’s taking pictures!” Joey reached into the tank and fished out the little waterproof, disposable camera. “Can we go get them printed after lunch?”
“Sure, we’ll order digital copies, too – I’ll bet #OctopusSelfies will be trending on Twitter by dinnertime!” Joey’s dad smiled, ran his fingers through Joey’s hair, and grabbed the car keys.
Cella sighed and wondered where the box had gone, and whether she would ever figure out what it was.
This is #3 for StoryADay May. I got off to a late start, but I think I can keep up (not sure I’ll try to make up lost time, though)! Thanks to Marian Allen for inspiring me to give it a try, and for providing the inspiration for today’s story.
Many thanks to Grellmax for a better way to mislead people about the number of Cella’s arms, and for the lesson on chromophores vs. chromatophores! It’s one thing to invent a whole new species of cephalopod, but quite another to use existing scientific terms incorrectly.