Mare Nostrum

William Tran

     Blue. Everything was blue. Everything is blue. Everything will be blue. This

is simple fact for the octopus. For although there are multiple blobs of yellow and

red and other colors on a backdrop of mostly grey with thin strands of green

decorating it, it all occurs on a theater of blue. A blue not only seen by the

octopus’s eyes, but be felt around the suckers of each tentacle and be tasted by the beak within the tangled limbs. And while the hues may change from light blue to near violet in a cyclical repetition (except for down below, where the darkest blue dominates all), it all stays blue. And here in this blue is the octopus, all alone, as it always was.

     Things never changed much, the creature noticed, pushing itself across the

water with the force from its tentacles. As far as it can tell, it stayed that way for all

its lifetime, and it would most likely stay that way until the blackness takes it. The

blue feels the same, warm and cozy, and the grey is immobile, with open gaps

offering refuge for moving blobs or for the octopus itself. There is an eerie sense of

uniformity to them, and one could easily mistake a place of refuge for some home

to horrors the octopus would prefer to avoid. But all are equally useful to the 

octopus, and a few even had more hiding places to smuggle the octopus in for

better protection. Outside these gaps, the grey continued, but sprinkled across it

was strange shapes of unusual sizes, usually in wide valleys covered in darkness.

They were big enough to serve as temporary residence for the octopus, while

others were too small to serve as sustenance for it, much less be a place to live in.

Although anything grey usually wasn’t good eating. The beaks had a hard time

chewing through some of these oddities, and even if it could, the octopus felt some nausea afterwards. Instead, the octopus stayed mostly above, resting in the many unoccupied shelters and only descending should the need arise.

     The octopus advanced through the water, keeping its eyes peeled for anything to eat. The blobs of color usually served as a delicious meal for the octopus; only 2 or 3 to satiate its hunger. But if there wasn’t much of them, or some bigger shadow caused them to flee, it usually meant lean meals. Luckily, there was the green. The green took many forms, from thin strands sprouting from the grey to massive patches seemingly feeding off of whatever it was that made up the grey. These low patches were very unfulfilling and often scraped with its beak, but the thin strands were better and easier to gather. Not only that, but sometimes there might even be some hidden food within the larger groups of strands, a pleasant surprise for a hungry octopus.

     The octopus’s eyes darted left to right. Other than the monotonous

combination of grey and blue, not much differentiates itself for the octopus’s

attention. The surroundings were the same, grey stack after grey stack. Open gap

after open gap. Before, the octopus had an eye out when it travelled through the

shadow of these rows of pillars, but now it seemed more focused on where it’s

going than it’s surroundings. Stack after stack. There were many colorful blobs

floating around. Many usually went away before the octopus could notice, but

some did linger, mostly those that the octopus remembered. They were different

colors: purple, yellow, orange, red, and a bit of black. Many were small, but there

were some that could equal the octopus’s size, perhaps even tower it. But those big ones don’t stay long, most of them disappearing out of the blue and out of the

octopus’s mind. Wherever they went, it didn’t affect the octopus.

     Here, the grey gave way to the blue, and an unusual sight of green

dominated the middle. Green strands, thin with ovals emerging from them, rise up

from the unusually soft ground and creates an unusual habitat for many blobs.

Gatherings of them are found within, and a fertile source of nutrition, both green

and blob, could be found for any hungry animal, such as the octopus. Of course,

such meals aren’t easily handed over, for many blobs have developed harsh

measurements in preventing the octopus from enjoying its meal. Fast swimming,

hard shells, and even fatal poison were used by these blobs, and the octopus would most likely find itself a meal than get one. Luckily for them, the octopus didn’t need to dine, and continued its way. The limbs shifted, and the octopus propelled itself slightly to the left. Bubbles left a trail as the octopus rounded the boundary between grey and green. Greater the shift of the tentacles was, until the green reached its furthest point and receded, with the octopus continuing in a straight path. The green was gone, replaced with a sandy bank with odd pits. These pits were deep, but seemed to be covered with more of the grey stuff. The octopus remembered trying to remove a loose one for any blobs to consumption. Emphasis on trying. The octopus descended downwards near the bank, where the darkness seems to corrupt the blue. More odd shapes were there, but the octopus passed by without a thought. They weren’t food, so why stay?

     Eventually, the old rows returned and the status quo had been returned. The

octopus continued its journey. Why undertake such a journey, even the octopus

itself didn’t know. It remembered doing this a long time ago, back when it was

close to the destination. Of course it had to move for better sources of food, but it

always returned, no matter what. How many cycles was it the last time it visited?

The octopus couldn’t remember. Perhaps many days? It felt like the same as the

last gap between visits, although the octopus couldn’t be sure. But it didn’t matter.

After all, the grey stands for a long time. It could stand for a long time more.

     Finally, the octopus reaches its destination. It’s lower than the grey pillars

the octopus passed by, with a top that is slanted towards the middle. The gaps on

the side are surprisingly covered in some clear surface, although there are cracks

and a few gaps that allow passage. Incremental rises on the ground connect a small opening with the bank below, and 6 combinations of lines and twists sit on top of a thin cliff hovering above. Behind, a tall stump stands in the middle of a hole, its top jagged and descending from front to bottom. A brown surface is near the bottom, coarse to the touch and filled with imprints. The octopus ignored all that and swam into the opening.

     Inside, there is darkness. Darkness except from above, for a large opening,

covered with the same clear surface on the sides, allow light to shine down below.

It shines on a most unusual sight: a box made of the clear stuff. Inside, there are

little pebbles littler across the bottom, with a white cylinder lying on it. There used

to be green strands, like those from the habitat, but it’s all gone. The box stands on

a white pillar, and isn’t as tall as those grey pillars, but wider and shorter. On one

side, there is a small rectangle, just as rusted as the one near the stump. The

octopus propels, slowly over time, until it stops near one of the invisible surfaces

of the box. The octopus raises a tentacle and, placing it on the surface, connects its suckers on it. Another limb is placed, this one higher than the other, and slowly,

the octopus crawl into the box. Partly out of instinct, partly out of memory, it

reaches the top and slowly descends into the box. The octopus stays in the box.

Nearby, the plaque reads, with rust covering much of the words:

 

Th** g*f* **s se** ** *s by t**

M**A*****F***nd**ion to th*

M*S*UM of N***ra* H*s**ry,

 

NYC, 2209

William Tran is a rising senior at Mater Dei High School, CA.

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