Acetabulum

by Pierce Nahigyan

When he injected the dead octopus with the charge, its skin was shattered into a pinwheel of coalescent color. The chromatophores beneath the rubbery tentacles birthed miniature fireworks. And its tentacles did a little jig.

He took them gingerly, as a friend, his latex gloves slipping into the round acetabulum, and laid them on the dissection table. Yet the octopus continued to dance. Its dead eye was like a dismal hourglass set on its side, its black sand strewn over its face, but its body lived, shivered, twitched. The clear blood made a miniature wave in the dissection pan. Out flowed its tide, in a rolling surfless sea.

When the creature had lived they named it Thor. It was ill tempered and confoundingly clever. It escaped its tank at every opportunity. It climbed out and damn the dry land, it slipped and slapped over it, its bulbous head a clownish sack of ooze, pulling itself over the rubber matting on the aquarium floor, flopping and flipping, arm, arm, arm, arm, over arm, arm, arm, arm, suckers popping up from the tile or metal or whatever it grabbed and carried with it along the way. When they put it back in its tank it inked them. When interns dashed into the room to grab a set of pH tabs, Thor lifted himself from the water and sprayed them from its gills. The sea water smelt strongly of the cephalopod, and was generally worse than the ink.

The intern pulled the cable from the octopus’s body. It twitched some more, and some more, until its arhythmic life left it and it was cold, and dead again. The colors slid beneath its surface.

It had always seemed like such an angry animal. And it seemed wrong to make it look so foolish. When Thor was alive it turned black and red when they drew near, the colors swirling instantly, like its body contained wine and roses and heat, neverending heat. Faster than lightning the skin transformed.

“Get back to work,” said the professor. Dead meat after Ragnarok. He sliced into it with the scalpel.