The human stepped into the light and shielded its eyes. A giant eight-limbed being nudged it gently with one of its tentacles.
“Go on, it’s alright.”
The human took a tentative step forward. It was all too much, too bright, too new. The air was too fresh, those flowers – is that what they’re called? – too vivid. The human looked up at the octopus-god. It smiled kindly down and nodded in the direction of the clearing ahead.
“This is your new home. Let’s go explore!”
They moved into the warm sunshine, and the human seemed to grow and bloom in the golden light. It stood up straighter, and became less afraid of this bold new world. Guided by the octo-god, it learned of all the strange and wonderful plants and animals living there, sharing in the lush green land. It ate ripe fruits, drank from clear streams, and learned the names of these bright bursts of color called flowers.
“Az-azalea. Peony. Orc…orchid.”
“Yes, very good,” the benevolent octo-god said.
They wandered over rolling fields, around glittering ponds full of dancing fish, and emerged into a worn circle around a crackling campfire. The human’s eyes widened in fear at the flames, but the octo-god showed it how to pile the wood, and how to strike the stones together to create sparks. The human took the flints in each hand, then looked again to the octo-god for encouragement. Before it could demonstrate the very elaborate smashing technique again, another human figure appeared at the top of the hill, guided by yet another octo-god.
Both humans froze, their eyes locked onto one another.
“Is that…me?” the rock-wielding human asked.
The octo-god chuckled. “No, no. It is another human, like you.”
The rock-wielding human’s jaw dropped. “It’s beautiful…”
More beautiful than any flower, or tree, or octo-god, that’s for sure.
The human felt another nudge from a tentacle.
“Go on, talk to it.”
The human stood just as another human appeared on the hilltop. And another. And another.
The octo-god smiled once more. “This is your home now. You all must share it.”
The human stumbled forward, the rocks still in its hands, but the tentacle slid around its chest and tightened, forcing the air from the human’s lungs in a terrified wheeze. The octo-god yanked the human towards its face.
“Listen you little piece of shit. We saved the Earth for you – we cleaned it up, reversed the ozone damage, revived the Great Barrier Reef, removed the plastic hell-scape floating in the Pacific, and sent all of your garbage and waste hurtling towards the sun’s inferno. You humans screwed it all up the first time – don’t you DARE do it again!”
It released the human, who staggered backwards, gasping for breath. The benevolent smile was back on the octo-god’s face.
“Run along now. Be kind. And remember what I said.”
The human wandered over to the others, who were all wide-eyed and equally bewildered. The octo-god waited with bated breath to see what the human would do with the rocks.
Slowly, very slowly, it sat down with the other humans, and together they built another fire.
The octo-gods all shared a glance and breathed a collective sigh.
So far, so good.
Muse’s Note: This is a loosely-connected continuation from last month’s story, which featured some slightly more intelligent beings saving us humans. I couldn’t resist actually writing about our cephalopod overlords!