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Before and After Beast

An Octopus' Escape

By ANITA RACHELLEPublished 3 months ago Updated 3 months ago 6 min read
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BBC Science Focus

I’m not sure why I disappeared like that except to say I needed a little space. He was giant, the four-legged monster that threatened to invade my privacy at all times. Of course, I realize I was made to be his friend, but the power of his love for me was overbearing. That’s what brings me here to write my story (but adjacently his too, because I wouldn’t be me, without him).

On November 23, 2022, the monster that would later own me was born. I obviously did not yet exist in the form that he knew me. I was still made of separate entities, so really not yet me at all: polyester fiber fill, crinkle, thread, and an assortment of other ingredients no one ever explained to me, because they (the humans) assumed I didn’t have the capacity to hear or comprehend their language. In other words, once I did become the version that the four-legged beast knew me as, I was a mutt of material that was also assumed to be deaf and mute. My specific origins weren’t super clear, but I would soon learn that I was made for one objective alone: make my owner happy. My owner also had an owner (a human) so, ultimately, I had to please both.

Before we get further along with how my life looked like in their hands and prior to my disappearance, perhaps it is important to at least try to dissect my origin a bit: what my early days looked like before my identity was solely based on my relation to the monster. However, when I’m honest with myself, I can’t seem to remember the details of my creation or subsequent toddlerhood. Any human might also empathize with the evasiveness of their early childhood memories. They may THINK they remember the moment they took their first step but isn’t the pseudo-memory just the photos or videos they’ve seen of the event commingled with their parents’ rehashing at playgrounds and parties for years to come of the extraordinary developmental achievement their child was able to exhibit at such a young age?

“He was a walker at only 10 months,” the human subject hears his parents boast time and time again.

With that, he pieces together an internal visual of this remarkable yet entirely un-unique and universal milestone based on other images and clues from the humans that were there to witness it. His brain convinces himself that he can indeed remember the moment his tiny body decided to transition from quadrupedal mode into bipedal. Four legs are not better than two, he, along with the rest of the human race, decides (unlike the four-legged beast that would almost consume me).

I, of course, would argue that eight legs are better than two or four. Technically, I’m based on the creature that uses its six front tentacles to grab objects (like arms) and back two tentacles to skim across the sea floor (like legs). In this case, I suppose I side more with the human bipedal than the BEAST. The only reason I know I’m based on a real sea creature is because the box I came in includes a little “About Me” section. And the humans kept the box during my existence there. They were hoarders, so in my off hours (when the monster wasn’t attacking me), I could sometimes get glimpses of the box (along with many other boxes and random objects) and tried to analyze whatever clues I could.

“Grab your dog’s attention with the sound of this octopus’ eight crinkly tentacles! Your pup will love playing with this interactive chew toy made with durable high-quality material! Machine washable, this will become your dog’s indestructible go-to friend for years to come! Made in Taiwan.”

“Montafoo,” also makes an appearance on the packaging, which I presume to be the company who made me. I watched enough tv shows while on the floor, couch, or in the beast’s mouth, that I know toys are mostly made in factories, so even though I can’t remember my assembly on the Taiwanese factory floor, I presume that is how and where I was made and that my characteristics are not unique. The reality is I’m likely one of many who were churned out there: 4"W x4"D x 12"H with an entirely non-distinct teal coloring. Shipped to humans around the world who then sacrificed us to their ungrateful canines. Sometimes, though, I like to imagine a sweet grandmother hand-sewing me up to create a distinct ME: an exclusive octopus, only one of one.

To the beast, of course, I was one of many toys in general that would grace his destructive bite and paws. My memory of the factory is nonexistent, unless you count what I’ve imagined it to be. I seem to remember aspects of the flight from Taiwan to the U.S. but those too are probably just pseudo-memories based on the times airplanes have shown up in tv shows the human and canine watched. What I definitely do remember is less associated with a visual and more of a feeling, and the sharp contrast of my state of being in the “BB: Before Beast” days vs. the “AB: After Beast” days.

I was at peace in the box. No one bit my head. My tentacles weren’t attempted to be dislodged from my main body, and any outside sounds were muted. The box served as a protective shield from the exterior world. Sure, the conditions were somewhat limiting in that I couldn’t maximize my senses, but I felt SAFE. Life was peaceful, even as I was slightly jostled around in a UPS truck upon arriving in the U.S. and moved from one set of larger boxes into others to sit in a distribution center for a stage (don’t ask me for how long – I didn’t yet know how to track time).

When I arrived at the human and monster’s doorstep, I still had no idea what was in store for my fate. The human opened the door, carried me inside his home, and took me out of my many packing boxes. It was only as he was lifting me out of the manufacturer’s box that my senses went into overload. I heard, saw, and smelled danger.

SOS! The BARKS, the JUMPS, the SLOBBER! This beast had new prey. When the human dangled me in front of the monster, I saw my life ending before my eyes. The monster canine’s jaws took hold of me, and I yelled out “HELP” but to no avail. My tentacles were pulled this way and that. My head and neck bounced in his stinky mouth, as I felt his sticky rough tongue throw me from his upper teeth to lower and back and forth, until I knew I’d be lucky if I came out alive after just this initial introduction.

From his mouth came the sudden feeling of being pummeled onto a cold hard surface. And then gigantic paws swiping me from one end of the room to another. These interactions, also known as my destruction but the canine’s source of happiness, occurred daily, whenever the human decided to throw me at him or when the beast found me from wherever I was in the house.

I never went outside. The human feared I’d get dirty (as if my scratches, pulled threads, and two missing legs by the second hour of my presence there indoors wasn’t a problem). Not too long after my arrival, however (perhaps a few days…I still couldn’t comprehend time), the human realized I could indeed use a cleanup and break from the beast’s antics, even if my injuries mostly took place indoors. He threw me into the washing machine, alongside the beast’s other soft toy victims, and we spun around and around in a high cycle of heat, water, and detergent. A wild roller coaster with my new friends, for sure, but the experience was preferred over the beast’s destructive force.

When we finally came to a still, and the human opened the washer door to transfer us to the dryer for another sauna type respite, I knew I needed to grab hold of the opportunity to ESCAPE! Between the washer and dryer existed a tight crevice. Just wide enough that a fall into it would allow me to go down, down, down into its very depth. The human took hold of me, alongside a handful of the monster’s other joys, and I wriggled my way out of his fingers, falling, falling, falling away from his grasp! With too many toys in his hand and other human thoughts in his mind, he paid no attention to my escape.

So this is where I find myself, in this tight liminal space in the middle of a washer and dryer, between past and future. Having just been almost obliterated by a canine beast while coming close to serving my purpose, and now not knowing what lies ahead. At least, for now, in the present, I feel safe.

FantasyShort StoryMicrofictionHumorAdventure
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