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Octopus Hart 2.0

A dance of the seven veils like he's never done before

By Alix McMurrayPublished 3 months ago 4 min read
Octopus Hart 2.0
Photo by Stephanie Harlacher on Unsplash


“Shut the hell up, Dofleini, you look like a clown!”

“The people eat this up, Hart, you know it.”

“Yeah, but that doesn’t mean you have to play to it. I am so embarrassed right now….”

“Stop being so sanctimonious—lighten up, will you? Let me have some fun for once.”

Dofleini wrapped himself up around the yellow nerf, all his tentacles squeezing around it, bringing it to his mouth. The crowd gasped, thinking he would actually ingest it.

“Really? Do you not know I have nine brains?”

With a flourish, Dofleini ejected the ball with all his might, banging it into Blue Anemone 7 Stage Left.

“Ouch! Bastard!” BA7SL spewed.

“Sorry, man. Just trying to give the people what they want.”

“Dof, what time is it? I’m hungry as shit.” Hart had a bad habit of drinking coffee on an empty stomach.

“What am I, omniscient, Hart? Ha! Oh, yeah, that’s right, I am! Eleven forty-seven.”

“Thank God. I am packing this up right now.”

Hart felt for her keys in her left apron pocket, then she locked eyes with a little redheaded kid with a “Future Oceanographers of America” sticker on his shirt. A beatific smile spread over the little guy’s face as he petted the urchins. So careful and gentle he was for a little boy!

“Dof, hey this one, do you think he’ll make it?”

Dofleini undulated away from the right edge of his enclosure where he was trying to unscrew the lid to a jar to impress a bored looking teenager. He pulled the lid off and gave it a bit of a spin, so it would carom off for dramatic effect.

The teenager met his gaze as he did this, looking startled and strangely respectful, then lumbered off, with one side-eye glance back at the glass.

“Dof, did you hear me? Will the little guy get there?”

Dofleini looked over at the little boy and sighed, his balloon head fluttering sadly.

“I know you always root for the underdog, Hart. I get it, so do I. Yeah, he’ll make it through the event, he’s a strong swimmer. But as for protecting the oceans, he will make a donation or two then he’s going into alternative energy. But you missed the kid in the hoody. That young fella will save three people today and later start a company that turns ocean plastic into paving stone. He’ll get the subo, but he’ll recover okay.”

“Why can’t you tell me, Dof? It’s not fair. I of all people should be on your short list.”

“You are the only one on my list, Hart. You know that. But telling is against the rules.”

“Ok, well, see you after lunch. I do have time for lunch, right?”

“Yes, enjoy yourself, have a Caesar salad for me.”

“I will. When I get back, you had better do a dance-of-the-seven-veils like you’ve never done before. It’ll be the last time after all.”

“You won’t be disappointed, Hart, I promise.”

Savoring the briny anchovies and rolling a crouton in her mouth, Hart saw and smelled and felt it again, like having her heart cracked by a giant nutcracker. She was grateful that the event would be coming in her safe place, where she had met Dofleini.

Takotsubo cardiomyopathy. You get it after surviving the virus, the media said, but Hart knew differently. People were becoming unconsciously aware of the event, and it was breaking their hearts to leave the world they knew. Dofleini promised it was the only way to save the world, by cracking it wide open, rinsing it out, and starting over.

This was not without self-interest. Dofleini had noticed the white lesions but passed it off.

“Senescence, a natural part of the life cycle, Hart.” He could be as cavalier as ever, but since his color changes were taking longer and longer, it was obvious what was happening.


At first it was just a clucking groan, like something metal being dragged across a concrete floor. Then it got louder and Hart heard a popping noise. Several customers in the gift shop startled and reluctantly walked out.

Hart walked to the shop door and looked around the Great Hall. The floor looked moist as if it had been recently waxed, then she realized it was water. She smelled brine and heard water running.

On instinct, Hart ran down to the beluga whale exhibit. A steady stream of water was pouring from the side of the largest observation window. The epoxy had already started curling back. And the belugas were still blowing bubbles from their foreheads, unfazed.

Then the floor shifted, Hart couldn’t tell in what direction, but she couldn’t quite walk upright. People started screaming and a large man holding a sandwich fell to the floor and just sat there, looking confused.

Between tunnel vision and the tilted floor, Hart struggled to get to Dofleini. The lights flickered and then went off. Hart keep running into people and people kept running into her, like some free-for-all fight club, every contact a punch or a jab. Hart spread her arms out in spite of the punching and felt for the familiar textures in the walls. She could feel her way down to the hall where the octopus exhibit was.

When she got there, Dofleini’s tank was dark and Hart’s pulse dropped. Then, from the skylight above, a silver beam pierced through the darkness.

Puffing and blowing in somnolent greens and blues, Dofleini had felt Hart approach and blushed himself into a coppery pink circus canopy. This was the moment to dance, the wait was over! With every meter of his being he stretched and swayed and flung his tentacles, embracing every surface of his enclosure, a dervish wrapping up the stage in his swirling cloak.

“Hart, come dance with me!”

“On my way, Dof!”

Sci Fi

About the Creator

Alix McMurray

Come join me hanging out with the Dodo Bird on the beach, waiting for the odd chupacabra, or chasing shadows into corners. And you can read about my life as a therapist on

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