The Voyager

The night was young as Sachie carefully squeezed out of her tank and glided down the glass. Her tank, like all the others in the aquarium, had tiny gaps in the top to allow for oxygen to enter the tank. They were very small, but her soft, boneless body easily got by. Sachie made sure to use her suckers to descend as slowly and gracefully as possible- the tiled floor was cold and hard and stung when she fell on it (something she had to learn the hard way), even though her tank was only a couple feet off the ground. Within minutes, Sachie was on the ground and gliding silently down the dark hallway. 

One of her limbs was sore – some time ago, her tank’s caretakers had removed her and brought her to the aquarium’s lab, where they injected her with something. It was probably just a routine vaccine or nutrient supplement of some sort, although Sachie had heard the researchers mention something about an “experiment.” Whatever it was, it left her arm stiff- good thing she had seven others. 

These appointments at the research lab were common for Sachie. To be completely honest, she actually liked them because they reminded her that she was one of the more important specimens of the aquarium. Not only was she the only octopus, Sachie was the only creature that could read. Every night, she made sure to reread the golden plaque right beneath her tank- which had a little photo of her and even her name engraved in gold ink to match!

Being so important made Sachie adore her life at the aquarium. Visitors played with her often and were always gentle. She always had a full stomach and clean water. But she had an insatiable desire for adventure, prompting her to wander the desolate halls of the aquarium at midnight. To her disappointment, Sachie quickly grew bored even when she was outside her tank. Deep down, Sachie knew she wanted more than what her tank could offer. She wanted to see the world, even if that meant leaving the aquarium behind. But that, of course, was impossible. Escaping from her tank for the night was one thing, escaping from the entire building was another. 

Shaking these thoughts from her head, Sachie made her rounds down the hallways, peering at the different plaques as she went. There was a new resident today- according to the infographic, it was an electric eel named Aki. She could see him hiding in a dark, kelpy corner of his tank. 

An odd idea came into the curious octopus’s head, then. She extended one rusty red tentacle and carefully threaded it through the gap in the tank, brushing the eel’s slimy body gently. Suddenly, the eel began flashing brightly, so strongly Sachie had to close her eyes. In the darkness, a strange and foreign sensation began to spread throughout her body, like surges of electricity. She opened her eyes slowly, and was stunned to see her usually red skin was now glowing brightly, sparks dancing erratically across her suckers. She was even more surprised when she realized she looked exactly the way Aki did when he was flashing just moments ago. Her body illuminated the corridor with a ghostly blue light. 

Sachie furled her limbs in awe. Somehow, just by touching that electric eel, she’d been able to imitate his ability to generate electricity. The light her body was radiating slowly dimmed until the hall was dark once more, but the buzz remained coursing through her limbs. 

Suddenly, things didn’t seem so impossible after all.

The police officer leaned his chair back, flipping open his newspaper to the science section. 

“The recent imitation cell mutation gene has been successfully spliced with the DNA of Sachie, an octopus currently residing at a local aquarium.” read the paper. “This new gene results in acquisition of whatever special properties another organism has, upon coming into physical contact with it.”

The officer sighed. He’d been hearing more about octopuses than he cared to – the police had been getting an abundance of prank calls lately – supposed sightings of an octopus flying through the air with wings like a bird, punching walls like a mantis shrimp – one even claimed to see a flashing white octopus glowing in the dark. Utter nonsense, probably the handiwork of a couple of high schoolers.

Though, it was strange. Just days after the local aquarium had reported their octopus missing, the station had been receiving all sorts of these calls. 

He sipped his coffee. Kids these days . . .

Written by Dana Choi from Albertson, NY