IRON OYSTER • by Cristina Noelle

It crashed with incredible violence, clouds of pink sand blossoming as it imbedded itself into the seafloor.

An Iron Oyster.

On the reef, schools of technicolored fish fled, helter-skelter. Crabs and eels and sharks took cover.

But the octopus was not afraid.

Concealed in a crevice one-sixteenth her size, the cephalopod uncurled her tentacles and licked each warm wave clean. Aluminum. Lithium. Hydrogen. Lead. She could taste them on the current. And something else. Something half remembered.

With a shriek of rending metal, the oyster swung open and a creature — like a hidden pearl — emerged.

The octopus extracted herself from the reef with a single, elegant motion. Chromatophores in her skin announced her presence, painting her red and gold in two-hundredths of a millisecond.

The pearl drifted down to meet her, its translucent body revealing an intricate network of blue veins orbiting a luminous core. Its tentacles were longer than hers, the octopus noticed. Finer, too. Like strands of hair.

And it was hungry. She could taste its hunger, its confusion. She understood.

With solemn efficiency, the octopus gnawed through one of her own tentacles and surrendered it. The forfeited appendage was still wriggling in protest as the pearl swallowed it whole. No matter. She would grow another. She had Iron in her, after all.

The two cephalopods regarded one another with mutual awe. Each savoring their shared secret. Each reassured it was not alone.

Cristina Noelle is a writer, tour guide, and mother of two tiny lunatics. She lives in New York and is skeptical of those who don’t. When she isn’t writing or wrangling her wayward spawn, Cristina enjoys long walks in the local cemetery, performing Pagan rituals under the light of a full moon, and baking cookies.

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