rising tides (an idea for a summer blockbuster)
It was an audacious plan, even by octopus standards.
Before barreling ahead, let me catch you up on a few important details. First and foremost, the typical octopus is very intelligent. On the math portion of a human IQ test, they sit above 140. That’s genius level.
While humans have about 60 protocadherins, brain-building genes, the octopus genome was found to have 168. That translates to nearly three times the neural wiring capacity. In fact, the only thing holding back the octopus is its size and short lifespan.
The Giant Pacific Octopus for example is 15 feet long and lives for approximately 3 years. Hardly a ‘giant’ really. The colossal squid on the other hand, a close relative of the octopus, also in the molluscs family (the Dibranchiata), has been recorded at 46 feet and some experts believe that it can grow to as large as 66. Sadly, they are only around about 2 years.
They say we know much more about distant planets than we do about the deep parts of our ocean. This became very clear when we realized that those places were keeping a very big secret; an octopus that grew to about 80 feet long and, much more importantly, lived for over a hundred years ( a.k.a. Octopus manionloides).
And that’s where our story begins. And possibly ends.
If you’re a human anyway.
Until recently these enormous and wildly bright creatures were content to live out their days in the abysmal zone, aware of, yet undisturbed by, mankind. But when that began to change, when probes and vessels began to make their way down to their neighborhood more and more frequently, they realized that the days of ‘live and let live’ might be drawing to a close.
They gathered to discuss the situation and decided that action was needed. While they had put up with the noise and seemingly-endless pollution of these terrestrial apes for thousands of years, their patience was at an end and a little of the ‘survival of the fittest’ was in order. They debated various solutions until one idea seemed the best way to resolve a problem having to do with things that live on land; get rid of the land.
All of it.
Make the Earth 100% water.
It required the aquatic equivalent of the Ophiocordyceps unilateralis, the zombie-ant fungus. In a nutshell, once it infects the ant the fungus grows throughout their body and hijacks its mind. Unfortunately for mankind, just such a fungus was plentiful on the abyssal plane and it wasn’t long before sailors crossing over certain parts of the ocean were unwittingly bringing the infection to ports around the globe.
Soon humanity was dancing and the octopi were calling the tune.
A little ditty called Find a Bulldozer and Start Pushing the Dirt into the Sea. And that’s exactly what they began to do. When the bulldozers didn’t work they used explosives. Humans lived only to reverse-terraform the planet. They ate and slept and procreated for a singular purpose; to get rid of the land.
After only a few months littoral real eastate around the world was reclaimed by the ocean and, after some work on the glaciers in Antarctica and Greenland, which when completely melted would raise sea level by 230 feet, fully 7% of the world’s landmass was now under water.
Ten years later the Earth, as seen from space, was noticeably different.
The octopi that started the project knew they would never live to see its completion, small mountain ranges alone would takes hundreds of years to level, but they were content in the knowledge that the threat of the humans was over and one day Earth would be nothing but one endless ocean. Sacrifices would have to be made and adaptations would have to take place, but isn’t that always the case with progress?
If you’re waiting for some happy ending involving whales and sharks swimming in to the rescue, I don’t think you have a grasp of how little regard aquatic creatures have for people. “Don’t let the ocean floor hit you on the way out” would be a common sentiment. Of course, some might think this is a happy ending.
A thousand or so years later, when the last of handfuls of Mount Everest finally slipped below the waves, the name Earth became inexorably ironic.
(Pan out. Endless shimmering blue to the horizon. Breathtaking.)
“The sea! the sea! the open sea! The blue, the fresh, the ever free!”
– Bryan W. Procter
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