There was a very long queue, because everybody wanted to ask the octopus what the future held for them. You see, the octopus had demonstrated an uncanny ability to foretell future events.
It had to be a simple multiple choice question, so you were slightly restricted in what you could ask, but so far, the newspapers said, it had never been wrong.
The amazing predictive octopus had changed many people’s lives, not least its owners. When they had discovered his abilities, their aquarium had been struggling; failing even. Now, they could barely keep up with the demand. Customers happily paid twice, three times, even four times as much to get in, but they weren’t interested in the fish. They just wanted to see the octopus.
For a fee, the owners would provide you with up to three special clear plastic boxes, three plastic envelopes and three pieces of paper. You wrote the possible answers to your question on the pieces of paper, put them in the envelopes, then put the envelopes in the front sections of the box. The owners would then lower the boxes into the octopus tank, and the octopus would choose the box that indicated the right answer.
There were many posters along the corridor leading towards the octopus tank, offering indecisive customers guidance on what they could ask.
“Which man should I marry? Ask The Octopus – Never Wrong!”
“Which job should I take? Ask The Octopus – Never Wrong!”
Some scientists had said that the octopus was just responding to the people outside the tank; that it could tell which box they wanted it to go into, so it went into that one. To disprove the theory, the owners made little removable screens for the boxes, with a cord to pull them out. Until the screen was removed, nobody could see the answer.
“Which school should I choose? Ask The Octopus – Never Wrong!”
“Which house should I buy? Ask The Octopus – Never Wrong!”
Finally, it was Ophelia’s turn. She wrote three answers very carefully, bending over them so that her hair fell down and hid the paper from view as she wrote. She slipped them inside the envelopes and stood in front of the tank as they were lowered in.
The owners smiled at her as she stepped up to ask her question. She spoke in a clear voice, her question short and simple. “Can you really tell the future?”
A hush fell over the crowd, and all eyes were on the octopus. His tentacles moved and waved, and he made his way over to the boxes. Slowly he lifted a lid and slid inside, closing it after him.
The owners looked a little nervous as Ophelia tugged on the cord to remove the screen.
It said “No.”
There was uproar. People immediately began demanding refunds; the owners stepped back behind the tank and tried to get away from the crowd.
In the midst of the chaos, Ophelia pulled the other cords, revealing two more identical answers, but the crowd was too busy to notice.
© Kari Fay
(Author’s Note – I would like to say thank you to Stephen from Powder Burns & Bullets for bestowing the Creative Genius Blog Award upon me. I’d like to thank my parents, my friends, and – oh wait, this isn’t the Oscars, is it? 😉 I plan to pay it forward tomorrow (assuming my favourites aren’t already so favoured) once I’ve caught up on some blog reading, so watch this space.)