Tale by Heidi Muijen, translated by Joke Koppius and Greg Suffanti
Once, in prehistoric times in the deepest of waters, a brave Octopoda encountered a Dogwinkle.
The carnivorous gastropod introduced herself as “Nucella lapillus” and boasted that the entire North Sea, and the Atlantic Ocean, from the Strait of Gibraltar to the Arctic Sea belonged to the whelk domain.
“Really an ideal place, if you love shellfish as much as I do…”
“Tell me more about your shellfish frenzy!”
Nucella went back into her shell:
“Whether you as a Stubborn will understand such a thing, I doubt…”
Octopoda changed color ― from indigo blue to deep black:
“With my eight tentacles and sensitive nubs, I feel something about you Nucella that no other rock snail has ever evoked in me… something inscrutable and piercing, something extremely wicked and yet beautiful…”
Nucella choked on her words a bit as she spoke:
“Don’t believe that blasphemy that we are simply predatory. We do drill holes in sea snails, especially mussels and barnacles, and then suck. However, we turn their slimy composition into something beautiful…
Come with me!”
Nucella allowed herself to float to a shallower part of the sea where the sunlight danced with the waves, and Octopoda followed along.
Nucella then squirted a clear liquid from a vein near her head: It first turned pale green, then blue, and finally a deep reddish purple: royal purple!
Octopoda immediately turned silvery white:
“What a metamorphosis…”
All her three hearts pounded violently, so that her eight tentacles swung in all directions.
“Come a little closer and share in this mystery, so that you don’t become so white, but ‘imperial’.”
Nucella shot a good squirt of the royal purple liquid at Octopoda, and Octopoda absorbed it all, transforming herself into this regal color.