“The octopus is performing marvellously. Operation Cephalopod is a success!”
Lady Macadamia shook her head. “Note how he only fights with one of his swords! This project is a wash!”
The octopus lazily swept Sir Pistachio’s blade aside, then settled back into its place, glaring at him. Pistachio drooped from his wounds, his body covered in cuts and sucker marks. “His skill with it is unmatched, milady.”
Lady Galoshes nodded. “He is only motivated to use the skills he needs. He…”
Lady Macadamia slammed her hands down on a nearby barrel. “Enough! When I commissioned you to design a new hair style, I never once questioned you. When millions in gold needed to be funnelled into this project without a word, I let it go. When you ordered huge containers of sea creatures and specifically told me you’d stopped working with hair, I held my tongue. Now that you show me an octopus that will only fight with one of its swords without even having the decency to give him a sassy hairdo or oversized novelty hat, I say I’ve had enough! This project is terminated!”
Lady Galoshes clutched at her hand. “No! Please! Not when I’m so close to a breakthrough!”
Lady Macadamia looked straight into her eyes, her tall hair rising up above her head. It split out in a ring around her, bearing not a single split end or sign of poor dying. She pointed toward it. “This hair has won more battles than any battle-hardened fish or sword-mollusc-for-hire this kingdom has ever seen. Now, in these desperate times, when the world teeters on the edge of ruin as dreadlocks and mullets scour the eyes of every man, woman, and child, we are in need of a hairdresser. Someone who looks at hair as an art. Someone who can sculpt the very fabric of reality into a professional, yet natural, look. Someone who can do all that for around fifteen dollars. That is what we need, and not another blade-bearing sea creature.”
She flung Lady Galoshes back, throwing the swimsuit-clad scientist to the ground as she stalked over to the octopus. She reached behind her back, pulling the Divine Scissors from her belt. She held them out for the octopus, her face grim.
“Cut my hair.”
“But he hasn’t been trained…”
Her look silenced any further complaints from Lady Galoshes. “Cut. My. Hair.”
The octopus looked back and forth at the assembled people, then pulled the holy scissors close to one eye. Holding them there for a few more seconds, he then held the sharp edge up to Lady Macadamia’s neck, pulling her in close with his free tentacles.
“All right, this is a robbery!”
Squids began to slip out from every shadow, covered from head to toe in dark ink. Lady Galoshes looked around at the faces, but couldn’t recognize anyone through the ski masks they wore. She looked at the octopus with tears in her eyes.
“So, all of those sweet words meant nothing. I was just another conquest to you, was that it?”
The octopus shook his head, backing away. “You don’t understand, Myrtle. This is business. It has nothing to do with you. We just need your money and jewels to go buy fish and shrimp for our families, and then buy submarines with diamond-encrusted periscopes. It doesn’t change how I feel about us.”
Lady Myrtle Galoshes shook her head. “Shrimp? Fish? Octopuses don’t eat…”
The octopus sighed, reaching up behind his head and pulling off his rubber mask. Lady Galoshes gasped, shaking with tears as she fought to control her sadness.
“A squid. I know. I didn’t know how else to tell you.”
She shuddered, her breath growing short. “This…this changes everything!”
He looked over Lady Macadamia’s shoulders with a sad look in his plate-sized eyes. “I know. I know that there are so many differences between squid and octopuses, but I hope…”
She glared at him. “I will never love a squid! You know a squid killed my college roommate!”
He looked away. “I already know that, because…I was the squid that killed him!”