Meet Doc

When we left the church, my Octopus was waiting.

I have an Octopus, and I don't Share. That's two things that set me apart, and I don't know why either of them is true.

My Octopus I call "Doc." He's like any other Octopus, I suppose. I haven't seen many of them. Nobody has. They're very expensive. Brigitte noticed Doc first, I think, and maybe she only talked to me that day because of him. I blinked in the sunshine as we stepped outside. We left quickly to avoid Reverend Tommy's eyes and his handshake. I don't like to shake hands with people because I don't Share and it weirds people out. I didn't even know about Sharing until I met Brigitte because I hadn't talked to anyone on the walk here. I hadn't talked to anyone at all since I was sitting in my apartment that night and decided I had to leave.

My apartment was not bad. It was not overly nice, but it was not bad, either. I was sitting there that night that I came home from work and couldn't remember anything. I mean anything. I couldn't remember how I ever got a job as a waitress in the first place. I looked around the apartment that I knew was mine and didn't recognize any of it. I opened up the cupboards and looked at the dishes that I-- I assumed I had done it -- had stacked neatly away. I wondered why I would put the cups and glasses all the way away from the sink and Coldzone. That seemed like the kind of thing that someone does when they first move into a place and they haven't given any thought to how to arrange things, but I didn't know.

I wandered around the apartment and looked at the shelves that had some pictures of me with people that I didn't recognize. I looked at the furniture and couldn't decide if I liked it or not. Was it picked out by me? Was it given to me by someone? Was it left here by someone? I thought maybe I liked it but I wasn't sure. That's when I got creeped out and needed to get back inside my own head. I went to the salonroom and stripped and stepped into the Showerzone.

"Shower," I said. "Mostly hot."

The water started up. I didn't know how I knew to command it to do that. That freaked me out again. The water was the right temperature, I thought. It felt pretty good. It felt almost hot enough to be uncomfortable, but not quite. I stood there, the water running down my hair, matting it down, straightening it out more, until it reached almost to my waist in back. I wondered if I liked it long. I brushed my hands over my head and looked down at my body.

My body was not familiar to me.

More than that, it was weird. My body was not me. I looked at my breasts. They were firm, and round, and the nipples were hardening as I watched them. I realized that I was getting aroused by looking at my own breasts.

Then I realized that they were two different breasts -- slightly different sizes, slightly different shapes. The nipple on the left one was longer and straighter. The skin was a little darker. I stroked it, out of curiousity, to see if it would feel like mine. It felt like I was feeling myself, and someone else, at the same time. I put my left hand on my left breast and my right hand across from it, and cupped my own chest. They were different sizes.

I just stared and started to cry. I didn't know what else to do. What are you supposed to do when you aren't even you?

That's when Doc flew in, as I started to cry. That's when I learned that I had an Octopus. Doc came floating to the salonroom, near the shower, in that weird helium-balloon way that Octopi fly/float, and his tentacles, which I now think are cute, trailed behind him, and he turned his eyes to me and said

What do you need

I didn't need him. I screamed and threw the first thing I could reach at him, which was the soap, and he dropped a few inches and it missed him and he darted back, burbling in that Octopus language that they talk in when they aren't talking to us, I think it's like a computer code but I'm not sure if it is because I don't really know if Doc is alive--

-- look, it's just a little hard. Technically, my memories only go back about a week and most of that was spent walking, so bear with me --

And I kept throwing stuff at him until he calmed me down and explained that he was my Octopus and he was there to help me. He showed me where the towels were, floated off to the kitchenette and arranged, through some sort of telepathy that I think is like the Sharing that people do, to get a hot drink going and then he sat with me while I drank that and he played some music that I liked a bit and it cheered me up. I asked him what he was, and he explained that he was an Octopus. I asked him what that was and he explained that he's my solar-powered biometric assistant -- like a personal organizer and phone and music player and computer, only with little tentacles and he can float -- and I asked him how he picked the music and he said I'd picked the music.

And I asked him what I should do, and he said

Take over the world.

He also told me what direction I should start walking. So I did that. It was as good an idea as anything else.

I didn't take any of those pictures with me. They were all of people I didn't recognize, including the ones that had me in them.

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