“I know who you are,” Adam sneered.
“Watch your impudence, young human. You are in the presence of royalty and should behave yourself accordingly.”
“Are you going to eat me?” Adam couldn’t help himself.
“No. We have you close to our mouth so that you’re able to hear us. Our beak noises travel well through the water. Our tongue noises do not. Besides, why would we want to eat you, our incredible little helper?”
Adam didn’t understand. “How did I help you?”
Altern’s tentacles swept the area in an indicative gesture. “You obviously opened our gift.”
At Altern’s mention of the waterwood box, Adam’s stomach filled with bile. He felt ill.
“Y-y-your gift…the box?”
“Why, of course, the box. The waterwood box. Always filled with surprises.” Altern’s beak snapped shut and opened again several times in mimic of a giggle.
“My family, my friends, my world…are all gone, probably dead, because of your ‘gift’!”
“Not because of our gift, dear boy…” Altern lifted Adam right-side up, “…but because you opened our gift.”
Adam began to cry. “IT’S NOT MY FAULT! HOW WAS I SUPPOSED TO KNOW?”
“You weren’t supposed to know. You were just supposed to choose. Our hope was that you would choose to open the box. It was all so very long ago that we placed the waterwood, hoping for one to open it and spill the drop. As for the box’s other surprises…well, the waterwood does what it does best, turn things upside-down.”
“Why me?” Adam cried.
“Why not you? That seems the better question. What makes you immune from the actions of others? We made a choice to give the box. You made a choice to open it. And we are most certainly glad you did. Forever ago, your kind was a burden. Your kind had forgotten its origins, had forgotten the waterwood tree. This planet should have never been called Earth, Adam. There was never that much earth to it. And now there isn’t any earth anywhere and the planet can rightfully be called Ocean, or Sea, or Water, or something more fitting. You things, you humans, came from Ocean, and to Ocean have you been returned!”