His eyes surveyed the hills. They crawled, poked around, explored hidden caverns with their tendrils, photographed hamlets with their pupils, and relayed back data to the central brain, Cranus.
Cranus sat in state, a pulsing grey jelly trembling under the load of incoming data. He processed the information, while feasting on the planet’s denizens, and spitting out the indigestibles. With a look that was permanently furrowed, he struck terror into the tubes of those who served him. With his unwound neurones, he struck blows at all who dared to go too near.
His legs marched into the valleys, terrifying villagers, and measuring the land in strides.
Cranus fed upon the mashed pulp of those who had been trampled underfoot.
His mouths engaged the planet’s inhabitants in small talk, gathering information about the people’s manners, and the social dimension of the ubiquitous superficial daily exchange. At night, they stalked the village, sucking the lifeblood out of its sleeping inhabitants. Sometimes the lips simply explored the sleepers’ bodies, roving all over, pinching, biting, kissing – awakening an interesting variety of responses in the dreamers.
Cranus wondered at a population so inarticulate that all they could manage by way of friendly small talk was the scream. He looked for fine distinctions between the many screams, and neatly marked points along the limited range. He set himself the task of deciphering the primitive language, and the part played therein by the Gulp, over a glass of blood sucked up through a straw. The reactions to physical contact by night were, conversely, colourful and dramatic. He ordered a squad of mouths to swallow and collect some of the fluids for analysis.
His hands, at the end of poly-articulated arms, played a chain of theremins set up along the planet’s equator.
The soundtrack was absolutely indispensable to his work. He could no longer remember a time when it hadn’t been there. Cranus had been brought into being by the call of the theremin.
His blood cells coated little lawns, and gathered botanical data.
Cranus creased his furrows further, as he contemplated the inrush of information on well-tended flowering plants and vegetable gardens. He couldn’t quite grasp the point. He dismissed the terrible temptation to turn vegetarian; he decided eating them was not a solution – he’d find other ways to rid the universe of the things.
His ears served as novelty sugarbowls in philosophers’ dens.
Cranus decided he preferred the screams. His ears upended their contents on the philosophers’ heads, leading to many other Newtonian Apple Moments, and many ideas for carbohydrated-warfare.
Cranus realised the value of interplanetary friendship, when scores of villagers came to visit and offer up various sharp instruments and the gift of fire. He accepted their offerings genteelly, and returned their gifts twofold. The mass of charred and pierced flesh lay prostrate in gratitude.
When the day came for Cranus to leave, his eyes cried all over the world. New oceans formed, and fish inherited the planet, till the Day the Dolphins came back.