I have something I need to get off my chest. A horrible crime. A crime against Humanity.
Committed by a child.
Committed by me.
When I was a young grade schooler, my parents wouldn’t buy me a dog. They said it was about personal responsibility, about feeding and otherwise caring for the dog, but I know now that isn’t true.
It was about dog hair. It gets everywhere.
As someone who has since owned dogs, I understand where they were coming from. But at the time, I was bitterly disappointed.
My parents’ choice of substitution for a pet did little to ease this bitterness.
A hermit crab.
Or, more accurately, a string of tragically doomed hermit crabs.
At first, when left alone with my pet hermit crab in its makeshift tank filled with gravel and a little water, I just grumbled under my breath about the unfairness of it all using cuss words my parents didn’t realize I knew.
I also took to poking and prodding my hermit crab.
With my finger.
Now at face value, that seems like a pretty unwise course of action. And in general, I would agree because, as expected, I did get bitten.
Okay, bitten or pinched, or maybe both, I honestly don’t know which actually applies. But whichever it was, it hurt.
But the lesson I took away from that was not ‘don’t poke the hermit crab.’
Alright, the primary lesson I took away was not that. Instead, I admired that hermit crab for the tenacity with which it clung to my throbbing, bleeding finger. I realized that with a little guidance, this will and tenacity could be sculpted into something truly amazing.
Not to mention dangerous.
So I started building new tanks for my hermit crabs. Hermit crabs because they ended up needing to be replaced often. If my parents had ever suspected why, they would’ve put a stop to my work and perhaps saved us all a lot of trouble.
These new tanks were designed to stretch the hermit crabs’ minds, to challenge them and to weed out the weak and the stupid.
As my culling of the herd continued, the tanks became more and more diabolical and fiendish in their design.
I can’t find the detailed notes I kept of my experiments (if memory serves, I burned them), but I do remember some details:
- Mazes dead ending into the base of a blender modified with a pressure sensor set in the floor.
- Oiled ramps that led down to hot coals.
- Electrified floor panels placed along the most direct route to food.
- A series of inter-connected tubes, filled with smoke to drive the hapless hermit crab towards a waiting, ravenous crab spider.
- And in one brief but disastrous experiment, a shallow pool with a hungry landsquid lying in wait.
That last one caused major problems in its own right once the landsquid figured out how to escape.
Due to my parents’ continuing refusal to purchase a dog, my unholy crustacean experiments continued for years. I went through an untold number of hermit crabs in my quest to create the perfect pet / killing machine.
My parents just thought I had bad luck and whenever the subject of a pet dog came up, would look at each other and nod knowingly, as if to say, “We were right not to get him a dog.”
If only they’d known the truth.
My experiments would’ve continued to this day had it not been for Toby.
Toby was my last hermit crab.
Toby successfully ran the gauntlet, and to be frank, in the end I was more than a little afraid of him.
I sure as hell didn’t stick my finger in his tank.
The problem with Toby was that my experiments were too successful. He survived everything I threw at him, including radioactive isotopes (don’t ask how I got them) and lawnmowers. Every time I thought I had come up with something that was sure to kill him, such as the tripwire triggered arc welder, he would sense the trap and sidestep it.
Then he escaped.
At first I wasn’t terribly concerned. I just made sure I didn’t wear open toed sandals, checked under my sheets thoroughly before going to bed, and insisted my mom use hospital corners when making my bed. I felt with these reasonable precautions I was safe.
Then my math and physics textbooks went missing. Oh sure, not all at once, but within the span of a couple months.
I had a pretty good idea who was behind the thefts. Confirmation came when my missing copy of A Brief History of Time turned up with corrections scrawled in the margins.
Corrections written in landsquid ink.
Only one creature was crafty enough to tame the mighty landsquid. I knew then that I had unleashed upon Humanity a terrible monster.
Toby was too smart for me to capture, as my previous experiments had already demonstrated. Clearly, I had only one option left to me.
I burned down our house. I made it look like an electrical fault, and no one else was harmed, but I just don’t know if I succeeded in killing Toby.
After all, all he really needed to do was break into a pet shop and sneak into another hermit crab tank (no problem for a creature of his vast intellect). Then all that remained was to start teaching his brethren.
It’s this chilling thought that keeps me awake at night: that Toby laid the groundwork for a vast army of super intelligent, evil hermit crab descendents that will rise up against us.
My parents should have bought me a damn dog.
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