He hoped for light when he finally got strong enough to crack his shell. Instead, warm sand poured in, filling every pocket of air it found. He did not find it hard to breathe but he had an insatiable hunger for light after who knows how many days in this hole. It was disorienting under the ground. His instincts told him to fight against the force that pulled him under. He did not know it was called gravity and he did not know it was because of the unfathomable size of the planet he was buried in. He simply called it death and he fought it with all his might.
He buried his arms into the warm sand and pulled himself over. His feet flapped on their own in a pattern that felt natural to him. He needed to dig up twice his length before popping out of the sand. Blinded by the light he strived for, he threw himself on his belly and lay there without doing anything. He felt the pockets inside his chest fill with humid air. When his eyes adapted to the light, the only things he saw were the golden yellow sand and the bright white sky. “Where am I,” he wondered.
It did not feel right. Yet the warmth of the sand under his belly and being one step further away from death made him smile. The wind that shaped the gentle sand dunes that stretched till the horizon, was nowhere to be found. A thirst started to develop in the back of his throat. He looked around but failed to find any sign of moisture. His incipient anxiety spiked when the world under his feet trembled from an impact far away. After two seconds, he felt it shake one more time. The tremors got more intense after each two seconds. Then out of nowhere a dark giant materialized above him. Two squishy prongs gently grasped him by his side and lifted him up. The sky and the sand swirled into each other as he turned and tumbled in the air.
Immobile, he waited what was coming to him without any anticipation. His only wish was not to go back to his hole. After a minute that felt like a day, the prongs dropped him into a wide deep pit, made of a tough but flexible material. Inside of the pit was the color of the sky, above the pit, the sky was still white.
He walked around the smooth surface of the pit. Its walls were smooth too, slippery and unbeatable. A few buckets of sand were thrown around to make the bottom of the pit look like the ground he popped out of. The color of the pit made him remember his thirst. He did not realize how bad it got. Without having anything to do, he sat down on the sand and wondered what he would do it the prongs came back again. He tried not to think of water.
At times like this, his instincts always told him what to do, but not now. His thirst started to feel like a scar at the back of his throat. Without bothering to stand up, he crawled around the pit searching for a drop of water. He licked the smooth bottom of the pit thinking its color of water might quench his thirst a tiny bit. He could not find words for its taste since he did not taste plastic before. He forgot his thirst all of a sudden when the dark figure reappeared over the pit. This time the pit lifted up and floated clumsily in the air accompanied by similar previous tremors. He slid into the corner of the pit. He wanted to cry but no tears came out of his eyes.
When the pit landed and when the dark figure disappeared, he wondered if he was dreaming. The sky now had its normal color and he could taste the moisture on the gentle breeze that flew in over the wall on his right. No, he was not dreaming, the fresh smell of the coast ensured him. A new confidence surged inside his heart. Maybe, he thought, he could climb over the wall after all. He ran, he jumped, he tried to pierce his nails into the smooth wall, he fell, he tried again. He did not realize how much time has passed when he found himself on his back, prostrated at the bottom of the pit, in despair, watching the color of the sky darken. His thirst pulsated in his throat. He thought he did not have any energy to move until the dark figure came back. With rage, he jumped up and charged into the tip of the immense figure without planning what to do. Before he could reach it, the figure disappeared after leaving something behind. Something dark and leathery. Something that moved.
Buddy, he would call it later on, gave him that familiar feeling he longed for in this mysterious planet. He looked tough, elegant and new in the bottom of the pit, scared. He smelled just like him. He realized they both had the same celled pattern on their arms, the same black onyx eyes, and the same serious gaze. He remembered his thirst again. Indignant at the feel of it, he tried to hold on to the slippery surface, without success, one more time. He wanted to give up but something in his heart did not let him. He sensed black figure approaching from his back yet again. When he turned, all that was there was another Buddy.
As time inched forward, the sky got darker and more dark figures stopped by. There were so many buddies in the pit that he could not move around without stepping on one of them anymore. All he could feel was his thirst. He still struggled to go over the wall but now he knew that he won’t succeed. He saw some of the buddies retreat to the corner, sliding into a deep sleep. He considered that too. How great would it feel to stop moving his legs and arms? Then a wonderful thing happened. One side of the pit lifted up, and the whole pit tipped onto the other side. He and the buddies tumbled out of the pit, like sand pouring out of a bucket.
He tried to pull his head into his torso as much as he could, to protect himself. Immediately after he landed on the cool sand, he moved away from the buddies with a few quick flaps. When he stick his head out again, he saw the water, starting at the feet of the gentle hill that rolled down from where he stood, stretching out to the horizon. There were maybe fifty or hundred dark figures, lined up behind him. The sun was long gone, but it left a few orange clouds over the spot where it sank into the water. The water receded and raised as he watched, to maybe around ten times his height, then crashed into the beach with a roar.
It felt right. He saw this scene for the first time in his life, yet he could have sworn that he has seen it before. It was somehow ingrained in his mind, in his heart, and in his fragile flippers. He felt invincible at that moment Without thinking, he charged down the hill. He saw the buddies charging too, left and right. Soon he was walking on moist sand. He did not pause. The ocean started collecting its power again. The water rose, even higher than the wall of the pit he suffered in. He has already forgotten the plastic pit and the white sky. He was enjoying the final minutes of his thirst. The wave bent and crashed into him. It only took a few drops of water to quell his thirst, yet he kept his mouth open and enjoyed the somehow familiar taste of salt and kelp for the first time in his life. He turned, tumbled and rolled over the hill. He did not mind. The water took him while receding back again. He was of water’s now. He could not breathe but the pockets in his torso made him feel safe. He let a few moments pass by and as if he knew all along, he waved his flippers and jolted into the depths of the water. He should have felt curious, excited but he only felt familiar.
He raised his head out of the water after a while. Some of his buddies were still charging. The applause that raised from the black figures and the white tent in the middle of the beach puzzled him. But he did not care. He did not want to be a part of this strange world anymore. He was going to the spot where sun sank into the ocean. I don’t know if he knew how far it was or if he knew he had one in a hundred thousand chance of getting there. But somehow in his tiny heart, he carried all the courage and all the energy he needed. He dipped into the water. To the spot where the orange clouds stood, he swam. And I never saw him again.
This story is based on real events that happened here. We built glowing cities that confuse them at night. We should at least build white tents that help them, even if they don’t like it that much.