Monday, May 13, 2013

Gerald's Adventure, Part Four

The continuing adventure of Gerald the Skeleton on Nikumaroro, 2010.

It was a couple of days before I could get away from the ship again.  Frederick dropped me off at Club Fred, where AUV was lounging in the shade, hooked up by a wire to his solar cells, which hummed in the bright evening sunlight.  The sun was just going down.  Nearby, Honk was sitting on the egg, looking nervously from side to side.

“How’s it going, Honk?”  I asked.

“She’s moving around in there, I just know it; I can feel it, I can hear it; she’s jumping and scratching and bumping and she’s going to break out any day!”  Honk was a little excited.
“Well, that’s great,” I said.  And how about you, AUV?”

“Charged and ready,” AUV buzzed.  “Where do you want to go?”

“The TIGHARs have been talking about crabs…..”

“There are crabs on all parts of the island.”

“Yes, but it seems like there are lots down by the Seven Site….”

“Oh, THOSE crabs.” 

“What’s special about them?”

“Get aboard and I will show you.”

We zoomed out through the channel among the coral heads to the open lagoon, and then way down past where we’d searched for Clyde’s airplane.  Finally AUV cruised up to a sandbar.  There was a huge green pile of cut-up plants on it.

“What’s that?”  I asked.

Scaevola pile,” AUV buzzed.  “Made by the TIGHARs, cutting plants off the Seven Site.  Walk up that trail and you will find the crabs.”

“Uh… OK.”

“Or they will find you.   Good luck.”

I walked up the trail through the thick brush – the Scaevola – and pretty soon I came out on the site that Grandpa Tom and his friends were digging during the day.  Like I said in my first letter, it’s kind of a ridge, but without any houses on it.  You could fit five or six houses on the area they’d cleared, if you wanted to; it was a big place, and they’d cut down all the Scaevola on it and dragged it away.   There were strings and ropes and long strips of colorful tape all over the place, and canopies to give the TIGHARs some shade while they were digging.  Their tools were piled up under a tree – screens, shovels, trowels, chain saws, stuff like that.  But now, at night, the place belonged to….

The crabs!  There were hundreds of them!  Thousands!  Big ones the size of my foot and little ones the size of my finger-bone.  Each one had a shell, but it wasn’t his own shell, that he’d grown himself (or herself).  It was a sea shell that he (or she) had crawled into and carried around with him (or her).  They all went “clatter clatter clatter” as they dragged their shells over the coral.  And they all seemed to be coming to me!


Hermit Crabs at the Seven Site

“Where’s the food?”  The first one to reach me asked.

“Food!  Food!  Food!” they all clattered, all talking over each other, and crawling all over each other, too.

“I don’t have any…..”

“Food!  Food!  FOOD!”

“I don’t….”

“The TIGHARs always bring us food!”  one said.  The others just kept clattering “Food!  Food!”

“The TIGHARS ARE food!” another one said.  “We just gotta catch ‘em!”

Crabs trying to eat Grandpa Tom

 Another one was crawling up my femur.  His claws tickled.

“Are YOU food?”  He asked.

“No!” I shouted, and knocked him off my leg.  He bounced on the ground.  “I’m plastic!” I told them.

“Do we like plastic?”  asked the one I’d knocked off my leg, struggling to get right-side up

“Not much,” another one said, “but sometimes food’s in plastic.”

“You think there’s food in him?” another one asked, clattering along toward me. 

I thought I should try to change the subject.

“Look, guys, maybe I can go back to the ship and get you some food…..”


“What do you like to eat?  What do the TIGHARs bring you?”



“Chicken and cheese sandwiches!”



“Don’t be dumb; the TIGHARs don’t bring mice!”

“No, but the rats come out when the TIGHARs come.”

“Yeah, and the TIGHARs bring FOOD!”


“OK, fellows,” I said, backing away down the trail toward the lagoon.  “I’ll… uh… be right back with… oh, maybe some Oreos…..”





They were clattering and yelling and climbing all over each other.  It was my chance to get away so I turned and ran as fast as I could back to the lagoon, jumping over piles of shells and sticks and dodging crabs that came out of the darkness to grab at my foot bones.

“I’m plastic!” I yelled, jumping down onto the sandbar.  AUV was sitting there in the water, humming a little tune.

“Now,” he buzzed, “do you know what is special about these crabs?”
 The Seven Site: Where the Crabs are Hungry

No comments:

Post a Comment