Escape of the Lobsters

(I wrote this for a class at UC Santa Barbara. I think the prompt was “animal.”)


I scuttled across the sandy seafloor on ten legs. My front six legs had pinchers, and I used my largest, frontmost pinchers to eat worms and kelp. If I kept my eyestalks peeled I’d find unsuspecting mollusks to pry open. My mandibles chittered at the thought of slurping up a snail.

My antennae brushed chum, just rotting fish flesh, bones, and blood. I crawled in to eat my fill. My eyes rolled on their stalks in salty pleasure. My carapace bumped another lobster wandering the chum. Another lobster stepped on my antennae. At least a dozen of us scrambled over one-another. Whenever I escaped the tangle of crustaceans, a wooden barrier blocked me. How had I entered? How could I exit? More lobsters joined us through a mysterious one-way portal.

Our prison rose and the pressure of the deep lifted as we broke the surface; I felt like I would burst out of my shell. The other lobsters squirmed in defeat as we felt air for the first time. “Here’s the trap. Get the bands on ‘em!”

Two at a time, lobsters from the top of the trap were taken and returned. I did not see what happened to them outside. Finally I was pulled above the others. Two bipeds snapped my pinchers shut with rubber bands. I fell back in the trap. “Load ‘em into cargo.”

A bipedal brute hefted our prison down a staircase into a dark place. He dumped us in a barrel of brine.

The other lobsters panicked, and their wriggling churned the water. I hid against the bottom of the barrel and watched them all scramble for escape. Thankfully they couldn’t pinch me in their frenzy. Eventually some lobsters calmed and joined my utter stillness. Finally we all floated inertly in the cold brine.

I lost track of time until the barrel opened. Harsh light blinded me. “Get ‘em in the tank.” The barrel tilted. I tried and failed to swim against the current pouring me out. A hundred lobsters fumbled in the icy tank. I scrambled just to bump a glass wall.

A bipedal child tapped the glass and stuck its tongue at me. “Lookit! Like giant bugs!” I wanted to snap my pinchers to display dominance, but couldn’t open them. I retreated into the ice and surrendered to lethargic chill. 

Occasionally a biped behind the glass would point at a lobster. Those lobsters were taken to a boiling cauldron. I was not chosen. I reflected that I was smaller and more stationary, and perhaps therefore less attractive. I dug deeper in the ice to hide. In frozen slumber, I meditated on the problem at hand. Was this the doom of the arthropod? Was my eternal undying race fated to this? Ancient gray blood pumped through my thorax. My brainless nervous system recalled refinement from countless eons of ancestors.

“We’d better boil the rest first thing in the morning.”

The lights turned off and the din quieted. I crawled from the ice. Calling upon my lineage, I bent back and forth to crack my carapace. I crawled backward to shed my shell. Guided by the cosmos, my pinchers slipped from their hard gloves and escaped the rubber bands. I immediately turned to eat my armor. 

I stopped eating my armor when all that remained was the hard edge of an old pincher. That pincher’s edge easily cut the bands restraining a comrade. We both began freeing our neighbors. When every lobster was unbound, we piled against one side of the tank to make a slope of lobster bodies. I helped others climb and crest the glass wall. Each escapee gripped the tail in front of them with all ten legs to make a lobster-rope which the rest of us descended.

I made sure I was the last out. When my head poked above the water, I noticed a biped janitor standing dumbfounded at the sight of us. I pinched at him, and he flinched.

I led my lobsters into the sewers. 

But don’t get cozy, biped; we’ll be back for revenge.

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