Itwas Adark and Stor Mynight
by Gerald Warfield
Itwas Adark and Stor Mynight lounged at the edge of the purple pool. Stor raised her crystal glass, delicately, in her pincer claw. “Itwas,” she said, “there may be no gods to bless you, but you bless yourself with this act of kindness and compassion.”
Itwas raised her crystal, too, though not as high, and spread her third pair of legs in a sign of deprecation. “My dear, no one is more deserving than you. The accident that destroyed your eggs last season was tragic in the extreme. The least I can do for so unfortunate a friend is to provide a nest pool.”
“But the silver it must have cost …”
“Nonsense. My barnacle was already here. I only had to have the pool itself carved, and the entrance channels.”
Stor raised her eye stalks and looked out onto the blue ocean. Great waves broke upon the rocks only a few spans from the security fence that surrounded the pool. “These are evil times, when snarks have grown so numerous that a hatchling cannot survive in the open sea.”
“Fate pinches me, too,” said Itwas. “Though I am blessed with a nesting lagoon of my own, I still mourn for the offspring of those less fortunate. So many are lost to the voracious appetites of the snarks.
“You are an inspiration to us all,” said Stor.
Itwas lowered her thorax in a gesture of modesty and contemplativeness. “We have come a long way since the millennium when we ate one another’s eggs.”
Stor rattled the scutes of her carapace in disgust. “Ugh. It is difficult even to think on such a barbaric custom.”
“Indeed,” said Itwas. “It is on the tide of unity and mutual support that we will win back the sea.”
They raised their crystals again and inserted the suck tubes into their mouths.
On the other side of the pool, a raised dais lifted a larger than life-size statue high into the morning sunlight. There, glittering in limestone and mother of pearl, Itwas reared to half her length, her fore claws spread wide, her numerous offspring clustered about her.
“And when will your own eggs come to term,” asked Stor, eyeing Itwas’s swollen abdomen.
“Not until the moon, I’m afraid. Husband Seven did not come into sperm all summer.” She lowered her eyestalks. “I think he was delaying.”
“Ah. Husbands can be so cruel,” said Stor.
“But speaking of Seven, would you like some more?” Itwas said, passing the shell trencher to her guest.
“Why, yes, I would. He is surely the most delicious of all your husbands.”
“Ah, but you never get over your first,” said Itwas, her eye stalks raised to the sky. “His white meat defied all description.”
“Really? I would loved to have known you, then.”
“It was a difficult year, though. Almost half my hatchlings were lost to snarks.”
Stor reflected for a moment. “But, none of my hatchlings have ever survived.” Her mandibles fell; her eyestalks receded, and she crumpled into the posture of desolation.
“You poor dear,” cried Itwas, who scuttled from her net lounge to Stor’s side and stroked her carapace ridge. “But look into the nesting pool now. See your hatchlings and be proud.”
Stor leaned over and gazed into the pool, her mandibles beginning to twitch in ecstasy. Dozens of small creatures paddled about with their flipper-like arms. The water was so full of nutrients that it had turned color. Her children had only to swim with their mouths open to find food. Since their hatching, they had already tripled in size.
“Yes, at last my clutch is safe. I can hardly wait until they are big enough to out swim the cursed snarks. I’ll take each one to a different slip on the bay.”
“A wise decision,”
“It is but the strategy you, yourself have used, and your hatchlings have prospered to dominate the entire bay. You’ll soon be ready to colonize the Daggro Sea.”
“I am grateful for my modest successes”, said Itwas. “But those small triumphs were good for us all. And now, this year we will glory in your success, too.”
“You are so kind hearted, Itwas.”
“Not at all, my friend, but wait, I’ll go and take another slab from Seven. Perhaps your hatchlings could eat some if we pinch the meat into itsy bitsy pieces.”
“Oh, that would be lovely.”
Itwas retreated from the pool into her elaborate barnacle house. Pulling the door closed behind her, she silently threw the bolt, locking the iron door securely from the inside. Clattering with all six legs he climbed the spiral ramp from the living room to the small observatory above, carved from solid rock. She looked down through a seeing crack onto the pool and saw Stor on her reclining net, basking in the sun, her eye stalks laid back in repose. Next to her, the pool fairly frothed with the animated swimming of her hatchlings.
Without taking her eyes off Stor, Itwas grasped the lever next to her and pulled. On the side of the pool nearest the ocean, beneath the water line, doors slid back to reveal the clear, bright waters of the open sea. Itwas’ mandibles spread wide in appreciation as the dark shadows of snarks rushed into the pool.