Shell Wars

Location: Taketomi, Japan

This was the battleground.

Starsand Beach

The thing was, I had no idea what I was walking into. But I should have known. The signs were all there.

A raven cawed.

A wasp dug its traps at the shoreline.

Four-banded Stink Bug Hunter Wasp

The plants shuddered.

But I ignored it all and stepped right into the chaos.

The hermit crabs were everywhere. They scuttled across the sand, running from something. Or toward it. I couldn’t tell. There were hundreds of them. More hermit crabs than I had ever seen in one place.

I knew I was close when the empty shells started appearing. I followed the ruin and sure enough, I found the source.

The hermit crabs crawled over each other, pinching at their armour with piercing claws. Some were ripped from their shells with a devastating attack, and forced to retreat up the shore with no protection at their back.

But the more I thought, I realized this couldn’t be the source of all the empty shells. There had to be more.

I gazed across the battlefield, and sure enough, there were dozens of little skirmishes going on. It was war.

Hermit crabs raced in from every corner of the beach to join the battle.

None were spared from the chaos. Those who decided to turn tail and run toward the water, were washed away by powerful ocean currents. And those who retreated toward the trees were collected by a giant, only to be used as entertainment in a coliseum.

All those little shells are hermit crabs

These hermit crabs are always so vicious, I thought to myself. I had to escape before I too joined the shell-less.

And so, I activated my camouflage, and ran.

Yellow Shore Crab

I ran across the beach without looking back. I weaved through the empty shells, steering clear of the skirmishes.

A spray of sand erupted as a shell slammed into the ground just ahead of me. I scuttled to the closest rock to take cover.

I held my claws close to my body to keep them from clattering. I couldn’t alert the hermit crabs of my presence.

My eyes scanned the beach for any way out. Then I realized something. I could swim. What in the world was I doing up here on the land, when I could avoid all the chaos under the water? The hermit crabs wouldn’t be able to chase me there. The waves would be my shield.

I found my target, and bolted from my cover with one final burst of energy.

But in all the rush, I forgot about something.

I forgot about the traps.

And by the time I remembered, I was already buried. The last thing I heard before the sand suffocated me, were light patters over my head. I was about to become a tasty meal.

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