I Crush Everything
by Luc Reid
I like when I lie far enough beneath the top of the ocean that the sun is a wavering mote. The currents stir around me, and I listen to the whales until I hear the creaking of one of the Little Boxes and rush up to find it.
The Little Boxes are not alive, but they move. They have tall white plumes or wings on top and skate over the water, floating like birds but moving much faster. They are usually brown, and pointed at the front, and little creatures run squeaking over them. The largest of the boxes is only a third my length. I want to know what they are, whether they're plants or shells or something special unto themselves, so when I find them, I break them apart.
When I break them, the little squeaking creatures fall into the water and disappear. Inside the boxes, I find different things. Sometimes the boxes contain more boxes, sometimes bales of stuff that draws in water and sinks in a sodden mass. Sometimes there are pieces of heavy yellow stuff that gleams for a moment before it plummets to the Depths.
Today I hear the creaking and rush up to wrap the thing in my coils. I peel it apart carefully with my jaws. One of the little creatures stays with the box this time, shaking its tiny limbs and squeaking at me. I take my time and don't bother it. It turns a tiny black tube at me, and then there is a noise like thunder, and my side stings as though I've been bitten. Flinching, I accidentally break the box, and the little creature is crushed. I stare at the broken pieces, some sinking and some floating away. There is the little creature, floating in a little, spreading red cloud. It hurt me on purpose, but without biting--instead, with thunder. How can a creature bite with thunder? I push back through my memories, to the many inexplicable things these little creatures do, and the knowledge comes over me like a cold current that despite their tinyness, these creatures think--think thoughts I could never imagine or piece together. I nudge the one in the red cloud. The water catches it, and it sinks.
Suddenly the ever-shifting surface of the sea, which had always seemed friendly to me, seems empty, and I'm struck with loneliness.