Invasion of the mutant crabs


We didn’t deliberately set the dump on fire.

It just happened that way.

So before you go and put the three of us in jail, you ought to at least listen to what happened.

I guess it started when I saw the sign posted along Newark Bay and the horror came back to me from the sea shore when the crabs attacked me.

The state sign with a crab in a circle and a slash across it warns against eating the crabs out of the chromium polluted water.

But I read it as a warning against them and my heart started to really beat fast.

I was three years old when the basket of crabs fell from the table where my uncle had put it after a day trapping them down in Barnegate Bay.

Many were dead. Most weren’t. And those with limbs still in tact decided to attack me, scurrying across the floor on their claws to get at me.

Craig – the kid I fish with regularly – saw how scared I was all these years later and snatched up a blue crab from shallow water to wave in my face.

I nearly fainted trying to flee and tripped over a log.

That’s how I got my palms so cut up. See?

Anyway, my brain screamed with the same panic I felt at three, me no more able to escape now as I could then.

This time I didn’t have my uncle’s strong hands yanking me out of the path of attack as I fell.

Billy, who comes with us sometimes and came with us this time, saw how scared I was and told Craig to quit clowning around.

Then Billy told me that the signs weren’t here because of some impending attack of mutant crabs, but because manufacturing companies after World War II polluted the water here so bad that people died of cancer, some of them from eating fish and crabs.

What Billy said sank in.

I laughed and said I never ate crabs – which is true.

I even laugh when I saw a life crab crawling out of shallow water until I noticed it was staring straight at me – just the way the crabs did when I was three.

Craig being Craig grabbed up this crab, too.

This time the crab grabbed Craig back in both claws and bit him with a tooth-filled mouth I never knew crabs had.

Craig howled and dropped the crab.

We ran, leaving our fishing gear where we dropped it.

Then we saw the old man who collects junk along this part of the water front and told him about the crab.

But the old man knows me and remembers the time I told him about finding gold coins at the bottom of an old outhouse.

He dug and dug, coming up with a wheel barrow of old poop but not one gold coin.

So he chased us away.

The crab bite bugged Craig who wanted to know if he was going to die from it.

I don’t know enough to say yes or not, but I didn’t think he would.

I even convinced myself that the scream we heard a second later wasn’t the old man being bitten, too.

Always level-headed, Billy suggested we head over to the highway where we might find some help.

When we finally flagged down a cop, he wouldn’t help us either.

He’s heard all about my gags and said he didn’t have time to put up with one.

So we watched him drive off only to park down by the Dunkin Donut where he could catch crooks between dunks.

I was still staring after the cop when I heard the click of crab legs behind us – not a dozen but a few hundred. When I turned I saw the vision I saw at three – all those evil eyes staring at us as the mass of clattering shells advanced towards us.

Billy said this might be a good time to get a donut.

Me and Craig agreed.

Caught in mid-chomp, the cop got angry until he saw just how scared we were and agreed to come take a look

I was so relieved I could have kissed his ugly face.

Of course, the crabs were gone when we got back.

The cop wanted to arrest us, calling me and my story-telling a menace to society.

But he huffed and puffed, then stormed off to go finish his coffee.

As soon as the cop vanished, the crabs started to reappear, one or two at first, then the bundle of them.

Quick thinking Billy grabbed out his butane lighter (I didn’t say he smoked, did I?)

The flame scared the crab until the flame winked out, then they came towards us again.

Billy found an old drum of toxic stuff the chemical company left behind.

We set that on fire and rolled it at the army of crabs.

This set them on fire.

They set other drums on fire when they panicked.

In a moment, the whole dump went up.

I never knew crabs could screech until I heard them howl in pain.

We could barely hear the police siren of the din.

Of course, I knew we would have a hard time convincing you on how we saved the world.

But just asked Billy and Craig. They were there, too.



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