Friday, February 2, 2018

Microstory 770: Crab

At the beginning of the 21st century, the Earth’s population was rising beyond all expectations. Searching for work, people began flocking from rural regions, to denser cities, which allowed for some level of food distribution efficiency, while causing other problems, like an epidemic of isolation depression. When you put everyone in just a few large metropolitan areas, people start to feel like meaningless drones in a sea of other drones. Feeling the need to spread back out, people started looking for other places to live. One such place was Antarctica, which up until that point, was largely uninhabited, save for a few researchers, many of whom operated seasonally. The effects of global warming were becoming abundantly clear as it was now perfectly acceptable to live on a continent which had always been inhospitable to most life. The first nation there formed quickly, and was not immediately recognized as independent, but since they weren’t hurting anybody, they were allowed to remain. In an area originally referred to as Graham Island, and Palmer Island, stood the new country of Tundra Nouveau, populated primarily by antihipsters looking to shed their reliance on mainstream economy. For reference, an antihipster is a hipster who people keep calling a hipster, but doesn’t identify as a hipster, and in fact believes themselves to be the least hipster-like possible. They do this by claiming to adopt new trends later than the mainstream. Because of the drop in temperature, the beaches of Tundra Nouveau became inundated with, not only humans, but a hefty population of King Crabs. At first, this did not seem like a problem, but then they just kept coming. They were throwing the ecosystem out of wack, and threatening the survival of native species. Tundra Natals, as they liked to be called, started hunting the crabs to tame the population as much as possible, but this ad hoc approach was proving to be not quite enough. A man named Beery Snowkiss (not his real name) decided to capitalize on this crab hunting craze by arbitrarily regulating it. He bought up coastal land, and started charging people to hunt there; half price to residents, full for visitors, and he required a percentage of the profits from all meat sold. With the money he earned, he bought even more land, and eventually, he was in control of the entire peninsula. As the crab population dwindled, he saw a danger to his bottom line, so he paid crews of fisherman to go farther out to sea, catch the crabs that had not ventured to the beaches, and relocate them to Tundra Nouveau, so that hunters could pay him for the privilege of hunting them from the safety of land. Upon investigation, the Tundra Nouveau government determined Snowkiss’ business practices to be unethical, and he ultimately lost all of his power. Forty years after the founding of the nation, the King Crab population remains steady and sustainable. Every year, in honor of Snowkiss’ brilliant idea to exploit antihipster conforming nonconformity, residents still observe an annual crab hunt. It’s reserved primarily for children, who either keep the crabs as pets, or let them go at the end of the day.

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