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Today we are featuring Inklings Book Contest 2018 finalist, Yetta Tan! Yetta is from Singapore and finished 6th grade this past school year. The story she submitted is called “The Alaskan Kings” and follows the adventures of a group of Alaskan King Crabs.  Yetta described her story as “a fantasy comedy which describes the crabs’ perseverance, selflessness, heroism, and love for their own species.” Enjoy!


 

“Stop crying!” boomed Crabo. He was seriously annoyed.

“Those tears! Such cowards!” He turned away from his teary species, ticked. Just at that moment, a huge net was submerged into the water. All the crabs were frozen stiff. A weird-looking creature, whom they always saw, came to scoop another crab up. The creature was the owner of the seafood restaurant, ‘Elias Seafood.’

He was the human the crabs most feared. They could not bear the thought of being cooked.

Crabo gazed through the glass tank. He managed to catch a glimpse of the river, not far from the restaurant, outside the window. When Crabo turned back, he was startled. Kingster, the big fat red King Crab, was scooped out. Tears dripped down to the bottom of the tank (crabs do not have a standing body or a face for the tears to roll down). Horrible feelings swelled inside Crabo. Kingster, his cousin, was the one and only family Crabo had left. The rest were gone, cooked and devoured. Crabo had a nagging feeling he would be the next one to be fished up by the net. He looked toward the river once more and cleared his throat.

“If you guys, little crab-jellyfish, still continue to act like babies, get ready to be cooked!” Crabo started planning the unthinkable: escaping from the restaurant!

Crabo stumbled on a big rock about half the size of him. He pondered. He realized that it was capable of getting them out of the tank! Others waited while Crabo climbed up. At the top of the tank, Crabo scanned every corner and every side. There was no sign of humans anywhere. Crabo commanded Seaphi to climb up, followed by Alacrab and the rest.

The group scrambled through the floor.

“Hurry up! Move those legs of yours!” Patience was not one of Crabo’s virtues. He pushed the crabs in front of him and pulled the crabs behind him. But he did not make much difference at all.

Suddenly, they heard footsteps echoing ominously from the corridor towards them. All the crabs were startled as their legs softened. Every step closer made their hearts beat faster. Instantly, their legs took over them as they scuttled about like spiders on fire.

Crabo stifled a desire to slap someone.

“Useless bunch, what’s wrong with your legs? Are you telling me you’re going to wait for that human to show up?” Crabo roared, scolding like a mad-crab. He finally managed to get the other crabs to move accordingly.

When the first crab mounted onto the table at the opposite side of the tank, a human burst into the kitchen.

“Oh great!” Crabo scoffed. “We’re caught!”

“Oh my God!” the human screamed in horror as he saw the crabs. Others rushed into the kitchen too.

“Escaping crabs,” the owner mumbled to himself, terrified. He put on his gloves.

“Run!” Crabo ordered as he pushed another crab onto the table. The other crabs tried to move as well. It did not take long for Crabo to realize that his leg was held up. Crabo struggled hysterically.

Splash! Water spilled out as ripples spread through the entire tank. There Crabo was, depressed, lying at the bottom of the tank.

The rays of the huge fireball in the sky shone through the window. The crabs could see the glass from the window reflecting the light. It seemed to be seven colors, the colors of the beautiful rainbow.

“We could have enjoyed this beautiful sight,” Seaphi sighed, fighting silent tears.

“Forget it, we would not have a chance anymore!” cried Alacrab.

“Shut up!” bellowed Crabo again. “What slowpokes you are! We could have gotten killed if the madman was very angry!”

Everyone stood still and silent. The humans had left. In the quietness, Crabo noticed that the rock he used previously was still standing firm.

“Perfect!” Crabo climbed up the tank again. He made his way to the giant pile of pots and pans. Crabo climbed back to the top of the tank.

“I shall get myself out! Which no-brains want to come with me?” Crabo sputtered out vulgarities again.

All the crabs lit up. They started climbing out of the tank once more.

“We must not fail this time!” exclaimed Crabo sternly. Seaphi joined Crabo in hiding behind the pile. The other crabs moved one by one towards them.

To everyone’s disbelief, they saw a shadow that had a human’s silhouette being cast on the wall outside the door. They quickened their steps to the pile.

“He’s here! he’s here!” Seaphi trembled, peeping through the little chinks from the pile.

“Stop squeaking, you little squid!” Crabo whispered angrily, “He might hear you!”

Seaphi shivered. She started losing control of her claws and legs. Seaphi moved backward. “Oops!”

There was a loud bunch of clanking noises. The door flew open as the owner stomped in.

“What the…”

The crabs dissolved to haphazardness. Alacrab and Crabo moved to the door, grabbing Seaphi.

“What have you done!” yelled Crabo. “You’re sending us to the heated oven!”

The crabs were like a riot. They pushed down many things and cracked many plates. The owner ran out of the room. He summoned his cooks to him.

“These crabs are wreaking havoc. They must be punished!”

The group of red king crabs was about to jump out of the window. Alacrab was the one nearest to the window. Without looking back, he pushed himself into the air. Alacrab felt a cool breeze blowing at him and sensed the smell of the grass below him. He beamed.

Just when Alacrab was about to stretch out his claws to touch the grass, he felt his legs were unmovable. He tried to pull two of his legs apart. But he did not have the strength. Desperate to escape, Alacrab held on tightly to the edges of the window. He was still pulled back. As his eyes faced the concrete floor, he saw the other crabs tangled up with pink plastic strings. After he blinked, his eyes saw another location, a location that he was very familiar with.

“Seaphi! You’ve managed to get us back here! Are you trying to kill us?” Crabo yelled at her with disappointment.

Seaphi winced back. “You can’t possibly blame me? I was scared!”

Crabo rolled his eyes. All the crabs felt hopeless. The only way was to be murdered by madmen.

Crabo gazed at the knife and scissors. He did not know how much longer it would take for those to go through his intestines. As he turned around, he saw a drain on the floor. He saw the water running through. Crabo thought of the water rushing into the river. He wished that he could be the water inside the drain.

“Wait, the drain! I’ve got it, the drain!” Crabo was overwhelmed with hope.  It seemed that all the pieces had fallen into place.

“What drain?” Alacrab scratched his head.

“The drain to escape! Stupid?” Crabo quickly pushed Alacrab and Seaphi up. “Help me snap this thing using your claws or whatever that you can move.” As soon as he got himself untangled, he helped the rest.

“Are you sure we’re going to do this?” Alacrab wondered.

“Don’t be ridiculous, of course we’re doing this!” Crabo answered.

Everyone climbed out of the tank once more, carrying their last hopes with them. They jumped off the table, trying to make the minimum amount of noise they could. The group moved nearer and nearer to the drain. Just as they were expecting themselves to slide through the gaps, they realized that they were stuck in the middle. Crabo could not believe it. With Crabo’s, Seaphi’s, and Alacrab’s claws, they managed to snap a drain cover open.

“Clang!” The sound reverberated.

Crabo could feel the humans approaching. He knew that the door would be opened soon.

“Jump! Quick!” he commanded the crabs. The owner pushed the door. Crabo could feel that his heart was in his mouth. The owner was about to step in when Crabo pushed the last crab in.

“You red Alaskan King Crab!” the owner yelled with horror. He had never seen a crab that could escape so many times!

The owner grabbed a net from a cook’s hand. He had enough of all the nonsense the crabs were causing him. Crabo knew that the owner was seriously mad. As the last crab reached the water, Crabo quickly turned himself to climb down. He wanted to take another step lower when he felt himself get very giddy. There was a jab of pain coming from his head. Everything around him became very blurry. As he blinked his eyes tiredly for a few seconds, his eyes saw no more than pitch-black darkness.

It might have been quite some time before the darkness slowly faded away. Crabo saw a roasting kit and a cooking pot.

“Where is this place…No way!” Crabo began to jump up. Right in front of him stood a person focusing on the fire at the roasting kit. Those cold, murderous eyes stirred up Crabo’s antipathy. Crabo then realized he had zero percent survival chance. He turned to look at the river outside the window.

“At least more lives were spared,” Crabo sighed. He closed his eyes, knowing that they were never going to open again.

“Crabo, Crabo!” There was a very soft whisper coming from behind him. It seemed to come from the broken drain cover. As the person was not looking, Crabo turned around and saw Seaphi, trying to get his attention. She signaled him to remain still.

“I’ve got his notice!” Seaphi whispered to Alacrab. Alacrab smiled to the group of crabs which Crabo tried to save.

“It is about to get nasty!”

Alacrab and the rest were ready with sea-weapons: seashells, shells, corals, stones, and mostly their claws. They got to save Crabo from being cooked! Seaphi gestured Crabo to do what he was supposed to do. Crabo nodded. There was a pot of boiling water at the side. Crabo had his legs and claws tied up. He tried to move his body as slowly as possible in order not to attract any attention from the person. At the tip of Crabo’s leg, he tried to move the boiling pot slowly. It was nearer and nearer to the edge. Crabo stopped for a moment to catch his breath. With all his strength, he pushed the pot into the air.

“Yes!” Crabo exclaimed with a satisfied look. There was a loud sound equivalent to a deafening thunder. Hot water splashed everywhere. The human screamed. This time, the owner burst in immediately. He was ready with a net, together with his frying pan.

Crabo laughed. The huge group with sea-weapons leaped up the broken drain cover.

“Eeeeeee!” The human squeaked. He was definitely not prepared for that to happen. Every crab charged forward to the owner. Alacrab was the first one. He jumped high up into the air. Right before the owner’s eyes he took his shells and slapped the owner’s face.

“This is what you get!”

Two more crabs came after and messed with the owner’s hair. Seaphi took a stone and thrust it forward, hitting the owner’s hands, forcing him to let go of the frying pan.

“I’ve got him! “I’ve got him!” Seaphi cheered gleefully.

“Stop it!” Crabo barked. “There’s still a fight going on!”

“Oh, okay…” But the conversation was soon interrupted by the human’s shadow looming over them.

The other person tried to help the owner. He took a big fork and hit Alacrab off. Just then, he felt something nibbling on his feet. Crabo did not want to play with humans. With his claws, he snapped the person’s toes.

“Ouch!” screamed the person in despair. The other cooks finally rushed in only to be smashed by stones from the crabs inside.

“Take that!” Alacrab reached for another stone, tossing it accurately at a cook’s nose. He smirked. Using a big coral, Crabo broke a few more covers from the drain.

“Everyone! Leave now!”

All the crabs threw their weapons onto the humans’ faces and fled into the broken covers. This time, no one was left behind. Everyone followed the water and was washed to the river. Finally, they were somewhere they really belonged.

Crabo was the only one left in his family, the only crab who survived through the owner’s hands. Crabo gazed over at everyone, overwhelmed with gratitude.  

“You guys are…” he paused, searching for a word, “…truly Alaskan Kings!”

Everyone grinned as they disappeared together into the depths of the sea.


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