by: Dennis R. Humphreys
The city was different when I was born there years ago. People that lived there didn't have money, like my family, and usually they didn't have cars. You took the bus to work and walked to the small grocery store on the corner. Kids walked to school. Everyone knew each other and although crime was there, it hadn't become an institution yet, you could walk the streets at night and be relatively safe. Kids weren't kidnapped and the perverted people that prayed on them seemed to stay indoors, keeping their perversions to themselves.
I was ten at the time and my father worked at the steel corporation several blocks away which he walked to. Mother was a housewife but would supplement things doing laundry. In those days you might not be rich but you could afford all the necessities of life and a few desires with one person's income. We weren't starving and mom cooked three healthy meals a day for my dad and her, me and my little three-year-old sister. We even had a relatively large apartment back then, although it wasn't in the greatest of surroundings. We lived in a several block area of row homes of brown brick with white marble steps that you sat on those hot, summer evenings, before air conditioning. They stayed nice and cool and were welcomed on those hot, humid summer days. It was also the place you got to socialize and see your neighbors on a regular basis because everyone sat on those steps in the summer. You couldn't help to at least acknowledge the people sitting there as you passed them. I believe air conditioning is what led to the desocialization of cities. We were at the end of the block where there was an alley. Then across from the aley was a chemical plant that extended two city blocks in length and another three, deep.
We got one magazine, which dad read cover to cover at least three times a month until the new one came. I think that's why he was so ecstatic when it arrived in the mail. He'd come home from work a few days before its normal delivery and would ask if he got it yet. I loved it when he got the new one because I'd get the old one. I'd page through it every night the entire month until the next one came. I'd read the classifieds in the back because they had all kinds of offers that ignited my imagination. We had little extra money in those days and if I wanted to buy something from the meager allowance, I got for doing my choirs, usually it didn't cover anything. Going to school and walking back with friends, was spent picking up soda bottles people threw out on the streets. We'd pack our nap sacks with the bottles found inside with our schoolbooks and redeem them at the corner grocery store. We'd spend some of our cash on candy bars, soda, and penny pretzels. You could easily do this in those days with the money you made from redeeming your bottles and still have money left over.
One classified ad caught my attention time and time again. Maybe because the ad ran again and again, every month in the Popular Mechanics Magazine. I loved the articles, not understanding most of them, but those classifieds were the attention-getter, especially the one advertising 'Sea Monkies'. It conjured all kinds of visions in my head. Ever since seeing the show on monkeys by Dr. Watson, I wanted to own a monkey. I thought they were so neat. Sea monkies and the cute little spider monkeys I saw with Dr. Watson... well, how different could they be?
The article said you'd get a packet of sea monkies. Put them in a glass and just add water. In no time at all the critters would hatch. I wondered how long it would take them to grow to the size where I could take them out of the glass to play with and begin teaching them tricks. I managed to put the money together for a packet. In those days you could just dump your money into an envelope and mail it without a problem. Kids did it all the time. Sometimes the envelopes would be full of pennies and what hung you up then, mailing it was not enough postage.
I carefully addressed the envelope, taking my time printing each line for complete legibility. I looked at the work of art and was satisfied even the most deficient mailman could read it. I taped the classified advertisement to an index card and then printed on the card what I wanted. Once I put the money inside and sealed it, I was ready to send it out. I put it in my nap sack so I wouldn't forget it in the morning when I left for school. Three blocks up on the right, on the other side of the chemical company, was the grocery store we turned in pop bottles for money. Outside there was also a mailbox where I would send my purchase off.
I suppose part of the excitement of making a purchase like this was the anticipation waiting for it to come. It was like Christmas though, the closer it got, the longer it seemed to take to get here.
I waited and waited, checking the mail mom put on the small table just inside the doorway. Then one magical day I found the package for which I had been waiting. There it was. I ran to my room and dropped my sack of books onto my bed. I looked around for the appropriate place to raise my monkeys and decided the windowsill was perfect. I ran to the kitchen and grabbed a glass, saying a quick hello to my mother. She stooped over for my hello kiss which I gave her before departing to my room. I was excited beyond belief.
Filling the glass with water in the bathroom, I took it to the windowsill and placed it there. I tore open the small envelop of whatever it was with the sea monkies, into the water and it seemed to dissolve almost immediately. Now I had to wait. The article said in a few days, if I looked closely, I would detect the hatchlings as they swam about doing their acrobatics.
Each day I came home from school and dumped my books on the bed so I could sit at my desk in front of the window and stare. The third day I could see something and was thrilled the monkeys had hatched and were on their way to adulthood. I figured it would be a matter of a few weeks before I could take them out and begin playing with them.
I told everyone at school about my purchase. Most of the kids heard about sea monkies but never had any, so I reached envy status quickly. Feeling good about myself I went home that fourth day, after having a great walk home, collecting empty bottles with my two friends. We fed our appetites for sweets and Nehi Grape Soda, belching vehemently in each other's faces to see who was the loudest.
“I see you had a good day collecting bottles,” my mother told me as she stopped me from leaving the kitchen to wash the chocolate mustache I had grown since leaving the store.
“Best day ever, mom,” I yelled walking quickly out the door.
I dumped my books as always onto my bed and glanced at the windowsill to see if I would see the monkeys yet but the glass was gone. I ran to my desk to look behind it thinking it had fallen but it wasn't there. Then I noticed the books on my shelf had all been straightened and perfectly faced. Mom!... mom had been in my room, cleaning. She must have put them somewhere.
“Mom, where did you put that glass on the windowsill, in my room?” I asked. I had refrained telling her I was raising sea monkies there, thinking when they got bigger she might not let me keep them, citing the feeding expense and the cost of bananas for that many of the creatures.
“Oh that, honey? It was just plain water... I dumped that in the toilet,” she said nonchalantly though she had just dashed my hopes for the future. I was planning on teaching the monkeys tricks so I could put on neighborhood shows and charge fees.
“Mom! It wasn't plain water, you killed all my sea monkies I was raising,” I told her despondently.
“I'm sorry Danny, I didn't know. It looked like just plain water you left on your sill,” she told him as she was making dinner.
I looked longingly in the toilet bowl. I just peed in it when I got home and flushed it. My pets were gone. My entertainment business was caput. I'd have to start saving again to replenish my monkey farm and get back on track with my future business. I imagined even expanded to getting on the Ed Sullivan show and maybe have engagements in Las Vegas amazing people with the tricks my monkeys could do.
What we didn't know, my parents and I, was that the chemical company next door was dumping chemicals into the same sewer lines everyone's toilets emptied into. Back then there weren't issues like today doing that. There were few regulations against doing such things. Between the chemicals, sewage, pharmaceuticals and a host of other things thrown into those sewers by way of toilets, sinks and commercial drains it had a dramatic effect on some life forms in that environment. I assumed it was termination for my sea monkies but it was quite the contrary. The little things began growing exponentially and surpassed their normal size. After a few weeks they could be seen from a few feet. Within two months they were the size of cats with voracious appetites. They soon cleared the pipes of rats because there were hundreds of them.
Still, they grew and along with their incredible appetites came a decrease in the food supply and the sludge there only alleviated part of their hunger.
One day my mother complained to father about the toilet.
“The toilet's been acting funny lately. I think it needs a good plunging. I dumped Draino in it twice, but it doesn't seem to be doing anything. It almost overflowed a few times,” she told my father over the breakfast table one Saturday morning. “Could you take a look it Mike?”
“Sure...I'll plunge it again and if that doesn't work, I'll get the snake,” he told my mom. He had bought the snake a few months ago from the hardware store. My little sister had begun throwing all kinds of things down the pot and flushing it to watch it disappear. No matter how much you explained to her what was happening and where the stuff was going, it didn't matter. She still had a fascination for it that clogged the pipe. It didn't help explaining to her that she was the cause of the aggravation.
“Thanks.” mom acknowledged.
“It's probably a toy Marie flushed down there,” he reasoned.
“Now Mike let's not blame our dear Marie for our potty troubles,” she laughed.
“Linda, if I can't clean it out, I'm going to hate having to pay a plumber to do it. If he can't do it from this end, it'll get real expensive from the other. Marie's going to have to learn not to put things down the potty except poopie. Isn't that right Marie?” dad asked while my sister just smiled at him as she munched on a piece of jelly covered toast.
Dad went to work on the toilet right after breakfast. It wasn't something I'd want to do after eating but then that's what dads were for. More Draino and some heavy fisted plunging with the plunger didn't help, and only brought up a few pieces of an unknown substance. Next step was the snake. Dad spent some time running that thing back and forth, managing to get some large pieces of the unidentifiable substance.
The plumber did basically what my father did but with a more aggressive looking snake. After about twenty minutes of snaking the pipe, he announced having to go to the other end to clear it.
I watched as the plumber opened the manhole on the sidewalk in front of our next-door neighbor's house to get to the pipe that led from our house into the sewer pipe. He disappeared from view and I wondered what it was like under there. I imagined another world where alien like beings lived, avoiding contact with those living above ground. What would people like that look like? Would they have really small noses, maybe even like gills to accommodate the smell? They might have large eyes to let in more light since it was dark down there.
I was fostering my imagination but was disrupted by a piercing scream coming from outside. People walking by the open manhole stopped to look at it since the sound was coming from there.
“Dad, something's happening outside,” I yelled as I ran out the front door. Dad was coming behind me.
We all stood on the sidewalk watching as the plumber was trying to get out of the manhole. His face was one of terror and he was pale. He was still screaming and clawing at the sidewalk but appeared to be getting pulled back by something. People began stepping back but my father ran to help pull the man out. He struggled to extricate the man but whatever was on the other side was stronger and began making headway, pulling the plumber back down the hole. I ran to help but wasn't of much help. Someone else, feeling self-conscious, finally came forward to lend a hand but it was too late. No sooner had he reached for the man to grab hold of him, then he disappeared beneath the walk, screaming as my father lost hold of him. All you could hear was that screaming and the splashing of water and sludge, even after the screaming stopped. It indicated that something else was down there producing the sounds.
The police were called since nothing more was heard from the plumber. No one would go down there or look into the manhole afraid of what they might see. The police came and then called the city to get a couple of city's sewage workers down there that were familiar with the tunnel system. An hour later two men showed up, and both, with one of the cops descended under the streets.
I stood there watching with my father, along with about fifteen other people, wondering what had happened and wanted to be the first to know. A reporter eventually showed up and stood around asking people a bunch of questions, especially my father since he was the one that called the plumber.
“Sir, I'm Evan Mason with the Evening Sun. What's your name and how did this all start? Any ideas?” he asked my dad.
“I'm Mike Cushner... well I called him because I couldn't unclog our toilet. My daughter has a tendency to throw things down the john and then flushing it. She doesn't get the idea yet that you only put poopie down the pot,” he told the reporter.
“But even big poopie can clog a toilet. What gave you the idea it wasn't poopie?” Even Mason asked.
“Evan, she's three years old. Her poopie isn't big enough yet like yours or mine even after a big meal. As soon as I tried snaking the pipe though, and getting something else besides poopie, I knew there was some other sh..., stuff going on. I couldn't clear the clog so I called an expert,” he told the reporter.
“What then? Did the plumber go down the hole immediately?” Mason asked.
“He tried to snake it too with one of those commercial snakes but had no luck,” dad informed him.
The man made the rounds with the crowd to get a handle on their opinions and everyone had ideas about what was going on, but the consensus was it was one of those alligators that someone bought in a pet shop and then flushed down the toilet when it was getting too big. Right in the middle of an interview, there was a tremendous amount of screaming and shouting coming from a distance in the sewer. Then came the sound of shots as the policeman down there and the only one armed, unloaded his revolver. People waited for what seemed an eternity for anyone to emerge from the hole, but no one did. Everyone feared the worst as there was no indication of the three men even being alive.
The second cop standing by the patrol car, had called in a 'policeman down' alert and several other patrol cars and an ambulance appeared. Now more of a crowd began crystallizing and the street was becoming crowded. After some time, others from animal control and the zoo appeared dressed in various outfits and carrying implements of subjugation. Now there were six men in the group prepared to find out what was going on underground.
The crowd watched in interest as one after the other of the men went underground. Again, in the distance, you could hear a gunshot. Then voices of several men screaming in unison. It almost sounded like a church choir as it sung a Gregorian chant to the congregation. We awaited another outcome similar to the last, looking down the manhole.
A head appeared and then an arm floundering to completely surface. A man nearby in the crowd ran and helped to pull the man out of the hole. The man scrambled to get away from the opening as much as he could. When sufficiently satisfied he was far enough away, he relaxed. He was one of the men from animal control. Immediately the reporter was on him.
“What happened down there? Did you see the alligator?” Ed Mason asked.
“It was horrible. I never saw anything like that...they killed all the others and bullets didn't hurt them. It wasn't any alligator or anything else I had ever seen,” the man garbled, shaking to the point of convulsions.
“What was it like?” the reporter wanted to know.
“They... they kind of reminded me of shrimp... big, slimy, smelly, shrimp,” the man told the reporter and the other policemen standing around. This called for more men and more firepower.
“How many of them were there?” Mason asked the man as he waited for his answer, positioning his pen on his pad to write.
“Oh my God... there were at least a dozen of those things. They attacked all at once overwhelming the men with guns and tranquilizers. When I saw that, and one began running towards me, I decided to get out of there. I almost didn't make it. By now, local television stations were filming as their reporters began describing what was happening.
“Come on son let's go inside and not add to the confusion,” my father told me as he pushed me along to the front door. “Besides we can watch it on television now.”
“Where did those things come from?” I asked my father. He was a wealth of information, and he usually satisfied my questions.”
“I don't know son. The authorities are going to have to figure that one out,” he told me.
The radio was filled with reports as well as the television, breaking into programming with up to the minute broadcasts. Still there was no conjecture about the creatures. The one man's comment about them looking a little like shrimp was the only description anyone had from the only survivor.
Another team of people consisting of eight emerged the next day, complete with weapons, tranquilizer guns and cameras. The weapons were machine guns and were carried by two National Guardsmen. It appeared to be a sufficient group and too many more would get into each other's way. There was a bounty of lighting to that they set up around the manhole on the floor of the sewer. They were determined to rid the city of the invaders.
Time went by after the group descended. My father and I sat on the front steps listening and watching. The crowd had expanded again, forcing the police to move the crowds back and put up barriers. As before, shooting began and there was yelling and screaming, with what sounded like total chaos. Three men emerged this time, breathless and frightened. The one carried the camera. That man said he got several pictures, almost before getting subdued himself by the creatures.
Later the picture appeared on the television while they interviewed a wildlife expert.
“Ms. Barbara Graves is a wildlife expert with the Baltimore Zoo and is with us tonight to discuss the problem in the city which is causing quite a stir. Good evening, Barbara, the announcer said.
“Good evening, Gene,” she replied.
“So, what do you make of all this?” the television personality asked.
“As you can see by the pictures on your screen at home, these creatures appear to be a mutated variety of shrimp.... specifically brine shrimp that have grown to enormous size and have become carnivorous, although shrimp are somewhat carnivorous in their natural surroundings,” she explained to the audience.
“What would have caused such a mutation?” the interviewer asked.”
“It's hard to say...radiation, chemicals, diet... any or all of these things could have been instrumental to them,” she answered.
“How did they get there? I know the city isn't far from the harbor but there isn't shrimp that I know of around here,” the man concluded.
“No..it's hard to say. Brine shrimps are found all over the world though and they're normally too small for human consumption. They're like plankton... a food source for other sea creatures. They have a dormant stage where they can be dehydrated for hundreds of years and then reactivated with water,” Graves told her interviewer, Gene.
“Oh really? I didn't know that. That's very interesting,” the announcer commented.
“Yes, they're an oddity and that's what makes them popular with the kids these days. Companies sell them as a novelty item called 'Sea Monkies'. They're easy and cheap to ship dry and all you do at the other end is add water,” she told him smiling into the camera.
“And there you have it... “the television guy was saying but Danny stopped listening after he heard 'Sea Monkies'.
His mother flushed his down the toilet not long ago and prior to that there wasn't anything like this in the sewers. The woman from the zoo said chemicals could be part of what made them grow bigger and more aggressive... and they lived next to a chemical plant, probably using the same sewer. That couldn't just be accidental.
Danny wasn't sure if to say something, but it wouldn't change anything. His parents would probably think it a flight of fancy on his part and ridiculous to even think it. The woman from the zoo already identified what they were so Danny figured he wouldn't stir things up by saying anything to anyone.
Time went on and the experts had no clue how to eradicate the shrimp from the sewer. Bullets didn't seem to affect them then they were talking about flame flowers but the announcers on television just kidded about having a big barbecue with charcoaled shrimp for the city.
Strange noises began emerging from the sewers and you could hear the creatures moving about. They were either becoming more numerous or they were getting larger. No one had been down in the sewers for a week. Most were afraid to go down but knew something had to be done. Electrical workers and the sewer workers, and anyone needing to access the sewers couldn't because of the danger.
The decision to take a dozen National Guardsmen, putting six at either end of a length of sewer to shoot and cook anything in their path was made. They chose a length with a ninety-degree angle for the men to walk from either end. They could shoot at the creatures in between without hitting the other guardsmen. So, the twelve men descended simultaneously underground.
The activity quickly generated mobs of people and mobs of police to keep them back. New crews were there and plenty of reporters, now a national story. They used the manhole out front of Danny's neighbors as one hole since there was an angle about one thousand feet away and another manhole about that far from there. There were other manholes in between but the decision was made for that distance to try and trap as many of the creatures as possible in a manageable area.
Danny watched from his bedroom window upstairs. It wasn't long before he heard shooting and smoke poured out of the drainage grates along the street. There were shouts and screams and new sounds he had not heard before... loud ear-piercing shrieks. The sea monkies must have developed the ability to make sounds. There was a stink emitted with the smoke as it poured from the grates, filling the street with fumes. It made the street seem shadowed though it was just past mid-day.
It was only a half hour later when some of the men emerged... only two from the manhole out front. Later Danny understood three men emerged at the other end. The rest had been eaten by the shrimp which were now the size of horses. Machine gun fire didn't affect them and the flame throwers hurt them, but also made them mad. They hadn't killed any.
The mayor announced a formal emergency for more National Guard. These things were strong too, so efforts to net them, as some suggested, were met with opposition. They wanted to avoid destroying the sewers because of repairs and cost as well as disruption for the people but it couldn't be avoided. Three days later it was decided to wire them with incendiary devices and clay mores. They had to be ready to be put down and set quickly without attracting the shrimp, so the intent was to distract them at one end of the sewers while wiring the other and affixing trip wires.
However, before they were able to begin, the streets and sidewalks began buckling from the pressure of the still growing shrimp. The creatures were beating their way through the surface, and they were doing it effectively.
“We were told to evacuate the area,” Danny's father announced, “immediately. They're evacuating a several square block areas.”
“Where are we going to go?” Linda asked.
“The hotel down the way is offering rooms for everybody,” Mike told her. “We can all go there.”
“Why can't we stay?” I asked my father.
“It's too dangerous. Not only are those things about to get lose, but there's also going to be a lot of shooting and who knows what else around here,” he answered.
The family packed some clothes and the bare essentials in a few suitcases and left. As they shut the front door, the iron storm grating out front popped ten feet into the air and landed with clunk. The street around it cracked and heaved as one of the creatures began surfacing in an effort to leave the sewers. The sewers had become too small to accommodate the swarm of shrimp. They were also most likely looking for more food. Now they had a taste for humans, it definitely wasn't safe there anymore. If they could break through the street, they could bust through the brick walls of the row homes there.
When the people saw the one coming through the street there was hysteria, and people began running frantically. Some fell while others stepped on them to escape. Danny looked back and watched the horror unfold. The first creature scrambled out of its confinement while another emerged directly behind it. There were police that had come, and they fired their weapons in volleys at the creatures in the streets, but the bullets did nothing but alert the shrimp where their next meal was. The police were attacked and killed on the spot as more and more of the shrimp departed their confines.
“Come on Danny, move faster,” Linda, his mother cried. “Don't be looking back.”
“The hotel may not even be safe now,” his father shouted. “Anyone on the bottom floors might be fair game for these things.”
They ran to the hotel and were given a room on the eighth floor which made Mike more comfortable. Once settled, Danny turned the television on to see what was happening. A helicopter was flying overhead with a live camera feed covering that part of the city. All afternoon thousands of the creatures emerged from the sewers and hunted anyone remaining on the streets. They moved effortlessly up the streets from downtown, hunting and eating. As evening came and the sun began to set though the creatures took an about face and headed to the harbor. They were headed for the water for the night.
The mayor came on the television for a public service announcement. When the officials realized the shrimp were headed for the water, they also assumed they were done with them. Since they were creatures of the ocean, they would enter the bay and keep going out to sea. They would still be a problem but at least not for the city. There was talk of harpooning them once in the water but they needed to organize fishing boats for the effort and the mayor thought of placing a bounty on each dead shrimp brought back to the harbor.
By the next day a few entrepreneurial fishermen with harpoons puttered into the bay in their trawlers aimed at catching some of the shrimp. It was obvious however; the creatures were not finished with the town as they began emerging in different areas of the city around the water. The boats successfully harpooned a couple of the shrimp but as they did, others still in the water climbed over the sides and capsized the boats effortlessly. The crews on the boats didn't swim very long but disappeared below the surface of the water.
Being back in the salt water seemed to have increased the speed of their growth. Each day they came back out of the salty water to hunt. No one, no cars, nothing were on the streets. The authorities had rethought what they were about to do, fighting the overgrown crustaceans and must have decided whatever damage was done in the city was required collateral damage. Five days after the creatures had emerged and spent their nights in the harbor and days in the city, the full-blown military arrived. They were prepared to do battle. Incendiaries above ground would most likely destroy the entire city of Baltimore but an army of flame throwers, twelve men across with them coming down the street as one large unit was seen as the answer. Behind them was a line of machine guns and then there were those positioned in case of retreat by the shrimp, back to the harbor, to lob mortars and grenades at them. The problem was exasperated though by the shrimp, having split into groups to hunt, were now leaving the harbor and hunting along a dozen different streets coming from the city. They were beginning in a few places to knock through the fronts of homes.
Danny was tired of the hotel where they were and was anxious to see what was happening. It was partly his fault since they were his sea monkies his mother threw down the toilet. He couldn't do anything about what happened, but he wanted to see what kind of monsters these things had grown into, so he left the room early one morning before his parents got up. He would be in big trouble when he saw them again, but he had a need to see.
“Hey kid. What are you doing out here? Marshall Law's been declared. You could be arrested,” the soldier told Danny.
“I had to see what was happening,” Danny told the man.
“Curiosity can get you into serious trouble. You'd better get back home,” he warned.
“What if I told you I caused all of this?” Danny asked the man.
“Now just how the heck could you have done all this?” the soldier questioned him.
“I bought sea monkies from a magazine and put them in a glass. My mother thought it was just water and flushed them down the toilet. We live right next to a chemical plant and the woman on television said they were sea monkies that might have been mutated by chemicals,” Danny explained in one breath.
The soldier laughed at the unlikely explanation and stooped down to talk to him.
“Listen, I know parents blame kids for a lot of things and when sometimes things like this happen... “he began but Danny interrupted as a large shrimp was running up behind the soldier.
“Mister, turn around quick! Shoot for the eyes. They can see you. Otherwise, they use those long antennae,” Danny yelled.
The soldier did what Danny said and took his machine gun to the shrimp's eyes. Sure enough, he lost his direction and ran into the wall of buildings. He began moving along them touching things as he went with his long, thin antennae.
“Thanks for the idea, kid, but get back home,” the man commanded as he followed the shrimp and began shooting at its legs, cutting through them rendering it immobile. The creature was kicking its stubs and screeching, unable to go anywhere.
Danny just stood there watching. The soldier looked back and yelled again.
“I told you to get out of here kid. Thanks for the idea, but get out of here,” and he motioned for him to leave.
“You need someone to watch your back,” Danny shouted trying to get an invite.
The soldier thought about it and decided maybe it was better not to send the kid away with these things roaming the streets. Maybe he'd be better off staying with him since he was armed, and he just managed to disable one of these beats. At lease it couldn't do any more harm.
“OK kid, get over here but stay close and out of the way,” he warned Danny. “What's your name anyway? I can't keep calling you kid.”
“It's Danny,” he told him.
“Mine's Cockroach,” the soldier replied.
“Cockroach! What kind of name is that? Danny asked.
“That's the name everyone calls me. I've been in a lot of confrontations and it seems I can't be killed, and I come out from under rocks, fighting,” he explained.
“Sounds more of an insult than a nickname,” Danny commented.
“I don't mind... get back in that store front, Danny. Here comes another one of those things,” Cockroach commanded, as he took careful aim this time at the creature's eyes.
As it closed the gap, the soldier opened fire and hit the creature's eyes, with a lot less ammo than the previous one. The shrimp stumbled against a street pole and cried in agony. Cockroach closed the gap and took out enough of its legs that it fell to the street, struggling, unable to stand.
The soldier got on his radio and immediately broadcast to anyone listening what he had done so others could repeat his action.
Soon there were responses from others around town, that it worked, as the soldiers all began taking down the creatures.
“When this is over, Danny, we're going to have one hell of a shrimp bake,” Cockroach exclaimed happily.
“Who'd ever think a cockroach could beat a shrimp?” Danny laughed.
The soldiers killed a lot more shrimp that day but there were many more to kill as the remaining ones migrated back to the water for the night.
“Alright Danny, the fighting's over for the night. I need to get you back to where you came from,” the soldier told the boy.
“Aww... can't I stay with you?” I was bored with my parents.
“You were a big help, but they'd have my skin if I didn't return you, “he told Danny. “Now where are we going?”
“Alright... I was at the Lord Calvert Hotel with my family.
“I'll take you there now. I appreciate your help though. This city owes you thanks, except the place is going to stink in a few days with rotting shrimp. Every cat in the county will show up here,” Cockroach joked.
In a few days it did smell. The stench was horrific. Night crews were called out after the first night with bulldozers to drag the dead creatures into the harbors where the other remaining shrimp and fish could feed on their carcasses that died from dehydration without getting back into the water. The crews dragged only the dead ones into the water.
Cockroach returned Danny to his parents at the hotel where they were frantic when they found their son disappeared, but they were thankful to the soldier returning him.
“You son was a big help. Here the general and the politicians were ready to wipe out the city to get rid of these things, but your son suggested a simpler, less dangerous way. I guess that proves that simpler is sometimes better,” the soldier told all of them.