Crablord, Part V

The days passed with Wilfred learning enough about life on the island so that he might pass a citizenship test. He grew increasingly frustrated, however, with the complexity of the laws. With each passing day, he came to understand how the Lord Protector had come to be like he was. There was nothing to do on the island. Every day that passed was the same as the one before. The sun beat down overhead, the creatures moved around from one spot to another, and all Wilfred could think to do was eat, piss, and shit. 

He tried to make his home as comfortable as possible. He learned a lot about the building regulations this way: the quality of driftwood and dead branches he was to use; the appropriate size of leaves; the correct way to bind it all together. The Lord Protector had clearly developed, through trial and error, the best way to build a hut.

Wilfred had also been entrusted with some responsibilities. He was instructed to visit the Rock Lands and make sure that the iguanas weren’t kicking the crabs out of the rock pools, that the birds weren’t eating the crabs, and that the seals didn’t return to the rocks. He was dumbfounded by the number of treaties that seemed to have been formed between the animals. The birds have been given free rein of the trees in return for eating the insects that might have a parasitic effect on the fruits. The lizards were told to make peace with the bees that buzzed from the flowers.

Despite his progress in learning about all that had come before him, Wilfred was becoming more and more disillusioned. The Lord Protector constantly watched him distrustfully, following him about at some distance after he sent Wilfred off to do his tasks. He was always there, standing behind a tree in the Grass Lands, his head poking out and his eyes staring beadily down at Wilfred.

Wilfred grew increasingly sick of eating coconuts and mangoes, too. The Lord Protector’s insistence that the creatures of the islands were citizens or subjects in one form or another meant that none could be considered food.

One night, as he sat by the fire next to the Lord Protector, Wilfred voiced his concerns.

“I can’t do this anymore,” he said. “I’m hungry all of the time. I can feel myself growing weak. Can we please drop this stupid charade, and act like humans again?”

“What are you talking about?” Crablord was growing used to having Wilfred here, and had almost considered him ready to become a fully-fledged citizen. Almost.

“Can we stop it with these rules and regulations, with all these treaties and agreements? I get that you needed something to keep you sane here, but this is getting ridiculous now. You have to admit that things are different now that I’m here, and that we can’t keep behaving like this. This isn’t a real society; this is a fiction that you’ve created to help yourself cope.”

Crablord looked back, shocked at this outburst. “This society is very real, and the bonds between the citizens are strong. We look out for one another here.”

“Oh, spare me, you deluded fool.” Wilfred stood up, leaving his fruit half eaten by the fire, and sulked back to his hut. Crablord watched him walk away, deeply concerned at this outburst. He had been right not to allow him to become a citizen, after all.

Crablord finished his meal and let the fire die out before walking back to his own hut. He heard Wilfred grumbling as he walked back, and in his own hut he lay down in his bed, staring at the ceiling. The room was illuminated now by the pale moonlight.

“Oh, Jasper,” Crablord said, mournfully. “I don’t know what we can do with this man. We have been so good to him, shown him every kindness, but he hasn’t appreciated it one bit. He came here as a refugee, but all he wants to do is disrupt our society. Can he not see that we have taken care of him? Such a greedy fool. I think we may have to deport him.”

“Rawk,” Jasper agreed.

In the morning, while Wilfred sat guarding the Rock Lands from the seals, Crablord called the council to a vote.

“The newcomer has worked hard, but unfortunately he has failed to assimilate. If he continues to remain on the island he will become a danger to our constitution and to the foundations of our society. The man has unfortunately caused a wound on his arrival, and rather than healing, the wound has become infected. I move that we deport him immediately before he can cause further damage. All in favour?”

Ten of the eleven crabs in attendance snapped their claws, and seven of the twelve iguanas coughed and sneezed. 

“All opposed?” The remaining crab and the other five iguanas communicated their vote here. The iguanas, who saw the work that Wilfred put in to defending the Rock Lands first hand, clearly had strong sympathies. And yet these holdouts were not enough to save Wilfred from his fate.

“And with no abstainers, the motion carries. I’ll go and break the news to the newcomer.”

Crablord walked from the Grass Lands where the council had been held to the Rock Lands where Wilfred was sat looking out at the sea. He turned as he heard Crablord walking behind him.

“I’m sorry for my outburst yesterday,” he began. “It was uncalled for. I’ve just been feeling so overwhelmed by everything that’s gone on, and I miss home so badly. I didn’t mean to take it out on you. I know that we have to get along until we are rescued, so there’s no use me picking fights here.”

Crablord stopped, and looked back pensively at Wilfred. The man had grown his own beard, and his hair, too, had become shabby and long. Crablord gave him an apologetic look. “The council have voted,” he began, ignoring Wilfred’s apology, “and we have decided that it’s time for you to go.”

“Excuse me?”

“It’s time for you to leave,” Crablord repeated.

“Leave? And go where?”

“That’s not my concern. You haven’t assimilated properly, and we don’t think that you ever will.”

“But I can’t simply leave — we’re surrounded by sea.”

“Again, that’s not my concern.”

“I can’t swim anywhere!”

“I don’t care, I just want you gone.”

“I’ll drown!”

“I don’t care.”

Wilfred stared back aghast. There was a long silence as the two men looked at each other, neither breaking their gaze with the other. “Well you’ll have to make me,” Wilfred said finally. “Otherwise I’ll take a piece of this island for myself. You have your beaches and crabs, and I’ll stay here on the Rock Lands. You have your half, and I’ll have mine, and we can share the food.”

Crablord’s eyes burnt red as he stared back at Wilfred. Anger alighted in the back of his mind, and the fire reached into his throat. This usurper, this infiltrator, intended to steal away Crablord’s land, assume the title of Lord Protector of one the island’s two republics, and secede from the Union. This was unacceptable.

“You can’t do that,” Crablord said finally.

“Sue me for it,” replied Wilfred, who turned around again to face the sea.

“You can’t do that,” Crablord repeated, but Wilfred ignored him. This only served to enrage him further. “Look at me,” Crablord said, his voice fierce, the anger permeating its very essence. Yet, in much the same way that Crablord could not laugh with appropriate humour, so too did he fail to convincingly channel his anger into intimidation. Wilfred looked back at him, but there was pity, rather than fear in his eyes. This only made things worse.

Crablord stormed towards Wilfred and pushed him off his rock. Wilfred stood, finding his balance as his feet hit the rocks below. “Hey!” He yelled. “Calm down, there’s no need for this!”

“I told you that you can’t do that!” Crablord asserted again.

“Okay, okay!”

“I want you to leave!” Crablord advanced on Wilfred, staring at the man through his mass of tangled hair as he climbed over the rocks.

“Look, you know that I can’t,” Wilfred said, backing away.

“Well you can’t have my island! The people here depend on me!”

“What people?” Wilfred yelled in his frustration. “Listen to yourself! Just let me live here in peace until someone comes to rescue me, and then I’ll be out of your hair…”

“I can’t let you do that,” Crablord said, and with that he approached Wilfred and shoved him as hard as he could in his chest. Wilfred was caught off-guard by the force of his push and lost his footing on the slippery rocks beneath his feet. He fell backwards, his arms waving as he tried to grab on to something. His hand found a piece of rock that jutted outwards, but his fingers slipped as they tried to gain purchase. His body fell against the stones beneath him, and his head smacked on the hard surface. His eyes glazed over and went blurry as the pain filled his mind, and then he lay still.

Crablord kept advancing on the figure that lay twitching as a pool of blood formed around his head, mingling with the sea water that gently washed up around him. “I told you that I can’t let you do that,” Crablord repeated, still blind in his fury. He knelt down on Wilfred’s body and picked up a loose rock from nearby. He brought the rock down upon the man’s skull. “You can’t have my island,” he said, bringing the rock down again. “You won’t disturb my society.” The rock came down one more time. “You won’t hurt my people.” The rock came down one final time onto the battered skull.

Crablord stood up, and picked up Wilfred’s legs. He pushed them outwards, letting the sea take the body. The rocks were stained with red, though with every push and pull of the tide, the evidence was washed away until no more was left. The body floated out to sea, and Crablord was left alone again on his island, feeling secure in the knowledge that peace had been restored.

*

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