The Nightmare on Snail Street
BY N. RAZBAN '23
It's 3 AM and you just woke up in a cold sweat. You reach for the water next to your bed, your hands shaking and your breath catching in your chest. The only sound you hear aside from your racing heart is the ringing in your ears. "Iron-shelled snails don't exist," you tell yourself between shaky breaths. "Iron-shelled snails can't hurt me." After calming yourself down, you are able to sleep, convinced that you are safe from these ghastly gastropods. Unaware, in your peaceful slumber, you don't hear the ever-approaching *sludge* *clunk* making its way through your door and up your bed frame. It exists. And it's too late now—it found you. Your only hope for survival is sprinkling it with salt to shrivel it up. Do YOU want to live this nightmare? I didn't think you did, dear reader, so keep yourself safe from this scenario by absorbing the intel I have gathered below on the whereabouts and weaponry of the scariest snails out there.
To begin, let's inspect the files of our aforementioned friend. The Chrysomallon squamiferum, colloquially known as the Sea Pangolin or the Scaly Foot Snail, has evolved to build an iron-clad home around itself. Quite literally, it uses iron sulfide to create a layer around its shell. This means that heating your house to dangerously high levels will not only hurt your measly little human body, but it will also hurt your ego as the Sea Pangolin remains unfazed. Challenge accepted, I hear you say defiantly, I'll just drown it in water and then- let me stop you right there to avoid you further embarrassment: this snail is aquatic. It only lives underwater. Its seemingly bottomless strength begs a question, however: how do you avoid it? How do you stay safe from a creature that thrives in the conditions leading to most others' demise? Well, do not fret, dear reader; to stay safe you simply mustn't go down to a depth of 1.5 miles below the surface of the Indian Ocean at four specific underwater vents. That's right: our boy Scaly has only ever been found in four spots, and he is currently at risk of extinction due to deep-sea mining.
Though our last potential threat attempted to veil its intentions under the seemingly harmless name "Scaly Foot Snail",the Clea helena doesn't borrow such tactics. Instead, it claims its threat proudly, bearing the name Assassin Snail *cue Assassin's Creed soundtrack*. Its blood-curdling title comes from its ability to eradicate all other species around it, establishing the snail as a top-tier invasive species. It can take out plants, fish, other snails, and anything else that lays in its tracks towards conquering bodies of water everywhere. Today, Southeast Asia, tomorrow, the world. Aside from murder, the Assassin Snail also dabbles in cosplay, its favorite character being Barry the Bee, as it proudly wears his standard yellow and black stripes. Classic Assassin Snail, spending the morning killing his neighbors and the afternoon at a convention.
What's that? A little whisper in the back of our heads? The one that gently nudges us to be generous and offer the benefit of the doubt? Well if we follow that train of thought, all of a sudden…huh, look at that. I guess these snails… aren't out to get us? Perhaps they are just living their lives, and we, as good little English students, have personified them to be our rival antagonist. Maybe, just maybe, this story isn't about the fear mongering and impending threats I've created for Off-Topic's readers (yes, all three of you!). Perhaps, in the end, it's about the snails you learn to understand and love. Take a moment to listen to your foes, dear reader, and you may just find a friend. You can never be too sure, though, so stay safe out there. And always carry salt.