The Tale of Salamenca
Gentlepeople of the Vox Chaotica Council! So between my discomfort with having such a pro-gender-binary welcoming statement, and my sincere desire to not have to type out both gentleman and gentlewoman every time I start a blog post, you have have noticed I changed my greeting. [Editor's Note: at least it isn't HELLO EVERBIRDY, Right?]
You may be wondering why I'm talking about Salamanca when I can't even spell it right. Well, first you have to put your little snooty cap with that flamboyant feather right over there on the hat rack and leave your attitude at the door. Then I will tell you that this is the AMAZING and WONDERFUL Tale of the MIGHTY and BRAVE Salamenca—the Snail.
So this may be rather common in other parts of the world, but in Arizona, most of the wildlife exists because it can somehow be more brutal and angry than the heat of the summer and the desolate desert. They're mostly prickly—think horned toads, cacti, and scorpions—maybe it's just me, but it makes very little sense for snails to have somehow survived out in Arizona basically ever. You can imagine my surprise, then, how every time it rains heavily (5+ inches in a week is a ridiculous amount of rain for us), my backyard patio is home to somewhere around ten living snails and a few empty snail shells. This sort of rain happened around New Year's, and on the first day of the first month of the year of our lord two-thousand seventeen, my family and I decided to enjoy a nicely constructed fire in our fireplace.
It was dark and wet. Not like I could really see anything, what with my ancestors taking too much time deliberating over what traits to accept from the offerings of the Gods and being stuck without eyes—or legs... but I could feel it. The hardground was cold beneath me, and what little warmth lay in the air was being siphoned away by the moisture left over by the rain. I had crawled to safety from the softground and foodstalks when the water started making breathing difficult—besides, who wants to eat soggy foodstalks anyway?
So I, the Great and Formidible Salamenca, Youngest of the Snail Consortium, Most Fearless of the Great Shell Knights, ventured out onto the unforgiving, unending expanse of the hardground—the inconsistently defended Territory of the Mewling Furry Deathstalkers, from whence no other Knight had yet returned. Okay, so maybe I'm not actually on the Snail Consortium, and maybe I am the only Shell Knight, but I returned from that terrible place, didn't I? YES, Gilbert, I am looking at YOU.
Anyway, there I was, stealthily crossing that bleak wasteland, when all of a sudden something blocked my path. It was hard and rough and... vertical. While it was similar to tree bark, this surreal surface stretched for what could be hundreds or even thousands of shell-lengths in either direction! I was just as amazed as you, to find something so strange in our world—and terrified by it. Surely the Gods would only put such a thing in this world to protect us from some great evil. As I stood, paralyzed with awe, I heard the approaching battle cries of the cruel Fuzzy Beasts—the sound broke the trance I was in, and I turned around to find my quiet tunnel once again.
But before I could make it any real distance, the night exploded in a fireball of light and the strange reverberations which I felt in the ground and the air, shortly followed by a set of rhythmic tremors passing quickly left to right behind me. I withdrew into my shell until the hardground stood still. After a moment more, to check—YES GILBERT, to check if the shockwaves came from the Furry Ones—I exited the safety of my shell to dash towards my home.
Only a little way back along the very same path I originally took out of the softground, a previously-unencountered obstacle blocked my path. The Gods must have chosen to help me in my quest, for they sent me tree bark. I crawled onto it, wary of the gnashing teeth of the Deathstalkers; though before a proper exploration could be made, the bark shot up from the ground, carrying me at such blinding speed that I was sure I would be ripped apart.
The terrifying journey eventually came to an end, and quick as I could I ran off that piece of bark—only to find myself back on the softground! I then came here to tell you all of the wonders the Gods have performed for me, and to regale you with my intense heroics. OH GO ASK YOUR WIFE, GILBERT, YOU SPIRAL-HEADED GROUND-MUNCHER.
Salamenca exits, stage left.
tl;dr - I went outside on the night of New Year's Day to get firewood from the back patio, and saw that the recent rains had driven the snails out onto the concrete again. Most of the shells were empty as far as I could tell—probably they were small playthings for the neighbourhood cats—but there was one that sort of cowered into its shell when I stepped out onto the concrete the first time. After three trips to get three different logs (a good fire-starter can start a fire with three logs, three pieces of paper, and a single match), I took a small bit of wood and put it directly in front of the snail so it could climb on top. I went back inside to start the fire, and once it was crackling satisfactorily I went outside and took the bit of wood (now with snail on top) and placed it in the grass, so it could go back to a place of food and safety. Then I told my mom about it and she told me to blog about it so I did. And now you're reading it. And now you're done with it, I think?