By: Gerard Valencia (a.k.a. MrV, or Christian Valencia-Vasquez).
Copyright © MrV
Once upon a time, in a lettuce patch partly clothed by an elm tree's shade, lived a silly snail named Petros who loved to slide around leaving colorful slime trails. His gluttonous brood of 49 snails would spend all day nibbling at the same lettuce head until there was nothing but a stem left. Bored of only eating all day, Petros decided he had to go on an adventure.
Every night, while his brood slept inside their shells scattered around the next day's meal, Petros would gently rise his long neck from inside his coiled shell. His horns and eyes marveled at the sight of two bright orbs in the night sky. The two moons orbiting his homeworld, Terrathos: Luna and her baby sister Concordia. At last, one night he made up his mind.
"I know what I will do! I am going to walk the surface of Luna!" Petros said, confidently.
Unfortunately, the next morning his brood mocked him when he told them of his goal.
"How will you get there, flying? Snails cannot fly!" said his fellow snails snickering in unison.
"Just you wait! I am going to find a way up there and will not return until I succeed!" replied the still confident snail. Determined to prove his lazy siblings wrong, Petros left the lettuce patch that same morning, resisting the urge to look back.
Just after Petros left, a giant whose shadow towered a great portion of the patch arrived. It was an elderly farmer wearing a cap, his wrinkles knitted into a frown showing discontent at yesterday's leftover snail meal, now the food of flies and roaches. On his left hand he carried an opaque metallic bucket. He effortfully bent down to pick up the remnant stem of the once bright and beautiful lettuce head. The elderly man's eyes blazed like hot embers.
"My prized lettuce! I'm done with you, classless freeloaders!" he shouted and then dipped one blistered hand into the bucket. The grains of salt ran between his fingers. With a swish he quickly began sprinkling the ground with the fine contents of the bucket.
Down below, a snail yawned and licked his molluscan feline cheeks. Suddenly, a large crystal grain hit his head. The snail cried in pain, seeing his smooth skin become like the elm's bark. His fellow snails shrieked in terror at the sight of this and tried to run. To them the crystaline grains sounded like a rock slide. Unfortunately, they were too slow and their slimy bodies soon dried up and broke apart.
The few snails that managed to hide later drowned after falling into a trap set by the farmer. In a hole on the ground, near two delicious-looking heads, was a bowl containing an aromatic and glistening amber-colored substance: beer.
"No! Stay away from the booze!" shouted one of the younger snails to her siblings while atop one of the heads, watching them fall into the whole like acorns from a tree and float aimlessly in the beverage.
"What?" asked an absent minded snail, seconds before succumbing into his foamy doom.
Meanwhile, slowly gliding up the grassland outside the farm, Petros looked around. Above him flew a sassy yellow butterfly.
"Yo, what's munching?" asked the butterfly moving in circles around Petros.
"Nothing, left my lettuce patch... Resting... I am on a journey!" replied the snail, clearly exhausted.
"Oh, swell! Got to go! I smell a ripe fruit!" said the butterfly as she flew away, hovering up and down as if she were dancing. Petros heard the butterfly shouting, "WOOHOOHOOHOOHOO!!"
He stared silently for a whole minute, and blinked.
"Okay...," Petros wondered where he should go next.
"Maybe my brothers and sisters were right, unless I grow wings I will never be able to get up there," Petros said to himself, looking up at the bright blue sky.
"Sounds like you have a dilemma," said a feminine voice over Petros.
"What?" Petros rose his neck.
"A dilemma, a problem involving a difficult choice... according to Webster's," a feminine voice replied.
"Who said that?" Petros asked, turning around left and right.
"It was I," replied the voice.
"Who's I?" asked Petros blinking and moving his eyes in different directions. Suddenly, clouds began to gather above. Everything had turned darker under the gray sky, and a strong chilly wind made Petros flinch. He slid back into his shell. Whistling noises could be heard around him.
"W-Who's there?" Petros inquired from underneath his shell, his eyes slightly peeking out. They managed to catch a glimpse at a bright thing flying towards him. It looked like a small star. Petros felt warmth as the light got closer to his shell.
"ARGH, I'M BECOMING ESCARGOT!!" Petros howled from inside his shell.
"Oopsie!" uttered the voice. The bright light dimmed down and Petros no longer felt so much warmth.
"Come out, come out silly snail," demanded the voice. The snail looked out quickly before hiding back in. His eye had spotted up close a bright-looking creature moving in circles over his shell. He complied and came out of the shell, nervous.
"H-hi..." said Petros at what he though looked like a moth. Unlike regular moths Petros had seen mesmerized by lamps, this one seemed lucid and focused. On her back six fiery wisps enabled her to fly, slithering upward, and allowing her to remain in one place like a hummingbird. These wisps were also the main source of her light. Her main body was humanoid in appearance and covered in white fur. Her large eyes looked hollow like dark pits.
"You look so beautiful, unlike any moth I have seen before," stated Petros.
"Moth?! How dare you?!" the creature roared, her wings becoming brighter.
"Eek!" Petros cried, retreating back into his shell. The creature put her toothpick arms against where a mouth would normally be and giggled.
"Just kidding!" the creature said. Petros came back out, puzzled.
"Call me Vesta the Seraph," she replied in a lively tone, "You look like a dreamer. Very unusual for a snail."
"How did you know?" wondered the snail.
"Duh, I am a seraph afterall. A celestial being," Vesta said.
"Celestial being? What is that?" the curious snail wondered.
"Yeep! How can you not have heard about me?!" Vesta sounded indignant.
"I am so sorry, us snails are reserved. Unlike other forest animals we do not seek enjoyment in gossip," the snail replied, his horns lowered in embarrassment.
"No biggie, hon. So you know, my kind are a highly advanced species who seek thrill roaming the cosmos, mending whatever irregularity we come across," Vesta replied.
"Am I an irregularity?" Petros wondered, his head beginning to retract back into his shell.
"Eh... Enough chatting! What is your dream?" Vesta said. Her fiery wings released small embers into the air, causing Petros to shriek and hide inside his home.
"Oopsie daisy! Happens when I get excited, you may come out now!" reassured Vesta, knocking three times on Petros's shell. The snail's eyes slowly unfolded from a foamy mess. Vesta gave Petros a look of disgust.
He looked up at the cloudy sky. He could not see Luna and Concordia yet.
"I want to walk the surface of Luna at nightfall, but..." Petros stopped, using his whiskers to point up. Vesta's hollow eyes looked up and she nodded.
"They are always there, even when you can't see them during the day," she said softly. Petros happily lifted his horns and whiskers.
"I will help you on one condition," added Vesta, leaving Petros to guess what she was going to say next.
What could a powerful being like a seraph want with an insignificant snail like him, Petros pondered. Vesta then waved her small arms and a rainbow bridge formed in front of Petros, leading up to beyond the ominous clouds.
"I present to you... Bifrost!" Vesta said proudly, waving her arms to the side as if they were being moved by the wind.
Petros, without hesitation began gliding his way up. Becoming impatient, Vesta flew over and grabbed Petros by the shell, lifting him in the air and quickly reaching the cloudy summit. "Excuse me," apologized Vesta.
When Petros looked down he saw in awe a thick carpet of fluffly clouds underneath, which kept getting father away. His head tilted upwards, the rainbow bridge kept going into a black abyss filled with blinking lights. After a few minutes they saw the two large entities in front of them. Petros could not believe they were much bigger up close, originally expecting something the size of a pebble. Vesta bathed Petros in her colorful light which would allow him to breathe in space. At last they landed on the largest moon, Luna.
Terrathos now looked smaller than usual. Petros noticed a pink aura surrounding his far away home. He became so overjoyed he began floating in the low gravity.
"AAAIEEE!" Petros shrieked in surprise. Vesta gently pushed him back down into the wispy moon sand.
"Now that you are here you can walk the surface of Luna for eternity. In return, I need a favor from you," Vesta said.
"What do you need from me?" asked Petros. His eyes wandered off in every direction.
"Your shell," Vesta replied, leaving Petros speechless.
"But... I cannot live without my shell," Petros cried out. Vesta flew around Petros, drawing with her skeletal finger a spiral-pattern in the moon sand.
"We need your shell because of its unique design. It would make a magnificent shield to protect Terrathos from those devious Psi-Mites. If they're not stopped no one in Terrathos will ever be able to dream again. Your coiled shell can make them dizzy and send them spinning away to a far away galaxy!" Vesta said raising one hand up while placing her other hand over Petros's shell.
"No one else will be able to dream?" Petros uttered in disbelief. It had been his own dreams that got him this far in the first place.
Vesta's hollow eyes gazed upon him in desperation. Petros looked around. He was now among the stars; tiny beacons for travellers and dreamers alike. And then not far from Terrathos he saw them at last, the Psi-Mites. They looked like small jellyfish with hundreds of beady eyes and large gaping mouths larger than the rest of their bodies, covered in layers of pointy teeth. The parasitic mites gave off a violet glow as they swarmed towards the planet and began munching away at the pink aura around it.
"Wait--I have an idea!" Petros said enthusiastically to a distraught Vesta, "If the shell on my back is really needed, what if I remained here and lived inside my shell as it got used?"
Vesta smiled and nooded. Her glow intensified, bathing Petros in more orange light that soon turned silver. The snail gasped with eyes wide open. Suddenly, the Psi-Mites caught glimpse of Luna and were mesmerized by its silver glow.
The Mites flew around, following the spiral pattern engraved on its surface as if hypotized by what had become Petros' new body. The valiant snail now bore Luna on his back and made sure all the bugs remained caught in his loops.
At last, the Psi-Mites grew tired and began to wander off-course into Concordia, who adamantly made them bounce off its surface and continue flying far from the planet to never be seen again.
One night, a girl no older than age three was looking out the window of her home when she called out to her father.
"Daddy, daddy! Look at the moons!" the excited little girl pointed with her diminute finger. Her round eyes filled with marvel.
"Those are Luna and her baby sister Concordia," replied the girl's father as he looked out the window, "And it looks like tonight we have two full moons!"
The little girl then began moving her index finger in circles in the air. She smiled as she outlined the gray shape of a spiral over Luna's bright surface.
"Oh, swell!" the little girl happily exclaimed.
Outside the girl's house, resting underneath the leaves of a sunflower whose head looked down dormant, were three familiar-looking snail shells. Inaudible snoring bubbled inside them.