An Incredible Journey

The first thing I remember is waking up in a pile of shit. I mean, that’s true for all of us, but it’s still a rather ignoble beginning for me and my kind. Oh, well. We all have to start somewhere, right?

Euhaplorchis califoriensis

Euhaplorchis califoriensis

Hi! My name is Rusty, and I’m a Euhaplorchis califoriensis. Think really, really, really small. Maybe you’ve heard of me? No? Well, believe you me, we’re pretty popular around these parts (the shores of American West Coast, that is). Something like a third of the local fauna have had us for lunch, if you know what I mean… [wink and smile]. Right now, I’m just sitting around in the brain of my next-to-last host, just killing time.

My parents never took an active interest in me or my siblings, just let us float away in our little shells, down and out some random seabird’s cloaca to wait until the first snail comes along to clean up the mess. They don’t target us specifically, but they don’t avoid us, either.

Horn snail

Horn snail

My first real home was a horn snail. His name was Barney, and he was the perfect environment to break out of my protective but boring shell and start to grow. We don’t get very big, even as adults, but we do go through some pretty dramatic changes. And to help us along, we also cause some pretty dramatic changes in our hosts, too. I’m not sure how or why, exactly, but host snails like Barney lose interest in sex altogether while we’re wriggling around in their gooey, fleshy folds. Oh, well, more energy for us! Yay! We grow big and strong, and after a few weeks, we get to the cercaria stage of our development, a form which less-developed creatures like mammals might think of as “sperm-like”.

Barney was a good host, but it’s kind of slow; a poor conversationalist, at best, and unwilling to learn more about the world around it. And so I bid adieu, squirt my way out, and began to swim freely through our peaceful marsh. That’s easily the toughest part of the journey, but thankfully these waters are full of potential new homes. Millions upon millions of killifish dart around here all year, and they’re super hungry.

Killifish

Killifish

That’s how I found Martha. While she stopped to feed, I sidled up to her, sleek and suave guy that I am, and slipped inside her gills.  I broke out my little toolkit, cut a hole in the lining, and slip into the bloodstream. Whee! Off I went! Next stop: fish brain! Finally, I could rest again. Granted, there was too much of this grey matter to make a comfortable home, so I just … nudged… it a bit out of the way before settling in for the long haul. And now here we are.

I’m not alone here, either. Hey, you wanna see something neat? Lucy! Trisha! HEY, EVERYBODY! All together now!

[UNISON] *Hey! Fish! Do a barrel roll!*

Wooo-aaaah!

OMG Yay! That’s AWESOME! Let’s do it again!

[UNISON] *Hey! Fish! Do a barrel roll!*

Wooo-oOOP!

…Is it just me, or are we airborne?

[Float offside]

[Re-enter stage]

Well, it’s been a month or so since Anthony grabbed us out of the water. Seems that Martha’s top side kept her slightly camouflaged in the marsh waters, but her shiny sides were practically a beacon for passing seagulls. Tony took us up, and, birds being birds, sought out the delicacies of fish eyes and brain for dessert while finishing off Martha. A gull’s gullet. My new, and final home.

I set myself up in a pleasant little nook, an inch or so down the intestine. I figure I’ll stay here; there’s lots of food, it’s warm, and I LOVE to travel, so why not? There’s at least a hundred other Euhaplorchis Califoriensis around, and the ladies have been squirting out eggs like there’s no tomorrow. So much to do… so much to do…

[Wander offside]

[Re-enter, looking around, confused look. Crouch down]

The first thing I remember was waking up in this pile of shit.

**Note: The above is for my 5th Toastmasters speech “Your Body Speaks”

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