A sort of minimal look at one of my favorite cartoons; enjoy!
A sunny, breezy, summer's day. Blue skies, sporadic cloud cover, and gentle, genteel ocean waves. They lap lightly against the white washed sands of Bikini Atoll. The Marshall islands - located right smack dab in the middle of nowhere - houses the tropical wonder of Bikini Atoll, which in turn houses 23 tiny islands, totaling a 3.4 square mile expanse of, more or less, paradise.
Well, if you sweep the whole nuclear testing, displacement of thousands of islanders thing under the rug.
Let's take a closer look at these islands. The water, the beach, the sky, the sand. Sand. A lot of sand. And some palm trees! How quaint.
Oh look! This particular island isn't even an island. It's a tiny hump of sand.
But things are not always as they seem. This is but the tippy tip top of the iceberg, for underneath the ocean's cover the that tiny head of sand stretches out into a sprawling slope.
Not a man in sight.
Not a sign of man in sight. No foot prints, no jet trails, no cigarette butts. No signs of any life form, really. No sea urchins or star fish -ahem, I mean sea stars. None of that nonsense.
But wait! What is this?
Could it be ?
A lone traveler struggles against the pull of those genteel waves. They're not so genteel when you're small.
Upon closer inspection, the traveler appears to be some sort of mammal. A land mammal, decked out in a fully functional astronaut suit! Or something. It's more of a tiny glass jar. It probably had pimentos in it at one point, and I'd bet money that it smells like pimentos still.
What business could a land mammal possibly have under the sea? It's unnatural. It might even be illegal. But the land mammal doesn't seem to care. Upon even closer inspection, we can identify this land mammal as a squirrel. A land squirrel. A Texan spotted ground squirrel. Xerospermophilus spilosoma, if you want to get cheeky about it. Which may be fitting considering our specimen.
And, judging by the tiny, pointed phlox stuck behind its ear, it is in fact, a she. Phlox cuspidate, again, to be cheeky. That's a flower.
[ Indistinct, accented muttering ]
She seems to be angry. I would angry, too, if I were a land squirrel.
" Daggone waves! Inconsiderate, bad mannered, bad tempered -UGH ! Makin' me leave on such a short notice. An' on a bus, no less! "
She stops momentarily, catching her breath once out of the turbulent water of the shallows. She drops her 'suitcase' (a bundle of sunflower seeds and acorn pieces tied together with a few leaves and blades of dry reed - in the classic fashion of a hobo's stick bundle) and cranes her neck upwards towards the blurry image of yellow light that might've, at one point, been a sun.
" One that I'm about to miss ! "
In a panic, she grabs her 'suitcase' and sprints down the slope, looking for any sign of civilization. The further down the squirrel goes, the less she sees.
" Oh! What in tarnation am I supposed to do now!? "
She looks back up to her watch. The sun hasn't moved, really, and it's hard to tell this far under the water. But the squirrel is adept at judging time, and as far as she knows the bus should be arriving right about now.
She looks up to her left and huffs, and then turns to look right. But right before she can even let the dejected sigh slip from her lips, something fast and black swooshes past, right above her helmeted head. She grabs onto her jar before it can fall off and looks about, eyes wide.
" S'cuse me ma'am. You looking for the bus to 'Kini Bottom? "
The squirrel snaps to attention, spinning around to face the strange creature in front of her. It's flat and floppy, black on top and gray on the underside. It takes her a minute to realize it's a skate of some sort. She recalls not knowing much about skates, other than the fact that this one was addressing her.
" Uh, oh- yes! Yes I am. "
" Well, hop on, then. "
The squirrel looked to the skate, quirking a non-existent brow.
" On? "
The skate sighs. He lowers his head to show the squirrel the school of mismatched fish, and even a lobster, sitting on his back, waiting impatiently for the squirrel to join.
She starts, and then laughs a nervous chuckle. Grabbing her nut sack, she clambers onto the skate's back, quietly excusing herself as she bumps into a few colorful looking fish. One curls a lip as her nuts brush against him. Before she can even get a steady seat, the skate zooms off.
Flustered, and a little annoyed at some of the comments her fellow passengers were making ( ' Thanks for the hold up. ' ; ' What is she, exactly ? ' ), the squirrel opts to watch the scenery, or lack thereof, pass by. Ripples of light wash through the barren, yet beautiful expanse. It's like watching the aurora borealis. She had never seen so many different shades and tones of the same color; blue, sky blue, baby blue, electric blue, deep blue, navy blue, turquoise, blue green, cerulean, phthalo, indigo, cyan, navy, berry. All existing together in lethargic swells above head, and ghosts of light weaving fat, fluid webs over the sand.
Looking up was equally as spectacular. The water's surface is about 20 feet above their heads, and it holds even more spectacular, dancing colors. The setting sun tints clouds different pinks, purples, and oranges, and it's own fiery red color washed into a kaleidoscope of vibrancy. The squirrel can't help but smile to herself.
" Maybe this won't be so bad after all. "And maybe she's right.
About 1852 meters away, the equivalent of one nautical mile (and, at a speed of three knots an hour, a distance of about 15 land minutes. Or sea minutes. They're the same really. This is relevant information, I swear.) sits a small, localized coral reef.
Well, again if you want be all technical, an atoll is a kind of coral reef.
And the islands themselves are made of limestone, sand, and coral.
But that's aside the point and you probably don't care.
The point is, from the central island (again, a lie…a central island would make the atoll a barrier reef…sorry, sorry) outwards sits different patches of reef. This particular reef sits right at the foot of the island's slope, and for this reason, is commonly referred to as Bikini Bottom.
There's plenty of colorful corals, pearl bubble coral and seafans and organ pipe coral and precious red and blue.
All the good stuff.
Scattered around the sprawling, dancing corals are sea anemones and tube worms, homes to the bustling fish, shrimp, eel, and crab population. Lazy starfish- sea star, sand dollars, and sea urchin litter any open spaces on the rock face. Small clusters of kelp and seaweed help to shroud the neighborhood, giving the community a sense of privacy and safety. It is highly coveted real estate amongst the locals. Good schools, decent eateries, all the necessities for growing fish.
Riiiight on the outskirts of 'town' there sits a large, purple clam. It waits silently; filter feeding amidst the tiny swarm of the (mostly) harmless moon jellies floating about. This is, coincidentally, right where the bus stop is. Bikini Bottom city limits.
A skate circles around overhead.
" Bikini Bottom. Watch your step. Next stop; Rock Bottom. "
The squirrel shuffles off her ride lugging her nuts in tow. With a hand over her pimento jar, she jumps from the skate's fins and gently floats to the sand.
" Thanks for the ride, ya'll. "
" Whatever. "
Three others follow her off the skate, and with that, he's gone. The squirrel turns to the fish with a polite grin.
" Hi, uh, could any one of you little sea critters help me find this cave I'm lookin' for? I'm new to the area. "
Two of the fish completely ignore her and swim off towards the reef. The last passenger, a lobster, turns and gives the squirrel a broad grin.
" I can help; I'm local! "
" I'm trying to find this. "
Sandy pulls a crumpled piece of napkin from her sack. Swirls of inky blue unfurl into the water as she unfolds it to show the lobster. On it is a crudely drawn illustration of a pinecone, a head with tentacles, and what appeared to be a nothing but a misshapen circle. She wilts a bit at his confused stare, though she wasn't entirely sure what she was expecting with such a pathetic map. That is, until the lobster snaps his claws together in excitement.
" I know just where that is! "
" Uh…you do ? "
" Yeah! I got some buddies down there. Right this way, Miss. "
" Great, thanks, uh... "
" Larry. Larry the Lobster. "
He shoves his claw into her tiny, outstretched paw and shakes vigorously.
" Huh, convenient middle and last name. I'm Sandy. Sandy Cheeks. "
Larry and Sandy trade smiles as they head off, paying no mind to that conspicuous clam out in the field.
Next chapter: a sponge, a pineapple, and an octopus that might be actually be a squid.