Hercules in a Yugo! Part 2: Hercules and the Crabs
After posting the opening chapter here, I decided that the best place for “Hercules in a Yugo!” was at a fan fiction site. The adventure so far can be read here. However, I think I will probably continue to post about the project here, including more self-contained “episodes”. Here’s something I consider especially fitting for the purpose:
it came to pass that the Mighty Hercules drove his Jugo 45 past a cave by the sea. As they passed the cave, a large crab darted out of the cave and halted in their path. Before the hero could think to swerve, a rear wheel went over the crab, and the the tire burst. Hercules hit the brakes, and without turning off his engine he jumped out to change the tire. The spare was under the hood behind the grill, and the heat and fumes from the engine scalded the hero’s hands and reddened his eyes. Cursing, he set down the spare and started to lift the car, but lost his grip and dropped the car on his own toes. Theseus stepped in and used the jack. Hercules popped off the hubcap with his storied Crowbar, and when several lugs were stubborn against his wrench and tire iron, he generously applied his own teeth.
Hercules looked back at the cave. The sound of the tide could be heard from somewhere in the depths. But over it, and growing nearer and louder, could be heard a strange clicking. Seeing the king’s unease, armorbearer Iolaus climbed out of the back seat and picked up the Crowbar. Then Theseus pointed. From out of the cave came another great crab, or else the same one somehow survived, advancing with the sound of like metal castanets. Its carapace was as wide as a man’s breast and covered with sharp spines as big as nails, and its whole shell was made of gleaming steel. While Hercules fumbled with the tire with ever-mounting curses, the armor bearer strode forward to meet the crab. But the creature dodged a blow and darted past, and then Hercules gave a fouler curse than usual. Iolaus whirled to see the crab gripping the hero’s already-injured toes.
Iolaus ran to help his uncle with the crowbar raised, but Theseus halted him with a raised hand. “For now, the creature only grips,” he warned. “If you attack it, it may rend and crush, even in death.”
“Give me the crowbar,” Hercules said, glaring into the crab’s glowing eyes, “and I will kill it if it takes my whole foot off.”
“Go ahead, smash me to pieces if you can,” said the crab. “Your doom is sealed.”
“It speaks!” Theseus exclaimed.
The lamps of the crab’s eyes shifted toward him, their beams narrowing and brightening. “I am Cancer, Lord of the Crabs. I grip the wounded foot, and my people follow me. That cave is our home, whose walls no creature may climb, but we use it as shelter from our enemies, and when the rising tides threaten to drown us, we ascend together, every crab helping his brothers. Then we lay ourselves under foot, and when one of us wounds the heel of a passerby, he takes hold, to slow the prey till others arrive and add their weight, more and more until the prey is overcome and dragged to the cave, and then we all of us feed. Do you hear the sound from the cave? Do you see the lights in the deep? It is my people coming to the feast!” Indeed, as he spoke, another crab skittered from the mouth of the cave, and another, and another, while scores and hundred of pairs of glowing eyes rose like a great swarm of fireflies from the darkness behind them.
“So,” Hercules said, “you hunt the weak and the crippled? Then I shall give you sport!” He snatched the crowbar from Iolaus and struck, not at the carapace of Cancer but the legs, and three feet were crushed by the mighty blow.
Cancer, unfazed, turned his eyes to the first two of his fellows. “Come my brothers,” he declared with a wave of one of his claws, “and take hold of this man who thinks he can turn crabs against their king! Wait! Halt! I am your king!” The nearest crab snapped a pincer at King Cancer, who had to parry with his free claw. Then a second crab seized him from behind and started to drag him back, and the King of Crabs let go of the hero to fight off his subjects. A stab of his claw severed a leg from the crab that held him, but a slash of the other could not stop the other crab from taking hold of him. Then two more crabs grabbed hold of the one the king had maimed, only adding to the strength that pulled upon the King.
Then with a sweep of the crowbar, the mighty Hercules sent the lot of them tumbling into the cave, to crash into their fellows with more crunching of shells, and the rest withdrew back into the cave as the mass of wounded and entrapped tumbled down and down. Whether the crabs killed Cancer their king, or held him in the depths until they drowned together, no tales tell. But it was said that ever after, a curse of the gods was placed upon the kin of the treacherous crabs, so that whenever two or more crabs fell into a trap, they would never again join their strength to gain their freedom, but only grip each other in enmity until they perished together.