Aspersa: Nothing like a nice slither in the rain. That dry concrete is so hard on the foot.
Helix: I get more mileage in the rain. Two millimeters per second rather than the usual one per second on dry pavement.
Aspersa: I love the rainy season in Japan!
Helix: I think I’ll stop off at this hydrangea and rest for a while.
Aspersa: But Helix, we must go visit Grandma Gerty now while the pavement is still wet.
Helix: You go ahead, Mom. I’ll follow your slime trail and catch up with you later.
Aspersa: C’mon son! A snail like you will get eaten alive in no time sitting out there like that in full view.
Helix: Mom, stop worrying. I’m almost 2 years old now, nearly an adult! I can take care of myself.
Aspersa: I’m tuning my antennas into the weather forecast right now. More rain. Lovely! Remember, Grandma Gerty is 5 years old and hasn’t got much time left. I do hope you come along as soon as possible.
Helix: I will, Mom. Besides, I noticed an art class around this area yesterday. I think they’d like to draw me sitting on this hydrangea leaf.
Aspersa: Helix, you’re so vain!
Helix: What, Mom? I can’t hear you.
Aspersa: What is that stuck in your ears?!
Helix: The new gPod. All my gastroPod friends have them. You can listen to music, gastropodcasts, and even watch videos.
Aspersa: Well, when I was your age, we had soft shell music. Not this fast, hard shell banging music. You kids are losing your morals.
Helix: Our what? Sorry, Mom, you’ll have to speak up. I’m listening to The Hermaphrodites.
Aspersa: The Hermaphrodites?
Helix: They’re a cool new hip hop group, second only to the Giant African Snails.
Aspersa: Well, don’t be long. And be sure to eat plenty of healthy leaves, fungi and other organic debris along the way.
Helix: No worries, Mom. Us young snails can eat anything. Even dead animals.
Aspersa: Helix, don’t act so “antiherbivorous!”
Helix: Sorry, Mom, it was just a “sluggestion.” Now be on your way, here comes the art class!
Student 1: Wow, look, there’s a snail on this hydrangea leaf! Kawaii!
Student 2: Hey, he’s dancing!
Student 3: Quick, get out your paintbrushes!
And so Helix had the audience he had always hoped for. He danced and gyrated and did all his hip-hop moves on the leaf while listening to The Hermaphrodites. The students drew his every move, fascinated with this dancing snail. He was famous.
Helix had so much fun that by the time the art students left, he was feeling very exhausted and fell fast asleep on the hydrangea leaf.
He woke up a few days later and realized he didn’t have enough time to get to Gerty’s house. Even at 2 millimeters per second, it would take him two days to travel the 300 meters to Gerty’s cabbage patch.
When he spotted a passing tanuki raccoon dog wearing a bottle of sake around his waist, he got an idea. “Hey, tanuki! I bet you can’t win a race against me.” The tanuki laughed at him, took a swig of sake and accepted the challenge to race the snail to Gerty’s cabbage patch.
While the tanuki took off toward the cabbage patch, Helix secretly hitched a ride on his tail.
The tanuki arrived at Gerty’s in no time. When he heard the snail’s voice behind him, he turned around to face him but the snail wasn’t there. “Over here!” yelled Helix after having jumped off the tanuki’s tail when he had turned around. Helix had landed right in front of Gerty’s cabbage. “See? I won!”
Aspersa and Grandma Gerty were waiting for Helix under Gerty’s cabbage. They all had a good feast on the cabbage and Helix told of his 15 minutes of fame with the art students while the rain pitter-pattered above. Asperba and Helix stayed the entire rainy season.
In mid-July, Grandma Gerty passed away. They covered her with dirt and started their long slither back home. Luckily, Helix had brought along an extra pair of headphones so he and his mother could listen to some of those old, soft shell music tunes on his gPod which Helix had found when searching the Decayed Matter Gastroppdcast archives.