The Hinged Shell of Victory

by toddfisk

His heart and mind raced. His focus was impenetrable. The blazing sun, the other competitors, the roar of the crowd, the rest of the universe ceased to exist. There was only himself, and the white striped red rubber of the track stretching out ahead of him. As the crack of the starting pistol shattered his inner silence, Doug the Clam started his first men’s 1000 meter at the prestigious University of San Francisco Track and Field arena. He was off to a strong start, and mentally and physically settled into a rhythm almost immediately.
Born off the coast of northern Oregon, Doug the Clam wasn’t raised in a conventional geoduck household. Adopted when he was 3 days old, Doug had been brought up by a stern Sea Cucumber father, and a swarthy Greek conger eel mother. It could be argued that these useless/murderous sea beasts were unfit to raise a fine mollusk of Doug’s caliber, but he loved them all the same, and they had treated him well. As far back as he could remember, Doug had wanted to run. His confused and mentally nonexistent parents had always encouraged him to follow his heart, though they sometimes wept bitterly as he “practiced” sprints pathetically in the backyard. These sprints consisted mainly of sluggishly burrowing along through the sewage infused mud at the bottom of the bay.
As Doug grew up, he excelled in school, and became a proficient filter feeder. In his teens (because clams mature at the same rate as humans), Doug the Clam quickly rose to fame as the fastest bivalve at Columbia Sewage Estuary High School. After earning a 4.0 gpa, he was readily accepted into SFU and awarded a full ride academic scholarship. He had walked on to the track and field team. It was speculated by his worthless fleshy lump of a reef dwelling father that Doug’s presence and participation in the athletic program was widely, if not entirely overlooked by everyone. Standing only 1″ tall, and not really noticeable at all, Doug received very little coaching, and rarely spoke with his teammates. In fact, he never spoke to anyone ever. No one at the college seemed to speak geoduck, much less sea cucumber or conger eel. As a result, Doug was usually lonely, and more than a little depressed. But on race days, all that disappeared, and he felt that in “running”, he was truly free.
Doug the Clam breathed deep controlled breaths as he rounded the last curve in the track and began his sprint to the finish. Nothing could compare to the way he felt in this moment. His muscles burned and he felt as though his spiracles would burst with every stride as he pushed harder, until finally, stretching his grotesque siphon as far ahead as he could, he crossed the finish line. Quickly, he glanced (with his clam eyes?) at the race clock atop the announcer’s booth. What he saw filled him with an indescribable elation: 7 days, 19 hours, 26 minutes and 8 seconds. A personal best! And certainly the fastest a geoduck has ever burrowed 1000 meters using his face as a shovel! There was no crowd as it was 2:17 AM a week after the race had started, but it didn’t matter. Doug the Clam become the first mollusk track and field participant ever.