Corey burst from the sand into the cool night air. He waved his tiny sea turtle legs wildly, pulling himself onto the surface. The white sand around him bubbled to life, exposing the heads of his brothers and sisters digging their ways out as well. Nobody ever told him his name was Corey, he just knew. He knew the same way that he knew to aim for the sea, or to avoid the gnashing bird beaks on the way.
Now, above the sand, the long process of digging finally over, his muscles ached. He, though, was far from done. The next stage was a sprint through the deep sand of the beach to the crashing waves. Even then, though, he couldn’t rest until after he paddled his little heart out to sea, paddling for almost an entire day. Corey worried briefly that his muscles might not hold up if they were tiring already. Had he overexerted himself while digging out? He had been the first to make it to the surface, maybe that was because the others knew something he didn’t.
Knowing that worrying wouldn’t bring his strength back, he shook his head to clear his mind and charged down the sand toward the water. He could hear the waves crashing in the distance, the sound seeming to come from all directions at once, but he knew he was headed the right way.
A few of his brothers and sisters had passed him and he started to fall behind a little. One of them was Jill, she hadn’t done really any of the work during the dig. Now, though, she was running ahead. She was going to make it down the beach faster, it wasn’t fair. He tried to run faster but his muscles burned so badly that he had to settle for just glaring at her while pushing along at his slower pace. He watched her get further and further in front of him.
Then, suddenly, the birds were attacking. Corey watched Jill get snapped up by a black beaked monster. Cold terror coursed through his cold blooded veins as he pushed on, watching another bird swoop in and try to take Jill from the first. The two birds pulled on her and Corey could hear her flesh give way as she was torn in half. Next he saw Mark get snatched up from his left in a spray of sand and carnage. Corey wondered if maybe he could turn back, but didn’t dare take the time to look behind him.
A beak landed in an explosion of sand no more than a fin’s width from his head as a bird missed. Corey charged on. He charged on when the last of those ahead of him were snatched up by vicious beaks. He charged on after another bird snatched him up, but fumbled him, dropping him back into the sand intact but with a long, deep gash in his shell. He charged on until his muscles screamed for him to stop. But then the sand started to feel damp beneath his flippers and he knew he was getting close.
He could hear the birds screeching as they snapped up his brothers and sisters, but he also heard the frantic shuffle of flippers on sand just behind him as some of them navigated their way through the bloodbath.
A wave crashed and reached up the beach towards him, it stopped so close that he could feel moisture come off of it onto his face, but it turned around and headed back down the beach without him. He charged on. The sticky sensation under his flippers slowed him down, but it meant that if he could just survive until the next wave he would be free of the birds.
He charged on, pulling each step from where it sunk deep in the sand. There was a loud crash of another wave, then water started to rush up towards him and Corey thought, finally, that he was going to make it.
But then there was a quick snap and he was lifted into the air by a bird who thought, “Glad I caught that one, wasn’t sure I’d have enough energy for migration.”
Then the bird ate Corey and it was excruciatingly painful for the baby turtle, because that’s how nature works.