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Then there were six - Joel Hall

Earlier this summer, I satisfied one of my childhood curiosities and purchased Sea Monkeys "In the City" Mini World from a local grocery store, just to see what would happen, and to know beyond a shadow of a doubt whether Sea Monkeys were real.

To my surprise, the creatures living in cryostasis inside a magical packet of dust were, in fact, quite real. Soon after starting my Sea Monkey colony, my glass dome -- complete with miniature crosswalks, cars, and skyscrapers -- was bustling with life.

In about one month's time, the little, white pebbles which lay dormant on the dome's floor had turned into several dozen floating white specs, all moving independently of each other. In about 3 months, the Sea Monkeys had grown in size, swam consciously throughout the bowl, and had even started mating with each other.

Inside my little dome was the height of Sea Monkey civilization. If they had any tools or outside resources, they may have very well built Sea Monkey schools, universities, and hospitals by that point.

However, it has now been almost six months since I started the colony, and now the Sea Monkey City is a very different place.

Without a filter, the water has become a rather gelatinous primordial ooze. Sometimes, the waters will evaporate below the skyscraper line and I'll refill it with purified drinking water. Now, however, large water bubbles idle at the meniscus before congregating with the rest of the soupy mixture.

Once clean and free of debris, the Sea Monkey City looks more like the stuff of "I Am Legend." Nature has reclaimed the city, as algae lines the streets and grows over the storefronts and skyscrapers.

Of the many Sea Monkey citizens who once called Sea Monkey Manor their home, only six remain.

Of the six, one of them is huge in comparison to the others. With it's tail, it probably measures a whole centimeter. He may very well be the next generation in Sea Monkey evolution, so I started calling him "Mr. Big."

His polar opposite is another Sea Monkey who is smaller than the others, but for some reason happens to be black.

"Mr. Black," for lack of a more creative name, seems to be kind of a loner. He spends a lot of time at the bottom of the tank, pondering and foraging for algae by himself.

While the others are mating and swimming carelessly through the city ruins, Mr. Black spends his time deep in thought. Maybe he knows that the end is near.

The four other Sea Monkeys seem not to grasp the gravity of the situation, but perhaps the end of Sea Monkey civilization is nigh. Only time will tell.

Joel Hall covers goverment and politics for the Clayton News Daily. He can be reached via e-mail at jhall@news-daily.com.