From Hamster Central WIKI
Migration has long been a trait of the hamster – we’ve moved thousands of miles, sometimes, to begin new colonies in far-off lands and then, for just as good a reason, sent out hamsters from the new settlement to re-populate the place from where we came.
We enjoy new things – whether it be foods, new terrain or simply the smell of a new plant, the taste of a new berry. The point is that we like to experience the unusual, the never-before-tried, whenever we can.
I guess that’s why the first hamster pioneers arrived alongside the settlers in the American West, pushing back the boundaries of Hamsterdom until most of the world fell under our influence. Even today, some of the hamsters kept as pets in cages throughout California can trace their ancestry back to rodents who first travelled from the Eastern Seaboard and, further still, back to colonies in ‘Old World’ Europe.
The migrating community about which I want to write lived, for some reason only known to them, on a glacier that rested on the outer shores of the coast of Greenland, a hardy band of rodents who’d created a burrow complex in ice over two centuries, lining each walkway with material from the discarded clothes of human settlers.
Perhaps some ship or other had run aground here on its quest for a new land further west? Perhaps they’d travelled across land and permafrost heading east? No one’s quite sure how they came to be where they were, but they soon came to the unanimous decision that they wanted to migrate.
For the past few years, they’d watched the ice sheet crack and slip into the ocean, making its way out into the straits, southward, to warmer and sunnier climes, their own burrows inching closer each season until, on that fateful year, they were so close to the water’s edge that they knew – just knew – that, come spring, their community would find itself afloat, away from land, destined for another.
With stores stocked to capacity, the sudden thaw came without warning - although it didn’t take the community by surprise. For some weeks now, they’d been wary of going too far away from the burrow in case a crack in the ice would strand them afar off, unable to return.
As it was, when the first faint sounds of breaking were heard, they were nearly all ‘below ice’, feeling the shuddering of the event as if some great monster was rousing itself into life. Wrapping themselves round one another to lessen the impact of the ice into the water - and pulling the cushion of mosses and lichens around the compartment - they waited for the sudden drop and splash that would signal that their voyage was underway.
They didn’t have to wait long and, when the jolt finally arrived, they squeaked their excitement - even though many felt nauseous.
Letting the iceberg settle in the ocean, they dealt with seasickness the best they could until their dizziness was replaced with a calm that had them clambering over one another to the surface to see where they were.
Just ten yards from the ice, they saw what they wanted. Totally surrounded by ocean, they gently glided from the sight of land, gaining speed all the while until, at last, they were moving southwards, bound for some tropical paradise, they hoped, and a new start, a new adventure.
It was taking longer than they’d anticipated. They’d been afloat almost two weeks and still no sight of land. What was more, their food supply was fast diminishing even though they’d called for a community-wide reduction in what was being eaten.
Even so, they calculated that it wouldn’t be much more than a week before their rations would be infinitely small and too scant to support them. Although one might have expected desperation to kick in, they never lost sight of their goal and continually posted a lookout - both day and night - in case any sign, any slight promise of a new home could be anticipated.
It was on one evening in April that the watchman shouted ‘Land ahoy!’ down the entrance and the community exited as one ham into the darkness.
‘Where?’ one squeaked. ‘What do you see?’ The lookout pointed with an outstretched paw ‘In the distance - look! Don’t you see the lights?’ Was that a light? They strained their eyes willing it to be a new continent and, sure enough, first one, then another, confirmed it.
‘A light!’ one shouted - but they soon realised that all was not well. Having been watching the current and movement of the water, they knew they were moving - as they faced the light in the distance - to their right. But the distant object was growing ever larger even though they knew they weren’t headed towards it.
Then it dawned on them - whatever it was, it was heading straight towards them at a considerable speed, massing itself upon them to tower over their position even when much water still lay between themselves and its bow. ‘Humans!’ one shouted.
All was not yet lost - perhaps these were friendly souls, willing to take on board a bundle of rodents as they sailed for a brave new world?
They began waving, squeaking as loud as they could over the roar of the increasingly loud wake of the ship - some even put their paws out over the edge of the iceberg as if trying to stop a bus.
But it was all to no avail. ‘It’s not stopping’ the realisation suddenly dawned on them ‘Quick! The rudder!’ ‘Icebergs don’t have rudders, you idiot!’ the reply was squeaked back with a fair amount of panic. ‘Get below and prepare for impact!’
Barely making it in time, they braced themselves, feeling the scraping sound of metal on ice as their home sliced a gash in the side of the ship, pushing their home violently before it so that the hamsters found themselves catapulted into neighbouring compartments.
As the iceberg began to settle, they took stock of the damage and were pleased to discover that no breach had been made through their tunnels. Settling down to sleep off their frightening experience, they abandoned the lookout for the night and drifted off into a sound sleep.
The next morning found them bleary eyed, recounting the events of last night and fearing for their own safety. Gingerly, they ascended onto the ‘deck’ of the iceberg and surveyed their surroundings. Nothing.
No evidence of anything that had taken place the night before. Except...
...yes, there was debris all over the place - it was clearly visible wherever they looked. Wooden planks, sheared off with violence, floated in the water along with sodden paper and items that were obviously human but which seemed to have little or no purpose. Human clothes also drifted alongside their progress, bobbing above the waves every now and then when the current dictated.
As they turned to look back, away from where the sea was taking them, they drew back with surprise as each of them saw - at the same time - a large wooden crate with writing over its side, skidded to a halt on the iceberg.
Apprehensive at first, they scampered over and sniffed apples through gaps in the wood. ‘Food!’ one squeaked ‘We can stock our supplies!’ Gnawing through the timber proved difficult and time consuming but they had little else to do. As they removed the last red, juicy fruit from inside the crate, a rodent pointed to the writing on the side and commented: ‘Oh, look! Titanic!’ pausing a moment before reflecting ‘That must be the name of the variety. After all, they are big apples...’
Written by forum member arlev