Glass Bone People: Civilization, Pacific RNN (approximately 654 feet under the surface of the water); discovered January 12, 1944 by Esther Marks (see entry, E). Far away from land, just underneath the surface of the ocean water, sits a small village where the people have weak, glass bones. This is the only place these people can survive, because on the surface, their glass bones break apart at the slightest contact. But here, just barely under the sea (in what some people like to call the sunlight zone, see volume S), they can live without the threat of breaking into a million pieces when they take a step.
The glass bone people live generally simple lives. In the morning, the men scour the sea bed gathering seaweed. The woman hunt small fish, usually anchovy, but occasionally a sardine. They combine and cook these over volcano vents near the village.
These people are led by Ewald, and before her, her mother, Wulf, and before her, her mother, Exuperius, and before her, we do not have records. The records, in case you’re wondering, are etched into stone, then stored inside bottles and other land-people trash found near the village. The glass bone people do not communicate with those on the surface directly, but they leave records, histories, and notes. It is in our nature to record our existence, whether we have solid bones or glass bones, or we live in the ocean or on land.
The glass bone people are generally peaceful. After all, they have no major threats. Only a handful of surface people know of their existence, and those who do tend to let the glass bone people be. They could be turned into a sideshow, but that’s a fleeting thing, and beyond that they don’t have resources or scientific knowledge, so it’s best to leave them as they are. The glass bone people are fine with this, and keep to themselves. They tend not to quarrel with each other, as even a slow moving punch underwater would result in a broken arm or leg. What’s worth risking such a thing, anyway?
Under the sea, there isn’t much in the way of an economy. They barter, occasionally, if you want to call it that, but the very idea of ownership in the underwater village is non-existent. And without ownership, an economy is pointless.
Hunting, gathering, and cleaning are the main activities. It isn’t easy to keep the village clean under the sea. Lot of random trash drifts in throughout the day, and occasionally a whale carcass will force an entire neighborhood to take weeks off from their basic duties to clean everything up. But everyone does their part, not always out of some selfless desire for the well-being of the village, but because if you don’t, you end up with a stinky, gross house, and nobody wants that.
The glass bone people do a lot of storytelling, and naturally that leads to religions and myths. The jelly figure tale is one of the most popular such myths, especially amongst the children. In fact, once a year, around this time, the village throws a large festival in honor of the jelly figure.
Imagine a person with no bones, who can float and live in the sea, unhindered by the worry of their glass skeletons shattering into a million pieces. This jelly figure travels around the ocean, exploring every depth, meeting new people and new creatures at every turn.
One day, the jelly figure came across a mad angler fish. The angler fish was upset because it was ill. The only way to cure its illness was by eating the male genitalia of a shrimp. “But I can’t find any shrimp here,” said the angler fish to the jelly figure. “You must save me, and capture a shrimp! I have but one week left to live.” The angler fish threatened the jelly figure, telling it that it’d eat it instead of the shrimp, even if it didn’t cure anything. Fearful, the jelly figure agreed to find a shrimp willing to help.
Floating through the ocean, the jelly figure came across many shrimp, and frantically asked if any might be willing to give up their genitalia for an angler fish. The shrimp laughed at the request. “Why would we help that old codger out? He’s rude, mean, and eats us up!” But one shrimp wasn’t paying much attention, and agreed to the jelly figure’s request because it was bored living in shrimp town and wanted a reason to see the rest of the world.
The two travelled back to the angler fish, filling time with small talk. In a moment of quiet, the jelly figure, uneasy with silence, thanked the shrimp for being willing to sacrifice its genitalia to the angler fish. The shrimp, startled, said, “Oh, I didn’t realize I needed to bring that with me. I left it back at my house. We’ll have to go back.” The jelly figure, annoyed, relented, and the two returned. “I just have to go get it,” the shrimp said, then wandered off underneath a rock.
When the shrimp returned, it smiled at the jelly figure and apologized. “Why are you apologizing, little shrimp?” asked the jelly figure. “It turns out I’m a female shrimp now, and cannot help you. You should have paid more attention to shrimp biology in your travels.” The jelly figure gestured something we’d call a frown, then left. It didn’t understand such things, because it didn’t have such things itself. It could hear the laughter of the all the shrimp behind it.
The jelly figure returned to the angler fish, explained itself, then apologized, telling the angler fish it just needed more time. But the angler fish, even though it was near death, had enough strength left it in to give the jelly figure a good beating. Of course, without bones or much a form, the beating didn’t do much good. The angler fish died from the exertion.
Every year, the glass bone people tell this story, and celebrate the stupid but lucky jelly figure with dolls, statues, and a parade.