Author: H.E. Shippas
On a balmy winter’s day in Arizona, a man crawled out of Lake Xochimilco. This wasn’t any ordinary man as this man had been born with the axolotls. He was labeled the “Axolotl Man.” He told the press his name was Steve, but the nickname stuck.
“How were you born?” they asked.
The axolotl man said, “Like all axolotls.”
“Why are you a man?”
The axolotl man shrugged. “I don’t know, why are you?”
The government tested him but couldn’t find an answer. The scientists said, “His DNA is, for all intents and purposes, Ambystoma mexicanum, but his epigenome acts human.”
That was just a lot of words for “We don’t know and we don’t have the funding to care.” The government didn’t need a man who was an axolotl, so they abandoned trying to figure it out. The axolotl man still volunteered for testing, he wanted to do something for the people who cared about him.
When the government released him, the press got their hands on him again. He was a spectacle: everyone wanted to see if he was real or if the internet made him up. There were books, movies, a media circuit.
He was asked what he wanted, all he said was, “I want to make my home a little bigger.”
Everyone thought that request was great, he was great. Promises were made, there were talks of expanding the lake for any more axolotl people that might come around.
“Do you think you’ll have any children? Can you have children?” people asked.
This made him uncomfortable, he would chuckle, “I would have to think about it, I don’t really know.”
He was a star, everyone wanted to help him. But as he appreciated none of the attention, the people got angry.
“Aren’t axolotls endangered?” one person asked.
“Yeah, shouldn’t you be doing more for the betterment of your people?” another intrusive person questioned.
“Why me?” the axolotl man would ask.
No one had an answer. “It would help if we at least preserved my home,” he pleaded to his audiences.
More talks and promises were made. Signs were put up next to the lake. At some point, it was a bigger tourist destination. The government and five different nature reservation organizations had to step in, the increase in human traffic led to worsening conditions. They blamed the axolotl man.
His books were no longer selling, no one wanted him on TV, but he still begged for help.
“Why should we help you? You only wanted attention,” one complained.
“I bet he’s not really an axolotl, just one big gimmick,” another gossiped.
“Why would I do that? I just want my family to be safe, to be happy, to live!” the axolotl man cried.
His family was almost gone, most of which were moved out of the lake. The axolotl man had nowhere to go but labs that wanted to test on him. He volunteered for all sorts of testing, he wanted to belong somewhere.
He couldn’t live with the humans, they hated him. He didn’t understand why, not many did. “It’s his fault the axolotls had to be moved!” some shouted.
“Go back to your scummy pond!” another taunted.
It didn’t matter, the axolotl man had nowhere to go. As everything grew to be hot and he found no waters to live in, the axolotl man had one final request: “Can you at least take care of your own homes, please?”