THE BEETLES’ STORY (…continued – Part 16)

“My children are strong.  They’ll know what to do in good time.”

“Never, a week’s too short.  You’ll need our help.  Look, here’s another proposition for you: I’ll spare your life if you keep a couple of your brood to help you out of here and leave the remaining nine with us to do as we please.”

“Sure.  I’ve heard it all before.  You’d be too happy to use them as slaves.  You’d also feed them to fatten them up and then—”

“—Think about it,” Spidey says, unmoved.

A familiar voice interrupts them:

“Dad! Dad!” the voice calls from below, down at the bottom of the tree.

Once again, there’s an unusual sight in the jungle: a young red back spider is standing at the bottom of a large tree.  It doesn’t look like a spider at all if you look at it from where Spidey and Redbeet stand, because it holds a dangling weight securely tied upon its back, a weight that is unable to get back to the ground, with two remaining legs up in the air.

“It’s me, Dad!” says the small red back at the bottom of the tree, carrying Shinybeet on its back.

But no matter how hard Spidey squints his eyes, he can’t recognize his own son from up there.

“And who might you be?” he insists, suspicious.

“Dad, I’m Spidey Jnr no seven, I followed your order and am bringing Shineybeet back.”

“Oh I see.  Is he dead?”

“No, but he sure is a dead weight.”

“Do you need help to carry him up?”

“Yes.”

Five young spiders rush down a tree trunk to help their brother.  At the sight of Shinybeet, Redbeet exclaims:

“You’ll pay for this, coward!”

Shinybeet remains silent, coy and annoyed.

“How did you get caught?  I thought you were ‘smart’.”

To be continued…

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THE BEETLES’ STORY (…continued – Part 15)

Spidey continues: “You and I must talk.  We must get to a compromise we will both agree to and your kids might get out of here alive.  What do you think of that?”

Now, circumstances so work out that Redbeet is unwilling to give in to any of Spidey’s demands.  She feels she must reverse luck to her advantage.

“I don’t like the tone of your voice,” Redbeet answers.

“Do you realise I’m adapting my voice to please you?  Did you even notice how softly I’m speaking to you in order not to upset nor offend your sensitive nature?”

“This is precisely what concerns me, your smooth talking voice, shallow as anything.  We must all get out of here alive, mustn’t we?” Redbeet retorts.

“I’ve come here to offer you a truce,” Spidey says, “knowing this isn’t going to be easy.”

“How could I trust you?”

“I know, I know, but consider this, Redbeet,” Spidey carries on in her flat-tone, not-to-be-trusted-voice, “the plan is that in a week’s time, we’re going to have you for dinner.  I realise what this sounds like but wait, here comes the good part: I’m prepared to offer you a deal in which your entire family is set free, but first you must—”

“—there’s no must.  I want to be able to leave this place with my children, untouched, unharmed and with a few of your lot to accompany us to the edge of the jungle and help us settle onto safe grounds.”

“You can’t even walk by yourself, how can you consider leaving this place?”

“By the end of this week, my children will be able to carry me out of here.”

“I wouldn’t be so sure if I were you.  Besides, your bast…, your children are at infant stage.  In a week’s time, you’ll be very lucky if they can manage to feed themselves without your help, let alone lift you.”

To be continued…

THE BEETLES’ STORY (…continued – Part 14)

But while Spidey Jnr. no seven is wandering the jungle in search of Shinybeet, and while his brothers and sisters are tending to the welfare of a young unpredictable cross-breed, Spidey believes it is time he had a meaningful conversation with Redbeet.  This conversation would balance and re-establish the natural ways and order expected in nature and in the jungle, at least in the way Spidey sees it.  After all, he thinks, not only are beetles incapable of honesty but the agenda of a beetle who has tampered with the laws of nature and given birth to a brood of mutants is that of a devil insect too.  To think that a beetle has mated with a member of the arachnid family is beyond belief.  The resulting cross breed is going to break havoc in the jungle by altering nature’s delicate balance of species.  It is more than any insect can bear, more than Spidey can bear, especially.  It is disgusting, profane and wicked too.  In fact, such foul deed must not and cannot be left unpunished.  Chaos, even in the jungle’s chaotically prone environment will not be tolerated.  Spidey is on a mission: he will put his name forward for the presidency of this section of the jungle with a plan to exterminate the unwelcome alien beetle intruders.

“Redbeet,” Spidey begins, with gentleness, polite and in a tone of voice so smooth and unlike what Redbeet has heard from Spidey so far that she recognises at once a shady and shoddy business deal is about to be mentioned and that her life and that of others depend on it.

To be continued…

THE BEETLES’ STORY (…continued – Part 13)

“Mutiny!” Spidey roars.

They all turn and look at him in the eye, defiant.

“Get me out!” Redbeet then screams, unable to resist the temptation to interfere and make himself heard.

“Spidey Jnr. no seven,” Spidey orders, “go get Shinybeet!  He tricked us.  Get him back here fast!”

“What should I tell him” Spidey Jnr. no seven asks.

“You’ll know when the time comes.”

“Why me?”

“Catch him or don’t bother coming back!  Spidey Jnr no one to six and eight to fifteen, on my order, set Redbeet back on what remains of its limbs, feed it and ensure her babies are feeding from her.”

There is a strange sight in the jungle.  No one has ever seen it before: fourteen young spiders are looking after eleven baby mutants and their beetle mother, showing them around, getting them tiny, microscopic bugs for food.

Redbeet, with her two remaining legs, then pulls her body and drags it towards shelter, under a giant leaf.  She fears going too far because she’s on top of a tree, in a jungle she doesn’t know.  She has a deadline: one week.  One week to digest sufficient food to regain her strength, to feed her brood and to somehow get out of here.

On his way to find Shinybeet, Spidey Jnr no seven recognises the tell-tale signs Shinybeet was here not so long ago: the trail of an awfully pungent odour, that of a beetle’s urine, is emanating from the surroundings.  It won’t be hard to find the stinking beetle.  But how will he convince Shinybeet to follow him he wonders.  What kind of argument do you use to convince a beetle to follow a spider famous for its deadly sting and cannibalistic rituals?  Shinybeet will be suspicious and on his guards.

To be continued…

THE BEETLES’ STORY (…continued – Part 12)

“You insisted I talk.  Redbeet has to feed her babies or else they’ll die.”

“Let it be then.  Have you anything else to add?”

“Dad, the—“

“—you may address me as Spidey Senior.”

At that point, most of the young spiders in rank either roll up their eyes to the sky in disbelief or sigh loudly.

“Spidey Snr.,” Spidey Jnr. no three interrupts, “the babies are a cross between beetles and spiders.”

“That’s precisely what I suspected.  A cross breed, mutants of the third kind.  We don’t need them.  Feeding them would cost us a fortune and for what purpose I ask you?” Dad remarks.

“Dad,” Spidey Jnr. no three continues, “they’e partly our own kind.  It is well known that a cross between species results in a stronger, sturdier and a better equipped species.  It is one that can adapt to any environment and a wide range of living conditions.  We could use them.  They could be our servants and our slaves.”

“And how do you suppose we’re going to feed the bloody scavengers?”

“If my calculations are correct, in less than a week they’ll be strong enough to get their own food and could help us build up our supplies.  Until then, Redbeet could help us feed them until they can manage by themselves.”

All heads are turned towards Spidey Jnr. no three, in sheer awe.

“You’re too young to be able to decide anything yet,” Spidey Snr. exclaims.  “I’m the one giving orders here.  I do not want to hear any more unsolicited suggestions from any of you, is this clear?”

“Or else what?” one young spiders dares to utter.

“Who said that?” bellows their angry father.

At that very moment fifteen young spiders decide to turn their back on their father.

To be continued…

THE BEETLES’ STORY (…continued – Part 11)

“Dad, they’re really furry and have lots of legs,” a young spider insists.

“What’s that about ‘lots of legs’” Dad queries.

“Eight of them.  They look a lot like spiders.”

“That’s impossible.”

“Come and look, Dad.”

“What have we here?” thunders Spidey, “A cross breed?  How repulsive!  Who the hell did you mate with, you dirty, disgusting, dysfunctional insect?”

Baby no 5 and 6 come out one straight after the other.

“Please, I beg you, don’t make a meal of them” an exhausted Redbeet begs.

“We don’t eat furry mutant species,” says Spidey, “whatever they are.  They resemble some type of spider; I’ll decide what to do with them when you’re finished with this giving birth of yours.”

“How are my babies doing?” Redbeet asks.

But she isn’t finished and she feels the urge to push again.  This time, another four youngsters come out almost simultaneously.  In all, eleven are born: there are four girls and seven boys.

“They’re cute and friendly, Dad” one of Spidey’s brood ventures.

“Don’t you get attached to them, they’re the enemy.  For now, we must satisfy our hunger”.

“Are you feeling better?” Spidey asks Redbeet.

“I might have more coming, I can’t tell.”

“Your time is over,” a ruthless, knowing Spidey says.  “Children!” he yells, “on my order, take up ranks.”

Fifteen spiders line up, from smallest to tallest.  Amongst the youngest, five are crying.

“No emotions in the rank!” Spidey commands, “are you your father’s top spiders or not?”

To no avail, one spider breaks down and begins to cry its heart out.

“Spidey Jnr. no seven, haven’t you learned anything?  Are you sick?”

Spidey Jnr. no seven is unable to answer.

“Wait till I report this to your Mum,” Spidey threatens.

But the young spider has lost control and is inconsolable.

“Get up and look me in the eye!” Spidey blasts.

At last, Spidey Jnr. no seven gets up, tears still streaming, barely able to contain its sorrow.

“Speak or be gone!” Spidey demands.

“Dad…”

“I’m listening.”

“I don’t think we should eat Redbeet.”

“Oh, that’s what it is, is it?  And who might you think you are?  None of my sons and daughters is to give an opinion until it is fully grown and has matured enough to feed itself alone in the wilderness.  It’s the rule of nature.  I teach, you obey.”

To be continued…

THE BEETLES’ STORY (…continued – Part 10)

But Redbeet is saying the truth: she is unwell.  She’s having a fit.  She’s struggling and begs:

“NO, NO, NO, LEAVE ME ALONE.  AAAAAAAAAAAAAAAH!”

Her grating, ghastly scream surprises them all.  Redbeet has turned green.  They believe her now.

Spidey, puzzled and pissed off orders them to stop.  God knows what tricks beetles can come up with, he wonders.  As fate has it, the unexpected arrives feet first: a reddish insect scarcely reminiscent of a beetle is pushing its way out of its mother’s belly.

“Dad,” says one baby spider, “aren’t beetles supposed to come out of larvae?”

“I don’t know, Spidey Jnr. no 9, this one is definitely doing things in a different way.  These days, anything that can happen will happen.  Besides, I’m out of touch with progress on genetics.”

But a second insect-supposed-to-be-a-beetle is now crawling on top of its brother already on the floor, just beside their pushing mother.

“Is it a boy or a girl?” Redbeet attempts, out of breath.

“But Dad,” says another young spider, “beetles haven’t changed their birth giving habits, it’s got nothing to do with the progress of genetics.”

“It’s a boy and his sister,” answers another of Spidey’s kids from the back.

“I don’t know what’s true or not anymore,” says Spidey, “I’ve heard all sorts of theories about it.  It doesn’t really matter does it?  This stupid beetle is giving birth to fully formed creatures that ought to be in her own image but…”

“I don’t feel well,” Redbeet continues.

“Keep pushing” Spidey instructs.

“You’re going to eat my babies, won’t you?” a desperate Redbeet asks.

“Dad,” says another young spider, Redbeet’s babies are kind of furry.”

A third baby is born.

“Are you done?” Spidey asks.

“How would I know?”

“You still in pain?”

A fourth baby comes out.

To be continued…