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Chapter 2

     The Story The Authors
"My name iz Gregor, und I vill be your maitre'de dis effenink. Vould sir like a table?" hissed the dapper cockroach, "Ze floorshow, she is about to be beginink."
Muff dropped the flask which hit the floor with loud clank. Gregor's antennae waggled a bit and snapped with the end of one of his forelegs. The empty flask was immediately picked up and carted off into the darkeness by several large dungbeetles in aprons. "Pardon me sir, but no outside bever-ages allowed." Gregor hissed. Muff with slack jawed fear allowed himself to be led to a small table next to the kitchen door. All around him he could make out in the dimmness other tables and vague dark multilimbed patrons. The air was alive with conversations carried out in clicks, hisses and shrill cicada whines.
The band began a vamp. The floorshow was about to start.
Lanark
A tiny spotlight illuminated a mousehole along the grimy baseboards. Out of this hole emerged a shape a form not quite yet distinct, a wisp of smoke of a form accompanied by a voice, high and keening, which took up the aprons-strings of the song the orchestra was playing and tied them into the incomprehensible knots of Chinese sailors:

Oh I could en-fold you
In the arc of my forelegs
And I've always got more legs
If one happen to break (break, break)

Some come gently sub-mit
To the whims of my thorax
Taste what your human core lacks
That unbearable ache (break, break)

And when I've got you pinned and wriggling in the nude
I'll treat you to the kisses of my man-di-bles
You'll know the ec-stacy of shared insectitude
(In no time flat we'll work off those love-handibles!)

I'll be your insect queen
And while you toil at your live-li-hood
I'll fill our home sweet hive-li-hood
With endless litters of larvae...

Philip
Potter stared at the chanteuse in horror, frantically mopping his sweat-beglistened brow with a handkerchief. He had always had a horror of insects, ever since he was a lad; those invisible empires, more numerous than mankind, ants with their language of scents, cockroaches none-too-meekly awaiting their Biblical inheritance, mosquitoes latticing the planet with malaria, feisty tapeworms, stink-bugs, ticks everywhere, and ever-threatening your house, your vegetables, your health... And now, this one, singing to him, swaying on that slender, segmented length of body like a cobra, her hundred pairs of legs wriggling in time with the languid ooze of the music... He thought he might be sick.
"Bon Appetit, Monsieur..." With a bow and a flourish, Gregor placed a covered dish on the table before him as the emcee a tuxedo'd aphid stepped up to the stage. "Ladies, gentlemen, and drones a warm round of applause for Miss Sylvia Centipede!" Gregor removed the lid of the dish. Potter stared at the stage, horror-struck. His booze-sodden stomach growled in hunger at the fragrant steam rising from the dish. Without taking his eyes from the stage he placed a forkful of the dish's contents in his mouth and began to chew... At least they could cook here, even if they did know how to ruin a guy's appetite before he even got started, with this freakshow business up there... God, I hate bugs... And, lost in thought as he was, with Sylvia launched into a sultry new number up on stage, it wasn't until he'd consumed nearly the entire dish of food that he thought to look down and see just what the sumptuous fare he'd been eating was. And there were still an even dozen grubs left on the plate to greet his goggle-eyed stare with their moist, segmented bodies, still steaming just a bit...
Philip


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