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Chapter 3

     The Story The Authors
Muff Potter stared at his plate, mouth agape and frozen in horror. The nausea began to well up from deep inside his bowls and he clamped his hand over his mouth. It was bad enough to see the grubs on his plate, he couldn't bear to see partially digested bits coming out of his own mouth. Why, oh why did he come down into this hole the first place? But deep in his wretched heart he knew that his whole pathetic existence would culminate in a moment like this. Tears welled in his eyes. He broke out in a cold sweat and began to hyperventilate. He heard a click click click thunk click click behind him, the unmistakable footsteps of Gregor, the cockroach with a wooden leg.
"And how is Monsieur enjoyink his meal?" the insect asked.
Muff could no longer hold back the tide of nausea and with gut wrenching heave, he emptied the contents of his stomach back onto his plate, onto his table and onto Gregor's shiny patent leather shoes.
Instantly Gregor's shoes had been engulfed by a frantic tide of small, translucent, adolescent cockroaches. Horrible, slobbery sounds of licking ensued. "My brood," said Gregor proudly as they dispersed as quickly as they'd arrived. His shoes, of course, were now spotless. Philip
The resultant heave brought further samplings of the contents of Potter's stomach roiling across the table. He emitted a series of high whiney squeaks as Gregor's multitudinous offspring scrabbled up his legs and across his lap and over the stinking tablecloth, fighting each other over the large chunks. On stage, a trio of shapely caterpillars, dressed a la Carmen Miranda, crooned sweetly to a hot Latin beat.

Cotton farmers may think 'evil'
When they see a boll weevil
But even Evel Knievel
Couldn't possibly leap
Over this hocus pocus
Infinite plagues of locusts
But when you shake your ovi-posi-tor
I fall in a heap...

"Monsieur!" Gregor said in his most haughty voice. "I am afraid I must ask you to leaf."
The old drunk wiped his mouth on his shirt sleeve, stumbled to his feet and staggered back out to the dark hallway where he fell to his knees and vomited again.
"Humans," spat Gregor as Potter bumbled away. "Zey are worse zan ze Germans and ze Americans. Zey do not know how to tip, zey do not know how eat, and zey do not know how to make ze luff. Ptooey!"

Meanwhile, back out in the hallway, Geraldine was awakening from her post-glossolaliac sleep with a staggering headache. The inside of her mouth tasted like the bottom of an old tennis shoe. Adam was still snoring, and Assistant principal Hadley was nowhere to be seen. Where in Hades are we? she wondered, squinting to make out distinct features in the gloaming gloom of the place. "My name is Geraldine," she sad sadly. "So don't call me asparagus."

Wearily she picked herself up and with a steadying arm against the tunnel wall began to make her way back to where it had all started. She called out Adam's name. Hollow echoes fled from her into the blackness. First Hadley and now Adam too. She began to cry.
In another part of the tunnels Assistant Principal Hadley was encountering problems of his own. Knowing how easy it would be to get lost in the complex maze of caverns he had taken off in search of the others leaving behind a small trail of bagel crumbs to follow back. Unfortunately he was rapidly running out of bagel. Not too mention the strange scurrying he seemed to hear all around him. His flashlight would seem to occasionally catch the tiny yellow glow of eyes in the corners sometimes but before they could even register as anything they would be gone. He gulped and carried on.
As he walked, he couldn't shake the feeling that he was being watched. Yet all he heard was the sound of his footfalls scraping against the dirt and rocks of the tunnel floor. Soon the bagel would be gone and all he would have left was the lox. And there was no way he was going to waste Zabar's finest nova on a trail, even if it meant the difference between being lost and finding his way back to the surface. As he was lost in his smoked salmon induced reverie, a sound intruded from behind -- soft, like a whisper, yet hissing like gas escaping from a valve. Assistant Principal Hadley stopped. Swinging around, he raised the quivering flashlight and shined the beam into the dark distance. It returned the reflection of two sets of glowing, yellow eyes, growing ever nearer. He froze in terror. The beam was fixed on the approaching shapes, growing more defined as they crept closer. And as they did, the whispers took on the form of words:
Bagels for breakfast
Bagels for lunch
We long for bagels
Bagels by the bunch

Onion and garlic
Poppy and plain
Egg, salt, and everything
We eat them again

And then they were upon him. Small, unkempt creatures they were. Years of living underground had left them with pale skin, almost transluscent. They were dressed in torn, black rags with shredded white shawls draped over their shoulders. Long, filthy black beards covered their faces and deepened the shadows around their eyes, making their yellow glow that much more intense and unearthly. Assistant Principal Hadley noticed that they were both wearing small beanies on their heads, each with a strange six-pointed star on top. He could smell their fetid breath as they drew within a few feet of him. And then, the one closest to him raised a clawed hand and pointed a scrawney finger at him, accusingly, and hissed, "We smells it! We smells it! Give us the lox! Give us the lox!"

Abe Frohman

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