Gagged on pop culture, polluted by
depression, comes Mantula!
A special fiction series!
Since waking up in the body of an ugly, hairy tarantula earlier today, my life has gone from weird to just plain insane. If being a large arachnid wasn’t bad enough, my goal of “doing something else” – which meant springing to my death off Coffee Pot Rock – didn’t work out as planned. I ended up drifting over State Route 89A in Sedona and getting stuck on the windshield wiper of a speeding car. From there I got thrown on the shoulder of the highway and landed near a bush. Pretty sure the car I bounced off of crashed as a result of my unannounced landing too.
But then the insanity began. I found a one hundred dollar bill under the bush near me, which counted as the only lucky thing to happen to me in months. Not long after that I ran into a quail that wrote on a notepad. He wrote a single word, “Human?,” on that notepad. He was talking to me.
My mind reeled at this point. Oddly enough, I could still see my son’s face in the back of my mind, but he wasn’t at the forefront of my thoughts. Honestly I was hoping to be a skid mark on a trail by now, and as a result, be with him.
I lifted a shaky spider leg and scrawled as best I could in the dirt. By the light of the street lamp, the quail could just make out what I wrote. I had to put my Benjamin Franklin down to do it, but I doubted the quail would steal it. My son would call me Mantula and I was sure he’d call this oddball bird “ManQuail.”
In the dirt, I wrote the word. “Yes.”
Seeing that, the quail started scribbling frantically.
“Knew it when U grabbed the $100. Name?”
“Doug,” I wrote back.
“Glenn,” wrote the quail.
He stepped closer, somehow managing to drag the notepad with his clawed foot, and carried the pen in his mouth. I stayed put for the moment, but felt like I was about to pass out. Maybe that’s how it would end for me. Simply by falling asleep and not waking up again.
I scratched in the dirt. “Hi.”
“Hi,” Glenn replied. Then he added a question. “What’s ur adiktion?”
I stared at him for a moment before replying. My addiction? What the hell was this bird talking about?
“What R U adikted 2?”
I tried to shrug, and then realized it probably looked more like a pushup. But then again, I was writing notes to a quail, a ManQuail, so what did it matter?
I replied, “nothing.”
Glenn wrote back. “Sure. Meth 4 me. All of us have adiktion.”
I took my hundred-dollar bill at that point and skittered and flopped my way out from under the bush without a reply. Was the quail giving me a guilt trip? Things had gotten so insane, that I could no longer make sense of them. Addictions? A quail on meth? To hell with this.
Unfortunately I didn’t make it far. I aimed for the darkness beyond the glow of the streetlight, thinking it would swallow me up. There’d be no more nonsense. I could focus on doing something else, focus on my son’s smiling image. Were I with him, we’d be laughing about this whole thing together I bet. It would be so much better than hanging out with Glenn the ManQuail and his questions.
But the orange glow of the street didn’t give way to darkness. Instead I found myself lit up in a spotlight. Someone, or something, had me trapped in a flashlight beam. I felt naked and exposed. Especially seeing as how I had a hundred in my stick-legged hands. It was then I heard the whooshing noise. It sounded like a ceiling fan set on overdrive. I looked up into the light, wondering if I’d feel a boot squish onto my back, and made out what looked to be small helicopter by the light of the street lamp. The drone. Somehow it had followed me from my skydive off Coffee Pot Rock and now had me pinned in a spotlight!
I guess seeing a tarantula fall out of the sky would be worth following, if just to see where it landed, but I didn’t like being in the limelight. And definitely not by some weird flying robot, with who-knew-who watching at the other end of its camera eye.
I hightailed it back under the shrub. Glenn ManQuail was still hiding under the bushes with his pen and notepad. His head was cocked to the side as he peeked out at the flying machine. I skittered back to where I’d been, keeping an eye on the drone myself. After a few moments of hovering there, the light switched off and the thing finally whooshed away.
When I looked back at the bird, I found he’d written another note.
“WTF was that?”
I scribbled a reply in the dirt. “No idea.”
There was no way I was going to scrawl out in the dirt how I’d tried to commit suicide and seen that thing in the air after I jumped.
ManQuail wrote more. “You should come with me. There’s a meditation garden not far from here.”
I figured WTF.
Mantula will return.