Gagged on pop culture, polluted by
depression, comes Mantula!
A special fiction series!
My second day as a tarantula quickly turned out tobe just as weird as the first one. Here I sat in a meditation garden in Sedona, speaking telepathically with a former meth addict who was now a quail, about heading to my apartment in Cottonwood. I also had a hundred dollar bill in my possession, as if there was anything I could do with it, but I thought, “You never know,” and held onto it.
“How in the hell would we get there, Glenn?” I asked the bird. “Hitchhike? When we’re as small as we are, it would take forever to get there.”
Not only that, I thought, but also predators are all over the place in Arizona, especially in the Verde Valley. I’ve seen javelina, coyotes, snakes of every length and design, and birds bigger than a microwave oven. It was only a matter of time before one of them made a lunch out of me. And maybe that wouldn’t be a bad thing either. But I also wasn’t thrilled with the idea of being eaten alive. Animals, however, cared less for the price of life than people did. Not when it wasn’t their life at any rate. They didn’t mind eating another animal while it was still alive so long as it didn’t fight back. Eventually it would die and that was good enough.
“Not sure how we would get there,” ManQuail said. “You’re right about animals too. Lots of big cats out there hankering for a bit of quail meat. But we can always find a way. It’s like I always say: be the change you want to see in the world.”
I scowled. “You actually say that?”
Before he could answer, we heard an approaching voice at the far end of the garden. The voice, a female by the sound of it, got closer as she talked.
“I know. That’s why I’m here, Darren,” she said. “It’s the damnedest thing, and definitely worth looking into, but it’s been hours now. It’s probably gone. But I may as well take a peek anyway. Yes, yes. I know it’s not work-related. The thing did fall in front of the Eye though, then ran away into the night holding a hundred dollar bill. Don’t you think it’s worth checking out?”
I burrowed a little deeper into the soil as the woman came into view. Just to be sure, I used my stick legs to kick some dirt over my money. She looked to be in her forties perhaps, tall, thin, with jet-black hair tied into a severe bun behind her head. The woman wore a business suit, grey skirt that stopped just over her knees, a white blouse and a grey blazer. I ran my eyes over the curves of her body, taking in her shapeliness, then realized ManQuail was doing the same thing.
“She’s a hottie,” he said in my head. “And stop calling me ManQuail. Otherwise I’ll call you Mantula.”
“I don’t care what you call me,” I answered. “And stop reading my thoughts.”
“Sorry, man. Can’t help it.”
Speaking to no one in particular I asked, “This woman is talking about me?”
“It sure sounds like it.”
The woman bent over to examine a nearby rose bush. As she held the phone to her ear, she squatted down and looked carefully into the shadows. I knew she was looking for me.
“Why not share the image of it with the press? Sure, send it to him,” the woman said. “And let him know I’ll call him while I’m headed to Cottonwood for an interview. I haven’t gotten any sleep since last night and I still have a lot of unpacking to do at the new place. Talking about the flying tarantula might make for a good story, and good press for the drones, right?” (CONTINUED BELOW)
ManQuail chimed in at that moment. “She must have parked outside the garden in the parking lot. Let’s check it out!”
I followed him, not sure about his plan, but I didn’t want to hang out in the garden with some strange woman digging through the bushes looking for me. With her back turned near the fountain, we darted out as quickly as we could. I kept the money flapping in the air over my head. I wasn’t about to give it up. We ducked under a gap in the fence and bounced into the parking lot. Luckily there was only one car parked in the lot, a silver Camry, or something along those lines. Even luckier, the windows were down.
“I’m not so sure about this, Glenn. If that woman is curious about me, and out there looking for me in the meditation garden, should I really try to stow away in her car?”
“You heard her. She lives in Cottonwood! This is the change we want to be!”
I lurched my body, imitating a shrug again, and thought, “What the hell?”
To be honest, I was just flying by the seat of my pants and had no idea what I was getting myself into.
ManQuail lowered his back to me. “Get on my back. Just do it. It’s nothing for me to leap through that open window, even with you holding on.”
I climbed atop the bird. He smelled kind of musky, like dirt I suppose, which made sense. I’d no sooner positioned myself between his stubby wings than he took flight. It was brief, but it made my stomach flip. A second later we’d plopped onto the backseat. The car felt humid and hot, a product of the monsoon season, but it was also dark, which counted as a good thing for the two of us. Boxes were scatted all over the place. There were a few clothing bags as well, including one quite close to where we landed. I couldn’t smell like I could before yesterday, but the old gym clothes I saw stuffed in there probably had a sweaty funk to them. Nonetheless, we chose to hide ourselves in that bag just as the woman made her way out of the garden into the parking lot. She hung up her phone, humming what sounded like the theme song to Flash Gordon by Queen.
“Flash, ah ah! He’ll save every one of us.”
And we were off to Cottonwood.
Mantula will return.