Mantula Part Twenty-One: The Big New Year’s Recap

I rode MANTNEWYEARSatop Glenn as he made his way through the muggy Arizona weather. The fast-moving man-turned-quail moved deftly through the bushes and assorted trash strewn at the edge of the road. Large rain bombs fell from the gray skies overhead, exploding like water balloons all around us, but a full-blown storm had yet to begin.

I made a sorry attempt to remember my life prior to becoming a nasty little tarantula. Only I couldn’t remember it. My life had changed so much in the last few weeks that everything else began to blur. Not the big things. Not my son. Not the image of him. Not the sound of his laughter. Not the way I felt when he sat in my lap and we read comics. All of those things burned in a hole in the center of my chest that sucked all happiness from my soul. What I could remember, with full clarity, was how I woke up in this body, how confused I felt. I remembered trying to kill myself by leaping from Coffee Pot Rock. Obviously that didn’t work out in my favor. From there I got filmed free-falling by a drone, nearly caused a car wreck, and ended up meeting Glenn under a bush. I also happened to find that $100 bill I just gave away.

It didn’t take long for Glenn and I to learn how to speak to each other with our minds, as if just being reborn into birds and bugs wasn’t weird enough, we were able to communicate easily. Luckily I’ve since learned how to switch it on and off so ManQuail can’t pick up on my every bad mood and every dirty thought. We ended up sneaking a ride into Cottonwood with Diana Sturgis, who also happens to be the owner of Flight Services L.L.C. It seems she was investigating the area where we were filmed by the drone, still not sure why. We ended up in her apartment and got a bonus strip show on top of the free ride. She wasn’t too thrilled to see us there of course. In fact, she was pretty damn un-thrilled. Anger can bring out the worst in people. Her anger made her throw an old painting at me and Doug. We made it to my apartment eventually, our little haven in the shit hole that is Cottonwood, Arizona, but not until after we caused a car crash on State Route 89A that ended up making the news.

Once we got back, that’s when I realized I wasn’t anything like the others who found themselves reborn in the bodies of bugs and birds, all of them addicted to one thing or another too. I was different. I had super strength in a sense. For as small as I was I possessed the strength of an adult man.

Not long after that Sturgis came sniffing around near the apartment, where she hooked up with this reporter Kip Mooney (also sniffing around hoping to see this weird news-making tarantula), they started talking about yours truly. At the time I had no idea why the lady was so into me, but after a few bad dreams starring this nasty old witch, I realized the green, slimy monster was the same old woman I saw in the painting Sturgis chucked at me and ManQuail. She has more to do with all this than I know, which is why ManQuail and I are making our way back to her house.

At around the same time Sturgis and Mooney were sneaking around my apartment complex, I finally decided to check my email. First off, to be totally honest, I was stalking Diana online. I wanted to know a little more about the woman. But that’s neither her nor there. It seems a real, honest-to-God Catholic Saint, Maximilian ‘Raymund’ Kolbe, had been trying to reach me for some time. Thanks to him, ManQuail and I learned that people suffering from addictions, apparently only those of us in this immediate area, were being reborn into bugs and birds. People with depression issues were being reborn into rodents and reptiles I found out. Kolbe informed me the reborn tended to forget their human pasts for the most part, and really immersed themselves in their new life. At least to a degree. ManQuail retained a lot of his humanity, which led him to leave pens and notepads all over his territory in Sedona so he could communicate better. In fact, it seems Glenn ManQuail was becoming more and more like his old self the more he hung out with me – due apparently to the fact that turning into a tarantula did nothing to change me at all. I stayed exactly, one hundred percent the same inside, which somehow set me apart from all the other converts. The whole problem with all this is Kolbe had no clue why it was happening. And he’s kind of a jerk.

(CONTINUED BELOW)

Doug takes a look at how he got into all this craziness.

He did send Glenn and I out on a few “missions” – tests of good will to see if the simple acts would revert us back into our human bodies. They didn’t work, but I did use my human-sized strength to punch out the wife-beater in the apartment below ours. Of course it also made local news, being that a tarantula decking a human isn’t something you see every day. I was glad to help the poor woman, and it made me feel pretty good about myself for about five seconds, but nothing changed about my miserable predicament. The other good deeds were a bust, too, but I did manage to give away my one hundred dollar bill. It was while we were on the latter errand I found out Glenn was having the same dreams of an old witch as me. And now we’re heading to Diana’s house once again to see if we can find out more.

As we approached the place, under the cover of the heavy monsoon storm, I realized I had no plan at all. Leaving, getting there, these things consumed me. Getting my questions answered and seeing the beautiful Ms. Sturgis again were forefront in my head, but the how was something else.

ManQuail slowed his stroll just as her house came into view. Through the rainy gloom I could see light in one of the rooms. The rest of the place looked dark. Moments later I saw a shadowy form pass in front of a window. Someone was home, more than likely the woman I wanted to talk with.

“So what do we do?” ManQuail asked.

“I have no clue,” I replied. “Go inside I guess.”

“Maybe she’ll be naked again.”

“Or maybe she’ll try to kill us again.”

“Fun for us either way, man.”

ManQuail flapped his wings and flew us up and over the chain link fence surrounding her property. We landed, wet and silent, outside her window. Now to get inside.

Mantula will return!

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