MANTULA Part Twenty-Seven: Getting some

Gagged on pop culture, polluted by

depression, comes Mantula!

A special fiction series!

I thought I’d be a bad ass like I was with the downstairs neighbor, but it ended up a little differently this time. For one thing, Sturgis has some bad ass qualities going on all by herself. Turns out Mantula’s help wasn’t needed.

Pushing open the window just enough to allow me to slip inside, I dropped silently into a dark bedroom and quickly made my way to the hallway where we’d seen the ghost of Jacki Sturgis, Diana’s gnarly witch of a grandmother, only an hour or so earlier. I kept my stick legs crossed (in my head anyway) that she wouldn’t make another appearance any time soon. Her creepiness still made me shiver like a little schoolgirl. Plus I wanted to get in quietly, not being chased by a worm-ridden corpse that could vanish into thin air.

By the time I made it into the hallway, thankfully without the appearance of any ghost, I realized Diana had things well in hand. Keeping to the corner of the entryway into her living room, I could see Kip Mooney sprawled on the ground, clutching his balls and writhing in pain. Diana stood over him, her hands on her hips, looking beautiful in her red dress. I retreated back and made my way into the kitchen unseen. I had visions of Edvard Munch’s painting Woman in a Red Dress in my head for some reason, only the red dress in the painting left a lot more to the imagination than Diana’s dress, which was fine with me. Like that painting though, she had a calm look about her, but anyone in that room could feel the fierceness pouring from her soul.

“Jesus, Diana! What did you do that for?” Mooney cried. His voice sounded a bit higher than before. Not surprising. She didn’t seem like a woman to take lightly.


Doug gets his legs on a steak knife.

“I told you. No one paws me,” she replied. “You need to get the hell out of here.”

He panted, trying to speak through the pain. “But what about working together? The tarantula and the quail.”

“I really don’t want to lay eyes on you again, Mr. Mooney.”

I sprang to the kitchen counter at that point with an idea. Near the kitchen sink I came across a small steak knife, which made my idea even easier. I didn’t have to look for a knife drawer. Scooping it up, I made my way to the kitchen window and jumped outside into the rain. I may not have been able to deck the bastard myself, but I wanted a little something I could call my own. So I made my way to his car, leaping the lakes of chocolate milk with ease. By the time I got onto his hood and dropped to the other side of his Outback, I could hear voices from Diana’s front door. It took a few seconds, but I got that steak knife jammed into the front driver’s side tire quite nicely. For a little tarantula with the strength of a human, it was easier than you might think, though still a little challenging. Will power probably had a lot to do with my success. Air hissed from the slit when I yanked the knife free. Footsteps splashed in the mud nearby, so I made my way under the car as Kip came to the passenger door. By the time he got the car started, I was already into the yard again. He drove off into the downpour, not realizing he’d have a flat by the time he reached his house.

I watched him leave, then made my way to Diana’s front door. She stood at the threshold when I turned around, staring at the steak knife in my legs.

“Tell me you didn’t stick that in his tire?” she asked.

I dropped the steak knife at her feet.

Diana sighed, her chest heaving under the soft fabric of her dress. “You know I don’t need anyone’s help when it comes to situations like that? I can take care of myself.”

I turned to leave, not regretting what I did in the least, when Diana called out to me. I turned around to stare at her once again. Heavy rain pelted me.

“I can take care of myself as I said, but I appreciate you looking out for me. See you soon, Doug.”

At that point, I could have skipped home. Instead I took my time, thinking about life and curses and everything in between. At my size it was easy to find shelter from the storm and I wanted a little time to contemplate things before getting back to my crappy little apartment.

By the time I bounced into the window, I found that Glenn had been a busy bee. Somehow he managed to get a half dozen saucers from the cupboard and filled them with vinegar to absorb the negative energies of the curse. He wasn’t wasting any time. As I made my way to the closest saucer I could see a film of black oil on the top. Curse goo? Who knows. What I could tell was that even I, who wasn’t affected the same as everyone else, felt light-headed, and possibly (I know this sounds weird) bigger. It was as if my spider-body were growing larger.

“Glenn? Are you up?” I got no answer and went looking in his room. He wasn’t there. I went to the computer, my new routine I suppose, to see if there was anything new from Kolbe. I found ManQuail’s email on my screen. He’d gotten into his Gmail while I was gone. I wasn’t trying to be snoopy, but a certain email caught my eye – an email from Kip Mooney of all people. Curious, I opened it.

“Give me about an hour it,” it read. “I got a flat tire. Got to fix it. Glad to hear from you, man. I thought you were dead in a ditch somewhere this whole time. Meet me at the ice cream place on 89A.”

Published by patrickwhitehurst

Patrick Whitehurst is a fiction and non-fiction author who's written for a number of northern Arizona newspapers over the years, covering everything from the death of the nineteen Granite Mountain Hotshots to Barack Obama's visit to Grand Canyon. In his spare time he enjoys painting, blogging, the open water, and reading everything he can get his hands on. Whitehurst is a graduate of Northern Arizona University and currently lives in Tucson, Arizona.

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