hungry

The sound, a low rumbling, caught my attention.  In the darkness I caught sight of something large slip between the cracked garage door, like a tongue licking giant lips.  Was the house purring?  Is that what I heard?  It was happy knowing it was about to be fed?

My path did not cross directly in front and I certainly felt no desire to get any closer to the garage.  The curiosity of what I’d really seen and what I’d heard was strong, though.  Perhaps if my errands hadn’t been quite so urgent, I might have crept closer to see what there was to see.

Then maybe this story would have a different ending….

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Once upon a time in the Kingdom

I’ve been grossed out before. I’ve been terrified before.
But, never before have I been as grossed out and terrified at the same time as I was one day in the not so distant past.

It was a simple enough beautification project for the Kingdom. We have some potted plants that have outgrown their current pots and we had some bigger pots to transfer them to. Easy enough. I’ve done it before. We had stalled on the project for a month because it is a messy chore normally and when you factor in two little prince “helpers” the clean-up was likely to take longer than the actual move. Plus the summer heat hasn’t lent itself to actually getting the work done.

Then one day, one fateful day, I said, “Okay, let’s do it.” The Queen was away for a couple hours. The Littler Prince was napping. The Little Prince was gung-ho to be helpful. So, he and I went outside and started filling the new pots with some soil. Then it was time to pull the plant out of its current pot…

I noticed a few ants on the pot itself. Not a lot. Just a line coming up and working its way into the branches of the plant. Not a big deal. I had seen ants on the plant before. My rule, typically, is to leave the ants alone when they are outside, because I’d rather them be happy outside than happy inside. However… I should have maybe taken a closer look at this point. I should have maybe taken this as a sign to just leave the plants alone and tackle the project a different day. I should have been better prepared for what was about to happen. I wasn’t, of course, and so you get this wonderful – awful – story.

I worked the edge of the soil loose with a shovel around the inside of the pot… and then pulled the root bulb free, ready to just drop it into the new, larger pot. Something made me stop, though, and take a closer look. The bottom of the bulb was moving. It was a sea of motion. It was a crazy vortex of motion. It was a colony of ants that I had now disrupted. Thousands upon thousands of ants that had made the roots of this particular jasmine plant their home and they were in panic mode. They swarmed, trying to get their eggs and their numbers to safety…

It was about then, when I was still trying to process what I was witnessing and how best to deal with it, that I noticed that along with the ants, a nest of spiders had made the pot their home. At first glance, they looked like black widows. And I spent much of the day believing they were. I will save you the stress that I endured and let you know that they were not, in fact, black widows, but a lovely little sub-species known as false widows. A recent import from Europe (the perk of living next to a port city) that were first spotted in the United States near the Kingdom back in 2011. So, now you know. They were not black widows. Keep in mind, however, that I believed they were….

They were everywhere. Big ones. Little ones. And they were all moving so fast. I set the plant down and started squishing them. Normally I try to save spiders. They are good pest controllers. They keep flies and mosquitos at bay. They aren’t as dangerous as they seem. Yadda yadda. That stops when it comes to widows. I grew up in the desert. I know they are dangerous. Plus, the little princes play in the backyard. I can’t have spiders like that around my children. With that in mind, after I’d killed all the ones I could see, I moved the pot into the alley behind our house. Killed a few more and then went back for the plant.

The ants were still swarming at the bulb. I didn’t want them to decide to completely relocate into another plant in my backyard or into my house, so I grabbed it and moved it all into the alley too. The plant on its side, ants swarming around the root bulb. The pot next to it, ants swarming all over it too and still the occasional spider popping out of a hiding place and crawling along it. I squished a couple more spiders while I tried to figure out what to do next.

And that’s when I felt something on my arm.

And I looked down.

And a spider the size of a quarter was on the underside of my arm.

I should mention at this point that the Little Prince was a trooper for this whole process. He thought the ants were fascinating. He helped make sure my walkways were clear. He was on the lookout for spiders and helped me spot some I’d missed. He was great.

I killed the spider on my arm before it could bite me. I don’t even remember how. I know I didn’t squish it against me. I must have crushed it somehow. I don’t know. I don’t think I’ve ever moved that fast or will ever move that fast again.

Suffice it to say that I needed a break at that point. The queen came home shortly thereafter. The Littler Prince woke up. We all enjoyed some calm time safely inside while we ate lunch and talked about what to do next. Because we needed a game plan. I had started the morning unprepared but I was not going to clean up this mess I had now created without some sort of better tactics. Knowledge is power and all that. Okay, we had an ant problem and we had a spider problem. The internet was full of great advice. I called my Aunt who is a gardening expert and chatted it up with her. When we returned outside, we were ready to face this challenge together.

Then, of course, we found that the ants on the root bulb of the Jasmine had completely relocated. Poof. Gone. Who knows where. While we were inside, they packed up and left… I’m sort of glad about that. That was one less thing to worry about. However, at the same time, I’m sad I missed it. That would have been cool to see! Also, from a gross-out stand point, now I have no idea where they went!!!

Okay, but the ant problem took care of itself. That left only the spiders to deal with.

I’m going to try not to exaggerate here. At this point I had killed 14 spiders that I’d thought were black widows. Including the one that was on my arm. And there were still more on the pot.

I’ve never seen so many in one place before.

They day was still young, however…

We successfully repotted the plants and everything else with that project went smoothly. Since I’d already made a huge mess of the yard, I decided it was time to tackle another project I’d been putting off because of the mess and because of the heat.

When the Queen and I moved into our home, I built her an above-ground garden box, so she could have some flowers and plants and other growing things on our otherwise tiled patio. The Little Prince turned that garden box, when we he came along, into his very own sand box. The Littler Prince had furthered that endeavor until nothing could grow in there anymore… because it was full of trucks and shovels and buckets and sticks and rocks and broken toys and pinecones and and and and. While they got endless hours of playtime out of it, it always made such a giant mess that then got tracked into the house that the decision had been made to tear it down.

So, I began the process of doing just that. I emptied it of its toys, soil and dirt. I took the sides off it. There were spiders that got squished. There was dry rot from the termites that had called it home. None of that was really a problem though. I knew that once I turned it over, to take the boards that acted as its legs and lifted it away from the tile, that I would find another mess of spiders. I knew it. I went in prepared!!

And…

I was not prepared.

There were so many spiders. Big ones. Little ones. Fast ones. And every single one of them scary looking.

I set about squishing them again. The Queen kept the kiddos at a safe distance and they all helped me spot the ones I couldn’t see. And I dismantled the garden box completely.

But now I had a pile of wood and I knew there were still spiders in it. There had to be. There were just so many of them… And I needed to get that pile off my patio and into a trash can. But how? How could I do that without risking coming into contact with more spiders?

There answer was, I couldn’t?

I was as careful as I could be. I looked at every piece before I picked it up. I squished everything that moved. I checked my gloves constantly. I checked my hand placements. I was vigilant. And before the task was done I’d ended up with another spider on my arm. Somehow the Queen was able to squish it before it could bite me too. She was lightning fast. She’s amazing like that.

I was done. Nerves shot. Mind shot. Done.

Somehow we managed to finish the project, clean up the patio, clean up ourselves, and it all looks really good now. The backyard looks so much better and should be so much less messy than it has been. These are all good things. But!! But I’m jumping at every shadow, every slight twitch of movement, everything that could possibly be another spider crawling toward me. Every muscle spasm is something biting me. Every wisp of air running over my skin is something on me.

Aside from the disappearing ant colony, I think I killed more than 30 spiders. I thought they were all black widows until much later that night when I finally felt well enough to do some research and then using the markings I saw on some of them I was able to identify them as false widows. That helped me calm down some but not a lot. All of those spiders were still out in my backyard, at times inches away from where my children play. I don’t know that there is a solution for that. The patio is tidier now and there will be fewer places for spiders to hide, so maybe the risk of running into that kind of situation again is less… Or, maybe we just pissed them all off and they are going to seek their revenge…

And that’s my story…

You’re welcome?

weewoo

Sirens blaring
Hair raising
Ear splitting
Trouble brewing

Emergency, Emergency!

They sit in their play
Today and every other day
Racing from crash to crash to crash
In a rescue dash

Their voices raised high
Lifting their wails into the sky
Jubilant, jovial, joyful
It is an earful

In this loud moment
Their truck’s sirens must be broken
That’s the only way to explain
The sound they’re making

Emergency, Emergency!

My ears are ringing
My head, my poor head is throbbing,
My jaws are clenched and my teeth grind
… Everything is fine

They are playing nice
And even at a heavy price
I wouldn’t break up their joint play
Let it last, I pray

Police cars for now
To protect and serve they both vow
Again back to fire engines
Little boy heaven

Emergency, Emergency!

Trouble brewing
Ear splitting
Hair raising
Sirens blaring

day terrors

The crows fled before him in splashes of darkness against the coming dawn. It was often said that such birds were omens of ill fortune. He’d never seen them that way. He had always been fascinated by their ability to fly and he had long been searching for a flock of us his own. He wasn’t likely to find one but that didn’t keep him from hoping. He paused long enough to watch them disappear into the gloom where his eyes could no longer penetrate and then he lifted his gaze to the eastern skies. Very soon a new day would start and he still had a ways to go before he was safely within the confines of his home.

The bard had warned them not to get caught outside during the day.

It used to be that there were certain risks that could be taken while the sun was up, to get water, or relieve oneself, or tend to something else immediately near the house. But, the last time the bard had come through to sing his songs and share his tales he had warned all who would listen that the daytime would soon be completely unsafe. Only those who had listened survived the following weeks. The rest disappeared but only after their painful screams floated away from their homes.

Trist had been friends with the bard before he’d taken on the noble calling and so had trusted his word and stopped going out in the daylight. He had spent some time wondering if he would have listened so well if he hadn’t known the story master before. In the long hours of sunlight, there was time to ponder all kinds of what ifs and what could have beens.

Stepping forward again, Trist quickened his pace. He needed to hurry.

He’d spent the night checking on and chatting with his closest neighbors. He did that most nights. Trist didn’t mind that nobody ever seemed to come around to check on him. They were scared or had families to look after or had to spend the safe nighttime hours toiling away to provide for themselves and their loved ones. He understood. That was one of the reasons he was willing to go out and knock on doors each night. He didn’t have those same set of worries and responsibilities.

Being friends with the bard had certain perks like that. Trist did not take that for granted. He took it upon himself to help his neighbors as much as he could.
A hint of sunlight flashed across his path and Trist cursed. How he longed to be a bird. He could simply take to wing and fly away from the danger. He was fairly certain that he would be safe in the sky.

His front door came into view and Trist began to sprint.

He knew he was being paranoid. It was still too dark. There was no reason his heart needed to race the way it did, or his palms sweat, or his mind linger on the worst that could happen. He had heard that worst happening to some of his neighbors, some of his friends, though. And their screams were not easily forgotten.

Crack

Author’s note:  this one is pretty dark… and I feel like I should mention on the outset, this isn’t me and you don’t need to worry about it.  I’m exploring characters and I had the first line in my head.  As I put the words down the rest sort of filled in to explore the theme of the echoing “cracks.”  So, trigger warning for suicide.  Skip this one if that will set you off.  And, don’t worry about me!  Everything is a-okay in the kingdom!

Another Author’s note:  Feels like there has been a bunch of darker posts recently.  Feels that way because I wrote them all at the same time and have since scheduled them out across the month.  I can’t promise that I’ll write anything happier any time soon but I have noticed the trend and I will make an effort to turn some of these things into something a bit lighter.

………………………………………………………………………….

I opened my eyes to a world bathed in colors I couldn’t name. I blinked and the world remained. I breathed and my lungs filled cleanly. I snapped my fingers and the crack echoed between my ears before fading to nothingness.

Crack

Crack

Crack

Crack

Crack
Crack

I woke with a start. I kept my eyes squeezed shut, though. I didn’t want to see that it had only been a dream. I didn’t want to miss the colors. As long as my eyes were shut I could ignore the cacophony and the oily air. But then a crash from outside echoed across the room and my eyes flew open.

Crack

Crack

Crack

Crack

Crack
Crack

Another accident. Another twisting of metal and flesh because of one reason or another and none of them worthwhile. I didn’t need to rise to see it. I could hear the horns and shouts and cries of pain. Son the sirens would come and drown out all else. I would smell the blood and fire but still only see the drab of greys of reality.
I longed for sleep to take me before the worst of it. To sleep. To dream. To return to the beauty of would could be if only…
But sleep did not come. Would not. Refused to come.
I knew how to force it though.
A rope. A fall. And then…

Crack

Crack

Crack

Crack

Crack
Crack