"That's not true", a familiar voice interjects. "You are a Caterpillar now", Gypsy insisted. "Soon you will go through metamorphosis and become anything you want to be!
"Even a butterfly", Mystic excites?
"Well...", she rolled her eyes, grinned and began to hum the lyrics, "One day you will fly..."
"tsi-Shih-Nah", Nikolai pleads for quiet in Russian. He marches over to Gypsy to prevent her from yet another verse of the Butterfly song. "No more singing! U menya bolit golova!"
"Huh", Mystic puzzles?
"I have a headache! What is this - The Little Mermaid? Oh, you wish you could fly, like a butterfly - just like Aerial dreamed to have legs!"
"She did earn legs", Gypsy defends.
"Yea, but at what price", Nikolai scolds? "She lost her voice and reeked havoc for everyone that came in contact with her. Personally, I don't need any of that blood shed on my hands. You are who you are - don't medal around with fate." He turns away and begins his crawl. Looking back, Nikolai said, "That is all!"
Mystic and Gypsy watch their older brother slide down the flour slalom until he veers off course eating his way underground towards his homeland.
"Muy gordo", said a peculiar looking bug wiggling up the flour lift. In his Latin accent, the diminuto insecto continued. "He's eating like that because he thinks it will better him in the Clobbermanium."
"The Clobbermanium", Mystic inquisitively inquires?
"It's the competition", Gypsy states. "You haven't been to one yet?"
Like a marcescent flower, Mystic shrivels up feeling dumbfounded in embarrassment. It occurred to him that during his brief existence, he was living without purpose. Up until now, his daily chore was eating and surviving. Meanwhile, his family members were growing, prospering and most importantly, experiencing life. How did he miss the bus on this one? Why did he wander all alone and wind up with the beetles? Was something off kilter with him???
"The event is held at the Coliseum every afternoon", the Hispanic insect said. "Nikolai believes if he wins, then one day he'll become an Emperor Moth."
"An Emperor Moth", Mystic questions?
"Si", the bug explains. "An Emperor Moth is the largest moth of them all."
"But I thought Nikolai said we were all destined to be..."
Gypsy cuts him off, "Hypocrite!"
"Totally! By the way, my name is Fruity", Fruity said and wagged his tail toward Mystic for the formal introduction.
Mystic swung his back end around like humans do when they shake hands, well, some humans anyhow. "Nice to meet you", Mystic acknowledged. Looking at him with awkwardness, Mystic asked, "So, what kind of moth are you?"
Fruity and Gypsy both chuckled as Fruity explained, "I'm not actually a moth at all. I am a Maggot."
"A maggot", Mystic astonished! "My brother once called me that and I found it quite insulting! Why would you put yourself down like that - low self-esteem?"
"No you baboon", Fruity said. "I'm a bonafide maggot and one day I will become a Fruit Fly, you know, just like the one you flew in on."
"Ohhh", Mystic riddles.
"Yeah, that was my mother. She probably saved you from the Evil Weevils in Beetle Haven."
Mystic began to blush as he attempted to divert the attention by looking at his sister. With fake confidence, he signaled first down with his tentacles and shouted, "No more delay! Onward to the Coliseum for the show!"
Gypsy and Fruity giggled again and after his sister collected herself from hysteria, she said, "Mystic, you can't be seen in public like that." She hesitated and then took her brother by the chin, stared him in the eyes and said, "You'll be sited for indecent exposure. What happened to your clothes?" Mystic's quick movement to sway the ref generated a small gust of wind. <~sniff, sniff. Gypsy grossed out, nearly ready to puke and baffled, "And what is that god awful retched smell?"
She was referring to the stench leftover from when Mystic fell in the tunnel dung. This triggered awareness upon his self conscious state like realizing the story of Adam and Eve for the very first time. Reaching with pretension, Mystic fibbed, "Those Weevil Evils stripped me of my outerwear but just as I was beginning to clobber them in retaliation, a Fruit Fly, your mother, grabbed me from behind and flew me here."
Using her antenna to scratch her head in disbelief, Gypsy said, "You mean the Evil Weevils? Was it a Zyzzyva?"
There was an uncomfortable pause from Mystic because he did not know how to reply. Fortunately, Fruity suggested, "Probably not Gypsy. Those reddish beetles are normally found in tropical regions. My mother once told me about them when she was collecting apple peels in her youth."
"Good point", Gypsy said. "Nevertheless, we need to get this boy some clothes before the Ant Police arrest him for public nuisance."
Gypsy flaunts her ultramarine toned scarf which was wrapped around her neck. The blueish-purple colors were vibrant and appealing to most. She broke out in a totutiloquent elocution and praised the glorification and glamor of style. With Nikolai beyond the sounds of realm, she swaddled her shawl around Mystics head and broke out in a gospel. In harmony with Fruity, they escorted Mystic around town like Julia Roberts in Pretty Women on Rodeo Drive. Discovering a new found happiness in shopping like it was Black Friday, Mystic settled on a reddish-pink robe, topped off with a violet colored bonnet. Like Tom Brady from the New England Patriots, he maintained Gypys's scarf, exhibiting it with pride and swagger.
His desired curiosity in respect to the Evil Weevils was answered. Fruity explained that these minor beetles competed with the caterpillar moths by feeding in the flour to gain strength. Like Mystic, the Evil Weevils hatched from eggs, became larvae and would eventually go through the pupa stage of metamorphosis to become adults; Beetles. Because a single host of each species literally drops hundreds of eggs, the beetles become territorially and attempt to vanquish the moth's existence to ensure their own survival.
The weevils have a particular way about them by sticking cobweb like strings together, hence the beetle tunnel structure that Mystic traveled through to enter Flourville. But why did the beetle tolerate the fruit fly? Easy. First, maggots don't threaten their food supply. But the main reason is because fruit flies can take to flight and although adult male beetles do as well, they only have one thing on their mind; fertilizing eggs. Male beetles do not eat and as a result, their mere existence in adulthood is brief. This could explain their belligerent attitude. Fortunately, the female crawlers agreed to a treaty with the fruit flies to help escort their younglings around town. Therefore, the maggots are spared.
Mystic felt safe in the camaraderie with Fruity. Together, they scoped out all the unique shops in town, killing time before the Clobberanium began.
"It's about that time", Gypsy said.
"Indeed", Fruity agreed. "Due to all the violence I am not especially fond of the event, but since this will be your first visit, I'd be glad to join in."
The trio hitched a ride from some cab flies to the center of town where all the different species traveling ways intersected. Made out of stainless steel, the massive bowl shaped Coliseum stood proud. There were hundreds of tiny holes on the outside where spectators could view the action looking in. To humans, this arena was nothing more than a spaghetti strainer. To the caterpillars, this utensil was used to separate the men from the boys.
"Tickets", a scalper across Stadium Way solicited. "Get your tickets", the beetle larva slapped a stack of etched flour bag paper with his tentacles against his head. Before Mystic could rush for the swap, Gypsy forewarned him that reselling tickets in the streets was illegal. Not a minute later, a squad of ants harassed the panhandler and took him into custody.
Standing in line with all the other moth and beetle caterpillars, the normally neutral bound territory disrupted in several antagonistic brawls like an Ohio State vs. michigan game. To the dismay of Mystic, the fans were rowdy and obnoxious. The violent atmosphere was not to his liking, especially in the companionship with a maggot and petite female. He noticed that the eager gatherers were dressed to support their teams. The beetle larvae wore brown or black which blended in with their body and speckled spots on their thorax whereas the moth caterpillars wore bright white which enhanced their fuzzy coating to create a white out effect as if they were at Beaver Stadium cheering for the Nittany Lions.
At the ticket booth, Fruity exchanged grain for his seats, Gypsy donated a dime bag of pure flower and Mystic, who had nothing but the clothes on his back, was turned away when he offered his colorful hat. Fortunately, Fruity had a wheat shaving from a bowl of Cheerios and the ticket attendant obliged for the exchange.
Like climbrockers, Mystic Gypsy and Fruity crawled nearly upside down at a vertical angle to reach their seats. Cliff hanging through the punched out holes, they took spot just in time for the first action. Glowworms imported from New Zealand were strung from the shelf above, high over the bowl. These unique creatures originated from the Waitomo Caves south of Hamilton and went through a complicated recruiting process to eventually reach the States. Their luminosity brought the open air atmosphere to life.
"Welcome to the 132nd Generation of the Clobberanium Championship Series", the broadcaster announced to the excitement of the crowd. Situated in the upper deck, Mystic complained that he could barely see the field.
"What do you expect", Fruity spoke with a lisp. "Our tickets were cheap - stale cereal, really? To sit at field level, you'll need to pay up."
"Like with Beetle Eggs", Mystic suggests?
"Oh no", Gypsy concerned. "The whole point of these games is to settle the wars diplomatically - well somewhat peacefully anyhow."
"Ya", Fruity confirmed. "If you bring eggs to the event they'll throw you to the lions."
"Really", Mystic frightens?!
"No", Gypsy laughs relieving Mystic's anxiety. "But the Ant Police would probably lock you up and you'll never be given the chance of becoming a butterfly."
"Shish - This is it", Fruity said. He pulled out a pair of binoculars, self made from broken glass bits. On the field, female beetle larvae were dressed in black and golden brown cheer costumes. They formed a tunnel for their male combatants and shook pompoms from their antennas as the team stormed the field.
"Give it up for your Evil Weevils" the broadcaster roars! Nearly two-thirds of the coliseum raised their flags and erupted in cheers! Since many adult female beetles support their youth, the Weevils earned home field advantage. The same was not true for the Caterpillars because adult moths rarely fit through the crevices to enter Flourville.
"And now for your Caterpillars", the announcer broadcasts! The section Mystic was sitting in blasted in hoorays, but immediately the leashing of boos from the overwhelming majority vibrated the stands as the Moth Larvae squad took to the turf.
On opposite sides of the field, the Caterpillars and Weevils lined up with their respective groups and stood tall in respect for the National Anthem. A lone female singing beetle took center stage as all the onlookers embraced for the magical moment. Bellowing honorable echoes for all to appraise, the humbling moment reflected the courage and strength of all. The melody was soothing to the soul and enlightening to the mind. Many of the fans shimmered tears of joy and peace along with several warriors on the field relinquishing self-control to succumb to their surrendered hearts. The breathtaking inspiration was reinforcement on why these games were so important, so special.
The chilling demonstration transitioned to a reality of what was to come. The game, a fight, a war! A battle of the brave! The heroes of this day would soon meet at gridlock to decide the worthy.
A solid yellow stripe of cheese wiz was pressed and painted down the center of the metal field. Three captains of each team joined five large black ants at the frontier line. One ant dressed in pinstripes flipped a hardened butter coin into the air to determine sides of play. The Caterpillars and Weevils shook their opponent’s antennas to declare the start of the Clobberanium.
Mystic’s eyes were glued on the field as the squads lined up in formation for the ten on ten match up. “Let me see that”, Mystic asked Fruity as he grabbed his field glasses. “That’s Nikolai”, he electrifies! “Why is he lining up near the back?”
“Because he’s a Rumbler”, Gypsy explains. “He’s far too slow to be a Streaker so he stages in the back as the last line of defense.”
“Horrible strategy”, Fruity perturbs. “A Rumbler still needs to be fast otherwise the rival Streakers will blast through and smear the queer.
Before the whistle sounded, the largest larva from each team crawled to the outermost end of their zone and positioned themselves on silky platforms hoisted by several small twigs. When the Official Ant signaled the start, two Caterpillar Streakers flanked to the right ran a crossing pattern into Weevil territory. The Weevils protected this edge with four linemen, but one of them was a streaker in disguise as he bumped and released to for a delayed run into Caterpillar terrain. One mothman wearing number 86 was crushed at the line but the other escaped to midzone where he approached a Weevil Rumbler.
Using trickery, the Weevils only released one player on the offensive. By rule, up to two Streakers are allowed to cross the border for Stage One. On the far side of the field, away from this abrupt action, three weevils and three caterpillars faced each other but did not intersect. They just stood there for a while like pawns stuck in the middle of a chess board, unable to move. Eventually, two weevils retreated to the back to help their rumblers deal with the infiltrating adversary. Only one caterpillar dropped back in similar fashion, which left two at the line just in case the lone future beetle had any ideas.
The delayed runner for the weevils encountered Nikolai near the red zone. The weevil extended two sharpened spears which he held with his antennas. These weapons of choice were toothpicks which were broken to size and whittled razor shear. Fortunately, Nikolai was prepared for this type of attack as he boosted a small circular object for defense. It was the backing of a magnetic and at strike point, Nikolai deflected the attack. Coming to his aid, another caterpillar rumbler along with the retreating lineman raised their antennas and began catapulting beetle eggs. The unborn embryo shells were not hard enough to knock out the foe but it did distract him long enough to allow Nikolai to displace his swords. With one grand thrust Nikolai steamrolled the beetle larva into oblivion!
Meanwhile, #86 for the Caterpillars was, well, eighty-sixed. The poor guy never had a chance to regain his balance as several beetle larvae intensified around him and pummeled the warrior into squash.
“This is horrible”, Mystic distraught as he witnessed the casualties!
“It’s the suicide sacrifice”, Fruity explains. “One can only hope that the streaker will take out at least one of the rumblers as he goes down.”
“What’s the point of all this? Why is everyone applauding this behavior?”
With a disheartened expression, Gypsy chimes in, “Better to expend a few versus the slaughter of millions.” Her lack of passion and thrill for these games was evident based on the emotional wounded expression on her face. She understood this ritual was the only way that the two larvae species could coexist in the same bag of flour. Without the games, life would be a massacre of relentless pandemonium and turmoil.
Back on the field of play, the caterpillar streaker made a nifty move to avoid collision with the weevil rumbler. Exhibiting keen agility and dexterity, the soldier willed his way toward the pupating larva in the spotlight. Armed with a single enigmatic ball of poison, the streaker launched the chemical weapon to impede the process. His ephemeral victory did not last long as the other rumblers and linemen adjoined to put out his fury.
The Ants motioned for Stage Two to begin. Although the Weevils were up one player, they were forced to deal with the ailing problem created by the martyr. This allowed four new Caterpillars to eke out a gain across the frontier line as the rumblers and linemen were putting out the flames. Meanwhile, the moth caterpillar was defended splendidly by Nikolai and well under way creating its exoskeleton shell.
Sword to sword, tentacle to tentacle, the battle royale shifted to Stage Three where all the remaining warriors could roam without restriction. The scene became catastrophic - cataclysmic. It was bloody, gory, profound and down right despicable to Mystic and his friends. In the end, the Caterpillars destroyed the Weevil before it could pupate. Two remaining Weevils raised white flags to give way as the Caterpillar Messiah completed its cocoon! Soon, a new Moth would be born. A caterpillar larva has graduated to the next stage of metamorphosis. The ants lifted the stretcher and escorted the sacred winner to a safe and undisclosed location.
***Check Back for Chapter Three...
DAYS (1007 - 1014)
Wednesday November 27, 2013 - Wednesday December 4, 2013