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  • Indies Unlimited: 2012 Flash Fiction Anthology
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Friday
Mar152019

Vespine

I can't write about this, so I'll write about another thing. 

There's a beautiful sapphire-jade wasp whose body is forged from elfin metal. It's truly lovely, and it was forged on this bright, astonishing planet. This earth. When it meets a cockroach, an ordinary cockroach, it stings it, paralyzing its front legs, and injects its larvae into the roach's body. The roach is unfortunately alive. I say unfortunately because far worse is to come, as you've doubtless anticipated. 

Next the wasp eats most of the roach's antennae. Maybe for pure spite, who knows?

It then leads the crippled victim to its nest, dragging it by the remaining parts of its antennae, like some ruined leash. 

As you've probably guessed, the wasp—a dark glittering star in the vespine world—lays a white egg on the living body of the doomed beetle, and after a few days the egg hatches and larvae start to feed on their unwilling host. 

Let me reiterate at this point: none of this is consensual. Just in case you were wondering. And yes, this is fucking bleak. 

So anyway, the larvae chew their way into the living roach and begin to devour its internal organs. During this time, they ensure the roach stays alive while they form at first a pupa and then a cocoon within. 

Eventually, the grown wasp emerges from the body of its host, the wretched abandoned cockroach, wholly unchampioned and alone, still alive and leaky and utterly ruined like something from a movie rejected by George Romero as way too callous, too goddamn brutal.

So this is the story I can tell, while the one I actually want to tell is drowned by sorrow and horror and the atrocity of truth. Time to reach for the antivenin. Time to admit we might not win this.

Regardless, how can anyone ignore the heaving grandeur of that tiny pendulous abdomen, pinch-waisted and brimful of the shrewdest toxins and the bright gleaming ego-dream of need? Dark as it is, this awful thing is framed by the purest, most appalling love.

I tell this, of course, while the real story I want to tell is so much more complex, a thousandfold more grim.

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