I awoke the other morning from uneasy dreams to find that, lying in my bed, I had been transformed into a giant insect.
In the unearthly morning light, the remnants of a purple mist could be seen, passing through walls and windows. Not again.
There was nothing for it. Lying on my hard, as it were armour plated, back, I knew I had to wait it out. What about sleeping a little longer and forgetting all this nonsense, I thought, the klaxon lighted sky making me feel melancholy.
But then I thought some more. Realising no one else was about (for I share my fortified compound with no-one), I dangled first one leg, then the next, then another, from the bed, until my centre of gravity shifted and I tumbled to the floor. I shook my segments, set my bearings with my multi-faceted eyes, and set off to explore the room. Before I knew it, I was walking up the wall, and on the ceiling. I felt my wings begin to quiver, and was almost overcome by a desire to set sail across the air, until I remembered that flight was impossible.
I explored my home as though a stranger, which I suppose I was. I knew I should not be doing this. The accepted etiquette is to simply wait until one is one’s self again. We are in possession of our faculties. We know better. As I set off, I felt naughty, then more than that. I felt great.
Cleanliness is farthest from Trevorness, and it is a state I very much seek to attain. You will understand my surprise at my reaction to smells coming from my kitchen. Not the pantry, well not so much. The kitchen tidy. The sink drain. Scents I had never noticed before, that in my normal state would have shocked me if I could have noticed them. Tangs of fermentation. Wafts of waste. Insect glands went into play. O, the felicity of fetidity. The glamour of decomposition. I revelled in it. Reader, I rolled in it. No one was looking. I did more. I ate it.
Flavours unknown to a human palette. Colours we just don’t paint with. The exquisite squirting of the almost rotten. The joy of crushing the feeble, of finishing what fungus and bacteria had begun. The pleasure of rending organic matter to its basic state. Mouth and stomach one.
It was not as though I had even crossed a line. I had woken up and was already on the other side. Which made me think of … outside.
For a normal insect, adapted to parasitism on man, the interior of my home was ample canvas. I, however, was huge, and there was a whole world of waste waiting out there for me.
It was a fortified compound after all. It was designed to keep out roaming hordes and rampaging mobs, escaped spooned and things that go smash in the night. Of course it was safe.
I opened the door (yes, I was a giant insect and did not have opposable thumbs, however I retained a human brain and it was my door after all), and nearly fainted with the overload of my senses, with all the signals of death and decay. A whole universe of half broken down organisms to be clambered through and consumed.
Shaking a little, I danced with joy. Liberation. A secret indulgence. How often does one get to experience the pleasures of another creature, to live in the body of another? Even if it was the body of a giant cockroach.
Then I noticed the stillness. Something was wrong. From a corner of the garden, it ran at me.
Before I knew what I was doing, I realised that I too was running as fast as my six legs could take me. If only I could fly! But that would take me further away from safety, over the walls of the compound.
Purely from instinct, I jinked and changed direction. One of my compound lenses revealed what was in pursuit. A giant spider was coming at me at terrifying speed. This was outrageous. It was nothing natural. A creature of that size could only be another person, transformed for the morning by the windblown discharge from the Trevgene plant. I tried to gather who it must be. It could only be the woman from across the road. She always seemed a little wrong headed. She knew she was supposed to stay in her own place. I cursed myself for my stupidity, no matter how high my walls, they were no match for a giant arachnid.
I turned again, having the advantage of knowledge of the layout of the compound. Fool. I was running where she was driving me. Just when I thought I was about to reach the safety of the house, I stopped. The more I struggled, the more I was stopped. Web!
I turned and looked at her. There was something disturbingly Freudian about the way she was manically manipulating her pincers. I tried to reason with her, but only a whole lot of roach gibberish came out. Though afraid, my anger dropped away, she was only doing the same as me, experiencing the alien.
Then it stopped. The rigidity of the armour passed away, and there I was, flesh bodied and human again. The same for the woman, although she continued to run oddly for a few steps after her body had returned. At least she had the courtesy to help unwrap the web from me. It was only afterwards that I reflected how odd it was to be standing there naked in that situation.
When she left, I called directory assistance to be put through to Trevgene. Once the connection clicked through, I gave them a piece of my mind. I ranted. I raved. I fell silent. There was a pause and the static hung heavy, as though the other end of the telephone line ended somewhere huge, as though it was the universe that was listening. Milliseconds before the reply, I realised why.
“Mate.” It was him, and his familiar, evil voice. Calm and fresh, unlike myself. Unperturbed, a great, deep lake, unlikely to be troubled by a breeze across its surface. Me and my shouting didn’t even amount to a zephyr. The events of the morning became so much trivia. “Think about it. Don’t I always give you exactly what you want?”
And though I did not want to, and wondered, ashamed and angry, that someone else could look through me, saw deeper into me than I ever could myself, I agreed. A little later I considered (not for the first time), whether it had actually been as he said, or whether saying it, he made it so. It did not matter now. The words having been spoken, it was true. Undeniable and unarguable. All the secrets, all the darknesses within, all those little indulgences I think no one else knows about, he sees. I am transparent, and I am shamed.
Breaching all of the etiquette about these things, Spider Woman has invited me for a drink. Flustered, I agreed without thinking. I have no idea what we will talk about. Or what we shall drink.