THE SUMMER BALL AND WEAPONS OF MASS DESTRUCTION!
Mary, the earwig, looked thoughtfully around the garden. The small, well-manicured circle of lawn was lit courtesy of the glow-worms and fire flies. The light they shed catching the evening dew that delicately veiled the grass, which would make an excellent surface for the dancing. The slowly rising moon added its watery intervention to the thousand agreeable spiders that had delicately spun their threads between the glow-worms, encircling the lawn in a necklace of diamond lights. As in previous years, the crickets were to provide the music and even now were assembling on the raised flowerbed, which was going to be used as the stage. They used to use the rockery but the Black Beetles who gathered there every week for Beetle Drives had complained about the noise. There’s always someone ready to complain thought Mary. With all this activity, the excited and impatient moths couldn’t wait for the crickets to start, already dancing and fluttering about, getting in everyone’s way.
Earwigs from all over the garden were arriving. The snooty couple from The Hydrangeas, the Ponsonby-Smythes, Philip and Petunia,had arrived and everyone knew they had been having dancing lessons and had only come to show off. Then there was Maureen and Doreen, the ugly twins from that rough estate by the compost heap. One always knew when they were about. The smell of cabbage and potato peelings wafted after them wherever they went, though they did always make Mary laugh. They were both so bossy that when they danced, neither one would let the other lead so it always looked like they were kick-boxing their way through the Passo Doable. There were legs and legs everywhere!
Then Mary clapped eyes on her best friend, Kevin. “Oh Kev, I’m so glad to see you. That insect Cheryl just left me and I hate walking in on my own. Everyone looks.”
“Stuff ‘em!” said Kevin, cheerily. “What do you care?”
“You’re right,” said Mary, “you always know how to make me feel better. Anyway, how do I look?”
“Mmm…well,,.have you had an opinion on your bum?” questioned Kevin, with a mischievous twinkle.
“Why does it look big?” asked Mary anxiously.
“Of course it doesn’t” said Kevin “What are you like? Hey Mary, isn’t that the old trout from The Hydrangeas? What is she wearing? Oh and look, look…it’s that group…you know…they were the headline act at last year’s music festival”
“You mean The Beetles” said Mary “Oh Kevin, you’re so star struck.”
“And you’re so cool. I so wish I could be like you.” said Kevin admiringly.
“I hope Gripper and his gang don’t come again this year just to start trouble, like last time,” Mary said “they very nearly ruined last year’s bash!”
“Yeah,” said Kevin, absent-mindedly. “Mind you, there’s something strangely magnetic about Gripper!”
“Oh, Kev, you can’t be serious, he’s just a thug!”
“I wouldn’t mind a bit of thuggery! Still, changing the subject, I must tell you, I saw the man from the house in the garden this afternoon…couldn’t quite work out what he was doing but he was looking at the plants and tut tutting every time he saw a leaf where we’d had a bit of a chew. Don’t they think we need to eat? They’re so greedy the lot of them. They want everything for themselves.”
“I know they’re not only greedy they look ridiculous too!” moaned Mary. “I mean, how they manage to keep those huge bodies upright on those two soppy legs I’ll never know.”
“Yeah, we’re only little but we’ve got more legs than them.”
“And have you seen what they balance on…I think they call them feet?” said Mary, “Tiny little things in proportion to their bodies...I never walk near ‘em…could topple over easy as you like.”
Just then Mary saw Professor Centipede inching his way towards them. “Not staying for the dancing?” Mary enquired politely.
“No, I’ve got work to do” said Professor Centipede, keeping his momentum going by not bothering to stop.
Mary and Kevin didn’t feel the need to reply either because he was well out of earshot by the time his last pair of legs went by.
“Anyway, let’s have a dance” said Mary
“What a jitterbug?” laughed Kevin.
“What else?” said Mary.
So they whirled round the garden, being sure to keep downwind of Maureen and Doreen till they were completely breathless and had to stop before they got too giddy.
“Oh no!” Gripper’s just arrived with his gang of Leather-jackets. This can only mean trouble,” said Mary fearfully, and with good reason, because, apart from the fighting, the Leather-jackets had long been suspected of carrying out terrorist atrocities against the insect world, though nothing had yet been proved.
“I like what he’s wearing” said Kevin, letting out a low whistle of approval.
“Oh, Kev, you can’t admire him…he’s a terrorist, you’re just dazzled by all that leather.”
”Yeah, you’re probably right…I have always had a penchant for leather but it just doesn’t suit me!”
“Oh, come on, let’s get out of the way in case we get caught up in the fighting.” said Mary nervously. “Let’s forget him and his gang of troublemakers. They ruined last year’s bash. .. Look, Kev, look. There’s Jonathan.”
“Jonathan?” queried Kevin.
“Yeah, you know…thinks he’s a fashion icon...what on earth is he wearing?”
“Oh, that’s so last year” said Kevin haughtily “And who was it who told him beige was the new black?”
“You’re jealous” said Mary.
“Think so” sniffed Kevin. “You forget, my dear, I’m into leather.”
“Oh, you’re so Village People!” laughed Mary.
“What’s he staring at” growled Kevin.
“Oh, now you’re acting just like one of them humans.”
“Oh, talking of them, that reminds me” said Kevin “Do you remember that time you hitched a lift and went into their house on the woman’s washing?”
“Oh, don’t remind me.” Said Mary. She had never liked the young newly-weds who lived in the house ever since the woman had made such a fuss when she saw Mary on one of her pillowslips. “I just thought it would be nice to see inside their house so I managed to get on a pillow case in that stupid woman’s laundry basket when she wasn’t looking but when we got inside she saw me and screamed so loud her husband came rushing in.”
“’Who’s a silly Dumpling...it’s only an earwig?’ The silly dope said when he saw me. Only an earwig! Blessed cheek!”
“’But, Lollypop, you know how they frighten me?’” she whimpered pathetically.
“I know, they are ridiculous,” said Kevin “The size of us and the size of them but THEY scream! Can you believe it?” said Kevin grinning. “Uh, Uh! This could be trouble ... Gripper’s just asked one of the twins...I think it’s Maureen... to dance.”
“This could get nasty.” said Mary anxiously “You know how jealous Doreen can be. No...look it’s all right... Gripper and some of his gang are backing off. What’s wrong with ‘em? They’ve all got their hands up to their faces.”
“Wait here, I’ll go and find out what’s happened” said Kevin, sprinting off - as fast as an earwig can sprint off - towards the Leather-jackets.
“Well?” asked Mary when he came hurrying back.
“Just as I suspected” said Kevin
“What did Doreen throw a leg?” asked Mary.
“No, much worse” said Kevin.
“What?” said Mary impatiently.
“Let’s just say I don’t think we’ll be having much trouble from Gripper this year.”
“Serves him right, I’ve got no sympathy. Gripper and his gang only come to the ball to cause trouble.”
“Ugh! Stale cabbage!” said Gripper as he raced past Kevin and Mary. “How can you bear it?”
“With dignity” said Mary resolutely. “We earwigs are made of sterner stuff, it seems, than you Leather-jackets! “
“Too right!” said Kev.
Then, with the leaderless Leather-jackets locked in deadly combat with the Black Beetles, Mary and Kevin backed away from the fighting and edged towards the darkness at the periphery of the lawn.
“Whoops!” said Mary, tripping over something in the darkness.
“Careful!” said a sleepy voice, “Watch where you’re treading”
“Oh, I’m so sorry, Ernest,” said Mary, recognising the elderly black beetle, “I didn’t see you in the dark”
“You’re only saying that ‘cos I’m black,” said Ernest plaintively.
“Well yes” said Mary “Of course, but that’s only because you are”.
“You earwigs are all the same... think you’re better than us,” said Ernest meandering off away from the brightness.
Suddenly, as Mary and Kevin turned back towards the light, they noticed a misty vapour hovering over the lawn.
“Oh, no!” said Mary “I never thought they would do it”.
“Do what?” queried Kevin.
“It’s the humans... they’ve launched a chemical attack! Look, there’s the man in the garden and he’s…he’s…spraying!”
The entire insect world knew the humans had amassed weapons of mass destruction and Mary stood aghast at what she saw as insects fell first to the left of her and then to the right. The strains of “Abide with Me” came eerily across the lawn as the courageous crickets went down playing to the end. But then…the lady of the house suddenly made an appearance
“That is only water you‘re using, isn’t it, Lollypop?” She enquired.
“Of course it is, Dumpling…wouldn’t use anything else, Not now you’ve persuaded me to go organic!” said the man.
Suddenly insects everywhere were jumping about and the Crickets quickly switched from “Abide with Me” to “I’m in the Mood for Dancing!” It seemed appropriate, somehow. Once again the insects could rejoice in their summer festivities as they whirled and spun and jitterbugged their way around the circle of lawn much to the delight of the euphoric crickets.
“Oh, Kev, you know…I’ve always had a soft spot for Lollypop!” laughed Mary “And I’ll not hear you say another word against Dumpling!”