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Previous Challenge Entry (Level 3 – Advanced)
Topic: The Family Pet (05/15/08)

TITLE: Alfred's Alarming Adventure
By Sheri Gordon


Aauugh! Oh, I do apologize—you startled me. You’re not with “them” are you?

Please forgive my deplorable manners. Let me introduce myself. My name is Alfred, although for a brief time I was known by the ghastly name of “Crawly.” I am a praying mantis. My purpose in life, as ordained by our Heavenly Creator, is to dine on succulent insects which might destroy humans’ food crops and flowers. My personal preference is rose aphids; therefore, rose gardens are where I choose to spend the majority of my time.

Pardon? Oh, you would like to know who the “them” are to which I referred earlier? Do let me explain…

One fine day, while sunning on a lovely Heritage English rosebush, I was abruptly ambushed and placed into captivity by two Miniature Humans and their Overly Excitable Mother. Before I could launch a counterattack—although I do not have much of a natural defensive system anyway—I found myself trammeled in a box, surrounded by mesh wire. Gone was the sultry sun. Gone were the pulchritudinous pink petals. Gone were the alluring aphids. Gone was my freedom. I, apparently, was being adopted as the family pet.

“What do we feed it?”

“Can we get him out and hold him?”

“How do you know it’s a him? Maybe it’s a her.”

I must confess that last remark was hurtful. True, my physique may be wanting, but nonetheless it is an insult to have my masculinity brought into question. I am, indubitably, a “him.” Moreover, “hers” are cannibals, and I am not a cannibal.

“It’s a him, and we’re going to call him Crawly.”

“No, we’re going to call her Crawlina.”

The Overly Excitable Mother definitively declared that I am a male, and therefore I was unceremoniously dubbed “Crawly.”

Daily, the Miniature Humans carried my mesh-wire box outdoors. The Overly Excitable Mother would assist them in capturing flies and assorted other insects for me to eat. It was utterly entertaining to watch her sneak up on the unsuspecting prey, ensnare it in a jar, and diligently maneuver it inside my box. The humans learned early on that I would feast only on living arthropods; therefore, if my meal were to perish during the transition to my mesh-wire home, it would lay untouched at the bottom of the box.

I, on the other hand, discovered that I cannot eat with three sets of eyes staring at me. For some peculiar reason, the humans insisted on watching me bushwhack, annihilate and devour my meal. After that first experience, I refused to allow my mealtime to be reduced to some barbaric form of entertainment. Therefore, when the next morsel was delivered, I ignored it. While six human eyes gawked at me, I kept my five eyes fixed on them. Eventually the humans tired of watching me stand motionless, and as soon as their backs were turned, I seized my prey.

One unseasonably torrid day, the Overly Excitable Mother came to the conclusion that it was much too warm for me inside the stifling house. She reasoned that for the betterment of my wellbeing, she, the two Miniature Humans and I would go for a jaunt in the air-conditioned automobile. Much to my delight, or so I thought at the time, I was removed from my wire-mesh box for this excursion. The Overly Excitable Mother positioned me on the middle console and backed out of the driveway. As our journey began, she turned the air conditioner on and proceeded to point the blowers directly at me.

“There you go, Crawly. Much better, huh? Look kids, he must like it there—he’s not moving. See his antennae blowing?”

Are you crazy, lady? I wanted to scream. I was not moving because I was holding on for dear life. Praying mantises are taught from an early age to batten down the hatches when the wind blows. This was not a joy ride; this was survival of the fittest.

I do not remember how much of my limited lifespan was spent as “Crawly.” Inevitably, the family grew weary of me, or took pity on me, and returned me to the Heritage English rosebush. I remained on that beautiful bush for a day or two before succumbing to a strong breeze which carried me to another new home. Sometimes I wonder about the Miniature Humans and their Overly Excitable Mother, and I pray that next time, they get a dog.

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This article has been read 978 times
Member Comments
Member Date
Jan Ackerson 05/22/08
This guy's voice is delightful! I could just hear him speaking in clipped tones, and visualize his creepy, triangular head...okay, I'll also admit that I'm TERRIFIED of praying mantisses, and this freaked me out. But it's also so good that the writing overcame the ewwwwwwww.
Lynda Lee Schab 05/23/08
What a fun read! Great POV, great voice. A creatively wonderful entry. Well done!
Joanne Sher 05/23/08
Absolutely delightful - love the voice, the use of alliteration in the title AND throughout, and the wry humor. Fun!
Laury Hubrich 05/24/08
Too funny! I just loved this. Charming, clever...
Verna Cole Mitchell 05/25/08
Clever writing. I enjoyed, especially, the alliteration and the "pet's" voice.
Judy Bowers05/25/08
This is so precious and creative and fun and delightful!!
Gregory Kane05/26/08
Excellent. Great characterisation, wonderful observations on human life and an apt punchline. I even learned a bit about mantes as well as a new word, pulchritudinous
Shirley McClay 05/26/08
I love Preying Mantis'... when I was a kid I thought they were aliens! Very fun and creative story! Loved the part about the air conditioner.
Betty Castleberry05/26/08
Great voice. This is a very fun and creative piece. Very well done.
Debbie Wistrom05/27/08
A/C for a bug, who would have come up with that? You did and it was new and different.

Alfred is unforgettable, thanks for lightening my day.
LauraLee Shaw05/28/08
Cannot believe how clever you are! This was SO enjoyable to read and incredibly well-written. Well done!
Sara Harricharan 05/28/08
Very clever! I love the thought of a praying mantis as a pet! Well done! ^_^
Cheri Hardaway 05/28/08
I LOVE this! So creative. Love the voice and POV of "Crawly." The perfect touch of irony, sarcasm, and humor in this delightful piece. Wonderful job! Blessings, Cheri
Karen Wilber05/28/08
Terrific voice and vocabulary. His "attitude" carried all the way through. [In fact, as I'm typing this comment, I'm strangely concerned that I will offend Alfred.] "Overly Excitable Mother" - LOL Well done.
Joshua Janoski05/29/08
This is definitely the only entry this week that I've read about a praying mantis as a pet. Clever!

Alfred was the perfect name for the character, and his speech fit him well too. This was a delightful read, and I hope it does well in the rankings, because I enjoyed it very much.

Thank you for sharing.
Peter Stone05/29/08
Such a cute story, and chock full of biological facts. I love praying mantis, they are such elegant little creatures. I found one as big as my hand on the front door the other day, and carefully introduced him to our bush. Did you know that in Asia, people tie a string to one of their legs, and pin the string inside the window. The mantis eats all the flies that get stuck in the house and land on the window.
LaNaye Perkins05/29/08
I love your MC and the voice you gave him. This is another one of my favorites this week. Well done my friend, well done.
LauraLee Shaw05/29/08
Congrats on your EC!!!! I'm so thrilled for you, Sheri!
Betsy Markman05/29/08
Oh my, very enjoyable. I never knew that Praying Mantises (Manti?) were so eloquent. I almost thought I might have detected a hint of a British accent...
Very good, and educational. I didn't know the females were cannibals.
Congratulations on your EC.
Leigh MacKelvey05/29/08
Congrats! This topic's Anthology will be made up of all your entries! It'll be the "Sheri" Anthology.
Sharlyn Guthrie05/29/08
Great voice! Very clever, and I love the "Overly Excitable Mother." COngratulations on your EC!
Joshua Janoski05/29/08
Congratulations on taking 7th place in your level with this piece, Sheri!
Jason Swiney05/31/08
This is an awesome story. I too "heard" the English accent of the narrator, but with a hint of Dracula mixed in. Many well delivered humorous lines in this piece, I had to explain to my wife why I was laughing at the computer. Did I mention this was an awesome story?