Ah, my wife. She has a gift for aggravating me.
"We're fine," I said. "We're just taking a shortcut."
I had no idea where we were.
"Well, I'm starving. Can we stop?"
I said, "There's nowhere to eat around here." The truth is I was starving too. We'd been traveling for I-don't-know-how long.
"Just find something," she said.
A short time later, we stopped and got out, but our lunch prospects seemed pretty hopeless. Then I noticed the ground was undulating with these weird things I can only describe as stick bugs, on account of their body shape and coloring. I eyed my bleak surroundings then looked back down at them.
My wife huffed. "You've got to be joking."
"You're the one who said you were hungry."
I took a closer gander at the bizarre insects as they milled around and moved this way and that way with some sense of purpose that escaped me. I wasn't getting any less hungry, so I scooped up a bunch of them and shoved them into my mouth.
"Gross," my wife said.
"They aren't bad," I said, my mouth full. In fact, they were repulsive and it was all I could do not to spit them out. They were crunchy and hard to chew, and I felt their little stick limbs moving around, fighting to get free. One almost did, but I poked it back in.
"You can forget about kissing me later," my wife said. As if.
As nasty as they were, I needed to fill my gut, so I swept up another batch. Those I missed scurried like mad. I shoveled the less fortunate ones into my mouth as soon as I swallowed the first wad, which went down hard and made me gag. "You should try it, it's not-"
"Shhhh!" she said. "Do you hear that?"
I stared at her.
She gestured at the scurrying critters. "Listen to the noise they make."
"They don't make noise," I said. "They're bugs." For all I know, some bugs make noise, but when you've been married as long as we have, you develop a habit of arguing for the sake of arguing.
She leaned closer to the ground. "They're screaming."
I laughed, spitting stick-bug limbs. "They're bugs!" I'll admit that my wife's hearing is superior to mine, especially with higher frequencies. But, seriously, they were screaming?
With a delicate touch, she picked one up and held it to her ear. Then she took on that self-satisfied, smug expression – the one I hate – and pressed the critter next to my ear. "You think you know everything?" she said.
It took me a couple of seconds to focus my hearing, but son-of-a-gun, the thing was making all kinds of barely audible racket.
Perhaps my hearing isn't great, kind of like my sense of direction, but I am a genius when it comes to languages (literally; I'm certified). It only takes me a moment to identify grammar patterns and tones and start picking it up myself. And this bug was saying, "Please don't kill me. Please, God, don't kill me."
It thought I was called "God."
I said to it, "Where are we?"
It said, "Wh-wh-what?"
I said, "What planet did I stop on?"
The bug said, "Earth."
I said, "Who's in charge around here?"
"We are," the tiny little thing said. "Humans."
"Not anymore," I said, popping it into my mouth.
What? I was hungry.
I spill my words all over the internet in careless fashion, covering arts and entertainment here, satirizing politics and media there, and writing about writing on my blog. My fiction has begun clawing its way from the crypt as well. Oh, I drink a lot of tea. Is that weird?
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