Yesterday's Magazette

14 – Lair Of The Wasp

Lair Of The Wasp

Story and Art by Richard Ong

The ground seemed far away. Not a single breeze to alleviate the scorching heat of the midday sun. My eyes stung from the salty sweat that trickled down my brow as I lifted my hand to shield my face from the merciless ball of fire that hovered like an angry god above the clouds. 

I nearly fell from the effort and darted a glance down to where IT hovered, barely two feet below the tree branch where I sat at a precarious position. The creature was silent, waiting for the opportunity to strike. Its blade-like wings sliced through the thick and humid air in a blur. Its reddish-brown body was segmented like that of a gigantic ant and its needle-sharp sting on its posterior gave it the appearance of a mounted knight dragging his deadly lance behind. 

“Look, I’m really sorry Mr. Wasp,” said I. “Please don’t sting me. I didn’t mean to disturb you. I only wanted to pick some makopa for a snack.” The ample bell-shaped makopa fruit from the tall java apple tree in our garden in Manila were already red and ripe for the picking. Underneath its crunchy skin was a delicious, juicy interior. The sweet floral fragrance of a freshly-picked barrel full of ripe makopa drove a lot of crazy nine-year-old kids like me clambering up the tree’s twenty-foot height to satiate our bottomless appetite. Apparently, I wasn’t the only with the same idea. Mr. Wasp slowly waved its antennae in my direction until it was almost a foot away from the branch. Its stinger quivered in the air and I thought I saw a drop of venom fall and sizzle on a withered leaf below the creature.

I swallowed hard and almost gagged at my own saliva. I tried to seek clemency through the alien creature’s ebony eyes when I caught sight of some debris on the tree trunk below. My heart sunk when I saw the large gaping hole on the side of Mr. Wasp’s mud-nest. One side of the round intricately-built structure had recently caved in with a piece of its wall dangling from the sole of my right shoe.

There would be no mercy for one unfortunate kid that day. Mr. Wasp was out for blood!

My eyes stung from the river of sweat pouring down my face. My heart pounded like a jackhammer, while Mr. Wasp hovered a few inches closer to my right leg, as if it could smell the rich pulsating flow of blood from my beating heart beneath the skin. It suddenly flew up at a rate of speed that defied imagination. Before I realized what happened, Mr. Wasp deftly maneuvered itself above my chest with its posterior bent towards my direction. The bag of fruits slipped from my grip while I desperately tried to use both hands to lower myself to the next branch.

Mr. Wasp did not follow and I felt through the tip of my soles the purchase of solid resistance. I opened my fingers and dropped to a crouching position on the lower branch. I felt myself sway from side-to-side as I realized too late that the branch could barely hold my weight.

There was a snap and I instinctively launched myself towards the center of the tree and hugged the trunk. My unprotected legs bled from multiple scrapes on the side. I gritted my teeth and tried to focus on making the rest of the way down before Mr. Wasp decided to take advantage of the situation.

I looked down and saw a fork on the trunk where I could direct my descent by allowing my body to slide a few feet at a time. The fork itself was probably a mere five feet above the base of the tree. It didn’t seem so bad until, from the corner of my eye, I saw something swoop down towards me. 

I looked up and screamed. Mr. Wasp’s kamikaze charge was almost upon me when I let go and allowed my body to slide all the way down the side of the trunk, adding more injury to my already battered arms and legs. As soon as my feet touched the fork, I twisted my body around and jumped from the tree. The grass barely softened the impact of my landing. The bruises would be visible for days.

Mr. Wasp continued its relentless dive towards me and I forced myself up and began to run as fast my legs could manage. I turned around and saw that Mr. Wasp was still gaining on me.

“Help me!” I shouted at the top of my lungs. I rounded a corner and finally saw the screen door of the duplex bungalow. I leapt over Blondie, our yawning dog, and hoped that Mr. Wasp would turn its attention on her instead of me. I ran across the terrace and yanked open the screen door. I went inside and locked it behind me.

My breath was ragged as I peered through the wire mesh of the screen. Blondie stretched, rolled over and yawned, apparently unaware of all the commotion around her. I pressed my nose against the screen and looked around.

There was no sign of Mr. Wasp. I exhaled a sigh of relief and allowed myself to slide down onto the cool ceramic tile of my grandmother’s living room. I felt something light brush the side of my head and saw a shadow dart across the floor. I raised my head to see what it was.

My blood froze as Mr. Wasp closed in for the kill.

Vol. 38 No. 3 – Copyright © Yesterday’s Magazette – Fall- 2011

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