Ugh, left-front leg two is stuck in slime. I hate those chitin-free, spotted, slimy giants. They wander around everywhere leaving messes. Those soft bodies shed slime like the rest of the world exhales carbon dioxide. They are a menace! I need to go in that direction to get home, but I can’t because I’m unable to cross this disgusting trail. It’s going to take ages to find a way around. It takes me a long time to extricate poor number two. The tip is covered in slime that I can’t clean off. Bother.
I walk a bit to get distance between me and that trail. Now there are soil boulders adhering to my foot and it’s quite a tough slog to walk. I try to clean off the chunks, but only succeed in exhausting myself. I toddle over to the trunk of a giant, green tree that sends its single, towering spike high into the sky. There are many here, a quiet forest that hides many denizens. I stab my mouth parts into the juicy trunk and extend my tongue inside the plant and drink greedily. Ah! I extract my mouth and curl seven legs under me, with stricken two sticking out, and nap.
I awake and slowly and diligently work at cleaning off number two. With that work done, I walk for quite some time alongside the slime trail looking for a way across. This is taking too long. My sisters are waiting for me. I can take the way across the hot rock desert. It’s shorter, but more dangerous. I look at the slime trail. The safe way is blocked. I have to get home before the next dark. It’s very dangerous to be in the dark. It’s getting darker now. I turn toward the rock desert.
As I walk, I hear a low thrumming overhead. I see the long body and four wings of the giant hunter high above. I’m glad I’m too small for it to bother with. I hear a splurping noise to my left and see one of the long, slimy earth movers building a mound. Why are so many of these chitinless softies slimy? Ick! I avoid the large cone of slippery mud around the opening to his home. I see the cliff leading to the rock desert up ahead.
There is a large ball of water directly in my path. I skirt it cautiously. It’s just as dangerous as the slime path I stepped into earlier. I hear singing overhead and look up. There’s a lovely pattern of silk strung between the trees, and the weaver is singing while she works. “Hello cousin,” I call to her.
“Hello, little one. What’s your business today?”
“Just on my way home.”
“You as well.”
It’s getting darker, and I’m at the cliff. I climb, it’s an easy task. I hesitate at the edge of the desert. Heat shimmers from its rough, gray surface. Somewhere out there is a random force that instantly squishes. I haven’t seen it, but mother told all of us about it and not to come this way. Her mother died out there. My eight legs quiver and my tongue coils tightly in my mouth. I steady my legs and head out into the rock desert.
The desert is not flat. There are hills and valleys. The hills are about as tall as half my height. I can’t walk straight across, but I my legs are probably long enough to stretch from hill to hill and get across the desert before the dark comes. My legs quiver, and I stretch from one peak to another. I make sure my four back legs are firmly anchored on the current peak and extend my two very long front legs to the next peak. My middle set of legs waggle uselessly in mid-air. Uh oh. I can’t reach the next peak. I back up and try a different direction. I’m successful and continue moving across the desert.
I see another and she says, “Hey.” I say, “Hey,” even though she is not my sister.
“Better not go out there. It’s getting dark.”
“Gotta get across now.”
“And to you.” I continue and see something jump up in the distance. And then to my right. While I’m looking right, something crashes down to my left and I whirl to look, but it’s gone. I keep working my way across and then I see it fall. A water bomb. I haven’t seen these since I was larval. Bam! I’m dizzy and flipping round and spinning. I taste water. I try to walk and it’s difficult to move my legs. I try to swim to the surface and get near but can’t break out. I can’t get through the skin of the water bomb! I’m stuck worse than I would be in a slime trail. The outside world is bent and distorted, but I can see other water bombs falling. Well grandma, guess I’ll be joining you soon.