52 comments

Coming of Age Fantasy Kids

“Now, little Diz, I think we're set, but can you think of anything else your momma would like to sink her fangs into when she’s done giving birth?”

Saying this, the elderly mouse spider, Gra’ma Occatoria, tip-tapped eight steps back on spindly legs, revealing the feast she’d laid out on a platform made of hundreds of layers of silk. In the banquet-hall, the lowermost chamber attached to the central shaft of the burrow, which was illuminated by fireflies and glowworms secured to the webbing on the walls, the young spiderling with the bright red head, gunmetal blue abdomen and shiny black legs tottered closer, his chelicerae jaws drooling as he surveyed the smorgasbord.

“Let me see,” he said, eight eyes roaming over the delicacies on display as he patrolled back and forth on a carpet of webs. “Moths. Beetles. Ants. One big, fat, juicy wasp. Lots of cockroaches. And a lizard? Gra’ma! Where did you get a lizard?”

“Ohh, that is a special treat,” the ancient spider chuckled. “Your uncles Chel and Myg caught it last night. An incredible battle I believe, no doubt those two will regale us with an account at the party. So, what do you think? Will Madame Missoleni be content?”

“She weavingly, webbingly will!” said Diz, whose full name was Diztrez but who was only ever addressed by the shortened version, not just because it was a shortened version but because he was well-known, as the most hyperactive spiderling in the cluster, for making himself dizzy by zipping around the burrow at great speed. “She’ll be hungry when she empties her egg sac, and she’ll love vomiting enzymes over that! Chel and Myg did great! I can’t wait until I’m old enough to man the trapdoors and ambush reptiles!”

“Oh, you’ve a ways to go before that,” said Occatoria, chuckling and returning to her table. “There is one thing missing, a centrepiece, though I can’t blame you for overlooking it, as it just popped into our parlour a short time ago.”

Diz looked at his grandmother in surprise for a moment then started to run around in circles. “Popped into our parlour? What do you mean? Something got caught in a trap-tube? How did you know, Gra’ma, how?”

“Settle down, Diz,” Occatoria urged, reaching out to catch the panicking spiderling. Stopped abruptly, Diz stood swaying from side to side, all eyes rolling on his carapace as he steadied his legs. “I felt the triplines under the carpet vibrate, didn’t you?”

“Um…well…I mean…I think I felt something but I was watching you lay out the feast and I wanted to make sure everything was…”

Occatoria laughed.

“It’s alright, Diz, you don’t have to pretend. Of course you didn’t feel it, was cruel of me to ask. But that’s what I mean. You’ve a lot to learn before you’re close to being ready to go hunting. So how about you concentrate on that. And how about you make yourself useful now by fetching the tasty morsel that’s gotten itself stuck in the southeast trap-tube.”

“Me?” Diz asked, shaking himself to clear his head and dropping back down into a crouch. “You want me to go? On my own?”

“Why not? You want to help, don’t you? And you can tell your momma you added the piece de resistance to the feast. She’ll be so proud of you, now one of the eldest of her spiderlings.”

“Oh. Well…yes! I’d love to. But…what is it?”

“Well, unless I’ve read the vibrations wrong, I think it’s a duskhawker damselfly. Double-spined and veiny-winged, she’ll make the perfect addition to our feast. Once I’ve incapacitated her of course. Now, be a good spinner and go fetch. I’ll leave the heavy-lifting to you, while I work up a batch of fresh venom.”

Diztrez puffed out his furry, blue chest and lifted his carapace high, happy to have been asked to perform this important duty. It was the first time Gra’ma, or any of the elders, had entrusted him with a task of such importance and he felt proud and useful and mature.

“Okay, Gra’ma! I’ll get that juicy damselfly here pronto!”

He hopped, all eight legs leaving the silk-lined earthen floor together, then scuttled towards the exit to the shaft.

“That’s a good spinner,” said Gra’ma. “Make sure you wrap it well before freeing it from the web. Head and all. Damselflies are a tricky bunch, full of mistruths and lies. It will say anything to get free, so don’t believe a word it says.”

“I won’t,” Diz called back, though he was only partially listening, so preoccupied was he with making his way through the set of silk and soil trapdoors that closed the banquet hall off from the rest of the burrow. “I’ll be back in two squirts of a spinneret!” he said, and then he was off, tearing through silk-lined, glowworm lit tunnels at tremendous speed.

Slowing to tip-toe only twice whilst traversing the web-cushioned network of tunnels–once when passing the brood chamber where his mother was several hours into the birthing process and again when approaching the trapdoor that led to the assembly hall, where the rest of the cluster, including his father, patiently awaited the new arrivals–Diz made short work of reaching the southeast trap-tube and getting his eyes on the trespasser, who’d come to an embarrassing end, stuck to the silk-covered walls.

“Damselfly!” he gasped, skidding to a halt at the entrance to the tube and spinning around in excitement. “Gra’ma was right!”

“What’s that?” came a female voice from the end of the tunnel, and Diz noticed the captured fly come to a halt, ceasing its futile efforts to rip its trapped wings from sticky gossamer. “I see you there. Spider, right? Mouse spider? Hey, come on over and help me out! We’re in big trouble and you’re going to need my help if you want to survive!”

Damselflies are a tricky bunch, Gra’ma’s words came back to him, as he lowered his glossy black cephalothorax and tentatively entered the passage. Full of mistruths and lies. It will say anything to get free, so don’t believe a word it says.

“Sure I am,” he said, circling the tube as he crept closer. “I’m in so much trouble, stuck in webs, waiting to be paralysed and eaten and... Oh, wait. That’s you!”

Trying to mimic his father and uncles, Diz lowered his bulbous, red head as he came to a halt above the fly and fixed it with as much of an intimidating gaze as his eight glistening eyes could muster, waiting for the mottled brown insect to quiver in fear.

“Yep, that’s me,” the slender damselfly replied, rolling the red, orb-like eyes on either side of her head and emitting a strange buzzing from her thorax. “But it’s going to be you if you don’t listen. You think I came in here on purpose? Do I look like an idiot? I came in to get away from them, and you better listen, because just like they devoured my family in a matter of minutes, they’ll do the same to yours. I’d say without batting an eyelid but batting their eyelids is how they eat and those brutes are insatiable.”

“I don’t know what you’re saying,” said Diz, giving up trying to look scary and manoeuvring to aim his furry abdomen and protruding spinneret at the fly. “And I don’t care. Gra’ma said you’d try to trick me. And she’s waiting for us, so I’m going to wrap you up now and take you to her. You’re going to be the centrepiece of a feast, you know, you should be proud.”

“Oh, I’m ecstatic,” the damselfly sighed, as threads of silk shot from Diz’s hindquarters, wrapping around her as he ran in dizzying circles around the tube. “Can’t think how I’d rather spend an evening. Although, watching a croaking colony of cane toads devour a cluster of ungrateful mouse spiders is up there. Maybe I can do that while being your centrepiece. Oh, how I’ll laugh, knowing it could have been avoided if a spiderling listened!” 

“Cane toads?” Diz said, coming to a halt before the now well-and-truly incapacitated bug, only its head protruding from tightly wound swathes. “Pah. We’re not afraid of toads. My papa caught a toad by himself last winter. It fed us for days. Cane toads are afraid of spiders! They wouldn’t dare enter our warren. They don’t even know where it is.”

“You think?” said the damsel, as Diz used his chelicerae to cut her free. “You weren’t listening, were you? I said I came here to escape them. One in particular. He saw where I went and trust me, after what I did to him, he’s not going to give up and leave me.”

“What did you do?” Diz asked. Gra’ma Occatoria’s words were buzzing in his head, almost as loud as the buzzing inside his captive’s body. “Disturb his sleep with that noise?”

“Worse,” said the damsel, now lying prone in silk wrappings on the floor. Diz squirted another web from his spinnerette, glued it to the fuzzy, white cocoon, and started to make his way out of the tube, dragging his prize behind him. “I had a run in with him, after he and his mate arrived in the wetlands. Didn’t think much of it at the time. Should have, but there were only the two of them so who was I to make a fuss? Even if Ol’ Lumpy took a shot at me while I was out catching skater bugs. 

“He nearly got me with that disgusting tongue of his but I managed to escape and lead him on a chase into the scrub. I won’t lie, I was worried. I’d never come across a toad before and it wasn’t just terrifying, it was repulsive. Lucky for me I’m pretty zippy. And I knew the lay of the land better than him. Was easy to lure him into a trap, just acted like I’d run out of steam over a hollowed-out tree trunk until he took a flying jump and fell in. Go me! 

“He tried to jump out but he was stuck pretty tight so I left him. That’s nature, right? I guess based on that logic I can’t complain he did manage to escape, reunite with his mate and create an army of wartoads over the summer. But now they’re running rampant, devouring everything they can get their tongues on, including my family, and that’s why I’m telling you to listen, because Ol’ Lumpy saw where I went and once he gets me, he’ll want you!”

All the time the damselfly spoke, Diz had been dragging her from the trap-tube into the main shaft of the burrow, down along it deeper into the earth, traversing the silky passages that led back to Gra’ma. When she finally stopped to take a breath he took the opportunity to reply.

“That’s an exciting story, damselfly, but like I said, it doesn’t matter. Lizards, cane toads, frogs. Mouse spiders aren’t afraid of them. If they try to poke their squishy heads down here, my papa and uncles will web them up so fast they won’t know…”

“Diztrez! What did I say! Don’t engage in conversation with the food!”

Diz jumped and spun to find Gra’ma Occatoria’s elderly but still imposing form dominating the tunnel ahead. 

“G-g-gra’ma! Wh-what are you doing here? I’m bringing the fly back, look. I wrapped her up well, like you said.”

“Not her head,” Gra’ma replied, skittering closer and pirouetting to aim her abdomen at the insect. “I came to keep an eye on things. Like I said, damselflies can’t be trusted.”  

“Ma’am, with all respect, I really think you should listen to -”

A blast of silk from Occatoria’s behind cut the damsel off as a spray of web coated her head, sealing her mouth and leaving her eyes rotating wildly, the buzzing inside her getting louder.  

“That’s enough,” she said, turning back to Diz. “I don’t know what lies she was telling but now you see what I mean. Damselflies can’t be trusted, so best not engage with them at…”

Diz was about to protest that he had indeed turned a deaf ear to the damselfly’s nonsense but it was at that moment that the roof above Occatoria exploded, raining dirt and mud down upon the elderly spinstress and allowing a plump, rope-like length of pink tongue to burst in, curl around her, pluck her off the ground and haul her up.

It took Diz a second to recognise she was gone, where she had gone, and what had taken her, and then he was shouting, crying, twirling and spinning on the spot, getting his legs tangled in the web that connected him to his prisoner before tripping and falling to the floor. 

Just as the tongue rammed in again.

Somehow the sticky rope missed him and then, when it withdrew to prepare another strike, he was up, getting his legs underneath him and running like he’d never run before.

And run he had to, because the tongue didn’t quit, continuing to drill through the ceiling behind him, causing him to shriek as he veered around a curve in the tunnel, the entrance to the assembly hall ahead. Behind him, the damselfly was doing her own version of screaming, that infernal buzzing she emitted louder now than ever, reverberating up and down the tunnel. He wanted to yell shut up, but it was the least of his worries, and as the door ahead swung open and he saw Uncle Myg look out, he opened his mouth to shout a warning…

And then the roof collapsed, over the entrance to the hall, allowing a monstrous blob of lumpy grey flesh to drop through, all legs and eyes and mouth, belching as it slapped a tongue down on his uncle, dragged him twitching and jerking into its maw before turning and crashing into the chamber.

Shocked, horrified, young Diz staggered and tripped, crashing to the silk-covered floor, all eyes staring in disbelief as a second toad dropped in after the first, advanced into the assembly hall behind it, joining the attack on the cluster.

“Papa!” Diz cried, trying to straighten his legs then realising he was moving without them, backwards, away from the fight. 

“No!” he cried, twisting to see the damselfly, who had managed to wriggle her wings free of wrappings that had torn during their flight, flapping hard and rising towards the ceiling, dragging him now as she entered another tunnel. “Let go! I have to help my family!”

“Your family is gone,” the damsel replied, spitting strands of silk from her mouth as her mandibles ripped free. “Like mine. Be thankful I’m taking you with me.”

Diz saw another toad drop through the hole before he was dragged out of the passage, skittering along the floor as the monster gave chase. He thought of his father and uncles, being set upon by hungry toads; he thought of Gra’ma Occatoria, slurped into the gob of a greedy frog; he thought of the damselfly and how he should have heeded her warning; and then he thought of his mother and her sac, when he realised her chamber was ahead.

“Stop!” he yelled at the fly, whose buzz had grown so loud she might not have heard. Ahead, the hopping beast charged around the corner. “You’re leading it to…”

A crumbling cacophony made him turn to see the ceiling collapse on the other side of the brood-chamber, at which they’d almost arrived. The damselfly fluttered to a halt. Diz went tumbling forward. A cane toad fell from the roof, the lumpiest one of all, plopped down on leathery feet, fixed the mouse spider with a ravenous glare.

Its eyes bulged, its maw gaped, its tongue flicked out and licked the air. Diztrez, staring into a gaping abyss, wondered if Gra’ma was inside and waited for the tongue to strike its blow. 

“No,” said the damsel, when the cane toad burped and shuffled closer. “He’s with me. Same deal. We’re even now. Our business is concluded.”

Diz watched as the toad lifted its head to regard the fly. A second seemed to stretch into an hour, then it sucked in its eyeballs, emitted a stuttering thrill and shuffled away, brushing past Diz and the damsel, joining its brethren as they broke through the door in the wall.

“Wait, what?” said Diz, but then he was moving, rising into the air beneath the damsel, who had resumed flying, shredded sheets of silk flapping beneath her as she went through the hole. 

“Stop!” Diz cried, watching the burrow drop away below him. “We have to help mama!”

“I’m sorry,” the damselfly replied, flying higher, faster, away from the grass-topped hillock in the midst of a marsh, her thorax no longer buzzing.

“You led them to us,” Diz realised, swinging from a thread in the moonlit night. “With that sound. You told them where to dig.”

“Had to. They got my family too, like I said, and Ol’ Lumpy would have eaten me if I didn’t help him catch the spiders who killed his mate. But we’ll be safe now. They’ll keep terrorising the wetlands but they’ll never bother me or you again. That’s a promise.”

“A promise,” Diz repeated, trying to suppress his heartache, eyes searching below for a place to land.

“You know what a promise is, right?”

“I know,” said Diz, extending his head, clicking his jaws, cutting the strand of silk that held him aloft. “And I promise you,” he said, dropping from the damsel towards a waterlogged fen. 

“I’ll grow up, I’ll learn how to hunt, I’ll build my own burrow and traps, and then, when I’m ready, I’ll find you and those toads...

"And you’ll be sorry.”

And with these words, Diztrez the mouse spider was picked up by the wind and carried away.  


October 20, 2023 20:35

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52 comments

10:54 Oct 31, 2023

This is one of my all time favourites from you Derrick! I am not one to cuddle arachnids, but I have mad respect for them as creatures, and have gotten trapped in a few Tarantula Video-spirals in my time. I was absolutely hooked on the whole communal Mouse Spider society you created. The characters had a lot of depth for a 3000 word limit and the world building was solid, you even gave them a bit of dialect and colloquialisms. This was a lot of fun to read and I would devour it as a series. Great work here!!

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19:29 Oct 31, 2023

Thank you Cecilia. I really really appreciate that. It makes it all worthwhile. A lot of people seem to enjoy my stories which inspires me to keep going when I feel disheartened. Thank you again 🥰

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PM McClory
15:27 Oct 27, 2023

The amount of world-building here in such a short space is incredible. You establish not only an entire family of spiders--hunting uncles, birthing mamas, snarky grandmas--but also an entire setting, and then two more "societies" on top of that, all with clear motivations! And the vocabulary is so much fun: the spidery dialect, the way Diz talks ("She weavingly, webbingly will!"), and I love learning new words like chelicerae. This completely transported me, Derrick! Great job.

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17:56 Oct 27, 2023

Thank you for saying this! Means a lot. I'm all about trying to create inventive situations and memorable characters so delighted to hear you got lost in the story. Ps - you were robbed in the comp!

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06:03 Oct 30, 2023

this story is sucks

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10:05 Oct 30, 2023

Thanks for the feedback. What did you not like about it? Can you share one of your stories so I can see how to improve? Thanks!

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03:38 Oct 31, 2023

This isn't a criticism is it, Jwaied? Not really. You just thought you'd do a play on words! And I'm sure you meant to say, " . . .it sucks".

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Caiden Emmer
14:44 Dec 14, 2023

Wow i did not see that coming!! YOU ARE AMASSING!!!

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21:37 Dec 15, 2023

💗💗💗 thank you

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Amanda Lieser
20:03 Nov 23, 2023

Hi Derrick! Oh my gracious this was an exceptional take on the prompt. I admit I’d never heard of this particular species and as a staunch arachnophobe, I don’t plan to. That being said, I’m deeply attached to these characters. You zoomed in on and dug deep into a fascinating environment. You created an incredibly rich world. Nice work!!

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Martin Ross
16:19 Nov 17, 2023

I loved it! I despise arachnids, but you built their society flawlessly, and the zoological knowledge/research is impressive (I was an invertebrate geek as a teen). It’s like a sort of daaaaark Charlotte’s Web meets cross-species Game of Thrones meets Criminal Minds (felt a chill at the damsel scenes) I could imagine a graphic novel series, and I would kill to see it done up as a children’s book or a Pixar short by Tim Burton (a bit of a jerk, me). When I caught on to “Diztrez,” I cackled and scared Sue. Brilliant to take a prompt that inspi...

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10:44 Nov 19, 2023

thanks Martin . really appreciate the comment. ive gotten a bit disillusioned lately about my writign ability so this was nice to read this morning. thank you

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Martin Ross
16:44 Nov 19, 2023

Derrick, I enjoy your work tremendously! There are such diverse views and tastes in fiction that it can be tough to sort out reviews and easy to feel discouraged. My wife is my harshest critic, but she doesn’t like plot complexity or dark humor, so I have to look at what my intended audience says about my stuff. Been having a lot of block lately, especially with my mysteries — my last Dodge was going nowhere until nearly deadline, and I’m totally uncertain how my non-series stories go over. The stories I think of as throwaway often get the...

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Philip Ebuluofor
13:59 Nov 01, 2023

Fine work.

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Audrey Knox
23:03 Oct 31, 2023

I love the choice to make the grandparent/grandchild pair here bugs instead of humans. Really creative, out-of-the-box thinking. The characters are so cute, as is the voice and writing style, but there were some moments (especially with the world-building at the very beginning when I was getting my bearings with the lingo and the character names) where the sentences would get jumbly and I had to go back and re-read things for clarity. Diz is cute and I really felt for him with the attack at the end. I would have loved to see more room for ...

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23:13 Oct 31, 2023

Thanks for this feedback Audrey. It's extremely helpful. I will definitely have a look and see where I could improve on this keeping your points in mind. The story was originally 3600 words when finished and obviously I had to cut 600 of those so some of the stuff you mentioned could have been lost there. It's the challenge of the format but I'm working on it! Thanks again!

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Audrey Knox
23:14 Oct 31, 2023

Efficiency is the biggest challenge with these types of stories! It's why I am grateful for the consistent opportunities for practice and feedback that Reedsy provides here.

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03:35 Oct 31, 2023

As a short story is too short to introduce threats like cane toads, and not have them as part of the story, I dreaded what was going to happen to the spiders. Not sure how the damsel got free but I suspended my disbelief because I wanted there to be survivors of the awful attack. And I'm not fond of spiders. Great title. Did you have to do much research about spiders and insects? Fascinating tale. The vocab and spidey words worked well.

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19:31 Oct 31, 2023

Thank you Kathryn. I guess Damsel got free because the webbing around her got torn a bit as Diz dragged her along the ground through the tunnels. And maybe he didn't wrap her up all too well to begin with! It was his first time...which was why Grama secretly tailed along behind to keep an eye on things;) Thanks for reading!

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19:49 Nov 01, 2023

I did think at the time it was a first, not so good attempt.

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Kailani B.
15:52 Oct 26, 2023

I really don't like spiders, but this was quite gripping stuff. I'd love to see a whole series chronicling Diz's journey.

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06:30 Oct 27, 2023

😬😬😬😬 That's a great idea . The Diary of Diztez. Maybe he and Damsel could team up down the line ....

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Aditi Kumar
13:40 Oct 26, 2023

This was great! What an original setting, and your use of language is so visceral too - 'he thought of Gra’ma Occatoria, slurped into the gob of a greedy frog'; “I’ll be back in two squirts of a spinneret!” - it's so reminiscent of the wetlands themselves, and also like you absolutely relished writing your story. Very cool!

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06:31 Oct 27, 2023

Thanks Adti! Glad you enjoyed! I did love writing it indeed

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Tom Skye
21:11 Oct 25, 2023

Haha wow, I got pretty invested in this spider! So much great expressive language describing anatomy and gooey secretions. It was making my skin crawl a bit 😂 Brilliantly put together, and came across as a knowledgeable depiction of the bugs, outside of the fantasy element of course. Great read Derrick. Loved it

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06:34 Oct 26, 2023

Ah thanks Tom! Appreciate the read and comment. Glad you enjoyed

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Susan Catucci
19:57 Oct 25, 2023

The second I saw this was coming from the spider POV in the world of insects, I knew it would be great - and it really is. Your balanced blend of human and creepy-crawly DNA worked brilliantly - from spider to fly to java the hut (that's what I pictured). I wrote once from the POV of a Honey creeper and a virus and I know how much fun that was to put together - I imagine you either had the time of your life or worked yourself silly with the research to make it all work. Either way, Derrick, it works - it's both impressive and inspired an...

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06:35 Oct 26, 2023

Thanks Susan. I loved writing it. Definitely took a lot of research to get going with it but once that was done i flew through it. Thanks for the support! Glad you enjoyed!

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Danie Holland
12:17 Oct 25, 2023

Derrick, wow. This was a spiderweb of emotions. First we start out with Diz (Diztrez) Clever name by the way and his family. I truly always fall madly in love with the selfish villainous characters of every story. I... don't know what this says about me. What I love about our damsel is that she has the "FORK" you know. Do you save yourself at the risk of someone else or don't you? Its amazing the character development you squeeze into this bite size story. We can't root for her. Of course we can't. She just got our little protagonists family...

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12:52 Oct 25, 2023

I love your comments and support! So happy you liked it! Yes Damsel does what she has to do. There really are no heroes or villains in nature just every species trying to survive. Really love these characters though and would love to revisit them. Thanks!

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Kay Reed
15:53 Oct 24, 2023

I’ve never once felt sympathetic toward a spider, until now…well done!

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16:57 Oct 25, 2023

Aw you've got to feel sorry for poor little Diz! Thanks Kay!

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Karen Corr
11:59 Oct 23, 2023

Thanks Derrick, for a great long-leggedy beastie story! (:

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12:50 Oct 23, 2023

,🕷️🕷️🕷️🕷️🕷️😅

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Michał Przywara
03:04 Oct 23, 2023

Very fun :) A nice wholesome family celebration turns to a cataclysmic nightmare. The creatures of the world balance civility with doing what has to be done to survive, and blood debts are nurtured and never forgotten. I had no idea how this might end, and the whole escape was quite tense. I could see it being the violent start of an unlikely friendship, but now it seems its an origin story for a new rivalry. The cycle of violence continues - but it must, mustn't it? One must eat to survive. So curiously, despite the slaughter, there aren'...

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12:59 Oct 23, 2023

Hi Michal! Thanks for dropping by! Yes, as Gra'ma said, those damselflies will say anything to save their skin. So initially agreeing to help the toads by leading them to the spiders' warren and helping them lcatch them by surprise , then -as soon as caught in a web and at the spiders mercy - switching allegiances. But of course Diz didn't listen and so it was back to plan A, direct the toads to the spiders by way of her buzzing. She wasn't cruel enough to put it back on Diz' shoulders at the end by saying "if you'd listened to me we could ...

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Mary Bendickson
00:01 Oct 23, 2023

Wow, Derrick. I wrote a spidery tale for number 203 called 'The Hour-Glass Figure' but you took this to another whole level! Wish I could do as well.😉 Thanks.😊

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11:53 Oct 24, 2023

Hi Mary. I remember that one and I really liked it! Just as good as mine! :) We know our spiders!!

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AnneMarie Miles
19:58 Oct 22, 2023

Genius! And so entertaining! Never would have considered a spider's point of view, but how fun to consider the dynamic of all of these marsh creatures. You brought us right into their element and gave us quite the adventure. I wasn't expecting the damselfly to spare little Diz after he wrapped her up like that. But I suppose she felt a bit guilty after leading those roads to kill his family ... This actually touches quite a bit on family loyalty and vengeance. Such a delight to read, thanks!

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21:00 Oct 22, 2023

Thank you AnneMarie! I enjoy writing stories like this that have a kids adventure story type set up but with a bit of darker depth. Glad it worked for you.

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Robert Egan
21:12 Oct 21, 2023

I wish there were more stories like this one out there for kids. Great concepts here with learning not to overlook half-truths and recognizing vengeance as the gift that keeps on giving. This could be a great series for readers of all ages. I think this is the first story I've read on here with no human characters, and now I want more. The spider names sounded like spider names, and the insect dialogue plus descriptions were a joy to read. Excellent storytelling, Derrick!

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20:59 Oct 22, 2023

Thanks Robert. I love that comment. These are the stories I really enjoy writing. My kids enjoy stories like this that are a little dark but hard to find anything like it. Ive written a kids book in the same veinand have a second in the works.maybe I should focus on trying to get them out there

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Robert Egan
03:31 Oct 24, 2023

Go for it! I don't have kids just yet, but I'd happily read those books anyway, which I think is part of the magic.

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Chris Miller
20:42 Oct 21, 2023

A sort of Watership Down feeling with an arachnid cast. Very entertaining. A great action visual when the toads are crashing through the roof and the cranefly is dragging Diz away. Really good fun, Derrick. Nice work.

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11:52 Oct 24, 2023

Thank you Chris. Oh watership down, I'll take it!

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Ferris Shaw
13:47 Nov 09, 2023

That's a very good point. Isn't this basically another version of the first part of Watership Down, with Diz standing in for Hazel, the unnamed damselfly for Fiver (although with a very different relationship to Diz, of course), and the toads filling in for the human real estate developers? Doesn't take away from your accomplishment of writing it, of course. A really outstanding story, and I would love to see where you go with it if you expand it to a series or even a full novel.

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