Danny’s in a Hole

Submitted into Contest #50 in response to: Write a story told entirely through one chase scene.... view prompt


Adventure Funny Thriller

You’ve really done it this time, Danny. Just look at the hole you’ve dug for yourself, or should I say fallen into? Trapped like the bug you are. Mama tried to warn you about those who mean to harm you. “They’d just as soon as have you for dinner then look at you—literally,” She’d say. But you had to play the rebellious youth, didn’t you, Danny? Acting tough and forging your own way. You wanted to see what all the hullabaloo was about regarding conical pits. It turns out you’re just another punk kid who tempted fate and lost, getting too close to the edge and falling to the bottom of a deep hole. Now you’re on the menu.

Think fast, Danny. What did Mama say about climbing outta holes like these? That doodlebug may look round and slow, but he also looks hungry. I wish Mama were here. She’d know what to do.

I must’ve twisted a couple legs on the way down. They hurt like a—


Yeah, now I remember! Mama always said you got six legs, so use em. I’ll switchback up the sides of this pit and get home in time for dinner. My mouth is starting to water just thinking about those cockroaches and flies. I love how Mama prepares them.

I scurried up the pit walls to safety, free from the oncoming doodlebug whose only intention was on catching (something his pitfall trap failed to do) and making a meal out of me.

When I reached the top, I realized I was wrong. I wasn’t safe at all. The doodlebug was right behind me. When it reached the top, he headed straight toward me. I could tell Mr. Doodlebug wasn’t happy his meal got away. Saliva was dripping from his jaws like water flowing over Niagara Falls.

I ran.

Mama calls doodlebugs antlions. Just looking at them you’d think they were harmless. But don’t be fooled. Roly Polies are like miniature lions, hence their nickname: antlions. They prey on ants like me, whereas lions hunt down antelopes and zebras. Lions may have fangs, but doodlebugs have large, sickle-shaped mandibles. And once they latch on to you, you’re doomed. You can take my word for it. I’ve seen it happen to hundreds of my friends.

Two of my legs were in bad shape from the fall, the left rear and middle legs were useless, but I still had four strong ones I was sure would carry me home. My walking was a little erratic, so I had to overcompensate with my healthy legs to stay on course. My antennae told me the nearest bush was just up ahead on the right, so I made a b-line.

It was tougher than I thought planting my feet in the sandy soil. With every step the sand pebbles under my four feet gave way. I couldn’t get traction to accelerate. Instead, it was a constant battle stepping, slipping, and readjusting my feet. The Roly Poly was gaining, and I was beginning to tire.

If I didn’t catch a break soon I’d be served as supper in short order.

Then, there it was. The break I was hoping for was within reach. When I got to the rim of the slope, I looked down and took the plunge, running. This was my chance to put space between me and Mr. Doodlebug. Undoubtedly, like me, he would take advantage of the momentum going down the hill, but he was too fat and slow to narrow the gap chasing me up the other side, following me into the bushes, and catching me before I reached home.

At the bottom of the hill, my four legs felt weak and drained. But the prospect of being eaten-alive was enough to heighten my adrenaline, and will to live. I started making my way up the other side. My gait was a little slower, but my footing was steady and sure. I couldn’t afford any slipups.

I rubbernecked catching a glimpse of my attacker, then did a double-take. Mr. Doodlebug was watching me from the top of the other side. He wasn’t moving. I figured he must’ve realized the futility of chasing me and would be retreating shortly.

I was wrong again. I hoped my mistake wouldn’t be fatal. My naivety was embarrassing. Mama would be ashamed. She taught me, along with her other hundred children, about the predators of the world: spiders and beetles and giants walking on two feet gassing us with poisons. Would I be her only child to succumb to a Roly Poly?

Mr. Doodlebug went into attack mode as mama warned they were prone to do. He rolled himself up into a tiny ball and careened down the hill, spiraling out of control, but yet in complete control. My two useless legs trembled as did my antennae. I froze. Nervous hormones began seeping wildly from my thorax and abdomen.

Thankfully, my panic attack was temporary and I got moving again. I was nearing the top of the hill when Mr. Doodlebug bounced off the bottom, his downhill speed pushing him up the hill toward me. At this rate, he’d overtake me before I could yell mama. I had to make it into the tall grass and hide—fast!

When I got to the top, I hurried into the blades of grass and hunkered down, keeping a lookout. I reeked of hormones. The vapors wisped into the air. Their scent might be the death of me.

When Mr. Doodlebug came into view, he unfurled and poked out his head. He seemed to glare. He opened his mandibles and screaked. I’m sure if he had a chest he’d be pounding it in triumph conquering the hill. He was confident that I was all but on his dinner plate.

I knew that as soon as I moved I’d give away my position. But I did have an advantage. Walking on shrubs was second nature, even down two of my six legs. And Mr. Doodlebug’s rolling secret weapon was of no use in tall grasses or dandelions.

I made a quick calculation. Home was just on the other side of the long black pavement. Beyond that, there were several thorny bushes with white flowers all planted in a row. It was between those plants where I shared a home with thousands of friends and family. All things being equal, I was positive I could get there and take refuse deep inside the tunnels of my anthill. The army guarding it would be quick to quell the danger.

Ready, Danny? Run!

I ran as fast as my four good legs allowed. I could see the bushes on the other side of the pavement. I’d be safely home in seconds, bragging about my chance encounter with the Roly Poly and how I outsmarted him.

Mr. Doodlebug saw me escaping, but he also saw what I didn’t and held his ground.

I reached the black pavement and stopped in my tracks as the ground shook. I looked to my right and there was one of the giants who walk on two feet coming toward me. He was bouncing a big orange ball repeatedly on the ground. The last thing I saw was the bottom of his shoe.

July 13, 2020 20:44

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