A choice that makes the difference

#6 Ocellus & Chitkin © Risky Business

The Mandi stepped on the rock that Chitkin and I were hiding under, and we had no place to run to!

“We’ve lost enough time today on this nonsense with Caro Loff.  Get everyone back to work, and make them work faster! Gratch!”, ordered the Head Mandi.

The rock moved and we thought we could easily be seen.  We both held our breath and tried to be as small as possible.  The Mandi, with a Gratch!, moved on to look some where else.  Chitkin and I sagged in relief.

The Mandis were nervous because the Head Mandi was pushing them so hard and with so much anger.  Maybe they were all afraid of what trouble might be stirred up by such a highly-acclaimed writer as Caro Loff.

Today was unbearably hot and we were all being forced to work faster and harder so that we might catch up.  That’s when someone gets hurt.  Chitkin and I couldn’t see who it was but we knew a number of our crew were being dragged away, bleeding and crying with pain.  Where did the Mandis take them?

Finally, the day came to an end and we were told to get back to our galleries.  While our Mandi was looking away, Chitkin whispered, “Cello, I’m going to get what Caro Loff dropped in the bush.  I’ll catch up in a minute.”

“Chitkin, you can’t do that!  If the Mandis see you, you’ll be…well…you know! Don’t go!”, I half-whispered back.

“Mellow, Cello.  I’ll just be a couple of minutes and there are too many of us for the Mandis to keep track of us all.”, Chitkin said as she sped off towards the bush.

“Do you have everyone ‘tucked in’?”,  yelled the Head Mandi.  Get on with it.  Gratch!

I didn’t know if Chitkin was going to make it back before the Mandi heaped all of the brush and dirt onto our gallery.  Where was she?!

The Mandi started pushing and pulling everything into place.  The dust, as usual, came rushing into our place in a cloud.  The sticks and dirt were piling up, with only a tiny bit of light getting through the barrier.  Oh, I wish Chitkin were get back, right now, I prayed.

We could hear the brush and dirt being heaved by the Mandi and being dropped on the entrance way when a hard lump of dirt and dust rolled through the tiniest of cracks and landed at our feet with its legs kicking in every direction…wait a minute, dust clods don’t have feet.  Chitkin!

“You made it!!”, I almost screamed at Chitkin.  Thank goodness the noise outside didn’t let my scream make it to the Mandi.

“Chitkin, are you alright?”, I half-cried.

“Hey, Sis, I couldn’t miss.”, Chitkin chirped.

“I guess, but what did you get in the bush?”, I asked Chitkin.

Everyone crowded around as Chitkin held up the shiny prize she had recovered.

“Well, let’s open it!”, someone called out.

So, Chitkin started to pull the folded silvery paper back and soon we could smell this wonderful aroma wafting all around us.

“What is THAT?”, we all wanted to know.

Chitkin offered me a taste and then passed it around so that we all had a little taste.  Oh, the taste was even more wondrous than the aroma!

Chitkin suddenly raised two of her legs and said in Gramma Feebly’s voice, “I know what this is.” she croaked.  “Would you like to hear the story?”, Gramma Feebly asked everyone.

“Well, yeah!”, everyone cheered at once.

Gramma Feebly began, “Well, a long time ago, when I could get around more easily, I wandered away from our hill because I saw something flutter out of the air and land in the field near our home.

I knew I wasn’t allowed to go away from home without a Mandi - by the way, our Mandis were big and had the big mandibles, too, but they only pushed us along if we weren’t helping out with the chores, and they never yelled at us unless there was some kind of danger close by.

Well, in any event, off I went, fascinated by the silvery fluttering.  It didn’t take too long to get there, even though our cousins the wasps zoomed overhead a couple of times.

There was a bit of the same food that we all just tasted inside the silver paper.  I tried a taste and that same feeling I got with the sugar-lerp tingled all of my senses!  You know what I’m talking about.

I decided to take this amazing find back to my home so that I could find out what this was and to share it with all of my sisters and aunts.  The uncles could chew twigs!”

We all laughed at that.

“Well, I got a hold of the paper and started to turn towards home when with a flash and a crunch, I was lifted out of the grass and was flying high in the sky!”