Mantis Rider

mantisrider1280Tommy stared in shock and amazement at the tiny man shaking his fist at him from the back of a praying mantis. The man was saying something to Tommy, but it only sounded like a high pitched buzz. There was no doubt the little man with pointed ears was very angry with Tommy. The television and movies had a character named, “Spock”, but Tommy was pretty darn sure this wasn’t some tiny Vulcan.

Tommy wasn’t scared when the mantis landed on the back of his hand. He had held one in school. He even remembered that they were called praying mantids because of the way they held their two front feet like someone in prayer. Lots of people spelled the name wrong, writing it like preying mantis, but Tommy had paid attention that day in school. He remembered mantids usually each flies, moths, and spiders, but big mantids will even eat reptiles, small mammals or birds. Tommy was told after sex the females often eat the heads of the smaller males. He didn’t know what sex was, but he didn’t like the sound of this “head eating” business. He promised himself to never have sex with a praying mantis.

The mantis rubbed its two front legs together and cocked his head sideways, as the little man continued his angry tirade. As much as Tommy wanted to take the mantis and his rider back home, so someone would believe him, he knew it would be wrong. His parents had instilled a strong sense of conscience in him. As he looked down, he saw other mantids with little riders. They seemed to be battling some sort of dark multicolored beetle. The mantids and little men with swords seemed to be dispatching the beetles with ease, but there were so many beetles it was apparent they would eventually overrun the little warriors.

Tommy decided to help the little humanoids, and started to kick and stomp on the multitude of beetles. Suddenly two more riders on flying mantids, seemed to be heading straight for his face. As he tried to dodge the oncoming flyers, he lost his footing in the slippery bug guts of the beetles he had trampled.

He woke up with a head ache and surveyed the ground around him. There were still many smashed beetle bodies, but not a praying mantis or rider in sight. Now he started to wonder if it was his imagination or something he dreamed while unconscious. He looked for little footprints, broken swords or any proof that he had seen tiny riders, but came up empty handed.

Twenty years later, he still visits that field behind his house, to see if the riders have returned.