Saving Vincent (a short story)
He felt like a savior.
Bryce basked in the glow of his rescue of the praying mantis from his garage.
On a summer day, Bryce gingerly snared the creature from the corner of a window with a butterfly net.
Then he transferred the triangular-headed bug to the branch of a leafy bush outside the garage.
There had been a spider web dangerously close to where the mantis was stationed in the garage.
What if it stumbled into that trap?
A potential disaster was averted by Bryce -- intrepid accountant.
His equally young wife, Belinda, was a marketing executive who likewise brimmed with idealistic fervor for all things of nature.
Bryce took the initiative to research the master of camouflage he rescued.
“Do you know a mantis can swivel its head 180 degrees?” he asked his better half. “And what about those spikes on their legs for impaling prey?”
“Interesting,” Belinda said, not looking up from her morning coffee.
Her spouse pressed on: “They have two, giant compound eyes. They’re quite the predator.”
Belinda left the kitchen to get ready for work in the bedroom.
“Yikes!” she shrieked as she entered.
“It’s in the house,” she announced, as Bryce responded.
There, on the curtains, was their mantis, named Vincent by Belinda in tribute to horror-movie icon Vincent Price.
“Wow,” Bryce said. “Vincent is bigger than I remember.”
The insect seemed no more than four inches long when saved.
Now it looked almost twice that.
Belinda followed Bryce to the garage to retrieve the butterfly net.
But Vincent was nowhere to be seen when the couple returned.
Beester, their fat cat -- was, however, feverishly meowing.
Vincent apparently agitated the pet.
That night, Bryce and Belinda scoured the house -- and under the bed, before sliding into it.
“Maybe that was another mantis on the curtain,” Bryce speculated during pillow talk.
The next morning, Bryce noticed a small, brownish clump at the edge of his wife’s pillow.
Moving closer, he jerked back in astonishment to see that it was a mangled grasshopper.
Bryce awoke Belinda and maneuvered her away from the dead bug.
“Maybe it was a thank-you gesture from Vincent; he left a gift,” Bryce weakly joked.
Belinda hurried into the kitchen for coffee -- then froze in her tracks.
A massive mantis peered at her from outside a window above the sink.
Its antennae twitched. The bulging eyes had a milky-green film.
“Jesus, it’s growing!” Belinda screamed.
She ran for Bryce. The monster left.
Belinda and Bryce ventured to the backyard in search of the nightmare.
As a slight rain fell, Beester was being held in the spiny legs of a praying mantis the size of a coyote.
The cat wriggled; the attacker continued chewing.
Bryce knew in his gut Vincent was growing at an insane rate. He ran for a baseball bat, got it and returned, but didn’t have a chance to bash Vincent.
The monster was flying above the rooftops; Beester’s carcass remained.