The music made them part lips. They could both hear the tune that was originally designed for Camille’s ears, and Camille’s ears only. Now it was pulling them both forward. “I think I can hear the music,” exclaimed 5-Year-Old Con, “I can see why you want to find it, or, I mean I can hear why you want to find it.” They left the pond to continue Camille’s journey, which was now 5-Year-Old Con’s journey, and discover the source of the tantalizing lullaby, which was louder than it had ever been before.
“We’re getting closer,” said Camille, squeezing 5-Year-Old Con’s hand tighter as the anticipation mounted.
As they came closer to the source of the music the air grew colder and the trees stood in an indifferent trance, like they were under a spell. Birds, squirrels, rabbits, chipmunks, and so on migrated in the opposite direction while the two lovers walked towards it. Every sign of the darkening forest urged them to turn back and follow the little critters towards the warmth, but the music had a hold on them, and continued to pull their legs forward. Streaks of blue and white lights shot through the dark spaces between trees, streaming back and forth sporadically before dying down into a million specks and rejoining into one solid flash. A loud commotion of activity accompanied the array of passing lights, and a loud, dense rumble rattled the forest floor. The once beautiful tune that had originally called Camille forward transformed into a grimy beat that hypnotized their limbs and forced their bodies to join the commotion. The spell numbed their ability to resist the temptation. They stumbled forward with mesmerized gazes until they were in the clearing, fully enthralled by the sequence of hypnotizing beats that were constructed by the Witch Queen.
Overgrown insects occupied the dance floor, buzzing about overhead and stretching their long skeletal legs around the two lovers. A thousand eyes swarmed Camille and 5-Year-Old Con adding to the hypnotic spell that filled the air. The atmosphere glued their mouths shut, but their eyes screamed that something was terribly wrong. They twirled about unbothered by their grotesque company as the musical spell seeped fully into their bodies. Lights beamed out of the crystal balls hanging in the branches, shooting out in all directions until they had created a whirlwind of swirling color. Time was blurred by the changing colors, which lulled them deeper into the trance. Hours spiraled away until the lover’s were fully enthralled by the Witch Queen’s spell. The insects began to circle between the two of them, tugging at their arms so they could spin them round and round. The world spun and lights flashed, and the two lovers’ had no hope of discerning where they were. They spun further and further away from one another, stuck in an illusion that warped time and space, and paralyzed their ability to function. The overgrown insects surrounded Camille and 5-Year-Old Con until they could no longer see each other then they pushed 5-Year-Old Con to the ground and pinned down his arms and legs, but he was too hypnotized to care. The hundreds of large, buggy eyes that bobbed all around him had his eyes rolling to the back of his head until he was knocked unconscious. The insects wasted no time in scooping up their target prey, casting their silky saliva around Camille’s body so they could carry her off towards the Witch Queen’s lair. The music darkened to the Witch Queen’s delight as she looked through the crystal balls hanging in the trees, using a hundred dark eyes to watch her clandestine trap unfold. She blinked and the eyes were gone, knowing full well that her prize was being brought to her castle, and the annoyance was being fed to the bugs.
5-Year-Old Con woke with his body completely wrapped in the same silky saliva the insects had used to bind Camille. The lights were no longer shining and there was no music that filled the air, therefore, no distraction or hypnotism to disguise 5-Year-Old Con’s grotesque company of insects. His skin crawled and his stomach churned with disgust, but more noticeable than that he felt an uneasy chill crawl up his spine. The insects were preparing their feast – their main course being 5-Year-Old Con with a side of dung. There was no escape for him, and so he watched the insects prepare their feast as they buzzed with hungry pleasure. A huge grasshopper and an equally big cockroach brought forth a human-sized silver platter, on which they would serve 5-Year-Old Con, so they could elegantly pick the meat of his bones with their pincers. Manners were everything to a host of insects.
“Zombies!” yelled 5-Year-Old Con, to which the insects paid no attention. “I never thought I’d be the first person to be eaten by zombies!” cried 5-Year-Old Con, as the insects continued preparing their dinner. “The humanity!” he lamented, comically. He seized their distraction for a chance at freedom, and began to inch his way towards the tree line like an upside down caterpillar, as unnaturally overgrown as his company. It was not self-preservation that quickened his resolve to act, but the fear of what might happen to Camille. He had to save her. He told himself that it was his responsibility as her true love to do so. He dug his heels deeper into the grass and pushed more aggressively for the tree line, but just as he was about to escape a strong claw seized his ankle and yanked him back to the dinner table.
“Heyelp!” screamed, 5-Year-Old Con. “They’re going to eat my brains and gain my ridiculous knowledge! Heyelp!” he screamed again.
The scorpion that was dragging 5-Year-Old Con to the dinner table slammed its tail onto his gut, cutting of his air and his calls for help. As the air escaped him a thought invaded: if he died would he ever see Camille again, perhaps as a pair of dancing comets, or as two swans gliding side by side in pond? The thought began to fade, replaced by the blurred outline of a floating moustache.
The giant scorpion pulled 5-Year-Old Con to the dinner table while a praying mantis scooped him up and slammed him onto the silver platter in the center of the table. Spouts of sweat covered 5-Year-Old Con’s body in unison with the clacker of snapping pincers. He stressed his muscles to break free but the silk did not budge. He tried to rear his head back as a large roach leaned in for the first bite but ended up crying instead. To his surprise, however, the roach did not have him for dinner, not yet at least. Instead it tickled 5-Year-Old Con’s feet with the whiskers on his overgrown appendages. The squirming and wild laughter cheered the other insects to join in and tickle his armpits, ribcage, legs, and so on, inducing an agonizing laughter that tenderized his muscles for an even more savory meal. Screams of mercy translated into more chaotic laughter, which encouraged the insects to tickle their prey more intensely. They stopped one by one to allow his muscles to relax then sat down to listen to 5-Year-Old Con’s pulsing body. Dinner is served.
The wide pincers of a praying mantis stretched open to seize the first bite: a chunk of 5-Year-Old Con’s belly. His pounding heart pumped terror through his veins much to the praying mantis’ delight. 5-Year-Old Con accepted his fate, but the tears that streamed down his face said that he did not accept Camille’s. But just as his journey was about to end the word “Oats,” sounded off in a large belch, echoed in the grove and the praying mantis shrunk down to its original puny size. Then another heroic belch filled the air and the cockroach at the end of the table shrunk down to size, resembling what it was before the Witch Queen had mutated it. The insects shot to their feet screeching and hissing at their unknown antagonist. A large grasshopper jumped onto the table its legs sprawled out on each side to protect its meal, but all that display encouraged was another burp in the sound of “Oats” to shrink it back down to size. With a POOF and a feint squeak the grasshopper dropped onto 5-Year-Old Con’s chest and then sprung off into the grass.
A great wizard dressed in a garden dress and wearing a flowery bonnet emerged from the shadows and in a proud voice warned the insects, “Shove off or face the foulness of my oats, ye wicked beasts!” 5-Year-Old Con leaned his head back to catch a glimpse of his savior, even though he already knew who it was from the sound of his over-dramatic introduction. Under the prestige of that flowery bonnet stood Lord Doodle Head, a great wizard of Fiddlewood, a mad man, and more importantly 5-Year-Old Con’s brother. “Heed my warning,” he said, as he started to gulp down mouthfuls of air, but all the insects heard were the crazed screams of their second course, and so, outnumbering Lord Doodle Head fifteen to one, they began to fan out and encircle him. Lord Doodle Head did not hesitate to retaliate against their hostile gesture, however, and thus proved his determination by releasing another burp that resulted in a shrunken insect. Lord Doodle Head further stiffened his tenacity when the scorpion lunged at him with its stinger over head, to which he responded with another quick spell before squishing the scorpion under his foot. The crunch of exoskeleton and the splatter of oozing guts sent the other insects railing with anger, and thus the battle was started.
The insects attacked all at once and Lord Doodle head unleashed two quick shots of “Oats” at his nearest offenders before they had the chance to spring forward. With a wildly delighted “Woo hoo” Lord Doodle Head darted to his left, sucked in another gulp of air and released his spell on another cockroach. A trail of moustaches descended from the open space above the trees and clouded around Lord Doodle Head to confuse the whereabouts of his body. Claws and pincers swiped at the great wizard but fell on empty air, missing every opportunity, which gave the great wizard another moment to breathe in more air and release another magical belch. He ran about casting spells in a furry, but no matter how quickly he eradicated his foes they began to swarm him. He was losing his breath and the spells were losing their strength, until they were only shrinking the overgrown bugs by a mere foot. They cornered Lord Doodle Head, and his moustaches, at the tree line, giving him no escape but to flee back into the dark forest and leave 5-Year-Old Con behind, but for him that was not an option.
While the battle had been raging 5-Year-Old Con seized the opportunity to loosen his bindings, freeing his hands first so he could pick at the silk covering the rest of his body. By the time Lord Doodle Head was surrounded he had freed himself entirely, but not without attracting the attention of a giant centipede. The centipede slithered over to the table with its hundred legs and raised its body over 5-Year-Old Con. He rolled off the table just at the centipede lunged forward with open pincers and crashed head first into the silver platter that was once his deathbed. The centipede lifted up its dizzy head and tried to shake off the disorientation, but 5-Year-Old Con, determined to not let that happen, scooped up the platter and smashed it across its face. The loud ping caught the attention of the insects surrounding Lord Doodle Head for a split moment, providing the wizard just enough time to take flight with his moustaches and rise above his foes. “Con, the mighty platter of doom!” screamed Lord Doodle Head, signaling for him to throw the platter his way. 5-Year-Old Con hurled the decorative serving dish to Lord Doodle Head just as a grasshopper took flight in pursuit. As the platter flew towards him he sucked in more air than his lungs could handle then released a mighty belch into the face of the platter. The spell reverberated off the face of the platter, magnifying the deep sound of “Oats” to such a degree that all the insects nearby were affected by the enchantment; all except the unconscious centipede, which shrunk down to a foot in length. The impact of the burp warped the platter and shot the excess burp down Lord Doodle Head’s throat, knocking him out of the sky and into a heavy tree trunk, while simultaneously lifting 5-Year-Old Con off his feet and flinging him into a pile of dung sitting on the table. The sticky poop clung to his face as he lifted his head. “Aw, it’s poop!”