Far away in a forest where no humans knew existed, lived a dragonfly. She was no ordinary dragonfly, she was the beauty queen of her swarm. All the insects knew her as China, which greatly annoyed her neighbour, the Queen Bee. The Queen Bee wanted everyone to see her as the most beautiful insect of Woodbrow, the magic forest. It also annoyed the Queen Bee that she was known as China. She truly was as delicate as bone china but just as powerful as an Empress. She lived on the eastern part of Woodbrow and the Queen Bee knew that she was widely loved and adored. Although Queen Bee was a beautiful bee (and could belly dance like a demon) nothing could compare with the elegance of China. Even as the dragonfly flitted from her slumber at dawn to the nearby pond to wash, her silhouette darting through the burning, rising sun; she had an aura. A dark aura. A black halo that only insects can see.
In my time as an insect I learnt that we humans are extraordinarily dangerous. I sometimes miss my brief encounter with my former bodies. As I pass from this body, back to the depths of Gaia, I learn that her most intelligent creation is also her most stupid. I sometimes forget who I am and I feel things, emotions I think they are called, that scare me, make me uneasy.
But still this mosquito and dragonfly drama bothered me, and this is something I have not been able to understand in this human body. It has changed from an instinct, something I am so familiar with, to an emotion when I occupied this empty shell of a body. Is it these emotions that make it so difficult to understand?
Gaia can be defeated with her own creation.
China would start every day the same. She would wake up at the first ray of light, fly down to the pond, get ready and spend the day on adventures looking for new picnic grounds. She loved flying through the trees and watching the forest breathe with life. She flew over the branches and leaves sheltering the cocooning butterflies, she skimmed the carpet of the forest rustling up lice and ants and wigs, she saw birds hop from tree to tree, she saw the baby deer take their first steps, she felt the frogs deep mating calls tickle her wings. China loved her home.
But no day would be like today. China was going to find a very different side of the forest. A cold and damp part of the forest that swallowed light. It was a place where all things black with shrill high-pitched laughs haunted and echoed and lingered in the still, thick, black fog.
Still, it would be a great picnic ground for China. She would delight in the tasty snacks bumbling on the edge of this dark part of the forest.
Some people say that deep in that part of the woods all the witches live. Some say that the ghost army of the very devil himself visits them. These soulless ghosts scare the insects and the animals. Their presence makes the forest cold and eerie. On particularly important nights the collection of these souls would form a misty haze that would sometimes linger till just after the break of dawn.
“The dew always tastes different,” the forest folk would say.
Insects of the Woodbrow don’t believe in religions like we humans do. Instead they are the living soul of Gaia, who they know only as the Life Queen. They live life to live, so they know not of our devils and Gods, of our rights and our wrongs. You must understand that when these meetings with the witches and the armies happened, and they didn’t happen very often, they were strange and mystical to the insects. The stories would pass through generations helping parents control their children with harrowing stories. These stories were closer to the truth than the parents or the children knew.
Gaia knew of the devil though. She had felt him in the heart of her body. The devil inflicted pain moving within her, like a disease, wrenching Gaia’s inner plates scaring her face as he moved.
But he would never surrender.
Whatever form he took.
China didn’t know these things and, as part of the soul of Gaia, had more pressing matters to deal with. Like finding a picnic ground.
As she flew through a clearing in the dense forest she could hear a high scream. She changed course and headed towards it.
Hypnotised by the sound of what seemed to be food, she skipped across the sky and past the Right-Side-Wrong Spider who was so called because he lived on the good edge of a bad part of this strange part of the forest.
She flew past the web that had caught many insect cousins of hers, but ignored them, not daring to make eye contact with the Right-Side-Wrong Spider. Although he was a good soul one couldn’t trust him. Well insects couldn’t. He needed to live and eat too, and China knew that all too well. She couldn’t hate the spider, he was only living life as Gaia expected him to, but it didn’t stop China being scared of him.
She had also heard that strange things would happen to those that lived so close to the bad part of the forest. Lost souls, in the shape of drifting and rising mists at dawn, would jump into the nearest living body changing them forever. Some of the woodland folk never recovered from these encounters with the souls of the devils army, and some souls would refuse to move out. Some bodies even had more than one lost soul occupying them, and that too was dangerous. In the worst cases a soul would take over a body, another the mind and another anything else that was left and cause havoc to the body of the creature, forcing the creature to rip itself apart with confusion. It would lose its senses and drive itself to death.
China could see the trapped insects in the web, and as she ventured closer to the humming of her lunch she could see the path of dead insects and animals that had been victims to the terrible ghosts that had killed them.
The armies would deliberately engulf the creatures with themselves; it was the only way to attack Gaia, to make her weak, to show her that the armies of the devil were strong enough to undermine her. Living souls can’t deal with death, their minds are far too narrow. Gaia has misled them with living, but what happens after her life leaves them?
They fear death too much.
The trees were smothering the suns light, tackling every beam that tried to break through the dark roof of the forest. Stranger noises were coming and China felt slightly light-headed. She didn’t care anymore about the food. She didn’t seem to care much about anything, she just kept going deeper and deeper into the forest occasionally bumping into things she couldn’t make out. But she kept going, the buzzing more hypnotic than ever before.
Gaia is living and breathing, the devils armies are death and decay, sucking hope and life out of the creatures, instilling fear and confusion. Life is full of too much of this ‘emotion’, but how can one live if their whole life they are living in fear of death? Being condemned to preparing for death is the fear the armies feed on.
Only the strongest of living things can live amongst the death and decay and mist which border the deep, dark depths of the wrong side of Woodbrow. But still, even in this dark part of the forest there is still life, and the armies, my armies, will take them.
It was getting damper and cooler as she made her way to the shrill screams, she was lost in the darkness, confused by the sounds and ignorant to the cautions of her fellow insects that flew by her warning her of her ultimate fate.
But she could not hear them, she could not see them. Confusion is a strange thing and make every living thing do things that they wouldn’t normally.
It hurts those closest to you watch you lost in confusion, but sometimes confusion needs to be tackled alone. Those that love you will be fireflies in the dark cloud of confusion, letting you know you are still there, beacons to sanity.
But China was so confused that she hadn’t even noticed them. She was feeling less and less like herself the deeper she went.
Her mouth began to water with the taste of mosquitoes in the air, there was water nearby and she knew that that was where the females would lay their eggs, maybe she could pick off some heavily pregnant ones, just before they laid their eggs.
Mosquitoes, you see, were my enemies.
China flew high as she normally would to hunt, but she realised it was no good. She couldn’t see a thing. She glided back down to the mosquito patch and spotted something in front of her. It was her target, it was her lunch starter, it was to be her first mosquito. She was as pregnant as could be and China was hungrier than she could ever remember. She started to drive for this mosquito, it was her target, but she wasn’t in the comfortable surroundings of her beloved forest. She was blind in a territory she didn’t know.
_I saw China then just as the witches chanted their final words. I was gone and all I could see was the black that had blinded China’s vision. It was practise at first, this mosquito, I knew Gaia was near and I had been a mosquito, they had always lost to the dragonfly, I had lost to the dragonfly. The dragonfly was Gaia. I could not lose if I used Gaia’s own weapon. _
The mosquito darted away and China chased her, using her whine as a beacon. The mosquito’s only objective was to get to the water and lay her eggs. The dragonfly could do what she liked with her then, she thought, but she had to lay the eggs. The mosquito also knew something that the dragonfly didn’t. She could yet get away from this alive.
I could see the mosquito getting tired as I chased her. It was time to start the feast. She would certainly take me to the laying ground and after her I would feast on all the unsuspecting pregnant mothers. Gaia would have to choose her weapon, and there was nothing else to chose from apart from that wretched mosquito. She would be an easy target.
But this mosquito did something strange. She slowed down, then dived to the ground, turning as she went in, into a different direction. She was heading away from the darkness, and back towards the light.
The mosquito turned around and could see China chasing her. She looked behind her and then back behind China.
It had worked.
Male mosquitoes don’t make a sound when they fly, they’re silent.
Only the females whine.
They had seen her and they had formed a mighty swarm that looked nothing short or a dark and dreary cloud.
Even though we were flying back towards the light it wasn’t getting any lighter. I couldn’t understand, but I was determined to get this mosquito. I now knew what it was, and there was no way I could let it get away.
This was a serious kill.
If this mosquito gets away and lays it’s eggs I would be doomed to a life less dignified than an insects.
The mosquito had looked behind her too long and hadn’t seen the web in front of her. It was too late and she couldn’t do anything to avoid it. The mosquito had one last quick look behind her and could see that China was preparing to make her move. If she hit the web behind her then she would destroy the web and kill her.
But she wouldn’t have to, the male mosquitoes were ready to strike the China.
The mosquito braced herself.
She hit it! Gaia was down! I couldn’t believe it!
But I felt something on my tail.
The darkness! The darkness is mosquitoes. I was engulfed, covered and smothered. I felt the weight mounting and I could feel myself falling. I hit the ground as the rest of the clouds weight hit me.
The mosquito felt the first strand of the razor-sharp web on her face first, scarring her eyes. Then the web hit the rest of her body, almost slicing it into chunks.
The Right-Side-Wrong Spider scuttled across the web shaking the web as he moved. Gaia took one last glance at her body. The eggs were still safe. She took one last push and the fell to the ground before the spider’s legs ripped her back and spun her into a cocoon as the mosquito died.
It was too light to call the armies, I had to evade. I needed to be killed and the mosquitoes weren’t killing me. They had pinned me down and I couldn’t move. They were waiting for something.
The eggs were falling closer to the lighter edge of the spiders web. There was still some dew on the forest floor. The eggs fell into the water splashing the as they landed. They had found water and the skies were starting to darken. The light was swallowed this time by the clouds and the fall of the inevitable rain.
_They were starting to bite me now, and I was dying. It hurt, every tiny prick I could feel numbing nothing but my movement.
I could feel rain. She always said she would cleanse me when she won. It was her victory dance.
I had lost again and it wouldn’t be long now before I would leave my insect body. _
The rain fell, making the disappearing dew a puddle. The eggs were finally safe, life had survived again. A strange, silent cloud lifted not too far away from the web leaving only the carcass of a beautiful dragonfly. The wings had been ripped off, the eyes had been scoured and the body was limp, but it was still beautiful. China had reclaimed her body, but she was now dead, she had fulfilled her duty to Gaia.
But they still talk of her in Woodbrow, how she lost everything. The beautiful being that was disillusioned by dreams and killed by her own greed.
But she was brave and proud.
The Right-Side-Wrong Spider picked her up and spun her delicately between his nimble legs. He carried her softly across the moss and the wet ground. She would make a good lunch on the morrow.
From this human body I come with this story. Maybe these emotions shape the human races’ morals. It is this which makes man so easy to manipulate, and this is something I have learnt over the last few years in this body. Man can be manipulated to consume, and destroy his creator.
This was written about three years ago, I was bored and I wanted to write a children’s story with a message to adults.
I decided then to write a story that both children and adults would enjoy, the italics, other than being a form of narrative that runs through the story, can be cut out and read either alone, or separated from the main bulk of the story if it’s a little too deep or dark for kids. Either way it can be read with or without the italics.