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The Coccinellid

By Rick Henry Christopher Published 3 years ago Updated 10 months ago 9 min read

It’s early morning and the sun is already beating down on the earth, gently warming its surface. The flowers and shrubs in Mr. Garcia’s garden are standing tall and looking toward the sun with enthusiasm. It’s the beginning of another workday for Duke. During the summer Duke lives away from home, by himself, as his work is of the utmost importance to homeowners and farmers such as Mr. Garcia.

Duke arose before the sun came out in order to prepare for his day. He shined his shell so that it would be visible to all the creatures lurking in the garden. Duke took the time to detail his armor to perfection. When it came to his outwardly appearance Duke was a perfectionist, it could mean the difference between life and death. Not a dull spot was left.

Duke took off without a care or worry on his way to Mr. Garcia's garden. He knows that today he will have a busy day, and he must be on top of his game. One wrong move could cost him his life.

As he’s leaving home, Duke lifts the two sections of his shell apart, similar to the gull-wing doors you’d find on a Mercedes or BMW and spreads his gossamer-like wings and begins to flap them quickly to begin his flight through the sun-filled sky.

It is a long flight to Mr. Garcia’s house as he lives 40 miles away. But Duke enjoys his daily travel. During the hour he feels the moisture of the low hanging clouds. He calls clouds the “windows to the universe” because they are up above everything else and can see what’s happening in the world. On his way to the garden he passes by a range of mountains lined with green moss and flowing creeks. Duke refers to this as his pleasant valley that he never stops to visit.

When he arrived at the garden Duke could faintly hear the music coming from Mr. Garcia’s house, “Walking in rhythm, movin’ in sound. Humming to the music, trying to move on.” He looked over at the garden and saw the tall flowers swaying to the music and smiling at the sun. Today was a beautiful day in the garden.

Duke took a quick buzz around the garden peaking in on the roses and geraniums and loving the intoxicating sweet honey aroma of the gardenias. Duke rarely felt emotions and had a threshold of pain beyond belief but when it came to the gardenias he was like a child on Christmas morning. Duke spent most of his time around the precious gardenias protecting them from the evils of nature.

As he fluttered around the garden Duke noticed a small spot on one of the roses. It was a stunning red rose standing proudly in the garden, so pure and fine. But upon this perfect work of nature was what appeared to be a small mole or bump on one of its petals. A blemish that could scar the natural beauty of this rose. Duke flew closer to inspect this imperfection. He thought maybe it was a harmless spot, a beauty mark of character. As he drew closer to the rose, he noticed the blemish made a very tiny movement, and he could smell the stench of a predator. It was oval in shape and white, waxy and powdery. Aha! Duke recognized this creature. This was not a mole or freckle, it was a dangerous mealybug. This bug could eat the flesh from the beautiful rose’s petals and mar it for life. Duke knew he had to be strategic in his actions. The survival of this rose depended on Duke successfully executing his job. He quietly circled around the flower working up a sense of inconspicuous movement. He inched up close to the rose and landed on its stem just below the area of where the mealybug was located. Slowly, Duke climbed up the stem and gently walked upon the petal and captured the mealybug with his front legs. After he firmly had a grasp of the mealybug, he sat back on his rear-end and began chomping away at its core, holding it like an ear of corn and kept chewing round and round until that mealybug was gone like a memory quickly forgotten. Afterward Duke stood up on his legs and took a quick look around to ensure the rose was safe and unharmed.

Duke quickly went back into flight in order to keep watch over the garden. He circled around a few times looking for beasts of prey that were out to destroy his friends, the flowers. He didn’t see anything around but noticed a slight movement on the leaf of a sunny blanket flower. At first he thought it was the breeze moving the dark green leaves. As he drew closer he saw a green larva whose outer skin took on the texture of the leaves upon which it was crawling. This larva, more commonly known as a caterpillar, was cleverly deceptive in its ability to blend with its surroundings. Duke has always been slower than normal in his approach to caterpillars, mainly because he knows caterpillars eventually grow to become butterflies. Duke doesn’t mind butterflies; they don’t really do any harm to the garden, although he finds them to be a bit aloof and standoffish. The caterpillar, on the other hand, is a very tasty morsel though they are a tad bit large for Duke. Then Duke noticed the caterpillar eating away at the leaf and went straight after him, with no guilt or love loss, and began to chew on his soft and delicious body. After the caterpillar was gone Duke noticed there were a few small holes in the leaf but nothing so bad that it could not repair itself.

It is now high noon with the sun beating bright and hot upon the garden. Everywhere he went Duke was unable to escape the melting sun. There wasn’t even an inch of shade for him to stop and groom his bright red shell. He had been working all day and his appearance was important to him. The black spots on his shell had to be just perfect. Duke could not accept anything less than a bright, shiny luster.

After cleaning his shell Duke was back fluttering around in the inescapable sun. Today seemed to be the hottest day of the year. But Duke was okay with that, as he really couldn't feel the heat. He was able to adapt to the very warm weather. It is the cold weather that he was not too good in handling. A little bit of shade seemed to suddenly appear over Duke. Out of nowhere he was covered with a shadow that seemed to grow bigger and darker with each second. This concerned Duke as it was too early to be getting dark. Was this the apocalypse? Was the sun burning out? Could this be the end of the world, as we’ve known it? Duke sensed an approaching danger. Maybe gases would be released in the air cutting off the oxygen supply to all breathing beings. Something dark and treacherous was looming. Duke felt as if he was unable to escape this imminent attack. Duke put his omni-directional eyes in action without moving his body. He scoped the area secretly as he gave the appearance of being dead. He rolled over on his back with his tiny legs spread up toward the sky and remained very still. It was then he noticed a huge black crow hovering over him. A bird that wanted to scoop down and carry him away and rip his little body apart and chew him up and swallow him morsel by morsel. But Duke just stayed there lying as if he was dead, remaining still and silent. Duke knew the danger that was near him, but he was fearless. Duke was never afraid; he just did what he had to do to survive. Soon the crow flew off to a neighboring garden on the hunt for juicy morsels such as Duke. That crow was hungry for an early dinner. Duke remained still for about another minute until the smell of the crow disappeared and then returned to his work in the sun.

Duke propelled into the air proudly as he scanned the garden looking for plant-eating varmints. He circled around the roses, the geraniums, the gardenias, and then he circled around to the fruit trees and saw that everything was in good order. Duke has a huge and important job in the world of plants and gardens. He must ensure that each plant remains safe from the creatures of the insect world and that they do not eat up the plants.

On his third flight around Duke smelled the odor of a green aphid in his midst. He quietly drew closer to the aroma and saw the aphid crawling upward on the branch of the pear tree. This sneaky predator was hard to detect, as he was the same color as the fruit of the pear tree. But Duke held back and watched the long-legged green aphid as he crept up toward the pears to suck the sweetness out of the fruit. Just before he reached the pear Duke swooped upon the aphid and grabbed him with his strong projecting jaws and carried the aphid away from the pear tree. He then proceeded to tear it apart, limb by limb and eat it for a late day dessert.

The day was getting late, and Duke was thinking about heading home as the weather was beginning to cool down and the sun would be setting in the next hour. Before going home Duke decided to take one last round to ensure the garden was safe of any evil insects. Duke sensed something in the lower part of the stems of a hibiscus plant. He inched closer into the tangle of stems, but there was nothing.

All of a sudden, the sun seemed to be setting, as it grew dark around Duke. But Duke was confused as it was still a good 45 minutes before the sun should be setting. Duke decided that if the sun is going to set early than he’d better find a plant frond or stem to go into his state of rest for the night. But then rapidly the sun grew darker and darker. This was very unusual. Duke sensed that something was amiss. Duke rolled over on his back and played dead thinking that it was another crow. But this time it was a large leaf above him that was shadowing the sun.

Duke projected into the air to find that perfect place to rest for the night. Within seconds after he was in flight, a huge dragonfly appeared and snatched Duke with his two front legs that were clasped together like a basket. The dragonfly took a strong hold of Duke, but Duke was a fighter of fighters and managed to wrangle his way out of the clasp of this dangerous Odonata. Duke quickly descended to the ground, but he was safe. He was going to make it through another day to protect Mr. Garcia’s garden.

Duke attempted to propel himself into flight in order to get to his resting place, but his wings seemed to not have the strength to lift off. He thought maybe the dragonfly must have damaged one of his wings. He inspected his wings and both wings were able to spread open and flap, but he wasn’t able to propel. Maybe his wings had been weakened, so Duke decided he would walk over to a stem and crawl up it to rest. Duke set his mind in motion, but his body wouldn’t move. “What is wrong?” Duke thought to himself, “I am fine, I got away from the dragonfly, I’m unharmed, but I can’t seem to move.”

Finally, Duke took a look at his hind legs, and they were gone. The dragonfly managed to amputate Duke's hind legs. Duke was fine with this. He would just eat more mealy bugs and caterpillars and grow more strength. But it was more than just the rear most legs; the dragonfly did much more damage. He dismembered Duke’s abdomen. Duke’s guts were hanging out, oozing their juices on the soil of the land. Suddenly, Duke felt a dizziness come over him. In an instant, he fell to his back, and the lights went out. Duke was now ready for his rest.

Short Story

About the Creator

Rick Henry Christopher

Writing is a distraction to fulfill my need for intellectual stimulus, emotional release, and soothing the bruises of the day.

The shattered pieces of life will not discourage me.

Reader insights


Excellent work. Looking forward to reading more!

Top insights

  1. Compelling and original writing

    Creative use of language & vocab

  2. Excellent storytelling

    Original narrative & well developed characters

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Comments (4)

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  • Cyrus4 months ago

    well written!

  • Ian Read4 months ago

    Such a tragic end for a diligent guardian. Well done!

  • Mother Combs10 months ago

    Love this.

  • Dawn Salois2 years ago

    Oh no! You did such a good job of character building in this! The ending made me really sad.

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