Primax crawled out of her tunnel a few hours later, her dark attuned eyes letting her see the room.
The teenagers were about the room, either asleep or late night texting. Primax put her claws to the glass, and attempted to climb. She slid down after a few inches after she misplaced a foot, but she tried again, reaching the screen under the lid. She found a small hole, and squeezed her body through it.
“Idiot, Primax! You forgot about the glass lid!” She cursed herself. She scurried over the screen, and found the small hatch that Morte’s former owner used to feed her victims to her. It was left unlocked, so Primax pushed her way out. She stood on top of the glass lid, staring at the dark carpet that the table on which the terrarium was on sat. She backed up, and ran forward, leaping down onto the bed.
She hit the blanket with extreme force, knocking the wind out of her. She raked her small claws against the fabric, trying to gain a foothold. She slipped, landing on a texting boy. Terrified, she scampered off of him and under the bed, watching as the teen finished texting and went to sleep.
Primax panted heavily, and ran out the open door. The darkened hallways loomed over her like massive, ominous canyons. Primax continued scurrying, searching desperately for an open window or a crack in the wall.
A curious Brrrowow brought Primax to attention. She turned around the stare at a tabby kitten, his paws dangerously close to Primax’s head.
“Go away! Shoo! Leave!!” Primax yelped at the cat. The tabby cocked his head to the side and batted his paws at Primax. The kitten swatted, barely missing Primax’s mandibles.
Primax backed into a corner in the hall, her heart pounding. The kitten pounced, pinning Primax to the ground. Primax snapped her mandibles around the kitten’s paw, making him scream in pain.
The kitten’s owner stumbled from his room, blearily looking around. He finally located the kitten, and swatted Primax from his paw. Primax hit the ground, and gathered herself dizzily. The boy suddenly scooped her up in a jar, and dumped her in the terrarium, sealing up the hatch she escaped through.
Primax cursed the human, and crawled back into her burrow, longing for her colony and Millet.
She woke the next morning to see another piece of cardboard separating the cage.
“Great. Who or what do I have to kill now?” She said as she finished removing herself from the hole as she twitched her antennae. “ANOTHER spider?” she whined as she processed the pheromones. The hands reached in again, and removed the cardboard. A small tarantula huddled in the far corner, the hairs on his legs raised.
“I’ll only say this once. I’m not afraid of you, and you have good reason to stay away from me.” The spider said with a quivering voice.
“A coward? Funny, I thought ALL spiders were as arrogant as Morte.” Primax hissed at the tarantula. “Alright, what’s your name? I might as well know before I kill you for the entertainment of the humans.”
“B-Baro.” The spider stuttered. Primax scuttled over to him.
“Alright, Baro, let’s make a deal. You play dead when I pretend to sting you, and then you get out of here. But first, tell me where I am and how I got here.” Primax said, her voice taking on a threatening tone.
“No.” Baro said, as he pathetically flicked out a leg, sending stinging hairs flying towards Primax.
Primax burst forward, grabbing Baro in her legs and curving her stinger close to him.
“Where am I?!? How did I get here??!” She hissed, snapping her mandibles close to his eyes, obviously not afraid to blind him.
“C-C-California. You were captured and then placed here to fight other arthropods like me until you died and were replaced like Morte was.” Baro whimpered.
“I’m in America? I was in Australia. I would’ve died on the way over here.” Primax growled.
“Not necessarily. You went into a hibernation mode. You lived off of what fat reserves you had.” Baro said back. “You’re now our new hero.”
“What do you mean ‘Our new hero.'? Doesn’t the boy just go out and capture you randomly?” Primax snapped.
“No. The boy’s father is an entomologist, and he went on a trip to Australia to get some of your kind. He brought back some specimens for study and you as a gift for the boy. The father approves of this ‘Fight to the Death’ competitions placed between us because apparently it helps him to see how we defend and attack in the wild.” Baro said back.
“You still haven’t answered my question. What do you mean I’m your new hero?” Primax said as she pushed a claw into Baro’s thorax.
“You and Morte!” Baro started as he flicked his fangs. “Morte said she would somehow free us, and she once tried to bite the boy when he tried to pick her up. That was her plan, to get the boy to the hospital and free us while he was there. You’re our only hope. None of us want to die!” Baro said as he gasped for a breath.
“Who is ‘us’? Is that where he’s getting all of you? Is in some secret room of insects that will soon die?” Primax said as she realized the situation the insects were in.
“Yes. We’re kept in smaller terrariums, and he just plops us in here when he’s bored. He sets up that camera and films us as we die, because his dad asks him to so he can examine them. Right now he’s not paying attention to us; otherwise we’d be poked with a stick.” Baro said.
“How do you know this?” Primax said.
“Morte told us when she used to live in the corner of the room. She spied on them and listened on their conversations. She knew she would eventually be caught, and she was one day when the boy saw her crawling around on the ceiling.” Baro said. “She snuck out of the terrarium the night before she died and told us that she knew she was going to die the next day because she was getting old, and that she knew you would be better than her. She told us to treat you with respect and listen to you. I really do hope you know she didn’t enjoy her title of ‘The Queen of Death’ and she mourned the loss of every one of her victims. She hated to kill for the sport of it.” The words hit Primax with force and sunk in immediately.
“So she wasn’t a bloodthirsty monster? But if she hated that title, why did she say it before I killed her?” Primax said.
“She decided it would be the last time she would ever used it. She despised it.” Baro said.
The walls of the terrarium vibrated loudly as the boy struck his knuckles against the glass. Primax jumped off of Baro, shaking her head as the sound roared in her ears. The boy stopped, but replaced the cardboard and forced Primax forward with a stick towards Baro.
“I’ve told you everything. He’ll know I’m not dead if I freak out before he pins me next to Morte. Please, just end the pain. Please…Please…” Baro said, his voice cracking. “Besides, I’ll be with Morte anyway. Just please, get it over with, and free everyone else.”
“I can’t.” Primax said as she stared at Baro, seeing the fear in his eyes. He quivered in the corner, whimpering and begging Primax to kill him. Primax shook her head and backed into the cardboard, staring at Morte’s body pinned to the corkboard in the display case on the wall. Remorse swallowed Primax as she wished she could’ve let Morte kill her instead.
The boy shoved the stick in the cage again, and shoved Primax onto Baro. Her stinger was pushed out by accident, and Baro took notice. He flung his abdomen onto it, and sighed as the venom coursed its way through him.
“NO!!! Baro, what did you do?!” Primax screamed.
“Thank you. I’m coming Morte, I’m coming…” Baro shuddered, and patted Primax on one of her legs with one of his; making a few hairs puff off. Primax shook her head, backing away from Baro’s dead body. He twitched a little but stopped, dead. The boy reached in with the tweezers again, grabbing Baro from the dirt. Primax watched in pain as the pin was pushed through Baro’s back next to Morte.
“I’ll try, Baro. I will try.” Primax said, before breaking into tearless sobs.