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A spiderweb, too big to be the work of any single arachnid, stretches across a forest canopy. Its size, and segmented design are a testament to the spider presence in the area. Three different species patrol the three distinct areas, and as long as the leaves shake, enough food falls to keep them at peace.
One windy day, the web catches a leaf which holds two caterpillars, mid feast. Caterpillar One knows what is to come. “Stop! Stop moving.”
Caterpillar Two keeps chewing. “Why?”
“We’re in the spider nest – they’ll sense us.”
“This again? They’re bugs, like us – and we eat leaves. Well I do, at least.” Two says and contorts for another bite.
“Look around – no other caterpillars, no butterflies. Just cocoons.”
Two moves to nibble a new portion of the leaf. “This web is pretty big, and we’re only in the middle. I’m sure there’s others.”
“I hope not.” A shadow flashes past them. “Did you see that?”
“No, I’m doing something,” Two says, unbothered, “Was it someone we know?”
“Not unless you talk to the spiders. I’ve watched them before this; the ones in the middle jump to get where they need to be.”
“Mmm…” Two considers for a moment, “We’re still better off. We get wings.”
“I don’t think you’re grasping our situation – we need to get out of here.”
“Look, we’re caterpillars, surrounded by web. If we move off this leaf we’ll be stuck, and in real trouble. Eat and stop worrying.”
Another shadow flits by. “I know-”
“Nothing.” Two stops chewing to interrupt, “When we were in the trees you spent all your time watching and wondering. Getting in your own head, creating stories where insects eat insects to add some excitement into your life. Think about it, this web kept us from falling to the forest floor – who knows what’s down there, if we even survive the fall – and you’re acting like we’re already dead.”
One wiggles to the edge of the leaf, stares through web into the seemingly infinite space below. “I like that idea. Let’s chew through and take our chances at the bottom.”
Two rises in anger. “Will you listen to yourself? You don’t have a clue how this world works. I’ve been all over the trees to eat – I know for a fact I’ve seen more of this web than you have. And the right side never changes – the spiders over there hardly move, and when they do it’s an inch or two. They’re big, and could easily get us in the trees, but don’t.
And being afraid of the left,” Two bristles with laughter, “You may as well be afraid of dust. Yes, there’s a lot of them, but they stay so small they’re easily crushed, even by us.
But even better, we’re in the middle, where all the spiders do is jump around to wherever they find convenient. Look at me,” Two says and moves closer to One, “There’s nothing -”
A shadow collides with Two – both end up in web – Two cannot move but the spider is already up, on top of the caterpillar – One watches fangs sink into flesh, then feels the pain himself.