It was an entirely new species of beetle, Dr. Manning knew. Something
no one had seen before. Very intelligent. Very aggressive. The
species resembled some of the nastier Austrian varieties with their
snarling pincer jaws and shining bodyarmor. Instead of being a
foresty dung brown like those European beetles, however, this new
species was a deep, peculiar purple with streaks of red along it
back, as if it were spattered with some hapless animal's blood.
What should the new species be called, Dr. Manning wondered? It was
obviously from the Lucanidae family. Should he Latinize his own name
and name the insect for himself? After all, he'd tracked the species's
migration from the Amazon rainforest to the streets of New York
(where they'd originally been introduced to the local eco-system via
cargo containers full of mahogany and knock-off Gucci purses).
Perhaps it wasn't too crass to give the new species his name and gain
a touch of immortality through them.
As Manning pondered this, the beetles clustered in the glass before
him stopped their foraging and fell into tidy rows, using their
bodies to spell out the word YES. The doctor froze.
"Are you speaking to me?" he asked.
Again the beetles scrambled to form: YES.
"You can understand me?"
"This can't be. Am I asleep? Is this a dream?"
"You really are communicating with me?"
"How is that possible?"
"Oh yes," said Manning, somewhat distractedly, painfully aware
(again) of the heavy leather restraints on his arms and legs. "I am
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Richard Kadrey is a journalist, essayist, editor, and fiction writer, among other accomplishments. He has written essays and memoirs extensively for the Web, and
a search on his name on Google will prove rewarding.