Thursday, May 23, 2019

A Bad Day For Spiders.

Gaius has concluded the maratus cristatus is dead.

He sees Elodie approaching.

Perhaps she has had better luck.

Any luck? asks Gaius.

Elodie sits down beside Gaius, dropping First and Second Dirty onto the poncho.

They come to rest near the defunct maratus.

No, says Elodie. You?

Yes and no, says Gaius. Our cristatus has died in mysterious circumstances. His female friend claims she is not responsible. We shall never know the truth because she has run off in a hurry.

What a drama, says Elodie. At least you learned something.

What, exactly? asks Gaius.

He does not feel he has learned anything useful.

Cherchez la femme, says Elodie.

Females are hard to identify, says Gaius.

Yes but they are good at identification, says Elodie. Perhaps I'll concentrate on finding females.

Good idea, says Gaius.

Where's Lavender? asks First Dirty.

With Arthur or Sprocket, says Gaius.

Sprocket is staring at his phone, not far from the poncho.

Shit, says Sprocket. Left her in the car!

He goes over to the HiLux to retrieve Lavender, who is on the front passenger seat visualising the future.

Sorry, says Sprocket.

That's okay, says Lavender. I knew you would come.

Yeah, you hoped, says Sprocket. .

But I DID, says Lavender. I wasn't hoping, I KNEW.

Whatever, says Sprocket.

He carries her to the poncho, where First and Second Dirty are waiting, beside the dead spider.

Lavender looks at the dead spider.

She hopes Sprocket won't ask her if she knew this had happened.

He doesn't. He has been distracted by an accident which has happened to Felix.

Felix the natural.

Doing wheelies and stoppies on Baby Pierre's tiny bicycle.

But he is the size of a rice grain, and Baby Pierre is a medium sized pebble.

Felix's longest legs only reach the pedals half of the time.

He has swerved to avoid Sprocket.

And crashed.

He lies on the ground.

It's a bad day for spiders.

Wednesday, May 22, 2019

Tonight I Will Enter

My bicycle, says Baby Pierre. Who'll go and get it?

You go, Arthur, says Gaius. I'm watching the maratus cristatus, for signs of life.

The maratus cristatus exhibits no signs of life.

But Gaius remains sitting.

Arthur gets up. He has drunk too much water.


Arthur, Baby Pierre and Felix head for the camper.

Woo! says Baby Pierre. It looks super!

It does look nice, as we no doubt remember.

The rude message is covered with gold paint, except for "S IF Y"

And a photo of Daniel O'Connell hangs from the door handle.

This is new.

Arthur opens the side door.

Shu is inside. He appears to be sulking.

Hi, says Arthur. I thought you were out in the sand dunes.

I was, says Shu. But my search for a spider was fruitless.

Gaius had a female, says Arthur. But she killed the maratus cristatus and ran off. Baby Pierre's found another one.

Felix, says Baby Pierre. He looks like a cat.

I don't, says Felix. Where is the bicycle?

Where's Baby Pierre's bicycle? asks Arthur.

Shu is glad to have something to do.

He moves a few cushions.

There it is, in its green fluoroelastane glory.

Yay! says Baby Pierre.

Arthur drops the bike to the ground, and Baby Pierre and  Felix jump down together.

Baby Pierre gets on his bike and does a circuit round Felix, followed by a wheelie and a stoppie.

Now ME! cries Felix.

You might not be able to, says Baby Pierre. Do you want a lesson?

NO! cries Felix.

He does not need a lesson. He is a natural.

He performs circuits and wheelies and stoppies.

None of which are noticed by Shu or Arthur.

Shu is showing Arthur the rooftop tent.

I thought we could sleep here.

I might sleep in the HiLux, says Arthur.

O! says Shu.

What's up? says Arthur.

Nothing, says Shu.

Arthur goes off for a pee. Too much water.

Shu remains in the camper, composing a poem.

The moon breaks though clouds
Sharp beams awaken
Two pointed sticks
Aimed at your heart
To assuage my endless longing
Tonight I will enter the Hilux.

Tuesday, May 21, 2019

Death And Continuity

 Mid afternoon. Arthur and Sprocket have returned in the HiLux.

They are unloading the water, when Gaius arrives.

He is carrying a misted-up date ball packet, stiffened with a pencil.

Arthur! says Gaius. You're back. Did you get the water?

Sure did, says Arthur.

And we've done heaps of work on the doco, says Sprocket.

I must look at it sometime, says Gaius. But not right now. I've obtained a second spider

New species? asks Arthur.

Time will tell, says Gaius. It's a female.

Where is she? asks Sprocket. Can I get a photo?

In the date ball packet, says Gaius.

Bingo! says Sprocket. Continuity!

Let's hope so, says Gaius The maratus cristatus is in there as well.

I meant for the doco, says Sprocket. The date ball packet features in the opening sequence. And now it reappears with a different function. How cool is that?

Average, says Arthur.

Gaius is keen to open the packet. He sits down on the poncho.

Sprocket takes out his phone camera.

Gaius opens the packet.

Nothing comes out.

This is disturbing, says Gaius.

Shake it, says Arthur.

They may be still mating, says Gaius. But you'd think they'd have finished by now.

Something's coming out! says Sprocket.

Something is. It's the female. And she does not look best pleased.

She stops on the poncho.

He's dead, says the female.

Dear me, says Gaius. I was certain you must be the same species. You seemed so keen.

I didn't do it, says the female. He was a sweetie. I'll miss him. Goodbye.

Wait! says Gaius. What happened?

Victory dance, says the female. Slipped and cracked his opisthosoma.

Are you sure he's dead? asks Gaius, peering into the packet.

Pretty sure. She does not care either way.

She runs away quickly.

Baby Pierre arrives shortly after.

Gaius is sitting on the poncho with Arthur and Sprocket, drinking flat water.

They are observing something, inert and tiny, near the open date ball packet.

Hi all! says Baby Pierre. I've brought a new friend home. Felix.

Hi all! squeaks the maratus felinus.

Can someone get my bike out of the camper? says Baby Pierre. We want to ride it.

You didn't happen to see a female maratus as you approached? asks Gaius. We failed to detain her.

No, says Baby Pierre. But Felix might have. Did you, Felix?

Felix did, but he's not going to say so.

All he wants is a ride on the bike.

Monday, May 20, 2019

Free-Wheeling Tenacity

Hello, says Baby Pierre. I have thought of a sensible question.

Go ahead, says the maratus felinus.

How would you describe yourself? asks Baby Pierre.

That's a very good question, says the maratus felinus. How would you describe yourself?

A free-wheeling pebble, says Baby Pierre, distinguished by....

I was repeating the question, says the maratus felinus. Not asking.

Sorry, says Baby Pierre. There's no way to tell the difference.

If you had waited a few seconds longer, I would have answered the question, says the maratus felinus. If I hadn't answered the question by then, you would know I was asking. But I don't usually answer a question with a question.

Good, says Baby Pierre. Do you remember the question?

Yes, says the maratus. How would I describe myself? A fun guy. A good dancer. Interested in short term relationships.

Stop, says Baby Pierre.

I've embarrassed you, says the maratus felinus.

You've misunderstood me, says Baby Pierre. I'm a volunteer with Project Maratus. We're trying to find new species of maratus in this biodiversity hotspot.

I see, says the maratus felinus. So I live in a biodiversity hotspot. Why then am I lonely?

A biodiversity hotspot is not a nightclub, says Baby Pierre. It's a region. Your habitat is shrinking. You should think about moving.

Lonely, repeats the maratus felinus.

I really wish you would tell me what kind of maratus you are, says Baby Pierre.

You should ask a female, says the maratus felinus. They always know.

Would you like to  know? asks Baby Pierre.

Would it help? asks the maratus.

Question with a question, says Baby Pierre.

Answer! says the maratus.

Short answer, yes, says Baby Pierre. If we wait here my colleagues Raoul and Markus will catch up. They might find you a female.

I don't want a female, says the maratus. You do.

But you're lonely, says Baby Pierre.

Can I ask you a question? asks the maratus.

Go ahead, says Baby Pierre.

Free-wheeling and distinguished by what? asks the maratus.

Me? says Baby Pierre. I am distinguished by this mark on my head. The Mark of the Claw.

What does it signify? asks the maratus.

Tenacity, says Baby Pierre. And good legs.

Free-wheeling, tenacity, good legs. You ride a bicycle! says the maratus.

I do, says Baby Pierre. It's in the camper.

Woo! says the marastus felinus. Can I see it?

Yes, says Baby Pierre. Come with me.

He is beginning to think that working on Project Maratus is easy.

Sunday, May 19, 2019

Imagine Your Feet

Gaius waits by the cellophane packet.

It's been a successful morning.

He wonders if Elodie has been lucky.


Elodie sits in a sand dune, sifting sand.

An ant runs up her arm.

She tries brushing it off, but it bites her.

Ouch. She stands up and heads for the water.

She passes the campsite where First and Second Dirty are waiting to be rescued.

They are lying face up on the ground exchanging riddles.

What is round? asks First Dirty

A pebble? asks Second Dirty.

The sun! says First Dirty.

Got me, says Second Dirty. What is hard?

A pebble? asks First Dirty.

Cartesian geometry, says Second Dirty.

Elodie stops. She has seen them.

I see we're all slacking, says Elodie. I'm heading for the water. Want to come with me?

Yes. They do.

She picks up First and Second Dirty.

Wait! says Second Dirty. Can you dig up something we buried?

Is it dead? asks Elodie.

Smashed, says Second Dirty. It's a baked bean that I sat on.

Why on earth do you want me to dig it up? asks Elodie.

They explain.

She digs it up for them.


Meanwhile Baby Pierre has got tired of waiting for Markus and Raoul and pressed ahead to the spot where the tiny maratus felinus had been preening its whiskers.

Is it still there?

No, it has moved on.

But Baby Pierre has seen spider tracks.

They are small, because, well, it's obvious.

Imagine you were the size of a rice grain.

Imagine your feet.

Baby Pierre travels low to the ground, and he has good eyesight.

He follows the tracks.

The tracks lead behind the thick trunk of a Kingia australis.

There sits the whiskery spider.

Hello, says Baby Pierre. I'm in search of a new species of peacock spider. Might that be you?

That is the dumbest question anyone has ever asked me, says the spider.

I'll start again, says Baby Pierre.

He circles the Kingia australis, and appears a second time, with a more sensible question.

Saturday, May 18, 2019

Lightly Erotic

The maratus claps, to get the females' attention.

He already has it.

The three rice-grain-sized females watch him to see what he'll do next.

He hesitates.

Anything wrong? asks Gaius.

No, says the maratus. Just getting ready to leap backwards.

Understandable, says Gaius. I believe they can be quite aggressive if they don't like your dancing.

Tell me about it, says the maratus. And there's THREE of these lovelies.

The females wink at one another.


The maratus starts dancing, waving his third pair of fuzzy black legs in the air, displaying white tips.

He edges closer to the females.

He is not able to catch what they're muttering.

But soon enough it becomes evident that they don't like his dance.

Two of them shoot forward in full attack mode.

The maratus leaps onto Gaius's shoulder.

Bravo. But it's not quite as high as all that.

Gaius stands up.

Now it is.

See that? says the maratus. Fast response time. I call it defensive dancing.

Indeed, says Gaius. I thought the third female was interested, for a moment.

Did you? says the maratus. Which one is she?

The one that hung back a little, says Gaius. The other two have stalked off in an obvious huff, but she is still down there. Care for another try?

Lower me to half mast, says the maratus.

Gaius obliges.

The maratus calls down to the female.

Truth or dare, says the maratus.

Dare, says the female.

Okay, says the maratus. See that date ball packet? I dare you to enter it.

Gaius is pleased with the maratus's choice of dare. If the female enters the date ball packet of her own volition, he will have a fine specimen.

The female looks at the date ball packet gaping open on the sand.

There is condensation on the cellophane.

It's wet, says the female.

My wet, says the maratus.

This is erotic.

She steps lightly inside.

Friday, May 17, 2019

Promising Females

There will not be a sad ending.

Gaius has found a pencil.

He slots it in, beside the maratus, along with several loose papers.

What's all this paper? asks the maratus.

My notes on the peacock spider, says Gaius. Feel free to peruse them. Unfortunately, page one is missing. 

I will read them, says the maratus. Never heard of peacock spiders.

But you are a peacock spider, says Gaius. It's your common name.

A bird name, says the maratus. I don't think so.

It's true, says Elodie. The male peacock has a splendid tail, and male marati have splendid abdomens.

Hardly the same thing, says the maratus. I object strongly. Is there a science journal I could write to?

I'm sure there is, says Gaius, but now we really must set off for the sand dunes.

He picks up the date ball packet with the notes, the pencil and the maratus cristatus inside.

They set off for the sand dunes.

They arrive at the sand dunes.

Now what? asks Elodie.

Spread out, says Gaius. Elodie, you go that way. Shu, you go that way. I'll stay here.

Shu goes off that way.

Sand and grass, no spiders.

He remembers they are tiny.

He stops and bends down to examine the sand.


Elodie has gone off the other way.

Sand and grass.

She bends down and pokes about for spiders.


Gaius has remained here.

He looks  around for signs of spiders.

His eye falls on the date ball packet which has misted over.

He unfolds it.

The maratus runs out.

Uh uh uh, says the maratus.

Dear me, says Gaius, I thought spiders needed less air than humans.

We need to keep moving, to breathe, says the maratus. Perhaps that was what was written on your missing page one.

I don't think so, says Gaius. But you're out now. When you've recovered, would you like to make yourself useful?

Sure, says the maratus. Just tell me how.

I thought you might make some sort of signal to attract other marati, says Gaius.

Done! says the maratus cristatus.

He opens his flaps.

Several drab-looking spiders emerge from the roots of the grasses.


This is promising.