The Sadistic Mega-Beast

Irene Joseph

© Copyright 2022 by Irene Joseph

Photo by Faris Mohammed on Unsplash
Photo by Faris Mohammed on Unsplash

“Why are you sat there crying again?” my parents would turn to me and ask. It was the eighties and I was four or five, sat watching the dreaded programmes involving animals. Lassie, Littlest Hobo, Benji, etc, or even my Dad's avid watching of animal documentaries, would just set me off into floods of tears – even though nothing terrible had happened to the animals! Anything with animals would worry me that they were going to get hurt or get lost. I'd feel that all too familiar lump forming in my throat and before I knew it, the tears would be falling and I'd end up with a snotty nose. My family never understood why I got like this. And, to be honest, neither did I.

But with all this compassion, there was one dark secret I held. My curiosity of minibeasts and their features turned me into a mega-monster...a mega-beast! I meant no harm of course, but I couldn't resist exploring 'What would happen if...?' scenarios. In one foul swoop, I went from being Mr Jekyll to Mr Hyde and vice versa. I would carry out my experiments with excitement, but that then deteriorated into mortification and tears. At the age of four or five, I hadn't yet grasped the concept of life and death and couldn't understand how my actions lead to the death of such tiny animals.

I can recall many scenarios of these experimentations and their outcomes. As an adult, I'm horrified at the sadistic nature with which I carried these out!

The fascination of a large beetle that had toppled over onto its back on a park path, as my brother (who was a year younger) tried to make it move faster using a stick. We'd giggled watching its legs wiggling about, before I felt sorry for it and decided to use a stick to try and get it back on its feet again and leave it to go off on its merry way. But disaster struck. In my hastened act of trying to get the beetle back on its feet again, I'd accidently squashed its stomach with the stick and looked on in sheer horror as this gooey cream exploded out of it! I'd dropped the stick and ran. The one lesson I'd learnt that day was to never poke an animal's soft stomach with a stick!

Running home crying to my parents about the whole horrific experience led to a conversation about which minibeasts had hard shells to protect their outer bodies. So, of course, I'd thought that playing with a ladybird as carefully as I could would lead to no harm as long as I didn't cause it to roll on its back. The ladybird (which I discovered on the same park path as the beetle (RIP) fascinated me with its bright, scarlet shell and bold black dots. To me it looked so beautiful and yet so strong and powerful with its glossy colour. Its shiny shell had enticed my finger to feel and stroke it.

But low and behold, disaster had struck yet again! I got myself into a tantrum as the ladybird tried to scuttle away out of my reach and in a bid to stop it getting away so I could have the pleasure of feeling it's shell, I'd pressed too hard. Crack – followed by a piercing scream, that led my parents to come running over thinking I'd been seriously hurt. It was that day in the midst of my never-ending floods of tears, that I'd decided to steer clear of any animals with hard shells.

The beautiful appearance of certain minibeasts, like the ladybird, always attracted me. One of these was the butterfly. The wonderful array of patterns and colours on the wings of different types of butterflies, delighted me and they reminded me of the fairies I would read about in my books. That's what I would call butterflies when I was little – fairies. Of course, I knew I would never meet a fairy unless I was very lucky, but I was curious about the wings. I wanted to know what they felt like. So, imagine my sheer joy stumbling across a butterfly landing on a leaf in my garden and being able to cup it ever so gently in my little hands.

The butterfly fluttered for what might have seemed like an eternity to the poor trapped soul but for me I wanted to keep it for ever. Eventually it'd stopped moving and this was my chance to finally feel the wing of a 'fairy' without it escaping from me - as I thought it had gone to sleep. I loved the silky smoothness, followed by the delicate baby-powder I'd felt on my fingertips. Despite trying my best to be careful and gentle with this tiny creature as my parents had taught me, somehow in my love and care, the sleeping butterfly's wing had torn and crumbled. The pain I'd felt brought on the tears once again.

But my distraught memory of destroying an animal's limbs was soon forgotten when a new boy started in my class infant school. Daniel was his name and, like me, he was interested in minibeasts. He too was a mega-beast like me and he'd led me into new explorations. One of these were trying to catch daddy long-legs.

Daddy Long-Legs were pesky little creatures to try and catch. Daniel and I would run and try and catch them. I was never successful but Daniel was. I remember him catching one and pulled off one of its legs. “My big brother said it's ok because it can still move cos it's got lots of other legs!” I remember him saying to me as he saw my lips beginning to tremble. “You can hear it say ouch and then giggle!” But I couldn't hear anything when he took off another leg to prove it to me. Daniel decided that I had to do it myself to hear the daddy long-leg. So, I did. But the only thing I thought I heard was a snap and then a scream (my scream of course). That day, Daddy Long-Legs were added to my repertoire of no-no's to play with, along with the butterfly.

It didn't stop there with Daniel. There was one day when Daniel's big brother was out on his bike with his mates “looking for girlfriends” as I remember Daniel telling me. We'd taken the opportunity of his absence to go into his bedroom and play with the Meccano models he'd made and, in our explorations, we could hear a faint buzzing sound. Like me, Daniel was terrified of bees, which, we both agreed, reminded us of tiny, fat bulbous tigers with a haunting buzz instead of a roar.

Finally discovering this bee on Daniel's brother's pillow, he'd grabbed a can of Old Spice body spray and started spraying the bee. We watched fascinated as it bubbled up and foamed and went grey. We covered it with a glass, terrified that it would get bigger as it seemed to be doing at that moment in time. We realised later that it was the froth of the spray that had made it look like it'd been expanding!

Tadpoles were another species I never meant to hurt. At the age of seven, there was a tank with them for us to observe how they formed into frogs. I loved the story of the princess and the frog – tried to kiss a tadpole once – it carked it. I think this may have been the beginning to my sadistic nature with minibeasts – didn't mean any harm was just curious that was all!

But ants got away with it. They would never face my innocent, sadistic behaviour. I always avoided stepping on ants. They so busy and pre-occupied, I left them to it, just sitting on the concrete to observe their speed. Tons of them! Crowds of them! Ants seemed to be doing things. Busy, busy, busy.

I didn't like flying ants though.

33 years later, I am the owner of four cats, 2 dragon lizards and a hamster. But I still fear the minibeasts – which are mega-beasts to me!! The very small creatures that I had tormented to their death (not intentionally – only quizzically), are now the ones I run away from and scream if they come near me. I fear them. And I fear that one day they may gather the strength to rip my limbs off or squash me or kiss me!

Irene spends her day preparing and serving food to satisfy hungry college students and lecturers. By night, she feeds her own hunger for crime-fiction, researching true-life crimes and the psychology behind them, using it to inspire her own fiction. Irene is currently taking forever to work on her first psychological crime thriller: The Ticking Time Bomb.

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