Don't Let the
"Mom, I don't want a new mattress!" James whined, tugging his hand away from his mother's grip as they walked down a section in the store.
His mom took his hand again. "That... thing you're sleeping on is so dirty," she said firmly. "You need a new one."
James tried to wrench his hand away and bolt down to a different aisle. He failed.
"But I love my mattress. It's so comfy," James stubbornly argued. He was a pro at arguing.
His mom kept dragging him down the mattress aisle. "You are getting another mattress."
James was in love with the mattress he had right now. He had broken it in, so it had taken shape of his sleeping style and position. Each night as he delicately rested upon it, it gently formed around him, providing maximum comfort. Then he had to get a new one.
His mom walked up to a man with a vest on saying, "How may I help you?"
She asked him, "Do you have a small mattress for a little bed?"
The man nodded. "Only got one," he grunted. "Sure ya don't want it, though." His mother followed the man to find the perfect mattress. Clean, soft, brand-spanking new. "Why wouldn't I want it?" she asked.
The man got eager. He could sell something.
"Nothin'," he lied. "People just think it has bugs. We fixed it though. I just thought you might be a insecto-phobe. It don't have no bugs no more."
James groaned. Bye-bye old mattress. His mom immediately purchased it. Then, he was home. His parents were carrying his mattress out the door.
Bye, he mouthed. He sighed. James wouldn't sleep ever again. They lowered the small mattress in the garbage can, it was gone. Then, they laid the new mattress on his bed. And it was done. Old Beauty, gone like that. What a shame. Not even a proper funeral or burial.
Pretty soon, it was evening, then it was ten-o-clock. "Time for bed," commanded his father. He walked to his room. James, reluctantly and slowly, dropped on the bed. Amazingly, it was. . .nice. Very cozy and inviting. Ah. "You like it?" asked his mother, appearing at the doorway.
"It's. . .okay," replied James dishonestly, afraid to admit defeat. "I like the old one better."
His mom shrugged. "I'm sure you'll like this one too." He closed his eyes. His mother approached and said, "Night sweety."
He mumbled sleepily, "Night."
She laid a kiss on his forehead. "Don't let the bed bugs bite," his mother played.
"Honestly, mother," James complained, "I am twelve. I do not believe in bed bugs. I am not a Care Bear."
His mother frowned. "Just kidding. They sprayed all of 'em."
She left the room. James was alone in bed. He stared at the ceiling. Ah, the bed was nice.
He went to sleep like a baby.
Then, he heard a squelch. From the mattress.
No. The bugs were gone. Just sleep. . .
He didn't hear that.
Quelch. He didn't hear that either. Nope.
Zelch. Okay, he heard that.
He got up and out of bed. It stood still. But it made strange sounds. Squelch, belch, quelch, zelch. It all rhymed. Then, it made a song and burping and vomiting sounds.
A very disgusting sound.
A sucking, slurping, putrid sound.
A rude thing to do.
A crude, rude, thing to do.
To quelch your thirst.
To replenish your thirst.
That's my name.
My puking, burping, name.
Then, something strange happened.
The world blended into pixels and rivulets and spun and corkscrewed.
Peter woke. His younger brother, DJ, was over him. "Hey," he commented.
James turned. What a bizzarre dream. "Not today, DJ," he grumbled.
DJ smiled brightly. "Wanna play castle today?"
Castle was DJ's favorite game. He built a fort out of boxes and always decided that he was king, and James was a peasant. No queen or prince or princess. James thought that was kinda stupid.
"Maybe later," James said. He buried his face in the pillow. DJ left the room.
Later that day, James was watching T.V. His brother walked in.
"What do you feed bugs?" he asked.
James shrugged. "Dunno," he said.
DJ shoved his face in front of James's. "Pleeeeeeze," he begged.
James sighed. "Why?"
DJ said, "At school today, I saw bugs at the playground. Clifford Muserly asked me what you feed bugs. I said, 'I don't know.' Now he wants me to see what they eat, and what makes them grow."
James tried to ignore DJ, but couldn't.
"They eat grass and dirt," he replied absentmindedly. DJ gratefully thanked him, and rushed outside.
Hours later, DJ showed James a clear ball. It was Saran Wrap, wrapped in a sphere with dirt and grass and bugs inside.
DJ was proud. "I'm gonna feed this to bugs!" he announced. "Wanna watch?" James rather play castles than watch insects eat dirt.
"How 'bout we play castle instead?" DJ instantly forgot all about the bug experiment.
"Yeah!" he screamed, and within minutes built a box-fort. Of course, James was a peasant who fought the mighty king. And died. When the game was over, DJ asked, "How about you be the princess?"
James scowled. "I'm a boy."
DJ teased him to heart's content. "Pretend," he mused. "But how do I know you're a real princess? I'm going to make a test. The princess and the pea test."
James went right back to watching T.V.
Pretty soon, it was night.
James lay in bed. A bug scrabbled across his mattress. "This bed still has bugs!" he screamed, flicking it off. DJ came in. "You have bugs in your bed," he declared. "I couldn't find a pea, so I used that ball of dirt and grass. I put it under your mattress. The bugs in your bed ate it, and... man... they're huge! Dang. Huge."
All at once, James knew. There were bugs in his bed, they grew giant. All because of DJ. Tiny holes started fraying in the mattress.
From the inside, giant bugs came out of the holes, nibbling at James. They all screamed, "Hail Zelch! Our insect king!" All at once, they rushed out for their first meal of human.
It didn't take that long to find.