Greg the Tennessee jumping spider and Trace the army ant veteran had been greeted by some stunned locals when they arrived at the garden. The sun would disappear over the horizon soon and Greg wanted to set up his bug-catching web for the night. He'd only heard of the legendary juicy bug they called a mosquito and wanted to see one for himself, if not catch one.
Eventually, Greg and Trace spotted Poka the ladybug who was talking with another bug that he had only vaguely remembered hearing of. Trace easily cleared up that the insect in front of him was a walking stick. The walking stick almost looked like a blade of grass or a very slender leaf and was green all over. Greg couldn't help but stare at him in amazement and realize he had a lot to learn about what lived out under the open sky.
Poka, with a little help from her grass-looking friend, finally noticed Greg and Trace's presence. Her first order of business was to introduce them to Walker, the green walking stick that Greg had been gawking at. He seemed rather nice and had a slow southern drawl which, in Greg's opinion, made him all the more likable.
Poka informed them that Walker was an expert on trees and as such almost always accurately predicted the weather. Walker eyed the odd pair before telling them that the weather would be clear for most of the night. When Greg asked why Walker had used the word most he had just slowly drawled that there would probably be a storm early in the morning.
Trace asked Poka about an old friend, Doug the carpenter bee. Doug lived in his fence post with his partner for life, Clover. Poka informed them that Clover had tunneled out a home for them nearby, but was currently on vacation. Poka then went on to point it out for them. With a nod and a quick thanks, Greg and Trace set off once more. However, this time they had a more specific goal.
It took them a little bit to find, but eventually, they found Doug's fencepost. It was well hidden from the local insect population, which meant it was even more hidden from the humans. When they arrived at the fence post, Greg and Trace were greeted by a housekeeping, Doug. Upon noticing their arrival, Trace's in particular, Doug flew down to meet them.
It was a very happy reunion and Greg gave his friend a bit of space. Doug became very dubious after laying his eyes on Greg. When Doug incredulously asked why Trace wasn't the spider's next meal, Greg simply stated that he was great company. He did not forget to mention his dislike of flies, they were so greedy. This made Doug give a hearty laugh and remark that maybe Greg wasn't so bad after all.
With the sun nearly down, Greg asked, very politely, which place would be the best to set up his web. Doug happily pointed out a corner where the wood parallel to the ground met the upright fence post. It was out of the way of the locals' flight paths but sure to catch him a few plump mosquitos, Doug had added with a wink.
After finishing his bug-catching web for the night, Greg then proceeded to weave together an overhang that would prevent the rain from washing in. As he worked Greg designed his structure in a way that would allow Doug to easily fly in and out of his workspace. The sun barely glistened over the tops of the trees as Greg finished his little contraption. When Doug came out to check on his new spider friend, he was pleasantly surprised by Greg's little gift and thanked him most sincerely.
After a time the talk finally ceased, the stars were out and Doug led Greg down the tunnel to the sleeping chambers. Trace had made himself quite comfortable and Greg found the wooden walls quite comforting. However, they also made him a bit homesick for the quaint, sheltered attic he had left behind.
When Greg got up the next morning the landscape was covered in glittering drops of water from the early morning rain. As Greg went towards the entrance he noticed that Trace was still asleep in the corner. Doug, on the other hand, was nowhere to be seen so Greg decided to check his web while he waited.
Once Greg arrived at his destination, the raindrops attached to his web shimmered and reflected the morning light. In the center of it all, much to Greg's great delight, he found a nice juicy-looking mosquito waiting for him. However, Greg concluded that he had best save it for later, something about Doug's disappearance just didn't seem right. Greg neatly wrapped his mosquito, checked that it was secure, and scurried back to Trace.
When Greg finished telling Trace about Doug's disappearance Trace seemed a bit angst. When Greg asked why Trace had simply replied that most local insects that go missing are often found in the Lake of Death. Greg shivered the name seemed fitting after Trace gave his latest tally of the dead lost to the water. It was only really a danger during the summer though, the humans seemed to enjoy filling the circular slippery-sided Lake.
Unfortunately, it was currently summertime which meant Doug was probably in grave danger. They decided they would head to the Tall Oak which overlooked the Lake of Death. On their way to the Tall Oak, they encountered Jack the hoverfly. Jack hurriedly informed them that Doug was stuck in the Lake of Death, much to Greg and Trace's horror.
They had already been going as fast as they could, but knowing their friend's life was truly on the line somehow made them go even faster. Greg and Trace had to get to Doug before the surface of the water broke. Neither of them dared think of the consequences of being too late.
Walker was already on the edge of the Lake of Death when they arrived. His habit of hanging around the Tall Oak made him the resident lifeguard. Even using Walker to keep Doug above the surface wouldn't keep Doug alive for much longer. He didn't have much time left. Greg eyed his surroundings quickly and thoroughly. However, to his dismay, Greg found no leverage for his webbing. Trace suddenly froze, Greg had not seen him so terrified during their entire friendship. When Greg looked up he understood, the local praying mantis had come for breakfast.
Everyone started panicking and started frantically trying to come up with ways to save Doug before the praying mantis arrived. Trace mentioned an ant chain like in the old days, but there weren't enough ants. Greg suggested making a line of webbing across and helping Doug along, but that idea was also quickly trashed. Much to everyone's great irritation, Walker didn't seem at all worried about Doug's impending doom. He didn't even try to make any suggestions on methods of rescue. Everyone else, on the other hand, kept trying their best to think of a solution, but it was too late. The Locals started panicking and all that ended up happening was a mass surge for cover. When the panic subsided the only ones left were Greg, Trace, and Walker.
Greg felt completely helpless as the green mantis swooped down. Time seemed to slow down and Greg felt like he should have looked away, but couldn't. He snapped back to reality when the mantis gently scooped up a terrified Doug. After carefully placing Doug on the ground she gave them a curt nod. To which Greg responded with a quiet thank you, he was utterly stunned.
Walker, on the other hand, did not seem the least bit surprised and stirred up a small conversation. The mantis was curt and her visit short, but Walker seemed to be enjoying every word of his conversation with Mandy, as he called her. Nevertheless, she disappeared as quickly as she had come, leaving a disappointed Walker and a sopping wet Doug in her wake.
Greg was just glad that Doug was alright and, with Trace's help, got him in a position where he could dry out fully. A little while later Greg left and gathered nectar in a little leaf basket for Doug and grabbed a few leaves for Trace. They both ended up asking him where his lunch was. Greg simply responded that it was too big for him to carry and besides that Greg had never truly understood lunch itself as a concept. He was simply content to wait until they got back home to have supper.