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With cunning and patience, Allomerus decemarticulatus—commonly known as worker ants—cut hairs from the stem of the plant they inhabit and use the tiny fibers to build a spongy snare designed to entrap much larger insects. Once the snare is completed, hundreds of ants climb into the chamber and wait for an unfortunate victim to poke its legs in. When it does, the ants use their mandibles to trap it.

—The Eleventh Korus of the Sapphire Tree

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“You boffin’ morons,” Nigel screamed at his dumbfounded friends. “It’s flippin’ empty. How could you miss him?!” His roar echoed off the walls of the empty Tube station like an alarm warning of disaster.

His anger boiling over, Nigel zeroed in on Sal, which for Max was perfect. Since Sal was closest, Nigel would have his back to Max, if only for a beat. Hopefully, that’d give him enough time.

Be the bug, you are the bug…Be the bug, you are the bug…

“I didn’t botch it, Nigel, I swear!” Sal pleaded as he retreated to his corner of the station. “He didn’t get by me. Honest!”

“I told ya,” hissed Nigel, closing in on his prey. “If I couldn’t pound him I was going to pound you!”

Max knew Nigel needed to make an example of someone, otherwise there’d be hell to pay from the other bruisers. With sick fascination, he watched Nigel swoop in for the kill.

Be the bug, you are the bug…

“C’mon, don’t be like that,” Sal begged as Nigel towered over him.

“Don’t be like what?” Nigel grabbed Sal by his t-shirt and shoved him against the cold, tiled wall. “Like meself?” Nigel cocked his powerful right arm. “Try smiling, mate,” he sneered.

Be the bug…

“Better idea….Imagine it’s going to tickle.”


Max vaulted from the shadows as Nigel swung. Hard.

“There he is!” shouted Rodney. Sal turned, but Nigel’s fist continued its trajectory, smashing full force into the tiles next to Sal’s ear.

“Arrrrrgghhh!” Nigel roared as his knuckles sent porcelain flying.

GO! GO! GO! Be Tegenaria gigantea! You are the


Tegenaria gigantea! Max bolted across the platform, heading for the stairs.

“Sonofa—” was all Nigel could spew.

FASTER! More speed!! Tegenaria gigantea! Tegenaria gigantea!

“I’ll get him!” yelled the Slug from the far side of the platform.

“No, I’ve got ‘im,” countered Sal, scrambling from underneath Nigel, who was doubled over in pain.

“No!” Nigel rose, cradling his broken hand. “Allow me,” he hissed.

Max continued to run, the buffer’s extension cord whipping behind him. As anticipated, Nigel headed off his escape, but Max didn’t slow. Instead, target spotted, he picked up speed.

Be the Tegenaria gigantea, you are the Tegenaria gigantea, be the Tegenaria gigantea!

“Come to poppa, you little cockroach,” growled Nigel.

In some distant corner of his brain, Max was aware of Nigel spreading his massive arms and legs, flexing all seven hundred ninety-seven muscles in prepara-tion for the sound thrashing he was about to deliver.
Only this time, Max wasn’t about to reverse course.

When he was within mere inches of the Hawk, Max threw his legs out in front of him and slid beneath Nigel like an American baseball player making for home plate. He moved so fast that Nigel didn’t catch him looping the electrical cord around his ankle. All Nigel knew was that one moment Max was running right at him, the next he’d slid right by. After that, Max was back on his feet, making for the stairs without so much as a scratch—or an electrical cord.

“Sod-ALL!!” screamed Nigel. Anger and humiliation ricocheted off the station’s walls. He leapt after Max as his mates closed in behind.

If only I had six more legs!

It took only seconds for Nigel to close the gap.

Max was nearly out of breath but at least he’d made the stairs.

He heard Nigel’s heavy breathing behind him, the pounding of his boots echoing on the concrete, the sound of Nigel leaping up three steps at a time to Max’s two.

Nigel grabbed at Max’s hoodie, trying desperately to haul him in, his fingers nearly at Max’s throat.

He had only seconds to live.

Make that four…



Be the Tegenaria gigantea…Please!

“Nice try, Bug Nut,” came the snarl from behind, “but you’re mine!”


All at once the floor buffer’s cord went taut.


From behind Max, Nigel’s howl filled the air.

You are…the Tegenaria gigantea!

*        *        *

He didn’t react, didn’t dare turn back, but with fleeting satisfaction Max pictured the electrical cord yanked taut by Nigel’s foot, causing the heavy buffing machine to slam against the banister, turning it into an instant anchor. And although he didn’t see the way the cord stretched across the stairway—a trip wire for Sal and the Slug in pursuit—he did hear their screams as they went down.

But none of it was as loud or distinct as the crack of Nigel Hawkin’s jawbone as it introduced itself to Westminster’s concrete steps.

It worked! It WORKED!! Insects of the world UNITE! This bug’s for you!

Max wanted to bask in his victory but he kept running. And running. And running.

Be the bug, you are the bug…

…be the bug, you are the bug!


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