Margaret Ingram—Visual Artist and Writer


Text Box:                                                                                Spider Mite                  
Invasion of the Sparkspitters
By Margaret A. Ingram
Chapter One

Hordes of scaly beings moved throughout the territory of Norpine Chloroverse. They were there for their own evil purpose.
Conifors, the inhabitants of this unusual world, were yet unaware of their presence as they carried on daily life as usual.
Phytz and Zii, two young Conifors, sprinted at top speed hot on the trail of an old spider mite.
“There he is, Phytz.  He's coming in your direction.  Get ready!  Get ready!”
Zing went the pellet from Phytz's slingshot.  It caught the spider mite high on his backside.
	“Eeeeeeee,” squealed the mite as he scurried away.
“You got him, Phytz.  Look at 'im go,” Zii said as he collapsed in laughter.
“Come on, Zii.  There's an old granddaddy.  Let's take a ride. Papa won’t like it, but he’ll never know.”
	Running as fast as they could, the boys split up to cut off the mite’s escape.   Phytz was larger than Zii even though they were both fourteen.  His longer legs served him well.  He approached from the rear of the mite, grabbed a handful of spiky hairs and swung to the creature’s back.  The frightened mite leaped and twirled in an effort to shake him loose.
	“Hang on, Phytz,” yelled Zii.
	“YeeHaw!  Go, go you crazy mite.” Phytz laughed.
	“Hold tight.  Don't let him throw you.”
	“Yipeee!  Look at him leap, Zii.”
	“Be careful, Phytz.  He’s jumping too high.”
	Phytz held on as long as he could, but finally slid to the ground with a jolt. His breath whooshed from his lungs. Gasping for air and giggling, he struggled to his feet.
	“Phytz, are you okay?” said Zii, tugging his arm to help him to his feet.
	“Man, he was a wild one.  Let's catch him so you can ride,” he said laughing and knocking dust from his clothes.
	“Okay.  I'll go around that big knoll and you chase him through the narrow passage.  When he runs through, I'll jump on his back.”
	Phytz watched Zii circle the knoll. Zii’s large dark eyes gleamed with excitement.  When he moved out of sight, Phytz heard him say, “Pee-yew!  I'm not sure I can ride that one.  I can smell him all the way over here.”
	“I didn’t notice an odor when I was riding him,” said Phytz. He continued to move toward the mite, circling wide to guide him toward the passage
“Get ready, Zii.  I'm bringing him in.”  
Just then a scream came from behind the knoll.
“Let go of me, you stinking creep!” yelled Zii.
Forgetting the mite, Phytz ran as fast as he could through the passage.  He saw Zii struggling to get away from two of the ugliest, bug-like beings he had ever seen.
“What are you doing?” he yelled.  He started toward the creatures, but hesitated.  “Let him go, you fools. Are you crazy?”
“They’re strong, Phytz.  Run!  Get help.  Get my Papa,” shouted Zii.
One of the beings spit a bright substance from his mouth that landed near Phytz's feet and burst into flames.  The bugman released Zii to go after Phytz, but when Zii tried to run the bugman stopped and grabbed hold of him again.  Phytz was torn between wanting to fight the beings and the need to rescue his friend.  He was also afraid they would capture him.  If that happened, their parents would never know their whereabouts.  He must get Zii's father.
	“Don't worry, Zii.  I'll bring help.” He bounded over the rough terrain toward home.   Glancing back, he saw two more bugmen joining the others.  He knew they would come after him, so he ran as fast as he could.  The bugmen made strange clicking sounds when they moved. They were gaining on Phytz. He had to find a place to hide.
	He saw an opening in the surface of the ground and squeezed through to the Cork Cambium, the layer just below the surface of the Chloroverse.  With the numerous cells located there, one could easily get lost, but this was where he and Zii often played, hiding from their friends.  They knew this area like the zits on their faces.  Phytz scrambled around in search of a good hiding place.  He found a small, obscure cell and squeezed inside.
	Only minutes had passed when he heard voices and clicking sounds.  Zii could be heard above all.
	“You'll be sorry for this, you stinking bug-heads.  Gaw! You smell rotten.  Don't you use deodorant?”  Phytz heard a smacking sound.
	“Ow!  Quit hitting me, you butt face,” Zii yelled.  Phytz heard other smacking sounds that soon faded away.  His heart pounded against his ribs.  He was afraid to move.  They could be waiting for him.  The cell was so small he had rolled into a ball to fit inside.  His head rested on his knees. Soon the air inside the small space became warm. As time passed his eyelids grew heavy.
	Stay awake. You can't go to sleep.  They have Zii.
No one knows from where these Sparkspitters came, but these evil invaders showed up uninvited and unwanted. They entered this unusual world located within a great Norway pine tree known as Norpine Chloroverse, the home of two clans of beings known as the Conifors and the Junquers.
Prior to the invasion of the Sparkspitters, the Conifors and Junquers lived peaceful lives. Although, they were social beings who liked having parties and visiting with their neighbors, they were also hard workers. They traveled from place to place in their neighborhoods through the cells of the tree in which they lived. When traveling greater distances they used autocapsules that propelled them through the xylem and phloem. They had houses, towns, schools, shopping malls, and other conveniences and comforts.
When not in school Phytz and Zii, two young male Conifors, played games, rode speedy-scooters and explored resin duct mines, but their all-time favorite activity was to go to the edge of the Chloroverse, capture spider mites, and take wild and fantastic rides on the backs of the mites, an activity of which their parents disapproved.