"Dang roaches, get out of my life!" The old man coughed and coughed. From where he lay on his hospital bed, he pointed his cane at the floor and expertly crunched a cricket.

The machine beside the bed exploded in frantic beeping. "Please, you must rest," the nurse said. "That was only a cricket."

"Hmph! I hate bugs. All of 'em!"

The man's chest heaved, and he gasped a sudden heavy gasp. The machine beeped at the nurse, the nurse called the doctor, and the man passed away.

The man woke. He breathed easily, feeling well rested, as if from seventeen years of sleep. It was dark, the air was stale, and it smelled like dirt.

"Hmph. Figures," he thought to himself.

He began to scratch at the dirt overhead. Progress was slow but steady. Now and then he would pause, look down, and muse, "Yup, shoulda been a hole digger."

Finally he broke through the surface into fresh air. After resting, he ambled over blades of grass and deftly climbed the nearest tree.

Part way up the trunk he stopped. There, unbeckoned, he molted, sloughing his cuticle skin. "Hmph! Figures," he thought, and then flew away on cicada wings.

(Originally written on September 29th, 2001, but shortened a bit over the years)


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