Tuesday, 7 August 2012

United Friends Challenge #260 - based on Metamorphosis by Franz Kafka

Sunshineatmidnight's Challenge
Expand upon a short story
Extend the ending, add an epilogue or prologue, rewrite it from a different point of view, etc.
Try to choose a story that is well-known or easily accessible for those not familiar with it.
Gregor Samsa scuttled from beneath the bed where he had spent the best part of the last months, since the memorable morning when he found himself on his back in his bed unable to move. Large insects with a shell on their back instead of human skin have a problem to land on their feet again: two legs were replaced by many. He was surprised by the transformation. Under the circumstances he realised it was now better to remain in a place where he would not be noticed. His mother had still not recovered from her shock and his father was downright aggressive and at the sight of Gregor he aimed apples at his body; luckily with no success up to now.

It was only the care received from his sister that kept Gregor in good spirits. At least she brought food regularly, even if it did take some time until she realised that the good old home cooking was no longer to Gregor’s taste. It was when she found Gregor one day eating some old cheese with a slight surface of green mould which he had scraped out of a gap in the floorboards, that she realised Gregor’s tastes had changed. Since this day she had brought him supplies from the family trash can and now Gregor was happy. He found he was even increasing in weight.

Everything could have continued this way, although Gregor’s life was monotonous being kept in his bedroom. Even worse was the fact that his beloved parents, who no longer seemed to love him, had removed all the furniture from his room. He heard his father say through the door

“What good is furniture going to do for a human insect. Might as well sell it or keep it ourselves.”

Once a day when his sister visited him in the room she would open the window and fresh air would enter. Not that Gregor really wanted fresh air, but he would have liked to have been free again, perhaps a view outside or just take a walk along the street. He could even now walk backwards on his ten pair of legs, evenly distributed on the sides of his body. Luckily he could also climb walls and hang on the ceiling by the sticky surface of his feet,  which gave him more moving space.

One day his sister brought his food, opened the window and turned because her parents were calling.

“We must go now, there is no time to lose, they will be upon us soon.”

Gregor’s sister dropped the can of food she was carrying, half of it emptying onto the floor and disappeared. Gregor thought it strange that she brought the food wearing her coat and outdoor shoes as if she was going somewhere. First of all our human insect, Gregor, made himself upon the food. He had never had so much offered and the abundance reminded him of Christmas and birthdays he had once celebrated with the family.

“Eat as much as you want” his mother would say. “It is only once a year.”

After he had finished eating he noticed that in her hurry his sister had left the window open. Even the door had not been closed. He looked around as far as he could, his sight being reduced since his transformation, and could smell fresh air, even feel a movement of a slight breeze brushing across his soft parts, from the direction of the door. Carefully he crawled across the floor and discovered the door to be open. He was sure he was now in front of the open door. He could hear birds chirping and the sounds of outside, but strangely no human voices or movements.

“Please help me” he heard a cry from a high pitched voice similar to his own. Alas even his voice had changed after that fateful night. Again he heard the cry “help, I am suffocating.”

He moved towards the voice and found an insect, similar to himself, although its body was shining with rainbow colours, not as drab as his own. Gregor could only see the parts of his own body by reflections in a mirror or the window and he knew that it was just a plain brown insect body.

The rainbow coloured insect was lying on its back and he realised the threatening situation it was in.

“Just a moment” Gregor called, and pattered towards the insect in distress.

“Just keep still” he said and he put his head under the body and with one immense push the insect was turned and landed on its feet.

“Oh, thank you so much” it said and had tears in its eyes.

“No problem” said Gregor and studied the creature he had rescued. “You look something like me” he said.

“Of course I do” was the answer. “My name was Ursula in my human life, but that was long ago. I suppose you woke up one morning as a sort of unwanted insect like myself” it added. Gregor noticed at once that this was a female form of himself.

“You mean there are more of us?” Gregor asked.

“Of course” she answered. “Where have you been? There are thousands of us.”

“My parents kept me inside the house. They were ashamed of me. Were it not for my sister, who took pity on my transformation, I would probably have starved to death.”

“Oh, you poor thing” the female insect said. “I know, many of us had that fate. I was one of the lucky ones, my family just threw me out into the garden, said it was my own fault and I could now fend for myself. I soon discovered that I was not alone and gradually more of us were transformed.”

“You mean it is not so odd that I was transformed?” said Gregor.

“I wouldn’t put it that way” was the answer “of course it is odd, but when you are not so alone with your fate, it makes things easier. It seems there are now so many of us that the humans are fleeing to the mountains. They realise that we insects are more comfortable in the low lands where the temperatures are warmer, a nice damp climate. By the way I am, or was, Ursula. And you?”

“I suppose you can still call me Gregor, Gregor Samsa exactly” and so Gregor was happy with his new found girlfriend.

They stayed together for many months and there were even little insects crawling around them after the first birth. Gregor and Ursula were worried that their children might become human, but there was no problem. They were all nice cute insects like their mother and father. The females had a colourful shell and the males just plain brown.

Gregor and Ursula died which was not surprising really. An insect’s life is a short one. They were actually lucky not to become the dinner for a passing bird who found the meat of this new species most tasteful.

As the years passed the humans became mountain dwellers. They also realised that the meat of the human insects was tasty, almost a delicacy, and they would go hunting now and again as food was scarce in the mountains.

When the day arrived that the space ships landed, both the humans and the insects were astonished. The humans watched as the strange space dwellers left their ships. No, they really did not resemble anything humanoid with their three eyes, three pairs of arms and green skin. The only human thing about them was that they walked on two legs, although there were no feet, just a flat webbed object at the end of the leg. The memories of the days when the humans found their children in their beds in the mornings transformed into insects were still in the back of their minds, so they decided to stay in the mountains to see what might happen.

If they could have understood the language of the space dwellers, they would have realised why they were there.

“Are you ready Brungles” said the chief of the spacemen to his men. They were from the planet Brungle.

“We are” was the answer and they threw out their nets trapping many of the insects that tried to scrabble away. The insects were then piled into the ships. There were about 10 ships and when their cargo holds were full, they left planet earth for Brungle.

“I think our great Ruler on Brungle had a good idea” said the ship’s captain to his assistant. “Earth was a good breeding place for our food rations. Over the past year they have reproduced themselves to such an extent that our food supplies on Brungle are now assured for the future.

The humans, who now lived in the mountains, noticed that the space ships returned to earth regularly. In the meanwhile, in the lowlands behind a rock, an insect awoke. During the night it had gone through a metamorphosis. It awoke to find it was laying on it back and quite easily could turn to walk on his many legs with no problem. It was astonished to find that it had now only two legs and could even walk upright. Even its skin was soft and pink, it no longer had a shell on its back. It was ashamed and hid itself. What would his parents, brothers and sisters say when they saw him in such a shape.
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