A Bug's Life
Mark A Davis
An armored pig hovered over the town of Brookhaven, Pennsylvania. The streets were littered with rubble -- broken bricks and shattered concrete. The Walgreen's at Brookhaven and Edgmont lay in ruins. Dead bugs lay everywhere. Cars were overturned and burning, with thick black smoke rising to meet swarms of angry insects high in the sky.
The villain wore a suit of silvery armor. There was a snout and a pig-shaped helmet with ears. Weapons bristled at the shoulders and arms and chest, and a rocket pack and rocket boots kept the whole ensemble aloft. On his chest was painted a black insect with a red circle and slash over it.
Below, robot pigs squealed and snorted and sniffed through the rubble, while a woman in insectlike armor was chained to a twisted vehicle.
"Members of the Brookhaven Bug Brigade!" the armored pig called out. "I have your precious Termite Woman! Surrender to my demands, or I will exterminate her!"
Grandpa Anarchy, world's oldest hero, hunkered behind an overturned truck in a nearby parking lot, gun in hand. Beside him were four heroes in bug-themed outfits.
"What I don't get," said Grandpa, "is how it came to this. How did the Porkin Man get so powerful? He's strictly a B-list villain!"
"He's our effin' arch nemesis!" exclaimed a man in a red and black beetle outfit. He was smoking a cigar.
"I know!" said Grandpa. "No offense, but the Brookhaven Bug Brigade is a B-list supergroup."
"Hey buddy, we've been defendin' effin' Brookhaven for five years!"
"My point exactly," Grandpa replied. "Listen, I only came out here to lend my support because it's been a slow week and you guys obviously are in over your heads. Plus the sidekick really wanted to do it, being some kind of bug-themed hero himself...."
"I am the Clickbait Cockroach!" the sidekick exclaimed. His costume was black and included feelers and a hard shell on the back. On his chest was a computer screen, upon which a list appeared. "Here's ten reasons Grandpa Anarchy will defeat this Porkin Man!" he yelled. "You won't believe number three!"
"Right," said Grandpa. "So maybe a few introductions are in order. This here is Ladybug Man...."
"Effin' Ladybird Beetle Man!" the man exclaimed. "I control an effin' army of ten thousand ladybird beetles! No aphid is safe!" He puffed on his cigar and added, "See, yer basic American slob calls it an effin' ladybug, but this, my friend, is what is known as an effin' misnomer -- a wrong or effin' inaccurate term. The coccinellidae is basically an effin' beetle, which ain't an effin' bug at all. Also, half of 'em are effin' boy beetles, naturally, so half the time you gots what's basically an effin' double misnomer. Ladybird Beetle is what them effin' entomologists prefer. They're very useful insects, seeing as how they eat things what feed on yer basic agricultural crops."
"Right," said Grandpa, "and if you're not careful he'll tell you the whole etymology of the name...."
"Derived from the Latin word coccineus, meaning scarlet," said the bug hero. "See, back in the effin' Middle Ages there was all these paintings of Mother effin' Mary in red, see? So people decided that...."
"Yes, yes, all very fascinating I'm sure," Grandpa interrupted quickly. "This fellow over here is the School Bus Yellow Scarab...." The man in the yellow armored outfit waved. "Turns out that Scarlet Scarab, Silver Scarab, Jade Scarab, Chartrusse Scarab -- all the good color scarab names are already taken," Grandpa added. "These other two are the Happy Hornet, and the Pirate Spider."
"Aaaar!" the Pirate Spider exclaimed. He had an eyepatch, a tri-cornered hat, and eight limbs. The Happy Hornet, meanwhile, was a woman in a wasp outfit who grinned like a monkey with all the grapes.
"The fifth one is Termite Woman out there," said Grandpa.
"We gotta effin' rescue her!" exclaimed the Ladybird Beetle Man. "She's our effin' leader! I keep sending swarms of effin' ladybird beetles in, but the effin' bastich just kills 'em off!"
"The way I see it," said Grandpa, "we need a two-pronged attack. Someone needs to distract the Porkin Man by, say, punching him in the face, while someone else rescues the Termite Woman. I volunteer for the part where I punch him in the face."
"All of his powers are electronic," said the Clickbait Cockroach. "His power suit, his robot pigs. Without those he doesn't have the insecticide bombs and electric charges to kill off the brigade's insect allies." His chest screen activated with another list. "Here's a top ten list of ways we can short circuit all of that...."
"Yeah, great idea, we ain't got the time," Grandpa exclaimed. "Cover me, I'm going in!"
Grandpa jumped up and charged over rubble slick with bugs, gun firing. Bullets bounced off the flying pig's armor. Grandpa emptied the clip then hurled the gun. He jumped atop a battered car, ran across the hood and leaped at the villain.
"Bug Zap!" the Porkin Man yelled. Electricity crackled around him. Grandpa's fist connected with the armored face, and Grandpa was instantly electrocuted. He slammed into the pavement below.
"Oof," Grandpa exclaimed, getting to his feet.
"Bug Bombs!" the Porkin Man yelled. Several missiles fired at Grandpa, who cursed and leaped to one side. The explosions were deafening, and left craters in the road. As rubble rained down, Grandpa again scrambled to his feet. Dodging laser fire from several robotic pigs, he ran for another overturned car, and using it as a springboard, launched himself again into the air.
This time Grandpa didn't punch the villain -- he tackled him. "Bug Zap!" the Porkin Man yelled again. Grandpa screamed as electricity coursed through him, but he did not let go. The two spun and tumbled to the ground, where Grandpa managed to wrestle the villain's armored helmet off.
A pig with pink skin, pointed ears, snout, and beady black eyes glared up at him.
"Wait," said Grandpa. "You're really a pig?"
"I am a pig-headed human!" the Porkin Man exclaimed. "My name refers to my looks and is in no way a sly reference to any company that has been providing quality pest control since their founding in Atlanta in 1901. It is sheer coincidence that my enemies happen to be bug-themed superheroes!
"BUG ZAP!" the villain exclaimed. Electricity struck Grandpa in the chest. He was thrown into a nearby vehicle. He groaned, but scrambled to his feet.
The Porkin Man lay motionless, as did all of his robots. "Curse you!" the pig man exclaimed. "I can't move!"
Grandpa frowned. He looked at his sidekick, the Clickbait Cockroach. "This is your doing, I take it?" he asked.
"No," said the sidekick. "I tried sending him a Five Ways to Defeat Grandpa Anarchy clickbait add -- Number One Is Insane! -- but nobody ever clicks those things."
"Aaar, that be me what did that," said the Pirate Spider. He grinned. "I be more of a software pirate spider, if you catch my meaning. It be how we usually take him down."
Grandpa frowned. "You mean you could have done this at any time?"
"Aaar, it helps if he be distracted," said the Pirate Spider.
The Ladybird Beetle Man chomped on his cigar. "Sometimes we combines to form a sort of effin' giant robotic termite," he said. "That works pretty effin' well too."
Grandpa winced. His suit was torn and his body bruised. He was limping. "Lemme get this straight," he said. "You've got a whole group of armored, bug-themed heroes, you can hack this villain's electronic systems and even combine into a giant robot... and you called me for backup why?"
"Are you kidding?" said the Schoolbus Yellow Scarab. "That bug zap of his hurts!"
Alarms blared in the Anarchy Cave. The Clickbait Cockroach sat before the Anarchy Computer, eyes glued to the screen. The elevator doors opened and Grandpa strode into the cave.
"What's the situation, sidekick?" he barked.
"It's the Brookhaven Bug Brigade," said the Clickbait Cockroach. "They're battling the Wilmington XXXterminator, and requesting help. Shall I tell them we're on our way?"
"Sure, we'll help them," said Grandpa. He paused, then added, "The Devil we will!"
"Got it," the sidekick replied. His hands hovered over the keyboard. "Let's see... Ten Reasons Why Grandpa Anarchy Will Never Aid You Again. You won't believe number one!"