So, like, everyone hates me, ostensibly because I am the death stick. Or so they say. Whenever I come and eat near them they seem to start standing on their back legs with their arms in the air waving about like they can't see and soon after they loose their grip and fall to the floor and lie there on their backs for about 3 days or humm 180 days in equivalent stick time until they die having lost a few legs which just drop off in the mean time. The great ape has been collecting many of my former 'friends' and taking them for the burial service in the garden. It has been a tragic time.
They say when I shake my stuff at them it's all over, so now, rather than climb all over me and hang off my legs or try to eat my antennae as they would normally do, they all just stay the other end of the enclosure and talk amongst themselves. I hear things like - "nice legs twiggy" or "just because you have the power of life and death doesn't make you special you know" or " think you look like an orchid stem do you - more like a stem of grass" this kind of chatter goes on far more than I could have thought possible only half a lifetime ago.
They blame me, they think it's contagious and that because I am fine, and yet so many have fallen, that it is my doing. Logic is not a stick insect strong point.
Thankfully I happen to have escaped this turbid atmosphere a couple of times for a tete a tete with the great ape. She is really very nice for a humungus pink four legged; well two at least - I think the top two might be kinds of antennae but anyway. She says it might have been poison. That some of the other super apes hate all living things and want to kill them all indiscriminately. Some of the super apes enjoy the horrible forms of death like it's a drug. Anyway she was really sad and sorry and said a prayer for each little life that ended (little to her being so ma-hussive). She says we are little phasmids. In some places in the unimaginably large container the apes live in, we are even revered as sacred. Sacred. I think that is right. I think it means, magically great at swaying. Yes. We are special. One super ape, she said, said that no one cares about stick insects or insects in general but she cares. In some super ape containers insects are pretty much allowed to be tortured to death and no one tells off the other super apes. Anyway. I learned a lot with our super ape, she's not so bad. She let me ride on her shoulder while she drew a comic (which is like lots of sticks lined up with weirdly bright colours laid out behind them) she said its about our relatives.
After a long while, say three weeks in super ape time, or 4 years in stick time, the numbers of deaths dropped off. Thankfully. It was a sorrowful time, a kind of plague. Super Ape says perhaps it was just old age. Most sticks only live for 1 human year and as we had such a large population perhaps we got overcrowded and so the weakest died off. She did mention very very quietly one day that she had thought some Maple leaves were a kind of Oak leaf and that perhaps feeding them to us had led to some irritable stick bowel syndrome and the writhing death pains in some of our more unfortunate number. Agh.
So a quieter time has arrived and she brought us some actual Oak leaves which I must say are delicious. Only four people have died this week which is not so bad. We are still numbered about 50 at least, so can still sing our silent song, even if half the sticks in here are barky twiglets who I don't need or like very much. I am happier without them crawling on me and trying to kneecap me with their mandibly bits. If I need a chat I can just squeeze out from under the muslin and place myself somewhere decoratively for the super ape to find. She's always pleased.
Can't believe how weird life is and yet how normal at the same time.