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What's a Spidermunk?

Posted on 29 Jan 2020 @ 6:37pm by Commander Jayla Kij & Senior Chief Petty Officer Alexander Rylan

Mission: Epilogue
Location: Trill - Guest House
Timeline: June, 2389

If there is one place young boys like over anywhere else, it was definitely Grandma's house. And since Neville had never really had a grandma until about a year ago, he was there any chance he got. Since his mother lived so close to Grandma, this meant that Neville was there just about every single day.

Today, though, he was bored. He had officially run out of things to do and so passed the time watching for Aunt Jayla and Uncle Alex to come home. It just so happened that today, for whatever reason, Uncle Alex came home alone. That was unusual. They usually turned up together. Well, he would just have to ask where Aunt Jayla was.

And so, he presented himself at the door to the guest house and knocked politely, waiting for Uncle Alex to answer.

Judging by the height of the knock on the door, Alex guessed Neville was doing the knocking. Just as he was about to answer the door, his pet spidermunk, Lucas, dropped from the ceiling and landed on his back, causing Alex to yelp in surprise. "I bet you think that was funny, don't you? Wiseass. Alex grabbed a box of nuts from where he kept Lucas' treats and gave him one as together they went to answer the door. Alex grinned when he saw Jayla's nephew. "Hiya, Neville!" he said, cheerfully. "Your aunt got stuck at work but you're welcome to come in and hang out with me and Lucas."

"Is... is that Lucas?" Neville asked, pointing to the weird spider/chipmunk thing now sitting on Alex's shoulder.

"Yes," Alex said. "And he's very friendly. Here," Alex handed Neville a nut and knelt down. "Give him one of these and you'll be on your way to being his best friend."

Neville took the nut and offered it gingerly to the funny creature.

Lucas looked at the nut, then at Neville, then back at the nut. He leaned in towards Neville and sniffed the boy's fingers, and licked them. Deciding the boy neither smelled nor tasted dangerous, Lucas took the nut and went back to his perch on Alex's shoulder.

With a grin and a laugh, Neville reached out to attempt to stroke the little creature's head. "What is he?" he asked.

"He's a spidermunk," Alex said. "As in an eight legged chipmunk with some other spider-like attributes, not a cross between a spider and a monkey." Alex, deciding he'd rather take advantage of the fresh air, came out on the little porch and took a seat on the stairs. "Come have a seat and we'll see if Lucas will climb on you. He's usually pretty friendly... except when he's a brat, but he seems to like you. Feed him a little more and he'll really like you."

"All right," agreed Neville, sitting next to Alex and taking more nuts. "Here ya go, Lucas. You like nuts?"

Lucas tentatively stuck his nose out and sniffed the offered treat, then cautiously reaching out, he snatched it away and retreated.

"Lucas!" Alex said. "Don't be grabby."

Lucas chittered in response.

Alex grinned. "Let's try and experiment," he said. He took a nut and placed it on Neville shoulder.

Lucas, having finished the previous treat, sniffed the air and then cautiously moved towards Neville. Moving more like a spider than a chipmunk, Lucas moved over onto Neville's back and perched there while he snacked on the nut.

"See," Alex said. "That didn't take long at all."

Neville laughed nervously as he attempted to twist around to see the spidermunk. "I want one!" he said. "Mum wouldn't let me have one, though."

"Well, a pet is a big responsibility," Alex said. "They're dependent on you to take care of them. To give them food and water, to figure out if they're sick and to realize when they've been hurt and take them to see a veterinarian. Some pets need you to wash them. I give Lucas a bath now and again. And even when they're healthy, they count on you to enrich their lives. To play with them, pet them, snuggle with them. That usually fun, but sometimes you have to do it even if you're not feeling like, when you'd rather do something else. If you think you can do all of that, maybe an Earth-type domestic feline would be a good choice. They're fun to play with when they're kittens, they're fairly independent as adults. If you live somewhere where they can be an indoor/outdoor cat, they will likely go outside and explore and come back when they want a warm lap to curl up in. You still have to pay attention to them and pet them and snuggle them and feed and water them and clean their litter box, that's where they'll go to the bathroom when their in the house. The litter clumps their pee and their poop, so that means scooping up clumped, sometimes mush, always really smelly stuff. They'll demand attention sometimes, but as they get older, they'll often just want to nap. So, could you do all of that? Because when a family gets a pet, it's everyone's responsibility to take care of it."

“We have a prover- kinda like a tree frog,” answered Neville. “But he’s easy to take care of. Just give him insects and he’s happy. He lives in this huge terrarium with rocks and shrubs and stuff. We have to clean it once a week. But it only takes like five minutes. Mum likes amphibians. I’m not so sure she’d go for a giant fluffy spider, though.”

Alex laughed. "Probably not," he said. "To be honest, when he climbs on me in the middle of the night he often completely freaks me out. Still getting used to having him around. I didn't exactly choose him as a pet. He was hiding in the vents and Jeffries Tubes on the Black Hawk and sneaked into my quarters. But he seemed to need a place to live and he's cute, if a bit creepy, so I kept him. Cats are much less creepy... most of the time. Here," Alex took out a PaDD and found several pictures of domestic Earth felines for Neville to look at, and some cat videos. Cat videos had become popular in the 20th Century on Earth and after Earth recovered from World War III and the Atomic Horror, they became popular again.

“Aw, look at this one!” exclaimed Neville, holding up a picture. “He’s so grumpy! And so cute!”

Alex grinned as he looked at the picture. "Yeah, he is cute," he said. "Cats seem to have a lot of personality. Dogs do, too, but it's different. Dogs want you to be happy and to like them and to think they're good dogs because they think they'll get a pay-off for obeying you and playing with you and greeting you enthusiastically when you come home and making sure they only go to the bathroom where they're supposed to. Usually that's treats or toys or play time or walks or time outside, and so on. Cats, on the other hand, once they get older, are very independent, except when they want to be snuggled. They sort of do their own thing. Even so, they'll still be interested in you because you provide food and water and shelter and treats and snuggles, and they'll at times be affectionate because they want something, just like a dog does things to get a pay-off." Alex laughed. "Kind of like when your mom bribes you to do something by offering you something you want in return."

“If you wanna go cliff diving, you have to finish your chores,” said Neville in a high pitches voice. “Yeah, she does that all the time. Hm. Maybe she’d let me have a cat. Whadaya think, Lucas?” he added, holding the PADD- now displaying a picture of an astonished kitty- up for the spidermunk on his shoulder to see. “Should I get a cat?”

Lucas looked at the terrifying creature in the picture, chittered like crazy, and then spit webbing onto the PaDD.

"Lucas!" Alex said, trying to be stern and failing. "No! Neville, don't move! You don't want to get that stuff on you! it's really difficult to get off. Here, let me... there we go." Alex gingerly took the PaDD from Neville and set it aside. "Another point in the Why Cats Make Better Pets Than Spidermunks column is that cats don't spit powerful adhesives at things when they get cranky."

Being a 9-year-old boy meant laughing at anything not dangerous that happened. This was no different. Neville had burst out laughing at the spidermunk’s reaction to the cat, but headed Alex’s advice and didn’t touch the stuff. “That was great!” he laughed. “But yeah, I can see how that would be annoying.

Alex laughed. "The first time we encountered him, Lucas webbed us to each other. It was really funny. Then, after we got ourselves free, and fed him apple pieces, he started farting repeatedly. Seriously. We have a 'no apples for Lucas' rule. It was that nasty."

The only thing funnier to boys than odd creatures excreting strange substances is odd creatures farting. So of course Neville laughed even harder. "Oh, that would be hilarious!" he said. "Unrelated question- do you have any apples?" And again, he burst into giggles.

Alex grinned. "No," he said. "Except for the wiseapple sitting next to me with another wiseapple on his shoulder."

Which of course, made Neville laugh even harder. "Bette a wiseapple than a dumbapple!!" he retorted.


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