Charley was at that moment sharing a cup of coffee with Hermes, who wasn’t feeling very well and couldn’t quite finish it. The five of them – Charley, Eddie, Simon, Hermes and Ruby – had had a good long talk about Adam Quinn, and once that was over, Eddie had brought out a film she’d been meaning to watch – ‘Attack of the 30ft Caterpillar’.
‘I’ve read some of the reviews on that,’ Hermes said, sitting cross-legged in front of the sofa, and staring up at Eddie.. ‘It’s supposed to be really rubbish.’
‘I know that,’ Eddie said. ‘It was directed by Albert Kessler, and all his films are a bit rubbish. But I’m a cult follower. His films are so bad, it’s almost…’ her eyes widened ‘…good. Anyway, let’s watch it, I’ve gotta take it back tomorrow.’
‘We’re all in our early thirties, grown men, and we’re watching ‘Attack of the 30ft Caterpillar’. I don’t believe this is how most people our age spend their time.’ Simon sunk back into the sofa cushions.
‘You wouldn’t know, Si,’ Ruby said, giving him a shove from her position on the floor. ‘You only ever hang around with us weirdoes.’
‘Just put it on,’ Charley said, sipping more of Hermes’ coffee. ‘Anything to take my mind off the impending crisis.’
Eddie switched on the DVD player, put the disc in, and pressed play. The film started with a 30ft Caterpillar wriggling its way around a shopping centre, eating from a large display of cabbage.
‘Wow, look at that,’ Simon commented dryly. ‘Straight into the action. If the film weren’t so brilliant, you’d think that’s all they would have to offer.’
‘You know, I feel this film works on so many levels. Look,’ he said, gesturing towards the television. ‘He’s eating more cabbage. My goodness, what a hungry caterpillar. You see, most people would regard this on a superficial level but, to me, this speaks to me about childhood obesity.’
‘Si!’ Ruby threw a cushion at him. ‘Charley, make him stop.’
Charley drank heavily from the mug of coffee and set it heavily down on the table in front of him.
Eddie leaned forward in her seat, not bothering to pause the film.
‘Is it the insects? Are they talking to you?’
Eddie had known since college with Charley that he could communicate with his bugs on a slightly psychic level. It didn’t really strike her as odd anymore, but Hermes, who had been hitherto unaware, stood up and looked at Charley in surprise.
‘He can talk to insects? That’s weird.’
‘He can do a lot of things,’ Eddie said, waving him away. ‘What are they saying?’
‘Somebody’s been in my house,’ Charley said gravely. He turned to Hermes. ‘I have guard mantises in my house that scare away intruders. But I was careful to introduce my bugs to Valorie, I always am. They wouldn’t have warned me if she’d broken in.’
‘So… is the intruder still there?’
Charley listened to the air. ‘No, they got rid of him, but he was in there a while. They wouldn’t have let him stay so long unless they recognised him.’
‘Or her,’ Ruby pointed out, scratching her neck.
‘No, it was a him.’ Charley paused, then stood up. ‘I’m sorry to have to go, but I think I’d better check if everything’s alright.’
Eddie sighed and nodded her head. ‘I’ll drive you.’