One day, Jennifer bought a large praying mantis for a pet.
She kept it in a terrarium, feeding it meal worms, cockroaches, and other delicious creepy crawlies. She delighted in the nobility of the mantis's hunt, watching with glee on the occasions that it took down swifter prey.

She became friends with her mantis. After a while, it had acquired a certain animal trust for Jennifer. It would stand, sometimes, in the palm of young Jennifer's hand and allow her to run her soft fingers across its welcoming crown.

He became Jerry the mantis.


One day, a wasp that had flown in from outside entered the terrarium. Though she was then unaware of its presence, Jennifer had, as per her usual routine, situated herself a few feet away to get a good view of Jerry in his habitat. On the floor of the terrarium, he stood gracefully. Still.

Suddenly, as Jerry turned his head slightly left to begin anew a brief survey of his miniature wilderness, the wasp flew out from behind a model tree and hovered around the proud mantis. Roused, the mantis took to a stalking pose, waiting for just a split second, then taking a strike at the quick insect. Then another. A miss. Another miss.

The wasp then rose above Jerry's head, hovering downwards and landing on his neck with a grip. He turned to snap his jaws towards it, and batted his arms at it behind his head just as it lowered its abdomen and began injecting the back of Jerry's neck with its venom.

As the wasp rose, Jennifer watched her pet's movements begin to slow and become jerky. The wasp perched in a corner at the top of the tank and clung there. Jerry began to walk, disoriented. Jennifer hoped his continued movement was a good sign. Jerry stopped moving. Jennifer's thoughts rushed over it.

The wasp was still there. Its big black eyes peered vacantly over the terrarium.
There was still a mealworm on the floor.