Despite his quickly worsening temper, Waldo gritted his teeth and helped Pip spread the tablecloth. Verona set the plates and Pappa laid the spoons, while Fritz and Felix dusted off the seat cushions by whacking each other with them. Soon Mamma arrived with an enormous steaming dish of roasted pistachio-bugs, figs, and spiced grain.
“Make room, hot plate!” she barked. She set down the dish and frowned. “Waldo! How many times do I have to tell you to put your things away?” She pointed at the glass jar holding the flying tarantula, which sat on the table next to Waldo.
“It’s a very rare megarachnis toxicus-volantius!” protested Waldo. “It needs to eat too!”
Whack! A spoonful of pistachio-bugs hit Waldo in the face.
“There’s some food for you!” said Fritz. Felix gleefully joined in, flinging figs across the table. Even Pappa laughed, despite himself.
“Stop it!” cried Waldo, rubbing a kernel of grain out of his eye. He was so angry his knees shook.
“That’s enough, you two!” Mamma roared at the twins, “or no pudding! Waldo, I don’t care if it’s the world’s smartest cockroach, no creatures at the table!”
“But—” started Waldo.
“Come on,” said Verona, “put it away! We just want to eat lunch.” Pappa joined in the scolding, and soon everyone was pointing fingers and shouting. When another oily pistachio-bug sailed over the table and landed on his forehead, Waldo simply cracked.
He stood up on his chair and screamed:
“I hate you! I hate all of you!”
Silence fell. Mouths hung open. Waldo’s words echoed up and over the hills surrounding the bay.
Verona looked at Pappa, who looked at Mamma.
“Waldo—” started Mamma.
“Arrrggghhhh!” cried Waldo. In a blind fury, he swept everything in front of him off the table. His plate, the silverware, his pistachio-bug shell-press machine, and the jar holding the poisonous flying tarantula all went crashing down to the deck. The glass jar shattered into a thousand pieces. Before Waldo realized what he’d done, it was too late.
With a horrific buzzing, the flying tarantula rose into the air above the table. It was an enormous, hairy, yellow-and-black devil with wings of fearsome orange. Its eight spiny, wicked legs dangled on either side of a wasp-like stinger. It looked at them each in turn with eight skull-white eyes and gnashed its gruesome fangs.
Then it attacked the family Wicklow.
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