“Arrghh!” Waldo cried out in pain. He fell to the ground. “Oh no, oh no,” he muttered. “Stay awake! Don’t go paralyzed, or you can’t help anyone! Stay…awake…!”
He staggered to his feet. He felt dizzy. The wild man was laughing and chasing the flying tarantula around in circles. Waldo wanted to speak, but words didn’t come. His vision blurred. His arm went numb. He watched everything happening as if in a dream, soft and puffy, squishy around the edges.
The wild man finally succeeded in clapping his hands around the tarantula. “Give it…” mumbled Waldo. His lips felt drowsy. “Give it…to me…”
But the wild man grinned madly, stuffed the poisonous flying tarantula into his mouth, and swallowed the whole thing down in a single gulp.
Waldo’s mouth opened and closed in shock. “What…what did you do that for?” he cried. “Now it’s all ruined! Now everything is lost! I needed that tarantula, you wild dummy! You nincompoop! I needed it to make the anti-poison! Now I’m going to go green in the face and be paralyzed and we’re all going to die!”
The wild man patted his belly and licked his lips. “You don’t look green in the face,” he said mildly.
Waldo frowned and rubbed his arm on the spot where he’d been stung. The wild man was entirely correct—he was not paralyzed at all. In fact, the dizzy feeling had completely gone away. His arm was sore, but he felt none of the effects of the poison.
Neither did the wild man, Waldo noticed. Certainly the spider must have stung the man on the inside multiple times on the way down to his belly, yet he shimmied back up the side of the ruin, took his position, and resumed shrieking and shaking his fist down at distant Marjoram as though nothing had happened.
“Why?” Waldo said. He furrowed his brow. “What could I possibly have in common with that cracked old man? It doesn’t make any sense!” He frowned and thought very hard. He paced back and forth and rubbed his forehead until it hurt. The sun dipped low in the sky. He needed answers, and fast, but none came.
“Well, it’s useless staying here,” he muttered. He could think of no way of getting the venom out of the tarantula now that it was being digested in the wild man’s stomach. He had no choice but to return home and hope an idea would come to him along the way. He felt a twist in his gut. “I’m not giving up,” he promised.
He hurried along the path he’d come up, back down the valley to Marjoram, trying to persuade himself with each step that it hadn’t been a day completely wasted.
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