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Fiction #440
(published June 25, 2009)
The Tea Party
by RoAnna Sylver
"No thank you; I just ate my husband this morning." Violetta waved away the proffered plate of hors d'oeuvres and sat back, discreetly massaging her midsection.

"Third one this week, I'd be stuffed too!" the hostess barked a gleeful and entirely false guffaw, moving down the table to her next guest.

The girl next to Violetta peered at her shrewdly, blinking four of her eyes. "Are you feeling all right, dear? You look absolutely haggard."

"Oh, I'm fine, really." Violetta reassured her, twirling a thin strand of silk around her hairy finger. "I just think I'm coming down with a bit of—a bug." She was interrupted by a dainty little hiccup she covered with one leg. "I'll be fine."

"Anyway, loves," the hostess was taking charge of the conversation again.

"You know, I said to Gloria—I asked her about that torrid little affair she had with the Harvestman, and she gave me the most intriguing. . . "

Violetta stopped listening after the second word. She fiddled with her napkin, fighting down waves of nausea. Not just nausea—now a stabbing pain was ripping through her insides, as if something sharp and angry was trying to escape from her small intestine. She felt like she was being devoured with extreme prejudice, there was a jailbreak going on in her guts, and every alarm bell was ringing. And why, in the name of all that was holy, why was it happening now? Here? In front of the highest of the high Silken Society, where the slightest little faux pas was the stuff of legend-

"Excuse me, I. . . " she managed, struggling to untangle from the expensive tablecloth, and knocking over her drink. It soaked the table in an instant; Violetta could practically see the dry-cleaning expenses mounting in the Hostess' livid eyes. She was practically tattooing a rejection letter on Violetta's forehead as her mandibles clicked furiously. "I think I'm—"

"Oh, my darling!" chirped the first girl, leaping to her feet too. "Are you—in a family way?"

"No, no, I'm—" Violetta clutched at her abdomen and shrieked. Suddenly there was a loud ripping, cracking noise, like someone simultaneously tearing apart a silk tapestry and cracking open a lobster. Violetta's thorax split open and a merry cavalcade of young people poured out, larvae wriggling with life and chattering about the morning's trends.

"Oh, dear. Another one. . . " the hostess sighed as hundreds of giggling, squealing little larvae swarmed over her fine china. "These wasps really are getting out of hand."

The gathering of high-society tarantulas backed away slowly, casting mournful multi-eyed glances at the poor, twitching corpse of Violetta—she'd been such a nice girl, with such potential in their little club. She could have really been somebody. . . and now there she was, dead as her poor sixteenth husband, with millions of wasp larvae pouring out of her abdomen cavity.

The Hostess signed, resigned to feeding an army, and swearing all of her girls to secrecy after the high tea had concluded. Such an embarrassment, she'd never live it down if word got out that one of her guests had been devoured from the inside at her party!

"I suppose I should offer you lot some hors d'oeuvres?"

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