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About the Author

John G. Bentley is a 'pretired' engineer in the desert southwest whose publishing credits include "Spoor" in the Spring 2001 issue of Space and Time.

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The Newsmoth

by John G. Bentley

Deep in the wildest, most forsaken suburbs was a lively little house, all pea green with purple squiggles. Its windows blinked briskly awake and its door yawned, and a long pink welcome mat rolled out. A little boy named Derek stepped out on the porch and flapped his arms and crowed "Cocka-doodle-do!"

"Do what?" whispered the grass, grumpy at having its dreams disturbed. It dreamed in green of wriggly worms and warm rains, its grassy eyes shut tight, white rooty lashes all tangled.

Derek began feeling for the newspaper in the bushes, but they started giggling so loud he had to stop and rub his ears. Nothing worse than giggle bushes in the morning, he decided, so he searched the lawn, digging his toes into the dewydamp grass, feeling the rooty lashes blinking.

Still no newspaper. He wondered if there was no news. Mom said it was all lies anyway, just like the comics only not funny ha-ha. Maybe all the reporters and printers and newspaper carriers went home early. They mowed their lawns and raked up the green dreams and saved them all in a big book for when they couldn’t sleep.

Or maybe the newspaper woke up on the porch in the chilly dawn. It opened its pages and dried its gray wings and then flapped away like a big silky moth into the cool morning breeze. Maybe every newspaper in the neighborhood had flapped into the sky and they were all swirling together over the park, making a wind on the lake just like he’d seen last week. How would he know which one was his?

Derek barefooted down the driveway in his pajamas. They were covered with rockets and comets. When he ran the comets swooshed through space and the rockets rose on billowing jets of flame. Soon he was far above his house, diligently looking for his newspaper.

The rockets sputtered and flamed out, and he started falling back, but a gigantic silky moth swooped beneath him and carried him off. It was his newspaper™he could tell from the green grassy stains. It was opened to the comics, and he looked at every panel, laughing at the silly drawings, sounding out the words: "Doo dehead... bite me... say what?"

He turned the page as the newsmoth banked high above his house, casting a gray shadow on the dewy lawn. He loved the sports page with all the pictures and the cool ads for trucks and guns. He got carefully to his knees on the silkysoft gray wings and made airplane noises as the cool morning breeze made his fair hair fly, pretending he was a pilot. He looked at all the pictures of the jocks dunking basketballs and stroking home runs and pole vaulting toward the sky.

He snuggled down again and turned the page. His pudgy finger traced the big word at the top as he whispered along: "Oh - bit - you - aries." He looked at the column of names and right at the top was Ahrens, Derek. His name! He knew his name and his telephone number for if he got lost. Mom said he was Gifted.

He swelled with pride just as the newsmoth wrapped its silkysoft wings around him and spiraled toward the ground, fading squeaks coming from within the writhing, shrinking form. A sodden wind from bruised clouds updrafted the shuddering capsule for a long moment. Finally, the gray papery chrysalis plopped gently into the giggle bushes, snagging on an inner branch as the bushes emitted a dry chuckle. It hung in the deep velvety silence, a faint pulse rocking it to and fro.

"Derek?" Mom called, "Did you get the paper, sweetie?"

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