A praying mantis comes home to his shadowy, late-afternoon apartment. He is tired, it is quiet. He uses the bathroom, washes his face at the basin. Stares into the mirror. Cat miaows, rubs his legs. The mantis walks into modern kitchen, feeds the cat. Opens tall, stainless-steel fridge. Stares into it.
The fridge is stacked with crisp, fresh, full-colour salad ingredients.
After a selection of bread, vegetables, herbs, and spreads has been laid out on the kitchen bench, he chooses a wicked knife from the array of professional cooking implements and begins slicing green cucumber. The camera revels in the deft movements of his serrated forearms, the neat collapse of the quartered and the flensed.
Raised voices outside. Arms instinctively pull back; the knife goes up. Friendly laughter. He cocks his head. After a moment returns to slicing tomato.
On the wood he arranges the tripled layers of bread and salad, finishing with shredded carrot, watercress, and the top piece of hummus-slathered wholemeal. He cuts the sandwich in half, diagonally, transfers it to a plate.
The sandwich is magnificent.
He puts the plate on the dining table, goes to the sink, fills a tall glass with water. Places the water next to the sandwich. Almost sits – looks across into the living room instead. Goes over and feeds the fish.
He stares into the dark tank at their rich, shifting colours.
The phone rings. It’s an old rotary-dial phone. It rings and rings. The mantis doesn’t answer it; eventually, the sound stops. He puts away the fish food, returns to the dining table, sits. Picks up half the sandwich, raises it level with his mouthparts.
A thought occurs to him – something he’s never thought before. He tilts his head, considers it, returns to the meal before him. Looks straight at you, like a gun.
There’s a long pause, enough for three whole heartbeats.