“Have you ever eaten anything that’s still alive?”
His eyes narrowed as he studied Easton’s face.
“I don’t believe you.”
“I ate a mosquito once when I was riding my bike down the hill by my house. My mouth was open, and it flew right in and down my throat.”
“Aww, that don’t count,” Jake said. He flicked a flat stone across the pond. It bounced one, two, three, four than a staccato fivesixseveneight “Nine!” he said triumphantly and jumped to his feet. “C’mon, I’ll show you what I mean.”
They bounced up the path, each holding a twig. The air whirred as they sliced at the tops of the tall grass on either side, scattering the seeds.
The campground supply shack had an ice machine and a stack of dry wood on one side of the screen door. On the other side sat a vending machine. Live Bait, it read, with a trout snapping at a lure below.
“Gimmie a quarter,” Jake said. He put it into the slot and pressed the button labeled "Crickets." A small box plopped out of the machine.
He opened the box gently, pulled one small insect from the dozen or so, and snapped the lid shut.
It writhed and stretched its legs as he held it high above his head. He glanced at Easton and slowly brought it down toward his open mouth.
There was a sick crunch as Jake chewed and swallowed.
“Like that,” Jake said. “Here, you try.”
Easton opened the box slowly and inspected the contents. He didn’t want to touch them, but teen pride proved stronger than fear.
He selected his victim: the smallest. He cupped it in his hands.
“Just put it in your mouth and chew it fast,” Jake said.
Easton could feel it wriggling between his fingers as he brought it toward his face. He peeked through a gap in his palms.
“This is gross,” he said.
“Just do it! Don’t be a girl,” Jake said.
He brought his cupped hands to his lips, opened his mouth, and shoved the cricket in.
The legs strummed against his tongue. It was terrifying and disgusting. Paralyzed, he couldn’t chew.
The screen door banged open, and a woman emerged holding hot dogs and a bag of buns.
“Easton! What are you doing? Are you having fun?” his mother smiled.
He bit down once, hard. The cricket crunched and oozed.
“Honey, are you OK? You look really pale.”
Thick vomit streamed out of his mouth and onto his mother’s jeans. It dripped and pooled between her feet, yellow with chunks of trail mix. A badly mangled insect soaked in the stew.
“Oh honey, let’s go back to the tent and clean up,” she said, putting her arm around him. “I’m so sorry. Maybe we can get a motel room tonight.”
He peeked back as they walked away. Jake grinned from the porch and shook the box.
My submission for #FridayFlash and Three Word Wednesday. This week’s words are: bait, jump and victim.