The bug doctor knew immediately that something was wrong with him, but Mother Mosquito refused to let them run any tests on her baby, who by all outward appearances was the picture of health.
But time passes in an instant in the eyes of a mother, and it wasn’t long until Mosquito was discovering for himself that he wasn’t quite like the other bugs in bug school. He slept in class. He smoked pot. He read too many books. And worst of all: he couldn’t fly.
When he asked Mother Mosquito why he couldn’t fly, she explained, “It just takes some bugs longer than it takes others to get there. Some bugs never leave the ground at all!”
“How old was dad when he started flying?”
“Don’t worry about your father,” she said. “Comb your proboscis; we’re going to be late to bug church.”
But Mosquito knew that something was wrong with him, something chronic and unique, and one day he packed up his bug bag and ran away from home. He took the bug bus into Bug City like a common worm, determined to find a doctor who could tell him something about himself.
Bug City, the biggest insect city in the world, is no friend to newcomers. Mosquito gets off the bus at Downtown Station and walks around at random until he finds a sign that says MD, but by the time he gets there they’re already closed.
Mosquito’s never been so far away from home and in his confusion, anxiety and disappointment he works up quite a thirst, so he goes into the bug bar across the street for an ice-cold Coke.
The slug bartender is brusque with him. “Is Pepsi O-K?”
“Pepsi’s too sweet,” says Mosquito.
“Pepsi’s what we got,” says the slug, walking away.
A housefly with clipped wings stares at Mosquito from across the bar. “You want some Coke, kid?”
“Who are you?”
“I’m the Fly,” he says. “You must be new in town.”
“I’m from Puddle Place,” says Mosquito. “I’m here to see a doctor.”
“You sick or something? You don’t look so bad.”
“I can’t fly,” says Mosquito. “My wings don’t work.”
“Neither can I,” says the Fly, his stumpy calypters twitching on his back. “No one flies around here.”
“But I still have my wings. I just can’t seem to get them moving.”
“It sounds like you need a refreshing drink. Still want that glass of Coke?”
They leave the bug bar together and walk to a red-light district called Spidertown. The alleys are narrow and winding and Mosquito quickly loses track of where they are or how they got there. “Most of the Coke stores are closed at this hour,” explains the Fly. “But you can get anything you want in Spidertown, provided you know where to look.”
At the end of a closed alley they encounter a silkworm in a blue cap pushing an electric cooler, the plug trailing on the ground behind it, rattling quietly. “This is my spot,” says the Fly. “I come here all the time. What do you want?”
“I’d really love that Coke,” says Mosquito. The silkworm handed him a small cup of warm soda. Mosquito sucked it right up. “It’s so warm,” he heys, “Yet still so delicious.”
“I agree,” says the Fly. “Bug City is a magical place this time of year. Please, kid, have another.”
They say cheers and drink another together. But when the time comes to settle up the Fly only pays for himself, and the silkworm looks at Mosquito expectantly. Mosquito doesn’t have any money. He stares at the Fly for help.
“You don’t have any money?”
“Not enough for a Coke,” says Mosquito.
The Fly pays for Mosquito’s drinks and the silkworm shuffles out of the alley, dragging the broken cooler behind her.
The Fly steps closer to Mosquito and rubs his chest.
“So are you going to come home with me now or what?”
Mosquito realizes how dark the alley is, and how far it is back to the closest street.
“Thanks for the Coke,” says Mosquito. “I should get going.” He starts walking out of the alley.
“Hey,” says the Fly, grabbing Mosquito by the arm. “Don’t get flighty on me.”
“You’re bothering me,” says Mosquito. “I need to see a doctor.”
“Suck my big hairy proboscis, little pupa,” says the Fly.
Mosquito makes a run for it. The Fly watches him flee, knowing he can’t outrun the little bug but also that he doesn’t have to do, that there’s nowhere for the bug to go in this city without any money, without any friends, without even the energy to beat his own big, beautiful wings. The Fly just shrugs, yawns, and wonders where he’d be if he still had his wings, how things might be different, and the part of him that knows that nothing would be any different at all, that he’d be just another bug jerk in bug city, wanders back out of the shadows.