Source material: Worm, Gestation 1.2
Originally blogged: January 21, 2017
Alright, let’s do this!
Looks like I was right in my speculation that Gestation might be the name of the larger arc and the second chapter might be titled Gestation 1.2.
Still not quite sure what it means storywise. Actually, I’m not entirely sure if I know what the word gestation means at all. I have a vague idea, but I might be wrong, so I think I’ll look it up.
…pregnancy, basically. That’s roughly what I thought it meant, yeah. Last chapter, I speculated that Taylor might be feeling off because she was carrying parasitic worms inside her that will break out at the end of their gestation period. I don’t feel like that theory is very strong after the revelation that this story is at least partially about superheroes, though. We’ll see.
In a more metaphorical sense, it could refer to the gestation of the main plot – as in, an arc that builds up the story until it’s ready to break loose.
My thoughts were on Emma on the bus ride home. For an outside observer, I think it’s easy to trivialize the importance of a ‘best friend’, but when you’re a kid, there’s nobody more important.
True. How young are we talking here, though?
Emma had been my ‘BFF’ from grade one all the way through middle school.
Oh, that young.
That’s quite some time. They must’ve been very close. So what happened?
It hadn’t been enough for us to spend our time together at school, so we had alternated staying at each others houses every weekend. I remember my mother saying that we were so close we were practically sisters.
In second grade, I once walked to the other end of town with a friend to call home from her house to hear with my parents if it was okay that I went there. Given that the trip took two hours according to my dad (who does tend to exaggerate times, but still)… it wasn’t.
I got grounded, though that only lasted about 5 minutes in practice.
A friendship that deep is intimate. Not in the rude way, but just in terms of a no-holds-barred sharing of every vulnerability and weakness.
So when I got back from nature camp just a week before our first year at high school started, to find that she wasn’t talking to me? That she was calling Sophia her best friend?
Ahh, “corrupted” during absence.
Sophia here seems to be the source of Emma’s shittiness, but Emma has since taken the role of alpha bitch. Interesting.
Discovering that she was now using every one of those secrets and vulnerabilities I had shared with her to wound me in the most vicious ways she could think of? It was crushing. There’s just no better way to say it.
Question is, why is Emma doing this? What did she see in Sophia, and why did it drive her to turn on Taylor this dramatically?
Unwilling to dwell on it any longer, I turned my attention to my backpack, setting it on the seat beside me and sorting through the contents.
– Art project
– A bunch of other things that shouldn’t have been drenched in juice and soda and then thrown against a wall in a fit of justified fury
Grape juice had stained it, and I had a suspicion I would have to get a new one.
Well I mean, purple is a nice color.
I had bought it just four months ago, after my old one had been taken from my locker, and it had been just twelve bucks, so it wasn’t a huge issue.
They stole the old one because of course they did. Did the old bag contain the flute?
The fact that my notebooks, textbooks and the two novels I’d shoved into my bag were wet with grape juice was more troubling. I suspected that whichever girl had been holding the grape juice had aimed for the open top of my bag as she poured it.
Does Triumvirate count as a textbook? That would support the hypothesis of it being required reading.
I noted the destruction of my art project – the box I’d put it in was collapsed on the one side. That bit was my fault.
At least the project might’ve helped spare the books. I wonder what it was, though. That she seems to be avoiding specification right now gives me hope that we’ll find out, ironically.
My heart sank as I found the notebook with the white and black speckled hardcover. The corner of the paper was soaked through with as much as a quarter of each page stained purple. The ink had diluted and the pages were already turning wavy.
Something special about this notebook, perhaps? Maybe it’s for her favorite subject or something? Or perhaps it’s a doodling notebook, like I had for a while a few years ago.
That notebook was – had been – my notes and journal for my hero career. The testing and training I’d done with my powers, pages of crossed out name ideas, even the measurements I was using for my costume in progress.
Oof, in that case I can see why she’d be upset about it.
After Emma, Madison and Sophia had stolen my last backpack and stuffed it in a wastebasket, I had realized how big a danger it was to have everything written down like that.
If the flute was in the backpack at the time like I suspect, did they take it out first and hang on to it, or did that end up in the wastebasket too?
I had copied everything over into a new notebook in a simple cipher and wrote it bottom to top. Now that notebook was spoiled, and I was looking at having to copy some two hundred pages of detailed writing into a new notebook if I wanted to preserve the information. If I could even remember what was on all of the ruined pages.
Ouch. Also, if the bitches took the time to rummage through the backpack, I can just imagine them reading through the original hero book and– oh shit if they did that they probably know her secret
If they knew about her powers, though, you’d think they might think twice about continuing the bullying. Carrie comes to mind.
I guess they might’ve thought she was just fantasizing about having bug powers.
The bus stopped a block away from my house, and I got off, trying to ignore the stares. Even with the gawking,
Apparently she lives in a fairly densely populated part of the city.
the knowledge that my notebook was ruined and my general nervousness about missing afternoon classes without permission,
This suggests she does not, in fact, leave school early without permission very often. I guess this particular attack is a special case.
I felt better as I got closer to home.
Good sign for her home life.
We’re probably about to meet Taylor’s family!
It felt worlds better to know I could drop my guard, stop watching my back and that I could take a break from wondering when the next incident would happen.
That must feel great after being as tense as Taylor has been all day.
I let myself into the house and headed straight for the shower, not even removing my backpack or taking off my shoes until I was in the bathroom.
No stopping to meet the folks just yet, I see.
It would be fun if Taylor had a sibling, but with the way past Taylor and Emma were described as like sisters, I kind of doubt she’ll have an actual one.
I stood under the stream with my clothes on the floor of the tub, hoping the water would help get the worst of the juice out.
Hot Shower Scene™
I don’t know who said it, but at one point I had come across this notion about taking a negative and turning it into a positive.
Just multiply it by another negative, because that’s how math works.
I don’t think you can really attribute that notion to anyone specific, to be honest. It’s a pretty common thought that’s been phrased in a lot of ways.
I tried to take the day’s events and turn them around in my head, to see if I couldn’t find a more positive twist on it.
Hey, free grape juice!
Okay, so the first thing that came to mind was “Yet another reason to kill the trio.” It wasn’t a serious thought – I was angry, but it wasn’t like I was going to actually kill them.
Woah there, don’t get Carried away.
Somehow, I suspected that I’d hurt myself before I hurt them. I was humiliated, frustrated, pissed, and I always had a weapon available – my power.
Learn gun safety, kids, you’ll need it when you’re playing Nerf with grandpa’s bazooka.
It was like having a loaded gun in your hand at all times. Except my power wasn’t that great, so maybe it was more like having a taser.
As I mentioned last chapter, her power is underrated. An army of insects could wreck their shit if used properly.
It was hard not to think about using it when things got really bad. Still, I didn’t think I had that killer instinct in me.
There seems to be a kind of inner debate going on in this paragraph:
“I should kill them”
“That wasn’t a serious thought, of course I wouldn’t do that – besides, I’d probably hurt myself first”
“But they humiliated me, and I have a weapon”
“It’s not that powerful”
“I keep thinking about doing it”
“I’m not up to doing it”
A part of Taylor clearly wants to do it, while another is keeping her from it.
No, I told myself, forcing myself back to the subject of positive thinking. Were there any upsides? Art project wrecked, clothes probably unrecoverable, needing a new backpack… notebook. Somehow my mind fixated on that last part.
Now how are you going to turn that positive? Hm…
Purple is a nice color?
I cranked the [introspection chamber] to off, then toweled dry, thinking.
I like her determination to find something positive about all this.
I wrapped the towel around me, and rather than head to my room to get dressed, I put my wet clothes into a laundry hamper, grabbed my backpack and headed downstairs, through the kitchen and into the basement.
Again moving through the house without encountering anyone else. Maybe they’re at work?
Also what is she going to the basement wearing only a towel for? To deposit that laundry? Why before getting dressed??
My house is old, and the basement was never renovated. The walls and floor are concrete and the ceiling was [sic] exposed boards and electrical cords.
As bad as that sounds, it also sounds oddly… cozy?
The furnace used to be coal fueled, and there was still an old coal chute, two feet by two feet, where the coal trucks used to come by to unload the winter’s supply of coal for heating the house.
That actually sounds kinda cool.
The chute was boarded up, but around the time I was copying my original ‘superpower notebook’ over in code, I had decided to play it safe in all respects and start getting creative with my privacy. It was then that I’d started using it.
Oh hell yes, secret hideyhole.
“creative with my privacy” is a good phrase and deserves repetition.
Also, I think my speculation about the bitches reading the journal might be moot, because I appear to have misunderstood earlier – it seems the journal wasn’t in the backpack when it was stolen; the theft just reminded her that it could be stolen and inspired her to copy it over to the cipher journal. This means the original would be available to create a new cipher journal from (though it’ll take a bit of work), and I have a feeling she keeps it in this hiding place.
I removed one screw and removed the square wooden panel with the peeling white paint that covered the low end of the coal chute. I retrieved a gym bag from inside and put the panel back in place without screwing it back in.
I wonder what else is in this gym bag other than the hero journal. Provided I was right about that being there.
I emptied the contents of the gym bag on the disused workbench that the house’s previous owner had left in our basement, then opened the windows that were at the same level as the driveway and front garden.
So like, the kind of small windows you find crammed between ground level and front porch level?
I closed my eyes and spent a minute exercising my power. I wasn’t just grabbing every creepy crawly in a two block radius, though. I was being selective, and I was gathering quite a few.
Yo spider dude, gurl antz, all my homies among the scorpions, except Bob…
I forget, were there any flying insects in the bunch she called on last chapter? I don’t think there was. I feel like maybe those are outside the spectrum of creatures she can control, given “creepy crawlies”.
It would take time for all of them to arrive. Bugs could move faster than you thought when they moved with purpose in a straight line, but even so, two blocks was a lot of ground for something so small to cover.
That’s a reasonable limitation for this power. They have to be able to get where you want them to go, and you gotta wait for them to go there.
I busied myself with opening the bag and sorting out the contents. My costume.
Ooh. I’m thinking it might be… bright and colorful, as a kind of breaking free from the way she dresses for school. Or conversely, she might stick to the darker, less eye-searing style.
So basically, it can be pretty much any color palette and I’ll still be right one way or another. 😛
The first of the spiders started coming in through the open windows and congregating on the workbench. My power didn’t give me a knowledge of the official names of the bugs I was working with, but anyone could recognize the spiders that were crawling into the room.
Hm… How exactly does she specify which bugs should follow her orders if she doesn’t know their names? I guess she has a kind of sense that this one type she can feel nearby is different from this other one, and doesn’t really need words.
Also, it’s interesting just how much range she has. For a power like this, two blocks is rather significant.
These were black widows. One of the more dangerous spiders you could find in the States. Their bite could be lethal, though it usually wasn’t, and they tended to bite with little provocation.
At my request, the dozens upon dozens of spiders got into place on the workbench and began drawing out lines of webbing, laying the lines across one another, and weaving them into one work.
Ooh! What is she having them weave?
Three months ago, after I’d recovered from the manifestation of my powers, I had started to prepare for the goal I had set for myself. It had involved an exercise routine, training my power, research, and preparing my costume.
Is the entire costume made of spider silk? That would be a pretty good material. Soft, but tough.
Also, last time those three months were mentioned, I think it had to do with how long Taylor had been lunching in the bathroom?
Maybe the bitches do know about the power.
Costumes were harder than one might think. While members of official teams surely had sources for that stuff, the rest of us were left to either buy costumes, put them together piecemeal with stuff bought from stores or make them from scratch.
“Official” teams. As in government-supported? Or maybe just as in properly organized.
Each option had its problems. If you bought a costume online, you ran the risk of being traced, which could blow your secret identity before you’d even put a costume on.
I wonder if the “official” teams are as big on secret identities.
You could put a costume together with stuff bought from stores, but very few people could do that and look good.
You could do this and then take the ugly costume to wrestling matches and become enough of an attraction that the organizers make a better looking costume for you. That’s what happened in one of Spiderman’s origins.
…maybe that method isn’t very reliable.
The final option, putting a costume together yourself, was just a hell of a lot of work and you could run into the issues of the prior two options – being traced or winding up with a lame costume – depending on where you got your materials and how you went about it.
Except no one can trace spider silk! 😀
In the second week after I’d figured out my powers, when I still wasn’t entirely sure what was going on, I had come across a segment on the discovery channel about a suit that was made to withstand attacks by bears. That segment talked about how the suit was made of synthetic spider silk, which had inspired this particular project. Why go synthetic when you can produce with the real thing?
Hell yes! This is a great idea!
There’s a reason scientists work on harnessing spider silk.
Okay, so it had been harder than that. Not just any spider worked, and the black widow spiders themselves were hard to find. They weren’t typically found in the northeastern states, where it was generally colder, but I was fortunate that that key element that made Brockton Bay a tourist destination and a hotspot for capes also made it a place where black widow spiders could live, if not thrive.
We have a location! Brockton Bay, northeastern U.S.
…a hotspot for capes
Ohhhh it’s slang for superheroes isn’t it
The beginning of chapter 1 makes a lot more sense now.
Namely, it was warm. Thanks to the surrounding geography and the ocean bordering us on the east, Brockton Bay had some of the mildest winters you could find in the Northeastern States, and some of the most comfortably warm summers. Both the black widows and the people running around in skintight costumes were thankful for that.
With my power, I had ensured the spiders could multiply. I’d kept them in safe locations and fattened them on prey I directed straight to them. I had flipped that mental switch that told them to breed and lay eggs as if it was summer, fed more prey to the hundreds of young that had resulted and had earned countless costume spinners for my trouble.
Somewhere, an entomologist is puzzling over the massive increase in the local black widow population over the winter.
The biggest issue had been that black widows are territorial, so I’d had to spread them out to ensure they didn’t kill each other when I wasn’t around to control them.
Yeaaah this species is kind of not the most socially inclined.
Once a week or so, on my morning runs, I rotated the locations of the local spiders so I had a fresh supply all filled with proteins for the production of the essential materials. This ensured that the spiders were always ready for working on the costume in the afternoon, after school.
She’s absolutely taking advantage of the spiders, but it’s also a pretty nice symbiotic relationship. She provides them with food, they give her a costume.
I decided to check if Brockton Bay was a real place, and according to Google Maps, it’s not. There is, however, a Brockton in Massachusetts, a bit south of Boston. On the third hand, it’s about 20-30 kilometers from the coast.
In related news, this one place north of Brockton has a great name.
Yeah, I needed a life.But I had a badass costume.
Presented mostly without comment because I love it
It wasn’t a great looking costume, just yet. The fabric was a dirty yellow-gray. The armored sections had been made out of finely arranged and layered shells and exoskeletons I’d cannibalized from the local insect population and then reinforced with dragline silk.
Okay, ew. I guess it can’t be just silk if you want optimal protection, but still, ew.
Or, actually, that isn’t so bad once you think over it a bit.
In the end, the armored parts had wound up dark mottled brown-gray. I was okay with that. When the entire thing was done, I planned to dye the fabric and paint the armor.
Also, I really like how thematically appropriate this whole costume is. A bug-controlling heroine with an outfit literally made of protective bug “outfits” (shells and exoskeletons) and a strong but flexible material made by real girl sc– I mean bugs? That’s about the best match she could make.
The reason I was so pleased with my costume was the fact that it was flexible, durable, and incredibly lightweight, considering the amount of armor I had put on it.
Spider silk is amazing.
At one point I had screwed up the dimensions of one of the legs, and when I tried to cut it off to start fresh, I had found I couldn’t cut it with an x-acto knife. I had needed to use wire cutters, and even that had been a chore. As far as I figured, it was everything a superhero wanted for a costume.
Are you sure you don’t want to go into Edna Mode’s line of work and use your powers to create costumes for other heroes on the side? Your outfit is incredibly appropriate for a bug hero but other superheroes would probably pay highly for it too.
Speaking of Edna Mode, I forgot this a few posts back:
…pfft, I just realized, the dramatic irony when I pulled that joke with the comment “unless you’re a superhero”, without understanding that “capes” were superheroes, must’ve been precious
I wasn’t exactly willing to test it out, but I harbored hopes that it was bulletproof. Or at least, that the armored sections over my vital areas were.
You should probably test that out without being inside it, but where you’d get the gun or be able to test it subtly is beyond me.
Also, it just occurred to me that she’s still standing around in the basement wearing only her towel, with the windows open. I know she said Brockton Bay was “warm”, but…
The plan was to finish my costume over the course of the month, then as the school year ended and the summer began, I would take the leap into the world of superheroics.
Sweet. Putting it off until summer vacation is probably a good idea. Saves her from having to skip classes because of villainous attacks or coming to school half asleep after a night patrol.
I kind of have a feeling she’ll somehow be forced to start prematurely, though.
But the plan had changed. I took off my towel and hung it from the corner of the bench, then began pulling on my costume to test the fit for the hundredth time. The spiders obediently moved out of my way as I did so.
Oh. Hm. The plan has changed, huh. Then what’s the new plan?
Also, I guess she’s just gonna be naked underneath the costume? Nothing wrong with that, I suppose, but it could make the transitions a little bit awkward if someone’s around or she has to do it away from her normal clothes.
When I had been standing in the shower, trying to find the good aspects in the day’s troubles, my thoughts had turned to my notebook. I had realized I was procrastinating. I was constantly planning, preparing, considering all of the possibilities.
Ohh, that’s how she finds something positive in the loss of her notebook. That she doesn’t need it anymore, that it’s time to put the plans to life instead of writing down more of them.
There would always be more preparations, more stuff to study or test. The destruction of my notebook had been the burning of a bridge. I couldn’t go back and copy it into a fresh book or start a new one without delaying my game plan for at least a week. I had to move forward.
I’m not sure this is so much finding a positive side to it as finding a way to deal with it, but the former was meant to help with the latter anyway.
It was time to do it. I flexed my hand inside the glove. I’d go out next week – no. No more delays. This weekend, I would be ready.
I mean, your plan to start at the dawn of summer vacation was pretty solid, but if you feel you can handle balancing this and school – or don’t care if you can – then go ahead.
Take me with you on this wild ride.
End of Gestation 1.2
That was a lot better than 1.1, I feel. At least, I enjoyed it a lot more.
Maybe it’s just that 1.1 started off on a sour note for me, with a poor first impression of Taylor and the story itself that heavily colored the rest of the chapter for me. As I’ve acknowledged in an ask response, a lot of my treatment of 1.1 was a bit unfair. I’ve been keeping that in mind while reading 1.2, and that may have helped improve my experience.
Maybe it’s also that I’m growing more accustomed to both liveblogging in this format and the writing style of Worm.
That said, the events of 1.1 mostly focused on a kind of dynamic I don’t particularly enjoy reading about: The mean girls and the bullyee. At least not without further context to the characters, which is exactly what 1.2 has begun to give me.
Bias-inducing factors aside, I do feel like the writing was stronger in this chapter. It was more exposition-heavy than 1.1, which was necessary and appreciated, and while not a lot happened, what little did happen – mainly the decision she made at the end – was important for Taylor as a character.
What I’m saying here is I enjoyed this chapter a lot and have rejuvenated hopes for the rest of the serial. 🙂