Colin Raff’s Torpid Slivers #3

The next exercise should appeal greatly to those who enjoyed the preceding. For clarity, we should point out to our young readers that a Rondequinthine snail moth (Agrius pumphonae) is very much a moth (one of three known species possessing a shell) but not a true snail at all.

Having located a corpse of one of these insects with its wings and carapace intact, pry the abdomen very gingerly from the shell by means of an eyelash curler, taking care not to harm the legs. Slice off the wings directly where they join the base, severing all local nervures in a single, clean stroke. Take a sheet of heavy paper, waxed on both sides; cut it into quarters, rearrange them and paste them back together along the edges. Place the body in the center and inscribe beneath it the least secret secret that you can imagine. Bathe the lappets in very strong vinegar until corrosion has embellished all parts not imbued with oils. Now bind the femurs to strands of zinc wire with silken threads and keep the mandibles splayed with tiny wedges of cork. Coat the antennae lightly in tallow using a fine brush or a phrenologist’s splectridulum. Agitate the thoracic fringe until the tufts float off by themselves; catch all of these in a translucent locket made of human thumbnails and place it where it will not be disturbed. Drench the entire affair in a fluid ounce of rain water mixed with five drachms of silver nitrate, four drachms of muriate of sulphur and seven drops of noxulfigated zinc, then quickly impale the topmost abdominal segment with a thin spike of tin surmounted by a crown sawn from a chess piece. At this point, former veins should rise and reform (note the exquisite branching) into a miniature forest of cypresses, while half-formed, glittering scarlet fiends composed of oxidized motes should be visible frolicking among the treetops.

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