“Well, I’ll tell you,” the katydid whispered. “But you’re not going to like it. Promise you won’t squish me if you don’t like it.”

Emilee rubbed her ear near where the insect was perched. “I never squash anything that talks. That’s my policy and it’s served me well.”

“Very well. I’ve never left this cavern, you see, but I hear a lot of things from the others in the common patois of insects and other arthropods,” the katydid said. “You’re in the thermal caverns of Bakutis, deep below Marie Byrd Land in Antarctica, many unfathomable leagues from the nearest settlement of your kind.”

Emilee’s hand dropped. “What?”

“Yes, I realize those are the human names for these features,” the katydid continued, “but you must understand that we small ones have little use for names and are happy to use human ones when the need arises. Why, some of the humans who have visited us in the past have even named parts of the caves. I can show you to their dessicated remains if you’d like.”

Overcome with revulsion, Emilee flicked the katydid off her ear.

“You promised!” it cried.

“I never said anything about flicking!” Emilee cried apologetically. “Sorry!”

Spielmann’s notes were in a kind of quasi-German patois–whether as a function of his haste, his terrible handwriting, or the fact that Yiddish was his first language, I couldn’t say.

He would describe the things he found on the islands using a kind of code: A-D for the island, X for animals, Y for plants, Z for fungi, and the word “specien” for multiple captures and “speci” for singles. In lieu of a description, he provided a basic sketch.

AXspecien6, for example, appeared to describe a curious asymmetrical walking stick insect, which had three legs on the left but only a single large leg on the right (and, if the scale was correct, was 6-7 inches in length!). Ordinarily I would have dismissed such a finding as a single aberrant individual, but Spielmann apparently cataloged dozens. He even included sketches of larger, brighter females, smaller, duller males, and nymphs which apparently shed their legs as they grew.