In anticipation of Halloween, here is a kind of horror story. I might not recommend it for kids under 12 although I remember being fascinated by this stuff. I saw the movie THEM! about giant ants when I was about nine. Wow! But anyway, a few stories to tingle the spine.
What Could Be Better?! A Horror Story
Karmic Decisions, Gamma Section, Milky Way Division, Department 78776-G-164c, Species – Human; Sub-species Greedypigs.
“I’m here to do what?” screamed Joe. “This can’t be real.”
“What? What do you mean ‘what?’ You never heard of Karma while you were a —- let me see — oh, yes, here it is — ‘an earthling’, is the expression you use. So, when you were an earthling…excuse me, I don’t mean to laugh, but in our language it’s a commonly used synonym for ‘Greed-Meister.’ And, here you are waiting for an assignment based primarily on your being of the subspecies, Greedypigs. You get it? No, you don’t get it. You’re greedy.”
“Well, that doesn’t sound so bad to me,” piped up Joe. “No Siree. Many of us on earth, most of us, I suppose, are downright greedy. Nothing wrong with that! That’s what put a man on the moon. And what cured polio and all sorts of good stuff.”
The giant Worblastic Filtermeister tilted one of his heads to the left and one to the right. He regarded the earthling, also known as Joe, with a quizzical dozen eyes. “I’m no expert on earth species and culture and so on. So many galaxies; so many planets. But how many billions do you think Jonas Salk made on the polio vaccine?”
“I don’t know. I’m not much good at trivia. Can we get on to my assignment? Time is money, they say. And, I did make a lot of money on earth. I’m already at the top of the pyramid of earth species so … what’s next?” Joe, the earthling, shrugged his dual shoulders and scanned the eyes before him. It was weird trying to make eye-contact with a twelve-eyed being. “Do I get to be CEO of a major multinational? Or are we going all the way to a God or something?”
“You think earthlings are the top species? Oh, Lord, there are so many misconceptions in that. Oh, my. My oh my,” said the Filtermeister. “I thought we could chat a bit, but you are in a hurry.”
When you watch another earthling roll their eyes, it can be mildly disorientating. But when the eyes rolling in front of you are each as large as a basketball and there are twelve of them going in various directions — ! For Joe, it was nauseating. He could not watch. He just had to look down at his feet. His shoes looked despicably dirty. Where had he been? Wait. It isn’t just the shoes. What the hell is going on here, he thought. He felt as though he were shrinking. He yelled out, “Where am I going? Am I a god now? I’d be good at that! I tell people what to do all the time. Isn’t that the essence of a god? To be the boss?” As Joe spoke, he tried to yell louder and louder, but his voice continued to weaken and whine up to a higher pitch. At last, he couldn’t even recognize his own voice. It sounded teeny and … metallic.
Joe had a sudden urge to dig a hole. He had no idea why, but he did; the urge was powerful. He began to look around for a shovel but saw only a forest of giant grasses all about him. He was surrounded by smells he barely recognized. Grass. Yes, but what was that one? Snail? And ant trail? And, oh, Joe thought that swallowtail caterpillar smells delicious! From far above, there was thunder. Or, no, it was a voice. The Filtermeister! For a moment Joe recalled, he had been an earthling talking with a Filtermeister, a Filtermeister who would decide his next ‘gig’ as he put it. What was he saying?
“Nothing! No billions at all,” thundered the Worblastic Filtermeister. “Do you really think everyone who worked on the Space Program worked as hard and as long as they did just to make money?”
Joe heard these sounds and each of the sounds echoed to a meaning. But these meanings were far away. Far, far away like church bells two towns over which required a cold and favorable wind and even then you weren’t sure you really heard them. And what did they have to do with the business at hand, which was to dig a hole and pronto. And I have no shovel! But wait! What’s a shovel? Joe glanced toward his feet and saw that all of them had built-in shovels. How cool! I am amazing! And, though I may be tiny, I am strong as steel! OMG! In a flash it seemed, a nice cool dark cavity had appeared, carved out by the — by me! My ancestors. They gave me these legs. Cool! Nice work. But, I need a door!
Soon, Joe lay still at the bottom of his small hidie-hole and waited. Good God, have I ever been this hungry before? For a moment, Joe remembered again the Filtermeister. Oh, yes, he had been given this wonderful life because he had been such a good human. Good karma. I told him I was greedy and so I am. It feels quite natural for me. I will eat that entire caterpillar! I deserve this life of luxury! Wait! Wait! I hear it coming! He tore open the shutters and threw up the sash, as it were. In a split second he had sunk his giant fangs into the side of the caterpillar. Oh, my GOD this is delicious. Somehow, it’s even more fun because of all the squirming! What is that? Some ebony-winged beast is trying to steal my caterpillar. “Leave it alone! It’s mine! I got here first! I don’t need to share my kill with anyone!”
Too late, Joe realized that the beasts goal was not to steal the caterpillar but to hurt him. That’s not much of a sting, he thought. Wait till I get my mandibles on her. Joe slung his body forward like a catapult — except — nothing happened! He tried to wave his frontmost arms. Nothing! What strange magic was this? It seemed like such a minor wound. Joe tried every muscle in his body but couldn’t move a thing.
She took a strong stance, put two legs shamelessly on his side and flipped him over on his back. Now, the bastard was getting ready to sting me again, thought Joe. He steeled himself. OW! That hurt worse than the first one. Another! Oh, god. This went on for some time. At last, that sorry chapter in his life was over. She stopped stinging. She looked quizzically at him, compound eyes to compound eyes. She ran her forelegs over her mandibles and licked them suggestively. She began buzzing her wings. She arose like an angel of death.
Hopefully, the poison will wear off soon, Joe thought, and I’ll go back to eating those luscious caterpillars. Out of nowhere, this ran through Joe’s mind: “I survived the crash of 2008 and I’ll survive this.” What on earth does that even mean, he thought, but it made him feel better for a few days. He kept telling himself that paralysis would wear off. Every few minutes, he would thinking this would be the minute when he recovered. But it wasn’t. And each moment, he forgot that he had had his hopes up the previous moment. For a solid week, he convinced himself that he’d look back to those painful stings as the worst part of a very long and happy life.
Then — they hatched. All of them. Within minutes of each other. They were greedy. Oh, yes, they were greedy.
Sadly, the stinging definitely wasn’t the worst part of Joe’s life. Not by quite a bit, in fact. The mysterious flying lady with the whirring wings had not meant to hurt him with her stings. She was merely depositing her eggs inside his body. When they hatched, they began to devour him from the inside out, carefully avoiding the truly vital organs that would end his life. For it was fresh, living flesh that they greedily desired. Every pain fiber in his body screamed nonstop. The poison kept his limbs completely still. But the poison did nothing to mute the constant scream of his pain. Joe could only scream the one word: GREED! Endlessly.
Joe looked back on those painful stings as the best part of a very long and excruciating life. He tried to call back the winged terror. “Please, he wanted to say. Sting me again. Anything’s better than this.” But Joe couldn’t talk. He couldn’t move at all. And the wasp wouldn’t have been interested.
This is a work of “pure fiction” however — the protagonists and their “back stories” are true. This is a story that takes place in a nearby but parallel universe.