Bugs

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Status: Finished  |  Genre: Science Fiction  |  House: Booksie Classic
Photo by ali pazani on Unsplash
Insects are being driven to find new habitats as Humans destroy the Environment.
Where might they live, I wonder?
from the forthcoming online anthology: 'Is It Today?'

Submitted: March 03, 2019

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Submitted: March 03, 2019

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Is It Today?

Bugs

The night sky’s starry, the cabin is dark. Passengers sleep in masques and blankets. Or squint at late-night movies. Eyes glued to movie screens. Ears connected by flexi-tubes to plugs. After a stale pizza meal, Laura and Honey cuddle up best they can in the cramped economy seats to sleep on flight DO564 from Miami to Heathrow.

‘Are we there yet. Mom?’

‘We’ll be there in the morning, honey.’ Hints of pride swell Laura’s throat, proud of her baby after all she went through at nursery school.

‘What is it like in London?’

‘Well, there’s a queen who lives in a palace guarded by toytown soldiers and…’

Honey’s face lights up. ‘A real queen in a real palace?!’

‘Yes! And red buses, and another palace with a tall clock called Big Ben, and a riverboat, and a castle, and a big, big wheel. And lots for us to see and do and eat…’

‘I wish Daddy was here.’ Honey seems unusually glum.

Laura rubs her gold eternity band. ‘I wish he was here, too. He’s with the angels, poppet.’

The girl is too young to come to terms with what happened on that terrible day.

*****

Avery Spark was a good man, a loyal and loving man. A devoted father who gave his life for children. An outstanding example to others, etched for all time in the conscience of the local community. Since the drug-crazed, deranged youth burst into his classroom, smiled his wicked smile and callously opened fire with a heavy, semi-automatic machine gun. Spraying the sweet, innocent children with bullets. Until they flopped at their desks. Soaked the floor in blood. Screamed with pain. Their pink mouths frothed. Their red eyes filled with terror. Honey played dead, lay prone beneath her dead friends. He tried to kill her. The teacher bravely leapt in the way. Turned himself into a human shield. Separated the cold-hearted killer from Honey. Protected his cherished child as she held her frozen breath. Avery took ten bullets in the gut for her. Died instantly. Saved her life. Then the bastard maniac stalked about, cruelly popping bullets into defenceless children, even as they lay dying, just to make sure they were all dead. As Honey quaked with fear. Thankfully, he moved on to the next class, turned the gun on himself, and blew his brains out.

28 infants and 3 teachers were slaughtered that dreadful day. How can that happen? 28 kids?

*****

Laura struggles to keep her emotions in check, ‘Think it’s sleepy time, sweetheart, don’t you?’ then tucks in her pride and joy, snug-as-a-bug-in-a-rug.

Honey yawns, stretches her slender arms, all dreamy. ‘Mm! Night, night, Mom. Love you.’

‘Love ya too, baby.’ Laura fondly kisses her baby’s soft round cheeks. ‘You sleep tight.’

She notices a bug, climbing the seat in front. Dark-brown, shiny, size of her ring fingernail. Sees an even bigger bug, crawl out from behind the TV monitor which is still showing ‘It’s A Bugs Life!’ Tries to grab it! Stub it out! It’s too quick! It’s gone! Irritated, itchy, she reaches up, presses the illuminated service button, alerts the red-headed, red-faced, Irish-bred flight attendant. Coleen asks if she would mind keeping her voice down, so as not to disturb the other passengers. Tells Laura this flight’s full. Explains there are no other seats available. Mumbles a huff goodnight and walks away. The plane isn’t due to land for nine hours. Laura thinks that she’ll get bitten. She tries to relax. After a restless hour or so, she falls asleep and dreams.

She wakes just as the AE-380 airbus begins its descent to Heathrow, horrified to discover that Honey is covered in bites. As they exit the plane, Jaxon, a flight attendant with oil-slick hair and a goatee, apologizes without prejudice and offers to upgrade their flight home to business class. Laura declines. Honey’s very quiet? Worried, Laura drags her down the eternal queue at Passport Control. Freaks out waiting for their baggage. Tears through Nothing to Declare into Arrivals.

Honey is slumped all over the trolley. Laura leaves Terminal 5. Pushes her way to the front of a taxi queue. Offloads her sick daughter onto the back seat of a black cab. Asks the cabbie to take them to the Terminal Hotel. Cyril, who has driven cabs long enough to know sick little girls when he sees them, slams his foot on the accelerator. They shoot off down the arterial road in a cloud of black diesel-fuelled particles polluting every lung in sight.

Honey trembles as the taxi screams into the hotel’s forecourt. Distraught, Laura checks in and begs for help. Celeste, a kind-hearted receptionist with black hair and skin, phones for an ambulance, tannoys medical assistance, ushers them to a first aid room, orders complimentary ice-cold drinks. Poor woman looks as if she needs all the help she can get, she thinks. Celeste is one of life’s vanishing breed of caring souls. 

Honey rasps. Hell-bent on justice, Laura lies her baby face down upon the bed, bares her sore calves, and snaps them on her phone. Lying amongst the fine white hairs are raised sores, twenty on her left leg, eleven on her right, all of them erupting like dermal volcanoes.

‘My poor kid must’ve scratched her bites all night long when she was asleep,’ Laura reflects bitterly. Incandescent with rage, she shares the shots with the watching world, adding this biting comment:

Each bug bit Honey then went into hiding. This image shows my daughter’s calves, but her arms are blooming bright red sores. That’s more than just a few bloody bugs?! Dream On tried to bribe me with an upgrade on the flight home. I told the nice young man, I didn’t want an upgrade or refund. All I want is a flight home on a different plane, and to make sure the plane infested with bugs is taken care of. Must sign off now. The ambulance is her. Laura Spark xx

Within an hour the images go viral. She receives nine comments: two messages of support and, incredibly, seven disturbing likes saying how much they enjoyed the photos.

Dream On Airlines are forced to issue the following statement:

We have been in touch with our Customer to apologize and investigate the incident. Dream On operate over 110,000 flights every year and reports of bugs on board are extremely rare. Nevertheless, we remain vigilant and continue to monitor our aircraft….

The official inquiry into the Infestation of Flight DO564 from Miami heard Honey’s legs ulcerated within hours of her arrival in the UK. She was admitted to intensive care in a state of shock. Happily, Honey’s legs responded well to treatment and she made a complete recovery.

*****

The night sky is starry. The cabin is dark. Passengers sleep under masques, blankets. Laura and Honey cuddle up to sleep, to dream, on flight DO565 from Heathrow to Miami.

‘Are we nearly home yet, Mom?’

‘We’ll be there in the morning. Think it’s sleepy time, don’t you?’ Laura’s voice is a loving hush.

Honey yawns and stretches her twizzle arms. ‘Mm! Night, night, Mom. Love you.’

‘Love you too, with all my heart. Night, night.’ Laura proudly strokes her baby’s gold hair, kisses her goodnight. Noticing she didn’t finish her delicious mozzarella olive and pepperoni pizza! One more slice won’t do me harm, she thinks, sinking her teeth into a gooey mouthful.

She opens her leather bucket bag to discover the bugs have hatched in its silk lining, bred, swollen in size to thumbnail, and multiplied. They swarm over her blanket. Disgusted, Laura pushes them away tipping contents of her handbag: tweezers, comb, lipsticks, mirror, tampons, passports, purse, hair brushes, tissues. Littering the dirty floor under her seat, scattering those bugs everywhere. She stands up, stamps her feet, tries to shake them off, but the super-resilient, shock-resistant strain survives, crawling up her bandy-thin legs, under her hand-woven linen embroidered dress, in search of her warmest breeding places. Desperately, Laura slaps, hits, squashes, pinches them in a bid to kill the devils. She freezes stiff as the bugs crawl inside her comfortable waist-high briefs. Still more bugs scamper up her stomach, burrowing under her taupe double-fashioned bra. They swarm over her, reaching her neck, eyes, ears, nose, throat. Infesting her hair follicles. Penetrating her roots. Bristling with bugs, she staggers, sways and falls into the aisle, arms held aloft in the shape of the cross, collapsing in a seething, black-treacle mess on a royal blue carpet.

The young man in aqua blued, pink-striped shirt, ocean best shorts and a fat, copper-tinted quiff stirs in the window seat, complaining as bugs stream up his legs, shrieking like a baby. Whelps of alarm emanate from other passengers, distressed sheep, all bleating for assistance from the beleaguered cabin crew.

Laura hears Honey emit a blood-curdling scream. She rubs bugs out of her eyes, looks over her shoulder. OMG! Honey’s legs are pole-straight. Her arms hang limply by her sides. Her eyeballs bulge. Her lank hair is riddled with bugs. The jaw flaps open to show off her pearly white teeth. A fat bug rests awhile on Honey’s petrified upper lip then disappears.

In the opposite row, tourists scream in Japanese, plaster-boarded with bugs. A hysterical young mother brushes greedy insects off her baby. An elderly couple, next row forward, hug each other’s bug-infected torsos for dear life. Hordes of bugs scurry up the aisle like bestial newlyweds, overwhelming the wretched cabin crew. Every passenger itches, whines, scratches. Bugs feast on their bodies, infest the food galley, the zero-gravity toilets, baby changers, lining of the luxury cots in First. Occupying every crack, crevice, orifice, hole, nook and cranny. After a minor delay, caused by the inconveniently narrow gap under the steel-reinforced door, the insectivorous terrorists make their way to the flight deck, take control of the pilot, the co-pilot, the whole aircraft. The disabled plane makes a swift descent. Nosedives! The engines scream! The cabin decompresses! The air rushes out! Seven passengers get sucked out of the plane, scudding off to their deaths across the grey dawn sky like human clay pigeons soaring into shotgun oblivion. Oxygen masks flutter down, rubber butterflies, swinging in a flushing wind. Time runs out for flight DO565!

Laura lies sprawled on the floor, moaning like mad. Honey’s dead. The passengers and crew are dead, except for the host and her ghastly bugs. They’re alive and thriving.

Entomologists are concerned that insects will be forced to find new habitats as we humans destroy the environment. Entomologists are concerned that insects will be forced to live on us!

Laura gabbles, insane: ‘Mind the bugs don’t bite, Honey! Mind the bugs don’t bite!’


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