01 July 2005

Bug's for Breakfast

She looked at the sections of newspaper. From her vantage point, each comic strip seemed the same, a few heads and some dialogue. The sports section wasn't much better, a photograph of someone in a uniform and a story, the same as every other day. And the business section, with a photograph of a guy in a suit, and a story, same as every other day, and not dissimilar to the sports section. The rest of the newspaper laid on the table, between the stacks of prepackaged food that had been heated up for breakfast. Those three sections were not important of their own accord, but they held her interest anyway. Behind each one, obscured by the picture and pretentious writing, was someone she knew.
Behind the one to her left, sports at the moment, was one of her daughters. Most likely the one who had mastered warming up prepared foods, such as this mornings breakfast. Behind the comics, to her right, was the other daughter, who had not yet mastered the fine culinary art of dropping things into hot water. She watched as the sports and comics sections changed sides without exposing the face of either daughter. Their own lives, like the papers they were perusing, were obscuring her two daughters from her, and her from her two daughters.
Her husband was another matter. It had been his idea to come to this colony, where they both stood a good chance for high-paying jobs at the energy plant. She had been hired by the plant, but he had been turned away, and found work in town, processing immigration requests. She wanted him to apply at the plant again, but he was happy where he was, and so he stayed.
They hadn't discussed moving again, which left her almost afraid to mention the rumors of a new colony on another continent. A new colony meant a new power plant, and more jobs. Most of the workers would be new colonists, fresh off of the ships, but she had an opportunity to go over as management. She didn't, however, wish to go alone.
She looked down at her breakfast. She wasn't sure what it was supposed to be, but she had found these meals quite tasty. She remembered when they first arrived, two little children in tow, and discovered that the only foods were the local varieties, poor in both taste and nutrition. She giggled slightly at the thought of trying to keep her children away from them now that they were served as sugar-coated treats. The paper across from her rustled, and she realized her husband had been trying to say something.
"Yes?" she inquired of him.
For a few seconds, there was no response, then his paper lowered to reveal that he wasn't there. She found herself staring into multifaceted eyes, occupying most of a large misshapen black head. She was awed momentarily by the beauty of the dining room light being refracted into rainbows by the thousands of lenses. And then she screamed.
It made a clicking noise, then stood up out of its chair, waiving four black arms around frantically. She cried out for he husband, hoping he would resolve the situation, then she realized her two children were in front of whatever it was. She lunged forward, across the table, and grabbed their papers. As she sat back into her chair, she pulled the papers away from them and onto her breakfast.
The younger daughter wasn't there. A smaller version of whatever was in her husbands place was in her seat. It looked at her and then at the larger one before scampering out of the chair and into the hallway. The other daughter was there, and responded to the loss of reading material with a startled gasp before passing out and slumping to the floor.
The large bug moved around the table to the unconscious daughter and grabbed her shoulders. The woman didn't know what it intended to do with her or her daughter, or even what had happened to her other daughter, but she wanted to fight it. She grabbed a fork and tried to stab it, but it's skin was too tough. She dropped the fork and ran to the kitchen. In a drawer in the kitchen was a cutlery set, unused in this household of prepared foods. She found it quickly and grabbed the largest of the knives.
She could hear a scraping noise from the dining room, and returned through the open doorway. The bug was dragging her daughter towards the hallway. Without hesitating, she climbed the wall behind her, ran across the ceiling, and plunged the knife into the creature's back. She kept stabbing until it stopped moving. She left the knife embedded in the creature, and pulled her daughter away from the pool of light-green fluid that was forming around it's body.
She put her daughter on the table, and sat back down in her chair. She looked at the creature's body as it continued to ooze fluids onto her floor. She had neither seen nor heard of any such creatures. She wondered if her other daughter and husband were okay or not, and then she cried for a few minutes.
She had regained her composure before her daughter woke up. She could hear groaning from the table as she walked down the hallway towards the apartment's foyer. The door was open, which meant that someone had gone out, and she went into the outside hallway to see who was there. In the hallway, a neighbor was standing, repeatedly stabbing a small shovel into what was the face of the smaller creature.
She tried to inquire as to his condition, but only managed to produce clicking noises. His attention drawn, he turned and charged at her with the shovel. She moved, almost bouncing, from the floor to one wall, to the ceiling, and then the other wall. As he spun around in the hallway, she slammed into him from behind with the full weight of her body. He crumpled to the floor, with her on his back. She could hear him screaming for help as her mandibles sliced through his neck.

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