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A Walk

a walkReading Time: 6 minutes

Jennifer was proud of herself, walking down the nature trail in the public park, huffing from the exertion she was putting into moving quickly. She’d been putting on a few pounds the past few months since her break up with Daniel, and it’d only been fueling her ever-growing depression, which fed her ever-growing waistline.

But now she was doing something about it! Dressed in a tight black tee-shirt with a pair of biker shorts, she walked down the trail with purpose, sweating from the hot summer day. The heat of Virginia was only matched by the beauty that it held when the flowers all bloomed across the state. She smiled wickedly at the thought.

Daniel had horrible allergies.

Stopping for a short water break, Jennifer pulled her water bottle from her side satchel, glugging down a good portion of the frosty bottle in one long go. Smacking her lips, she screwed the top back on, before heaving a long sigh, trying to catch her breath. The long buzzing of the cicadas combined with the rustling of the branches overhead as the wind blew through the wooded area, bringing the scents of summer to Jennifer’s nose… Why, she just couldn’t see why she hadn’t done this before!

“H-Help…” A low voice moaned from a distance away, off the trail and deeper into the woods.

“Hello?” She called out, quirking her head to the side to try and hear the cry again, or if it had just been a figment of her imagination.

“H-Help…” The voice, a low voice, called out from the depths of the forest. “It hurts…”

“Who’s out there?” Jennifer called out, taking a step closer to where she thought she heard the voice coming from.

“H-Help… it hurts…” The voice was definitely male, and from the sound of it older. It seemed to be coming from perhaps twenty to thirty feet into the wood, where Jennifer thought she saw a clearing.

“Hold on, I’m coming!” Jennifer said, pushing through the underbrush and jogging towards the low moans of pain coming from the woods. Cursing as the underbrush cut up her calves, she hopped from open patch to open patch, huffing as she fought to try and find a decent path towards the person in distress.

Finally breaching the tree line, she saw a meadow of blooming sunflowers, a haze of pollen flitting above the wide-open petals, bees buzzed to and for while butterflies fluttering from flower to flower. And in the middle of it all, was a man with his back facing Jennifer, kneeling amidst the wildflowers, his head tilted to the side.

“H-Help me…” the man said, a light gurgling beneath his words.

“Are you injured? Do I need to call 911?” Jennifer asked, marching into the meadow and up towards the man’s still form. His whole attire was wrong for the weather, a thick maroon sweater over a bulky torso with dirty jeans. From the sides of his head she could see he had long hair, and longer sideburns.

“It hurts…” he moaned once more, irritating Jennifer.

“Look, if you want my help then you need to tell me what’s wrong with you!” She said, walking up behind him, grasping his shoulder and pulling him to look at her.

A wide open mouth that was contorted, dislocated greeted her in a low moan, with a pitiless gaze from eyeless sockets. The bearded man’s skin was drawn tight over his body, as if he didn’t have any water in him, and patches of skin opened up with a rash of honey-combed wounds. Still kneeling, the man reached up and grabbed onto Jennifer’s arm with an iron grip, tugging her close to his opened maw. Shrieking, she almost didn’t hear the buzzing coming from him. When she saw what was causing it she began to shriek more.

Belching forth clouds of angry bees, the man vomited the swarm directly onto Jennifer’s face, where she felt their sharpened legs dig and cut into her face. From the holes in his skin more bees popped out and flew onto her, tiny legs dissecting her piece by piece before flying back into the body of the man. Jennifer struggled, but found she was almost incapable of moving between the man’s tight grip and a series of sharp stings appearing all over her face and neck, the initial stab painful, but the area becoming numb within moments.

The man moved, shifting with a horrid rigidness as he lowered Jennifer to the ground beneath the sunflowers, into a pile of bones. Pressing her deep into the soft earth, he continued pouring out gouts of the flying insects, all of which seemed to be harvesting her. She could feel the warmth of her own blood trickling onto her shirt, dampening it, but her face and neck were numb. She could barely breathe from all of the insects swarming over her face, and with every breath she took, however shallow, a few insects crawled into her mouth, where they began to cut into her tongue.

Choking on her screams, she struggled in vain to try and get out of the man’s grasp. Her hands, slick from blood and stinging with hundreds of slashes and missing hunks of flesh, slid along his arms, and her kicks to his stomach just seemed to rile the bees up as they swarmed over her.

With one final savage kick to the man’s chest, she almost cried in victory as she felt his sternum break, and his chest collapse. The man immediately crumpled to the side of her, and the swarm dissipated, flying above in a swirling cortex of bloody gobbets of flesh. Gasping for air, Jennifer pried herself from the man’s grip and picked him once more in the chest, before crawling backwards through the sunflowers and assorted bones away from him. The sound of buzzing droned on and on around her, making her head swim from the combination of toxins and blood loss.

Dizzy, she collapsed back, gasping for air, the bees continued to fly in a swirling tornado above her, forming a wall around her so she couldn’t escape, at least not easily. She heard the man hacking and coughing, moaning in agony as he struggled to maintain his own breath with a cracked sternum. Jennifer sat up on her elbows, looking over at the man.

If she could have screamed she would have. All she managed was a panicked gurgle.

Protruding from the man’s distorted mouth was a large bee, some six inches long, which crawled up from the throat of the man as he jerked and twitched in his final moments of life. The sides of the bee had tubes, and instead of a yellow ringed thorax, this one was shiny black like some hellish wasp. Testing its wings once, twice, it slowly rose into the air and began lazily flying towards Jennifer, long legs dangling below.

“H-Hurts… Help me…” The large bee droned its tone high and brittle. “Are you injured? Injured. H-Hurts… Help me…”

It mimics what it hears! Jennifer thought frantically, edging away through the wildflowers, eyes locked on the hell wasp growing ever closer. When she reached a certain point, a hailstorm of flesh-eating bees descended upon her, this time merely stinging her into submission, slowly paralyzing her. Dear god, no!

Lying amidst the flowers, paralyzed from the combined stings of the numerous bees, there was little Jennifer could do to stop the large one from landing on her chest. She felt its weight, about that of a kitten, pad up her body slowly until the bee was sitting at her lower lip, tugging them down with its mandibles. Two prickly forelimbs reached into her mouth, grasping onto her lower teeth, and begin to pull down, opening her mouth wider and wider, until it was as wide as it could get. A buzz of wings from the wasp was the only warning she got as it pulled even further, twin pops filling her ears as her lower jaw was pulled out of socket.

The pain of bone slipping along bone had Jennifer moaning in agony, but nothing could prepare her for what would be next. The wasp folded its wings and began to wheedle its way down her mouth and into her throat. She could feel it scraping along the sensitive lining of her esophagus, creating lines of blood to help slicken its path, allowing it to slide down that much easier.

For a second, she couldn’t breathe and Jennifer prayed that this would be the end of it, that somehow the insect was killing her and would simply allow her to rot. But then she felt it stirring in her chest, buzzing within a lung. A sharp pain echoed from beneath her sternum, as if something was cutting her insides with a pair of thin, dull scissors.

Then she felt it move again, her chest heaving up and down as her lungs began to operate without her, even when she tried to hold her breath. The tubes! She thought suddenly, trying her best to think through the pain. It’s connected itself up to my lungs on its own!

And just as she tried to scream from that realization did she find herself swarming with bees once more, this time burrowing into her flesh and flying down her throat. She felt them buzzing about in her stomach, and laying down wax over the holes they were burrowing to prevent her from bleeding out. Most worrying of all, she felt the continued stinging of the bees as they slowly began to numb her entire body and, slowly, her mind.

And so Jennifer laid there, amidst the pollen clouds of the wild flowers, bees crawling in and out of her nose and throat, and innumerable holes cut through her tee shirt and bicycle shorts. Staring up into the late afternoon sun, Jennifer’s slow, ponderous thoughts only dwelled on one subject.

To die. She needed to die, and get these bees out of her body.

CREDIT : Nicholas Paschall

 

 

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A Walk

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