“Bye Mom, bye Olivia.” Kayla whispered to the quiet house. Her mom and younger sister knew where she was going and she didn’t really want to wake them at this ungodly hour of the morning.
Kayla had been bitten by the camping bug. For the last semester at school all she’d been thinking and planning about was doing a long solo camp. Fortunately, in the mountains around her home hiking trails and camping spots were plentiful. She’d always been very outdoorsy, but her mom had never let her go hiking or camping by herself. Always with the family or their church group. Mom had been extremely overprotective of them since their dad died.
Ever since revealing her plans to her snitch of a sister all she’d heard from her mom was: “It’s too dangerous for you in those woods. What if something happened? I’d never forgive myself.”
“But mom,” She’d whine back, “I’ve gotten everything perfectly planned out. Don’t you trust me at all?”
“Yes, honey, but it’s not safe.”
Thankfully, Kayla was proving her independence (even if she still lived at home) to her mom by passing all her classes with much better grades than she’d ever gotten in high school. She made sure that she stayed away from any kind of drugs and did her best not go too far with any of the guys she liked. So finally, last week, after much wearing down, her mother had agreed to a weekend hike.
“But not more than an hour away.” Her mom had said.
“Really?!” Kayla couldn’t believe her ears.
“Yes. You’re nineteen now, and you’ve been very responsible this year. Plus, you’ve given me enough plans and maps to choke a horse, that I think you can go.” Her mom laughed a little.
“Oh, thank you, thank you, thank you!” Kayla hugged her mom as tight as she could.
“But you have to stay in touch as much as possible.” Tammy said, stroking her daughter’s hair.
“Great! I’m gonna get everything ready!” Kayla said, running back down the hall to her room.
Kayla finished getting everything she needed at the store as quickly as she could before her mom could change her mind. That was a very real possibility, so Kayla knew that she’d need to go as soon as she could.
After checking the weather for the upcoming weekend, and loading everything she needed into her big backpack, Kayla had set off for the trailhead. She wanted to be halfway down the trail before it got too warm today.
Setting off north out of her hometown of Craig, Colorado, she took Highway 13 towards one of the mountains she’d never been on before: Black Mountain. Just barely within her mom’s one-hour radius. She’d heard the views were incredible and the trails there were extensive. Since backwoods camping was allowed in the National Forest, she could set up her tent on a great view and enjoy the nice quiet weekend.
She didn’t like the 5:00 am start, but it was something she had to suffer to get what she wanted. Tying her long blond hair up in a messy ponytail and with her best hiking outfit on, she imagined she looked like Lara Croft. Only without the short shorts... Or the tank top... Or the big boobs. Kayla sighed, but at least she looked like a real outdoors woman. “Who barely got enough sleep last night.” Kayla mumbled to herself as she slipped on a light jacket and climbed into her truck. But how could she sleep with the excitement of a fun weekend on her mind?
To pass the time on the way up and save the battery on her cell phone, she clicked on the radio in her old, beat-up pickup. But instead of the music she was expecting, all she got was the boring morning news station with the much too into it announcer.
“Gooood morning Moffat County. This is KRAI 93.7, your country radio headquarters. Now: KRAI News, Weather, and Sports for May 16th. The autopsy report is in on the man who died in Steamboat Lake last Friday. 64-year-old David Phelps from Wyoming died from drown..”
Kayla moaned as she changed the station. “Come on. Let there be something other than bad news for once.” She got three stations of static and another of news before looping back to the original program. Kayla sighed and half-listened to the news waiting for her music to come on before she got out of range in the mountains.
“We’ll have more news on the 5.2 earthquake that struck near Dinosaur, the second major earthquake for our area, after our countdown of the 20 hottest songs in country right now.”
“Finally!” Kayla exclaimed to the empty car.
“Starting at number 20”: ‘Well the weather man says, “It’s gonna be a hot one.” Heard it on the radio…
Kayla tapped her fingers on the steering wheel and sang along to the songs that she knew. She ignored as many of the boring news and ad interruptions as she could and thoroughly enjoyed her time alone. Finally, she’d have a chance to think for herself for a change and not always have to do what she was told. Before very long the radio started getting quieter and quieter and static was now cutting off some of the words. She kept turning it up until static was all she got. Maybe when she got to the trailhead on the mountain she’d have a signal again, she thought turning the radio down again just a bit.
A while back she had turned onto the dirt road that would take her the rest of the way there, so now she turned to the scenery to pass the time. Living here all her life, she’d gotten used to the rolling hills and sheer mountain climbs, but down here before she got the runoff streams it was so drab and brown. That hadn’t used to bother her much until that vacation that her family had taken to Louisiana. It had been so green! And there were so many different kinds of trees! It was such a small thing, but seeing the now rapidly approaching tree line in the distance brought back so many memories.
“That was the last time we went anywhere before dad…” Kayla thought out loud, feeling her small silver necklace. As she started the last really steep climb to the trail, the radio blared back to life leaving Kayla scrambling to turn it down while staying on the road.
“..bers have been actively working to locate Miss Morgan but have been unsuccessful. Search and rescue efforts will resume again this morning, marking the third day of rescue attempts. If you think you may have any information about the location of this individual, please call the Eagle County Sheriff’s Office at (555) 308-8502.
As she came to a quick drop and turn in the road, Kayla shouted “Whoa!” barely avoiding a car parked at the bottom of the small depression. The tires skidded a little, but she was able to stay on the road and continue on her way up the next steep hill without any crashing.
The radio continued without any consideration of Kayla’s close call. More news after our countdown, and now Number 5: Rain is a Good Thing. ‘My Daddy spent his..’
After she finally got the radio turned off, Kayla thought out loud “I wonder who that was?” She looked back in the rear-view mirror briefly as the car disappeared below the ridgeline behind her. Maybe they were other hikers. “Who picked a really lousy spot to park,” Kayla thought out loud.
It didn’t matter right now, just minute or so later she got to the base of the trailhead and parked her car in the small dirt lot.
“Nobody else here.” She mumbled as she got her backpack out of the passenger side of the truck. At she’d have the mountain to herself. She looked at her watch: 6:10. Right on time, she smiled to herself. She quickly sprayed herself down with some insect repellant and, pulling out her camera and taking a few quick shots of the trailhead signs, Kayla set off up the mountain.
Her mom’s voice kept nagging her in the back of her head: “stay in touch.” She checked her phone to make sure she still had service. She did. She’d call them in an hour or so, Kayla thought before putting the phone back in airplane mode. It wouldn’t hurt too much to keep her mom waiting. Though she was glad that she’d remembered to pack her extra battery pack just in case her mom wanted keep her on the phone the whole time she was here.
Pushing all that out of her mind, she focused on the scenery. It was just as pretty as she’d hoped it would be. The trail wound underneath some enormous pine trees, much bigger than any of the ones around her house, except maybe the one in the city park. Though not polluted by any stretch of the imagination, the air here did somehow seem cleaner than back in town. “Or it could just be getting thinner.” Kayla joked.
She slowly lost track of time as she kept making her way up the mountain snapping pictures all the while. She had long ago taken off her jacket and stuffed it into her backpack. Off in the distance she could make out some mostly dry creek beds with just a trickle of water in the bottom of them. She had already passed a few small ponds on the way and in the back of her mind wondered how such a small amount of water could make those ponds possible.
“I guess those ponds are just left over from that flash flood the other day.” Kayla thought out loud. But any water around here was good water. Luckily, they’d had a lot of rain this spring so everything up here was still nice and green instead of mostly dead and brown like down in the valley. As always, most of that rain went straight into the ground, but was nice see some kind wetness to contrast with the arid shrubland.
Sitting down on a big rock to take a break, Kayla absentmindedly looked at her watch for the first time in a while. “9:00!” Kayla shouted. “Oh man, mom’s gonna kill me.” Pulling out her phone and switching on the service again she was relieved to see that she hadn’t missed any calls. She punched in her mom on speed dial and then pulled out her binoculars while she waited for the call to go through.
“Hey Kay.” Came an unexpected but still familiar voice.
“Livi?” Kayla asked.
“Yeah. What’s up?”
“She got called in real early this morning.” Olivia answered. “Some rancher guy called the office and said a bunch of his cows looked sick this morning when he drove out to check on them.”
“Really? That doesn’t sound good.”
“No. Mom said she’d probably be gone most of the day checking into it.”
“Soo… how did you end up with her phone?” Kayla asked.
“You know mom. She’s always losing something.”
“Yeah.” Kayla smiled.
“I thought you might be her calling. I’m sure she’s figured it out and is getting frantic right about now. So, don’t be surprised if you get a call from a weird number and they want to know where you are.” They shared a giggle at their mom’s expense.
“Okay.” Kayla chuckled. “You know Livi you should be out here too. It’s awesome. Everything’s so pretty and the air smells amazing.” She said, taking a deep breath for emphasis.
“Thanks, but you know I like my air conditioned and bug free.” Olivia joked.
“Oh… the bugs aren’t that bad. Besides, what are you going to do all day at home?”
“Enjoy my books and maybe get some homework done. Finals are coming up and these senior AP classes are killing me.”
“Yeah, tell me about it.” Kayla laughed knowingly. She knew that Olivia would probably goof off instead of study, but she’d probably still pass because of how smart she was. “I remember all those classes. But it’ll be worth it to skip all those boring intro college classes. Look, I want to save my battery just tell mom when she gets back that I’m fine and not to worry.”
“I’ll do my best, but you might still get another call.”
“All right, bye. Love you Livi.”
“Bye. Love you too.”
Kayla hung up and quickly slid her phone into her backpack. She knew that she still had a long ways to go yet before it got too hot. The mountain was calling her and she wanted to find the perfect campsite to enjoy watching the sunset. She quickly set off again and made good progress for about an hour. By now, it was starting to get very hot and Kayla found a lonesome tree perched on an overhang where she could look out over the valley, she’d been climbing up all morning. Sitting down on a nicely placed rock, Kayla took the time to put on a little more sunscreen. She pulled out her small pair of binoculars and scanned around hoping to see some cool wildlife.
After a few false eagle sightings that turned out to be vultures, Kayla finally saw a doe wandering out from behind a large boulder quite a distance up the mountain. “Yes!” she whispered to herself. “Finally.” She was excited to see something actually pretty. As she watched it longer, she started to realize that something was wrong with the deer.
While it had seemed okay at first, it quickly became clear that it didn’t seem to be walking right. It looked somewhat aimless and would stumble every now and then. Kayla wondered if it might have that disease that her mom had been telling her about. “What was it called again?” Kayla mused to herself. “Oh yeah, Chronic Wasting Disease.” That deer was acting just like her mom said they would when they were sick. So, it was probably a good idea to avoid it as much as possible.
Unfortunately, it was almost right on the trail so Kayla set about trying to scout out a different way up while staying as close to the trail as possible. She eventually saw what looked like a good path around the deer. It was really strange, the deer almost seemed to be watching her while it wandered back and forth. She really had to stop being so paranoid, Kayla thought.
The other way up was very steep, but by taking it easy Kayla made it up to a nice ledge. Another twenty minutes wasted, she thought. Well, not wasted but she wished that she had been able to get to stay on the trail. She had been keeping an eye on the deer while she was climbing and it seemed to be doing the same. Now that she was quite a bit closer, she pulled out her binoculars again and got a closer look at the animal. It didn’t look all sick and thin like her mom had described, but it was still acting weird. Why wasn’t it running away? When she was younger, she had spent a lot of time watching deer and other animals, and all of them were quick to run if she got this close or if they smelled her. It looked healthy, but something was definitely wrong with it. “I can’t let one weird animal spoil my time up here.” Kayla said to herself. “I’ll tell mom about it when I get home.” She said, snapping a picture.
Leaving the deer behind, Kayla set off up the mountain again. She enjoyed the shade she was getting from the full, green pine trees, it made the afternoon sun a little more bearable. The views were getting even better. By now, it was getting to be around 3:00 in the afternoon and she was surprised that her mom hadn’t tried to call. It was relaxing, but kind of weird at the same time. Maybe she would give her a call later tonight.
A little while ago she had found a good looking campsite. It had a great view of the valley and was far enough from the trail that she wouldn’t be disturbed by anyone if they came down the mountain. Mostly, she was thinking of that car she had seen earlier and wondered why she hadn’t seen any trace of the owner. She hadn’t even seen anyone when she had those good vantage points earlier. They must have gone a different way, Kayla reasoned. It didn’t really matter, but she kept it in the back of her mind.
Unfortunately, even with the rain they had lately she knew that she couldn’t have a campfire so it was a cold dinner for her. However, she’d been snacking all day, so it wasn’t that much of a bother. Kayla decided to get her camp ready then take a few more pictures. She got most of her stuff set up and made a quick mark on the ground near the trail to make sure she could find the camp if she spent too much time sightseeing and forgot her landmarks. Now that she had most of the weight off her back, she would be able to move around a lot better.
She spent a couple more hours wandering around near the camp and got a bunch more great landscape photos. She even managed to finally find an eagle and get a nice shot of it flying past her. However, by now her stomach had been growling for a while and, taking a swig from her water bottle, Kayla headed back to camp. Passing by a red ant hill, she was glad that at least her tent had a floor to it. Smashing everything she needed into just her backpack, meant that creature comforts like a cot were decidedly out.
As she got closer to the camp, Kayla noticed that the ground looked a lot more broken up than she remembered. She couldn’t make out any individual tracks, but it seemed like something (or a lot of somethings) had been heading right for her camping spot. Kayla didn’t know if she should pick up her pace or slow down and be extra careful. Creeping carefully down to a small bush, she pulled out her binoculars and tried to see if anything was going on at her camp. From what she could see, nothing looked amiss, but something had most definitely been crawling around. The packed down dirt around her tent had been disturbed as if an animal was trying to find a way into her stuff.
“Probably another deer or maybe a raccoon.” Kayla thought out loud. She tried to convince herself that it wasn’t a bear or anything else too dangerous. She really didn’t want her mom to be right that it was dangerous and she shouldn’t have come out here alone. As long as it wasn’t a crazy person, she was prepared for just about anything.
Making her way down, Kayla kept glancing around to make sure that she really was still alone. “I guess it was just an animal.” She said once she got to the camp. Nothing was really out of place. She unzipped her tent and looked around inside just to reassure herself and everything was just where she left it.
Shrugging it off as her just being too paranoid, Kayla sat down in the shade next to her tent and started going through some the pictures she’d taken. Most of the ones she had taken in the morning had turned out pretty good and she couldn’t wait to show them to Olivia. She got to the picture of that weird deer from earlier and she wanted see if she could figure out anything wrong with it. Like she thought, the deer looked fine if even a little fat, but there was something strange about its eyes. She had managed to take her picture right when the animal was looking at her and its eyes seemed glassier than she would have expected. Overall it looked fine, but when she zoomed in it looked like the poor thing was bleeding a little around the ears. “Maybe it did have some weird kind of disease or maybe too many ticks.” Kayla thought out loud. Thinking about what she’d said, she put on another layer of bug repellant.
By now it was getting pretty late and she was really astonished that her mom hadn’t tried to call her all day. Maybe she was just trying to give her a little bit of space. And maybe aliens were going to take over the planet, both were just as likely. Kayla smiled at the thought. She figured that Olivia must have been holding her back from calling, so before she got her sister into too much trouble, she decided to let them know that she was doing fine. The first time she tried calling, all she got was an ‘all circuits are busy’ message.
“What’s going on?” Kayla asked her phone. Everything looked okay. She had a good signal and she’d never gotten anything like that before. She tried again but the phone just rang and rang not even going to her mom’s voicemail. Eventually, she settled on sending a text to Olivia. It looked like it went through okay, but she didn’t get the quick response that she was expecting. Usually, her sister was glued to her phone and it popped up that she was typing back.
“Oh well. I’ll probably hear from her in a minute.” Kayla sighed and went back to finishing her unpacking. Leaving her things in her tent, Kayla went and found a nice nearby rock to sit on and watch the sunset just like she’d wanted. She grabbed another few pictures before it got dark. The gorgeous last rays were hitting the mountain above her and the red sky over the far mountains was amazing to look at. Very quickly though, the sky was starting to get dark for the wrong reason. As she was gazing at the beautiful valley laid out before her, Kayla noticed some dark clouds starting to gather down towards the southwest. Within just a few minutes they had almost completely covered the western sky before her.
“Oh no! Not now.” Kayla groaned. This hadn’t been in the forecast. The storm in front of her quickly advanced towards the growing dark behind her. “I hope it’s just a small storm.” Kayla moaned as she traipsed back to her tent. “Let’s see what the radar says.” She mumbled as she pulled out her phone. Now she wasn’t even getting any signal and there still wasn’t anything from her mom or Olivia.
“Great!” She said sarcastically as she heard the first roll of thunder in the distance. “I hope this tent lives up to its waterproof advertising.” Pulling out her collapsible lantern, she gathered up the few things she’d left outside and stuffed them back into her bag as the rain started to lightly fall.
Within just a few minutes, the rain was pouring down and Kayla was left with nothing to do. She was frustrated that she still wasn’t getting any cell service despite her perfect service earlier in the day. “Maybe the storm is messing with the signal.” Kayla reasoned. Running her phone out of battery was something she really wanted to avoid so after another attempt at texting Olivia, Kayla gave up and snuggled deep into her sleeping bag. She turned off her lantern and prayed that she didn’t wake up sopping wet. It was hard to nod off with the sound of the rolling thunder and rain pouring down outside, but after turning over a few times she finally managed to find a comfy spot and slipped off to sleep.
Her sleep wasn’t particularly deep, but she still managed to wander off into the dream world. She was comforted by dreaming about everything she’d seen that day. The beautiful sights, the amazing wildlife, the cool eagle, that weird deer. Somewhere deep in the back of mind she heard a slight ripping sound. Then everything in her dreams started to get wet. All she could dream about was the creek and ponds she’d passed by earlier, and storm, and the rain… The rain! Kayla groggily opened her eyes and slowly realized she was soaked through and through!
“Oh no!” Kayla moaned. The storm was still raging outside and now inside the tent as well. She felt around for the lantern so she could see where the tent was leaking. As she did, something brushed by her hand that felt distinctly not soft or tent-like. Kayla screamed. Something had gotten into the tent! Hastily feeling around the soggy floor, she finally managed to find the lantern and quickly turned it on. She screamed again when she did.
There, by her feet, in the tent with her was a bug the size of a small cat! But where her cat at home was jet black, this creature was a shade of pale green and almost white in some spots. It looked like a much larger version of the praying mantises she had seen in her family’s garden. It didn’t seem to have any wings or eyes. Instead, where its compound eyes should have been, there were two very long antennae-like growths. There was a large tear in the side of the tent behind her. It must have cut its way inside! At the sound of her scream, the bug twitched and turned around to ‘look’ at her.
Still wrapped up in her sleeping bag, Kayla screamed again and kicked the bug as hard as she could. The tent shook as it bounced off the wall and landed upside down exposing several small, hook-like arms on the underbelly of its thorax. Kayla took advantage of its disorientation to wriggle out of her sleeping bag and toss it on top of the foot-long insect. She slipped on her shoes as fast as she could and fumbled with the zipper for the door as the sleeping bag twitched and moved behind her. Kayla kept glancing behind her to make sure the thing hadn’t gotten out and screamed again when another bug that looked just the same as the first crawled its way into the tent!
The new bug approached her threateningly with its front two scythe-like arms raised. She grabbed her bag and backhanded the creature with it hoping to knock it towards the other one. However, one its claws got stuck in the backpack and it tried desperately to get a firmer hold to crawl up the bag; it’s four other spindly legs kicking in the air. By now Kayla was getting almost hysterical, tears starting to run down her face. She’d never been afraid of bugs before, but none of them had ever tried to attack her like this before. She slammed the bag down hoping she’d squish the bug, but it seemed to be built like a cockroach. Even with the weight of all her gear on top of it the animal was still trying to wiggle out towards her.
Finally, she got the door unzipped and, grabbing her lantern, stumbled out into the pouring rain still clutching her bag. She screamed again as two more of the bugs were waiting for her outside! She swung at them with her backpack, finally dislodging the creature on her pack and knocking another away. Running as quickly as she could in the direction she thought the trail was, Kayla stopped dead in her tracks as two more of the bugs appeared out of the darkness ahead of her. Above the din of the rain, she could hear something that sounded like crickets chirping only drastically louder. The bugs were talking to each other!
The sound was coming from what seemed like all sides now. Spinning around, she saw the creatures advancing on her. Unable to go forwards or back and left with no way down Kayla ran up the mountain as fast as her legs could carry her. Kayla slipped more than once on her desperate climb coating her head to toe in mud before it was mostly washed away by the downpour. Her knees and elbows ached and bled from the scrapes, but she had to press on.
What could she do?! All she had was a pocket knife somewhere in her bag, but if more than one of those things attacked her once she’d be a goner. After what felt like an eternity, she paused under a tree trying to catch her breath and figure out which way to go. Her lungs were burning as her eyes darted around trying catch the faintest outline of something. She was completely turned around. The trail could be 10 feet from her and she’d never know it. Kayla dug in her bag that she’d been clutching during her escape and pulled out her knife and phone. Sticking the knife in her jeans pocket, she looked at her phone. The tent may have been waterproof, but her backpack was another story. The screen was already a foggy wreck, but she could see that she had no signal.
A loud noise somewhere off to her right made her scream and jump again without thinking. She swung her lantern back and forth trying in vain to see anything in the pitch dark. Still panting, Kayla knew she had to at least try something. The keypad on her phone finally came up after stabbing the screen as hard as she could to get it to function. Kayla prayed that by some miracle she could get ahold of someone at emergency services. “Come on! Come on!” She wailed, trying to get the soaked phone to respond to her inputs. Looking between the somewhat bright phone in her hand and the dark woods around her meant that she couldn’t see either very well.
All of a sudden, a weight landed on her back! The bugs had caught up to her! She knew that it would probably only lead more of them to her, but still she screamed for all she was worth as she thrashed around trying to dislodge the terrifying thing on her back. Her lantern falling to the ground in her struggle. The bug’s weight shifted around, but, like her bag before, it clung tight. In a last desperate attempt to get it off, she threw her whole weight at the tree behind her. Her back throbbed as she bounced off and landed face down in the mud, but she felt lighter. Still clutching her phone, she wiped the dirt from her face and came face-to-face with another bug three feet in front of her!
Her phone went sailing at the creature before she realized what she was doing. The creature recoiled as the object struck home, but starting coming for her again almost immediately. Skittering to her feet, Kayla snatched her mud-encrusted lantern and threw her backpack on before dashing off again. What was she going to do?! She couldn’t run all night. These things would eventually wear her out then kill her. But she wouldn’t just lay down and die. There had to be something she could do; somewhere she could go to fight these things off.
She needed a place where she could see well enough and the creatures could only get to her one at a time. Where she couldn’t be surrounded. How had her trip turned into this?! Trying to fight off giant bugs? Running along, praying that her next step wouldn’t put her over the edge of a cliff, Kayla was looking for anything: a narrow opening, a tight spot where she could climb above the bugs, there had to be something. Though as hard she looked through her terrified running, she couldn’t spot anything that looked like her salvation. By now, what wasn’t burning from being scraped up, was now on fire from exertion. How long had she been running?
She would pause to catch her breath every now and then, but inevitably she would hear the chirping sound again and she would be forced to take off. How were these things everywhere? Sometimes they would be behind her, sometimes in front. It was all she could do to avoid them. She was getting a little woozy by now, climbing up the mountain far faster than she should have been. Any hope of finding the trail had been abandoned by this point. If she could make it till morning, she’d try to guess which way to go down from her surroundings. If? She couldn’t think like that. She would make it. Her parents hadn’t raised a quitter! Mom! Olivia! She had to get back and warn everyone about what she was seeing. There could be thousands of these things roaming this mountain.
For the last few minutes, she had been following what seemed to be a clearer path, being relatively devoid of fallen branches and other snares. It also helped that it was running along the side of the mountain so the wind wasn’t blowing so hard into her face. Had she blundered back onto the right way to go? Just as she thought that she came to a massive mound of piled rock right in her way. It must have fallen off the mountain face above her, she thought looking up to a large, fresh gash in the side of the cliff. Just as she was about to go around it, she realized that she was on a quite a narrow strip of ground. The mountain fell away to her right leaving what must be a straight 100-foot drop or more to the rocks below. Thanking God she didn’t take another step in that direction, Kayla tried to figure out what she was going to do.
Panting, she looked around. In the distance, she thought she heard the horrible chirping sound again. She couldn’t go back. The only way was over or straight up. She hoped if she went over that maybe it would throw off the bugs or at least slow them down. Staying near the cliff wall and holding the thin metal handle of her lantern in her mouth, she set off trying to climb over the pile of boulders. Every now and then she could get a better look at potential paths as lightening flashed in the distance. The rocks were incredibly slick and her fingers ached as she held on for dear life. All at once, the whole mass of rock seemed to shift under her and above the rain she could hear the crash of falling rock. She was sliding away towards the edge! Kayla wanted to scream but she knew if she did it meant the loss of her only light source.
Kayla jumped for her life back towards the cliff face. Smacking into it, Kayla grunted as the lantern dug into her mouth and jaw. Clawing for purchase, she finally caught her foot on a small ledge and stopped her slide. Looking back with her lantern, Kayla could see the rocks still shifting and a few more go over the edge down to what would have been certain death for her. Up was the only way safe left. Two of her fingers were now bloodied up and everything else was scraped. She winced as she started making her way slowly up the cliff.
She finally found a firmer handhold and paused for a moment, taking the lantern out of her mouth. She sneezed, the cold and rain getting to her, and looked around to see if she could make out any bugs. Her eyes strained against the dark and rain. She couldn’t see any bugs below her and it was only about another 20 feet up to where the rocks had come from. Maybe she could find a place to stand for a moment up there. Coughing, she put the lantern back into her mouth and continued her perilous climb.
Reaching the top, Kayla was relieved to find a relatively wide-open area. The place was sort of bowl shaped and she could imagine all the rocks below piled here at one time. Something must have dislodged them recently as the ground still was quite jagged in places. The back was of the depression was another cliff face that went up perhaps another eight feet and didn’t look nearly as difficult as the climb she had just finished. From there it looked like it leveled out again at least as far as she could make out. But the most interesting feature was a small opening in the base of the cliff face. Maybe a place to get out of the rain!
Kayla approached the cavern slowly in case bugs should appear crawling out of it to attack her. Maybe she had found an entrance to their nest. But nothing showed up. The opening was even shorter than her diminutive height, but it was more than wide enough for her to crouch through. She eyed it suspiciously, checking it out as best she could with her lantern before committing to heading in. The cave behind the opening stretched further than her light would go, but there were no signs of any insect activity or human for that matter. Could she dare go in?
She sneezed again, realizing how cold she was getting now that she wasn’t running anymore. “Well, they won’t be able to get me from the sides.” She tried to convince herself. “Maybe it was part of an abandoned mine shaft that got covered up.” She reasoned. That would explain why the rocks in front of it were so loose. Kayla finally made up her mind after coughing again and slid inside the cave. At least it was tall enough that she didn’t have to stoop over when she got in, she thought.
What was she going to do now? Kayla wondered. She took off her backpack and sat down on the cold, wet floor just inside the opening. Kayla shivered. Now that she was inside, she took better stock of her surroundings. The cave did seem to be natural after all as she couldn’t see any signs of human-made supports. After the collapse outside, she wasn’t sure if that made her feel better or worse. Kayla couldn’t see the end of the tunnel, but she thought that she could dimly make out a turn just beyond where her light could reach. Her stomach rumbled, startling her for a second before she smiled briefly at her own jumpiness.
Reaching into her bag, she pulled out an energy bar and quickly devoured it; downing a little of her water at the same time. Everything hurt, but at least she wasn’t doing to die of starvation. At least for now. Kayla took the knife out of her pocket and left it open on the ground beside her in case she needed it immediately. Taking a moment, she looked herself over. Between the bloodied hands and knees and the way her long hair was now a dirty blonde thanks to mud and matted down to her back, she must look like some wild, hill-living woman. Being as prepared as she was, Kayla took out her tiny first-aid kit and tried her best to bandage up what she could.
As she patched herself up, Kayla paid close attention to anything that she could hear outside. Other than the rain and occasional thunder, she didn’t hear anything else. The lack of that terrible chirping filled her with a small sense of relief. What were those things? She had never heard of anything like them before and most certainly not around here. They had been gigantic, almost like something from prehistoric times. And very aggressive. The most aggressive bug she’d ever had to deal with had been when she got too close to that red wasp nest when she was a little kid. Kayla knew that bugs were territorial, so maybe she had gotten far enough away and they wouldn’t chase her anymore.
Whatever these things were, Kayla knew that she wasn’t going to be able to sleep again until she got off this mountain. Hopefully, the worst of this is over, Kayla prayed. Her shaking was getting worse; it was so cold. Putting away her first aid kit, she wished that she had her sleeping bag to snuggle up in. She hadn’t planned on loosing that to a bug invasion, and her jacket wouldn’t be any help with as wet as it was so she settled on throwing her forgotten emergency poncho over her like a blanket. It helped only a little, as it was already wet too. Kayla peered out into the darkness again and shivered. The rain seemed to be letting up a little as least the lightening had passed. Of course, right after she found something to keep her dry. Kayla thought, snarkily. But it’s not like she had time to put it on before now she sighed, reminding herself.
Wedged against the wall, Kayla sat slowly rocking trying to figure out how she could get out of this. She looked at her watch, it was four in the morning. Her mom and sister weren’t expecting her back until way later today. If only she hadn’t thrown her phone away like an idiot! But when they didn’t hear from her maybe they’d send somebody to.. To what? Save her? Get attacked by the bugs themselves? A sudden noise behind her caused her to scream and almost jump out of her skin.
Dropping her poncho, Kayla spun around to the sight of another human being stumbling out from around the dark corner of the cave. To her surprise, the woman didn’t scream as well. In fact, she just stood there, arms dangling by her sides. The woman was older than Kayla, probably in her mid-twenties, and she looked almost as in rough shape as Kayla was, but with less mud staining her clothes and hair.
“I’m sorry, ma’am.” Kayla said, standing up, panting and trying to show her manners. “I wasn’t expecting to see anyone. How did you get… up… here…” Kayla’s voice slowed down as the woman didn’t seem to acknowledge her at all. Something was terribly wrong. Now she was almost as scared of this woman as she was of the bugs. In the back of her mind, she wanted to grab her knife, but maybe that would scare this woman more. Daring a step closer, Kayla shown the light better on the new arrival.
The first thing that caught her attention was the woman’s empty, blue eyes. It looked as though her mind was a million miles away. Kayla gulped loudly as the woman took another step in her direction. “Are… Are, are you alright?” She stuttered out. Just she expected, the woman made no reply. Not that that made her feel any better. What had happened to her? She was just standing there blank faced. Kayla tried to see if there were any major injuries to her. She didn’t appear to have any big, bleeding injuries, but her clothes were ripped in many places. The woman’s jeans seemed to have taken the worst of it, with both her knees exposed and rips extending around her inner thighs. Her red T-shirt was torn in several places around her belly, but mostly around the base of her neck. Maybe she had fallen and hit her head really bad?
Or maybe the bugs got to her. That idea horrified Kayla. Could the bugs do this to someone? They were super aggressive… Maybe they had found her first and bit her or stung her. But would that cause her to act so…
Weird! A scary idea came into Kayla’s mind.
Kayla looked back at the woman’s face. She moved a little closer and stared at the woman’s creepy eyes once again. They were completely glassy behind her long, matted down, brown hair. Not noticing her even while taking another step towards her.
“Just like that deer earlier.” Kayla whispered to herself. But she wanted to confirm her theory. She tore her eyes off the woman to look around. Making sure there weren’t any bugs behind the corner or coming in the opening, Kayla inched slowly up until she was right next to the woman. The cave continued off still further than she could make out, but she didn’t see anything. Now that she was closer, Kayla could make out the thinnest line of drool sliding out of the poor woman’s thin lips. Holding the light up, she gingerly lifted the woman’s hair by her ear, constantly looking back to see if there was any response. She inhaled sharply as she saw what she feared: just behind her ear there was a small, still slowly oozing wound. Now she was sure of it. These bugs were attacking anything on the mountain and making them like this.
Now that she had a closer look, it didn’t really look like blood behind her ear, but something… else. If she was correct, what were these bugs doing to everything? Right as she was about to let go of her hair, something pulsed on the back of the woman’s neck. Instinctively, Kayla screamed and jumped back, still drawing no reaction from the woman. Was it a bug?! Kayla thought, horrified. Well, it hadn’t moved before now. Maybe it was a trick of the light. Quickly checking to make sure her scream didn’t attract anything, Kayla moved to the woman’s side once again. She flipped the woman’s long tresses over and almost threw up on the spot. Taking up a large portion of the base of her neck was what looked like a huge, semi-translucent blister, complete with some kind of fluid inside. Or massive insect bite, Kayla thought. Despite its size and the way it gently pulsed in time with her breathing, it didn’t seem to be causing the woman any pain. Maybe it’s just because she’s a brain-dead zombie, Kayla wondered. No, she couldn’t think like that.
Kayla jumped again as the woman made the first sound that she’d heard: a soft moan. The woman wandered away from her as she trudged haltingly around the cave. Kayla didn’t know if she could stay here much longer. What if the bugs came back for her? Maybe the woman had escaped like she had but had been unlucky enough to get bit first? She didn’t want to stay and she didn’t want to go back out into the dark and storm. Backing away slowly, Kayla went back for her bag and knife. “Don’t worry. I, I, I’ll get you some help.” Kayla said shakily, still not sure if the woman could even understand her.
As she reached her things and knelt to get them, the woman let out a groan that made the hair on the back of Kayla’s neck stand up. She spun around fully prepared to see the woman coming at her like something out of a horror movie. But the woman was still on the other end of the cave, she had, however, dropped to her knees. She was holding her stomach. Something that contrasted with her slack appearance earlier. Kayla hadn’t really paid attention to her belly, but the more she looked she realized that the woman was more than a little bloated. Her shirt not entirely covering her lower abdomen.
The woman moaned again, louder this time. Kayla had been drug along to enough sci-fi movies by her friends that she knew what was going to happen next: something was going to burst out of the woman’s stomach and come after her. Kayla turned back around threw on her backpack and grabbed her knife. This couldn’t be real, right? She had to be dreaming this. It was like every nightmare she’d ever had put together. Behind her, the woman groaned again. Could she really be about to give birth to a bug? Kayla wasn’t going to stick around and find out. As she started to go out, Kayla heard that awful chirping again behind her. It was quickly followed by more distant chirping coming from somewhere outside the cave. Kayla swung around and was revolted by the scene in front of her.
A smaller version of the bugs that she’d seen earlier was coming out from between the woman’s legs. She was giving birth! The contrast between the bug’s greenish exoskeleton and the woman’s soft, white skin was sickening. As it clawed around trying to exit its cozy mother, the bug was letting out chirp after chirp. It was calling for the others! Despite the bug’s rough motions, the woman was barely moving, only the occasional moan escaping her lips. With all the chirping outside, Kayla knew her best bet was to try to stay hidden.
Kayla ran back towards the woman and her horrifying offspring. By the time she approached, the bug was already out of its host mother and was rapidly coming towards her; feeling the air with its long antennae. Kayla threw her backpack on top of it, to hold it in place. Luckily, it was not nearly as fast as its brethren. Her lantern flung to one side, Kayla pushed down as hard as she could on the bug, more squeals and chirps coming from the trapped animal. Letting up on one side of the bag just enough to see it, Kayla stabbed it as best she could. It didn’t seem to be nearly as tough as the bugs she had fought before. Eventually, it stopped moving and the noise from it subsided. Kayla’s hand and arm were dripping with green goo.
Only the sound of her panting filled the air. Trembling all over, Kayla fearfully shook her arm mostly clean from the goo and looked back over to the woman just a few feet away. Other than some sickly green slime coming from between the woman’s legs, it was impossible to tell that she’d just given birth to a bug. Her face still completely slack. The peace and quiet was suddenly broken by more chirping and it was much closer than before. Kayla ran back over to her lantern to get a better view of the situation. She held it up and saw one of the bugs rounding the corner in the cave. They were inside!
The new bug clicked and squeaked assessing the situation. As Kayla headed for her bag again, the bug moved as well. But not towards her. Instead, the bug dashed over to the woman still kneeling on the ground. Was it trying to use her for some sort of protection? As if to answer her question, the bug quickly crawled up the woman’s back. Kayla stood, momentarily dumbfounded. The woman was allowing this? She was that far gone?
In front of her widening eyes, the bug perched itself high on the woman’s back; its long antennae waving all around. Kayla was unprepared for what happened next as suddenly a reddish goo started emerging from the ends of the bug’s appendages. “Wha..” Kayla could barely whisper out. Abruptly, the tendrils became focused and rippled to each side of the woman’s head. A slight squeak came from the bug as it thrust its tendrils behind the woman’s ears into the openings they had made earlier. A terrible squishing sound echoed as they sunk deeper into the poor woman’s skull. Kayla screamed as the woman twitched at the insertion and her eyes rolled back. She hadn’t had any time to react. The whole scene was over in less than 10 seconds.
Still momentarily frozen with indecision, Kayla gasped as the woman’s eyes rolled back down, but something was different. There was energy and purpose in them again. Barely visible underneath the woman’s long hair, the creature’s tendrils were gently undulating and pulsing. The bug had squeezed tighter onto her back though her ripped shirt and was now barely noticeable. Slowly, she turned to look over at Kayla. The piercing blue stare shook Kayla to her core. What was going on?! That thing couldn’t really be controlling her. It wasn’t possible. Kayla, shuddering, backed away as the woman got to her feet.
“Stay back!” Kayla shouted brandishing her knife. Her bag momentarily forgotten on the floor in front of her.
“I won’t hurt you.” The woman’s voice was softer than she had expected. “They only want help.”
“Wha.. What?” Kayla pantingly asked, terrified.
“Swarming.” The woman sighed a little as she said it. “I’ve been so helpful to them.”
“That thing’s controlling you?” Kayla took another step back.
“Yes. It’s wonderful. I love helping it. You’ll understand when you have one too…” The woman almost smiled.
As she said that, Kayla felt a weight on the back of her leg. Kayla kicked it off screaming and looked quickly behind her. Three other bugs had made their way into the cave and were trying to cut off her escape. She wasn’t going to end up like that! Dropping her lantern and grabbing her bag, she knocked two of them away with her backpack. Crossing the gap between them, the woman pounced on Kayla before she could turn around knocking her to the ground. Rolling over, Kayla threw off her new opponent losing her bag but retaining her knife.
“Get away!” Kayla screamed getting her feet under her. Tears were now rolling down her cheeks.
The bug-controlled woman quickly stood too. “You won’t worry soon.” She said much too calmly.
Kayla dodged as another bug dashed at her. As she did, the infested woman moved in again. The woman avoided Kayla’s wild swings with her knife and managed to get a hold of her wrists. Kayla kicked at her as best she could but it didn’t seem to faze her. Her grip was like a vice and Kayla was getting pushed back almost into the wall. Hearing some skittering on the ground behind her, Kayla’s struggles became more frantic. Finally breaking her left hand free, she slapped the woman as hard as she could. The blow knocked the woman’s head aside enough for Kayla to get a grip on one of the bug’s tendrils burrowed into her skull behind her ear. The mind-controlled woman quickly recovered and grabbed a hold of her again. Pulling as hard as she could Kayla thought that she could feel it coming out, but right then a stabbing pain in her lower back reminded her of the other bugs. Kayla screamed from the red-hot, needle-like pain. She pushed as hard as she could and made it away from the wall after just a second.
Out of the corner of her eye, Kayla could make out one of the bugs halfway up the wall behind her. It had a large, black stinger protruding out of the end of its body. Looking back to the woman’s face, all Kayla could make out was happiness. The two women continued to struggle as Kayla tried to keep all of the other bugs at bay. But she was getting slower. Kayla was trying to get her right arm low enough to stab the woman’s stomach, but it was getting heavier and hard to move. She had to relinquish her grip on the bug’s tendril to keep the woman from getting a better hold on her. Her movements were getting more and more sluggish.
All at once, the woman released her grip, stepping out of the way as Kayla stumbled forward. Seizing her advantage, the infested woman held Kayla from behind and started to force her to the ground. Kayla’s legs were getting numb and quickly crumbled to the pressure. “No!” Kayla sobbed, her face roughly and painfully pushed into the ground. Kayla fought as best she could all the while begging the woman to stop.
“Shh…” The puppeted woman cooed. “It’ll be over soon.”
This only intensified Kayla’s struggling. Using her limited range of motion Kayla tried to keep the bugs away from her head. But very soon, she felt a weight crawling on her lower back coming from between the woman’s legs that were currently kneeling on her thighs. With her last energy, she thrashed like a fish out of water trying to buck the animal off. “Stop! Get it off!” Kayla wept.
“You’ll be a wonderful nest. Just like I am.” The woman said reassuringly.
It was no use. Soon, she felt the bug crawling on her neck and head. Perching there like a crown. It moved slowly around like it was looking for something specific. Suddenly, it struck! Kayla screamed, feeling the stinger stab into her head. She felt some liquid pulse down its length and ooze into her mind. Almost immediately, her fighting stopped, replaced with small twitches as more of the liquid was pumped into her. More importantly, her will to fight disappeared. She knew that this was bad and she had to get away, but somehow couldn’t muster any strong desire to keep moving. So she lay there, just letting the fluid wash away her troubles.
“There. Isn’t that better?” Came the soft voice above her. “It feels so much better to obey.”
A soft mumble was her only reply. With a wet slurp, the stinger withdrew after filling her with what felt like a gallon of chemicals. The bug chirped softly as it signaled its success in subduing her. Kayla felt a wet gush on the top of her head as the bug squirted something onto the wound it had made.
“Now you’re ready.” The woman said, positioning Kayla’s head straight up and down. “The bugs did such a good job leading you here. Just like they did with me.”
Kayla felt the bug maneuver its way onto her upper back like what she’d seen with the woman earlier. Deep down, she knew this was wrong, but there was seemingly no fight left in her. She couldn’t even seem to make herself breathe faster. Making her seem to any observer unnaturally calm about this horrifying attack.
There was a tearing sound as the other woman ripped open the back of her shirt. She felt some pain as the small legs she had seen earlier on the underside of the bug found purchase in the soft skin of her back. The creature’s other four legs wrapped around under her shirt coming to rest just under her beasts; its scythe-like arms tucked up next it. The bug slowly tightened itself down to her. Out of the corner of her eye, she saw the dripping tendrils waving around the side of her head. Kayla moaned softly in protest as she saw a small needle project out of the end of the tendril.
Then it struck. A jerk went through her body as they penetrated her into brain with a soft crunch. Kayla’s eyes rolled back as she could feel the tendrils brushing against her skin and the feel of something squirming into her head. The two creatures on the women chirped loudly to each other drowning out any thoughts of fighting that Kayla had.
“Good.” The woman whispered. “You’re so lucky. This is much easier than it was for me. They’ve learned so much about us. You’ll make a perfect nest.”
Kayla wanted to cry. She was going to be just like this poor woman. A nest for these bugs.
“Soon you’ll grow your food sac and be a complete nest like me.” Katrina continued.
How did that name come to her? Kayla wondered, idly. If they had been able to her eyes would have opened wider as the realization came to her. Oh No. It was doing something to her brain! The woman, Katrina, wasn’t just a puppet on a string. The bugs were talking to her. Making her want to help them. Kayla had to stop this before.. Another shiver went through her body as something pressed into the base of her neck.
“We take care of all their needs.” Katrina sighed as her bug’s proboscis pierced into the food sac between her shoulder blades.
Kayla felt a cool rush of something being injected into her neck before a soft pulsing started pulling on her. This only lasted a moment before she felt the bug withdraw and Katrina’s warm body lying next to hers. Katrina had long ago let go of Kayla. Now she lay beside her and let the bug on Kayla feed off of her. Kayla couldn’t see her face, but she imagined her smile. It must feel good to let the bugs feed. What? Why did she think that?! It really was taking her over. She heard a grateful squeak from the bug on her back and Katrina started to get up. Without any of her own input, Kayla started to experimentally move as well! First her fingers and hands then her legs started moving as the bug gained control. The venom already worn off.
Katrina smiled and petted Kayla’s goo wet hair. “Soon I won’t need a bug to guide me. Once my brain absorbs all their wonderful juices, I’ll be able to help them on my own. They’re already swarming.”
Kayla wanted to scream. Wanted to do anything, but she couldn’t seem to make her body respond in the slightest. How would she warn her mom and Olivia about these bugs? As she thought about them, the picture in her mind gradually changed to show bugs mounted on them. The bugs’ tendrils softly pulsing, controlling them just as they did her. They looked so happy…
No! That was wrong. She had to keep them from being a nest like she was. No! No. She wasn’t a nest. She wouldn’t end up like Katrina. She didn’t even notice until now that she had gotten up on her knees. Her arms hanging limply by her sides.
“That’s right.” Katrina was encouraging her as she knelt beside her, gently massaging Kayla’s small breasts. “Now we’ll be good nests for their eggs.” She kissed Kayla’s cheek as if to soothe her fears.
Terror rose inside Kayla. They were going to rape her! These horrible bugs were going to take her virginity! She was going to have one of those bugs inside her like Katrina!
That was so hot!
No! It was horrible! How could she be thinking like this?! She would never let the bug control her mind. She had to keep fighting.
While her body stared ahead with expressionless eyes, she could feel another bug moving between her legs. With a slight ripping sound, Kayla felt a cool rush of air on her nethers as the bug sliced open her jeans just like the others before had cut their way into her tent.
Kayla tried everything to make even the slightest move, but to no avail as the second bug crawled onto her stomach slightly ripping her shirt as it got a firm grip on her. Her eyes frozen forwards, Kayla could still see the same thing happening to Katrina beside her. A long, clear appendage emerged from a slit on the underside of the bug’s lengthy thorax. It waved experimentally in front of the other woman’s ripped jeans. Kayla pictured the same scene below until a stabbing pain focused her thoughts.
Though her body showed no emotion other than a slight jerk, inside Kayla was screaming. It hurt so bad! She had heard from her friends that it felt incredible, but her first experience with sex was anything but. She couldn’t even fight back. Beside her, Kayla heard Katrina panting in ecstasy. How could she enjoy this?! Kayla’s body rocked slightly as the bug thrust roughly into her. It felt like it was going all the way into her stomach! Katrina seemed to be actively helping the bug by pushing her hips into the bug’s powerful thrusting.
Gradually, Kayla got used to the fast rhythm the bug produced. It was starting to hurt less now. She realized she had zoned out for a while and ventured another sideways glance at Katrina. She seemed to be completely into it. Katrina was holding the bug closer so it could go even deeper into her.
“The bugs learned that… ahhh! Pleasure makes this so much easier!” Katrina gasped out, biting her lip.
All of a sudden, Katrina let out a scream, but not from pain. She had an orgasm! Kayla realized. It looked absolutely breathtaking. She had always wondered what that felt like.
Now she could feel like that.
Where did that idea come from?! Thinking that brought her back to her own predicament. The bug was slowing down in its thrusting, but its appendage felt thicker than before. Its ovipositor. It was going to lay its egg in her. That somehow felt…
No! It was a horrible bug. This was wrong!
She had always wanted to be a mother. Right? Now she could be. She would be a wonderful nest for its young.
No. That wasn’t right. The bug was getting to her. Kayla couldn’t let that happen. She wasn’t going to be a nest. She repeated in her head. She wasn’t going to be a nest. She wasn’t going to be a nest. She was going to be a nest.
Just then something stretched her even further. If they had been under her control, her eyes would have rolled back from the pleasurable feeling. The pain now completely gone. Why did it feel good? The bug must be making her feel like this. It couldn’t be real. She couldn’t really like it. Her body jerked as the egg was pushed further into her. She had to fight. She just had to remember her mantra. Where was she? Oh! Yes.
She was going to be a nest.
Wait… That wasn’t.. Another jolt went through her loins as the egg made its way up her sensitive canal. She had to stay focused.
She was going to be a nest.
She shook a little as the egg seemed to stop for a second as it pushed against her cervix. The ovipositor pulsing inside her. Waiting to put a new life inside her belly. It felt so good! Her mantra! She was slipping again. She had to focus on her mantra.
She was going to be a nest.
Yes! That was right. Kayla’s body shuddered as the egg was forced into her safe, fertile womb. Behind her expressionless face, Kayla wished that Katrina could see how she had joined her in a glorious, all-consuming orgasm. It was amazing! Nothing could compare to this. She was a nest!
“Good. You’re so receptive.” Katrina said beside her, panting as she was filled again. “Now, let the bugs wash away all those bad thoughts.”
Then Kayla heard her own, yet slightly different sounding, voice. “Yes.” She started to repeat “I am a nest” over and over as the bug continued to thrust into her making her conscious mind white out with joy. Her belly now ever so slightly bloated with the new bug growing inside her. She gently sighed as the bug withdrew. Her entire mind was now open to the bug on her back and it felt so right to let it use her body.
“They’ve learned so much from me. Now they know how to make you enjoy this.” Katrina had moved in front of her and was beaming at the progress Kayla had made already. She slowly rubbed her own still swollen belly as she admired the new nest in front of her.
“Yes.” Kayla repeated, slowly. It had felt better than anything she had ever experienced, but something still seemed wrong. She knew she was a nest and that was why it felt so good to have a bug on her back, and that she had to protect the young bug inside her. There was still something missing, however. There was something about the bugs that she had to do… Then the image of her mom and Olivia came back to her.
Of course! That was it! She had to help the bugs swarm them too! Kayla felt proud that she had remembered that. The bugs were chirping all around her and Kayla could almost understand what they meant. Katrina knew though.
“Now we have to get ready to go. The bugs here are swarming. We have to join the rest of them.” Katrina took Kayla by the hand and stood.
It felt so right to help the bug guide her around. She was a good nest. Even now she could feel the bug learning more about her and she was eager to teach it how to better act like her until she could obey without a bug. Slowly, her face worked its way into a contented smile. At last, the external finally mirroring Kayla’s internal feelings. She had already lost track of whether she or the bug was deciding her movements, but it didn’t really matter as long as she was a good nest.
Kayla hadn’t noticed it, but the cave had been getting steadily brighter. The two of them walked over to the entrance and admired the early morning sun streaking red through the clouds.
Rising on a world that would soon belong to the bugs.