Of course she isn’t happy! You ruined her proposal.
There was nothing to do but run.
For the second time that day, Heye tore through the shrubbery, pelting through the trees and bushes as fast as he could, the meter-tall blue man following shortly behind.
The screaming got louder as they approached, terrifyingly relentless. Maybe it was better if they kept screaming? Heye tried to convince himself. Maybe it hadnothing too bad had happened to them?
But as it became louder and louder, Heye was sure it couldn’t be anything but bad.
I did it for us! That day you left— you’re birthday, my dad got a new job outta state!
Finally, panting, the the pair rounded up onto the same thatch door Heye had stood at when he first came falling from the side of a building, oh so long ago.
Sam pushed it open.
They saw the source of the screaming.
Hunched over in a sickeningly tight curl was a clearly a Sokotian. She shrieked, an ear-shattering sound, as she convulsed, her expressions far too alive, the very image of prolonged agony shifting endlessly on her face. Her entire body contracted and jerked, as if she was moments away from belching. And hands came crashing against the side of her skull, accompanied by a jerk in the sound of the scream. Then they gave up, and pressed against her hands ears like they were pistons.
What is going on?
Said Abuela Madrigal inside of Heye’s brain, as he looked upwards and saw carnage. Littered above was a terrifying concentration of bugs. Dozens, hundreds, thousands, swarming in between the dozens of Sokotians Heye now noticed. Wretching, screaming, grasping at their heads.
Heye froze, his features tatooed onto him as he gazed at the horror.
Was, was this Floop?
UGH! The bugs dipped towards him, as though aiming for his head. He swatted them away and shedded his jumper, wrapping it around his head, covering his ears, which were probably his best enterence.
The girl in front of him let out another strained shriek, and Heye snapped back into focus. He darted forward and down, close to her now, his ears throbbing with the noise of her screaming. He wanted to ask how he could help, but the screaming didn’t stop. He got his hands and pulled back from her ears—
And inside they were crawling with bugs.
Thousands of small black creatures crawled inside hear ear canal, packed like sardines and squirming as they dropped and crawled over themselves.
Heye fell backwards, almost vomitting.
What the FUCK!
How… how deep did they go???
How far do these bugs go down?????
He gagged, and could barely stand the thought of it, but knew he had to get on with it. He went back up, pulled out his finger, and put it into the girls ear. She barely noticed as she screamed, and Heye felt the bugs. Cool and mechanical as they crawled over his finger. He shivered. He tried, in the absence of seeing what he was doing, to scoop them out, and he successfully pinned many against the wall. But they simply crawled over and around him, ignoring him completely.
He took out his useless finger, and looked back at Sam.
And Sam was idly watching, a swarm of bugs swooping down and aiming right for him.
Heye screamed himself, and flung himself at the alien, savagely pushing him out of the way.
And the bugs swooped into his ear. Deeper, and deeper they went.
Once apon a time, Heye had been a doctor’s appointment where an examination of his throat had been required. The doctor had taken out a worm like object, and informed him that it would be a weird sensation. And he had taken the worm, and funnelled it through his nose, and down his throat. It was easily the most physically uncomfortable he had ever felt.
But this was far, far worse.
The creatures tunneled through, violating every defense mechanism and physical barrier his ears had in place like they were cling film. He squirmed and shivered uncontrollably, feeling so very powerless as they rooted through his ear canal.
And finally they stopped.
Heye paused, appreciating the halting of the sensation.
And then they began to dig.
It was a tearing, horrific sensation. The unmistakable feeling of having your skin peeled off before your very eyes, excepted protecting by your swatting by occuring in the caverns of your own skull.
He shrieked, the searing pain exploding on the sides of his skull.
He could feel them burrowing through his flesh and skull, round the side of his head, to… his eyes?
And though he had been paying absolutely no attention to the visual input he had been receiving, it was all to clear as he felt a million cold legs crawling over his cornea, joined by a team right behind his eyeballs, almost as though they had hooked into the very electrical signal that made up his retina…
The pain suddenly stopped, the bugs stopped moving.
The pain switched off light a lightbulb. He could still feel them inside of him, but they were still, as though they had reached the place they wanted to be. His hearing had been completely disabled, the sounds of screaming were just a memory. Because his sense of sound was just like his sight, then. Absolute void, because of the bugs.
He had felt himself go primal within the pain. Well, not really felt himself. That was the whole thing — he had lost himself inside of the pain, and now that he was out of it he felt his brain and faculties returning to him.
Was this how Floop was carrying out his plan? Using… bugs?
Did the mechanical bugs go inside and “cure” everyone of quoting that way? He wondered if the bugs really were chipping at their brains…
But then he felt himself stop wondering, as the sensation started up again.
In the absence of absolutely any visual or auditory input, the sensation was heightened. At least with them going down his ears he had a comparable experience, but now he was feeling things in places he didn’t even know he could feel. As if an entire area of a map he’d left unexplored suddenly became available.
Every faculty Heye had paused as he felt the nanobot chip away at his brain.
His squirming insides halted, perilously frozen as he felt the bug raise two legs on top. In the total darkness he could see it as clear as day: the machine poised on it’s hind legs. Heye’s heart thundered inside of his chest. What would happen if he moved? If he twitched? Would the bug snap down and take a mighty gnash out of his soul?
And how good was Floop’s neuroscience? Even if he’d designed it perfectly, wouldn’t it still be for the Sokotians? Would he even go through the effort of mapping out an entirely knew path for the bots, for Heye?
And somewhere so very far away, Heye felt a droplet cascade down his face. He didn’t dare move, for it would be pointless. He had absolutely no mechanisms of entering his own skull. Absolutely no domain of what went on there.
All he could do was beg…
He shuddered as he felt the poised legs creak…
And step down…
And walk… backwards…?
Was… was it leaving?
What is going on?
But Heye’s relief was short-lived. His muscles clicked into padlocks as the bug stopped its retreat and came crawling back upwards, to the apparent point of incision.
And Heye felt the distortion on his brain-mass as the beetle raised it’s front legs once more, the infentismal increase in pressure very much legible to Heye’s heightened senses…
But it put its legs back down.
And he felt it squirm against the inside of his brain, almost as if it parts of it were twitching. And it crawled, onward and outward. Heye now realising as he tracked their way out that they never actually dug anything. They had merely used pre-existing tunnels head. His pupils retreated into speckled dots as his eyes began to clear, beams of light flooding through. A few of the bugs using his eyeball as a launpad and drawing wings, the rest gradually exiting the side of his vision and streaming out back through his ears.
The boy stood.
For a moment his features were frozen. It was almost as though he was still in the void: nothing registered within his awareness…
Something rushed up within him — he threw up against the floor, his stomach convulsing in sickening curls.
And then it all came back.
He was surrounded by blood-curdling screams, live agony looping on the Sokotians faces. But where was—
And he saw his companian, hunched over, screaming at the top of his lungs.
Heye grasped his own head. Not in pain, but in desperatation. You’re fighting to watch everyone you’ve ever known die! Think Heye! What will you still have after five hundred years?
What on earth could he do to stop a fleet of nanobots?
You dad. I’ll have you.
You dad…. I’ll still have…..
Yes, yes! That’s it! sang a voice in the darkness of his brain. Just hand it over and I’ll do my thing!
Heye had a plan.
Okay what are we doing here? He just turns of the nanobots. It’s fine,
no it’s not. You don’t want him to be able to turn them off.
He just wills them away. He begged with all his heart.
but if they listen to his begging…
it’s OKAY! This isn’t lwhat the story is about!
I guess it’s boring because it’s not what the story is about. Or at least, it feels hard to write.
And what they saw was carnage.
“Not bugs, Heye. Nanobots.”
Swarming within the walls at a terrifying concentration were bugs. Dozens, hundreds, thousands. They moved almost independently, almost in formations too mechanical to be organic. And beneath the spotty black swarms were hunched blue people.