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Sphex Appeal

Friday, April 3, 2020
Jennifer Fletcher peers through the windshield and out across the river. It’s midnight; all she can see is the dim outline of Bear Mountain against a starry moonless night. She turns to face the handsome dark-haired stranger she met at the bar, hardly believing her good luck. 
The headlights of a police car sweep across them, then continue down the mountain. The turn-off on the Bear Mountain Parkway is a popular spot for lovers (and temporary hook-ups, like theirs). The cops rarely bother with them.
Once the patrol car passes by, she suggests that they move to someplace where, “they can be more comfortable.” Her “date” smiles and climbs out, walking around to open the driver-side door for her. She holds out her hand, like a lady; he takes it and gently guides her to the back seat.
“What a gentleman!” she declares.
After some preliminary kissing, she reaches down and unbuckles his belt. Feeling around for his zipper, she feels the bulge in his pants grow firmer—and warmer. 
This was going to be a night to remember.
Jennifer brushes her long blond hair aside, and bends down over his lap. She kisses the tip of his penis, and smiles inwardly as it slides past her lips and tongue and deep into her mouth. She’s been here before. She is, however, a bit surprised when it grows still larger. That’s unusual. She’s more surprised when it continues to grow, sliding down her throat, past her esophagus, and all the way to her stomach.
Nothing like this had ever happened to her before. Still, it is oddly pleasurable, and doesn’t even make her gag. That was new, too; while she’d never really been into that whole deep throat thing, this was easy. She felt him shudder, and an incredible feeling of warmth filled her.
It was all so beautiful that she fainted.
Around seven the next morning, the same squad car slows as it approaches the look-out. Deputy Schmidt notices that one of the cars he’d seen the night before is still parked there. That was not typical; most of these trysts last for only an hour or so. He’d never seen a couple spend an entire night there. Anything out of the ordinary triggers his cop instincts. 
He pulls in alongside the overnighter to take a look.
The car is empty. Places that serve as Lover’s Lanes are, of course, far away from prying eyes—and definitely not in walking distance of anyplace else. It’s unlikely that anyone walked home from that car. He moves over to a stone wall and considers possible romantic spots on several rocky ledges below him. 
No one there, either.
He walks back to the parked car for another, closer, look. In the back seat, he observes something that looks like a rumpled blanket. Curious, he bends to look closer. He jumps back, spinning around, and vomits on the passenger-side door of his cruiser, completely obscuring the shield-shaped logo of the Westchester County Sheriff’s Department. 
It’s not a blanket.
It’s the complete skin of a long-haired blond woman.
The Medical Examiner’s lab, in the basement of Peekskill hospital, is conveniently close to the morgue. A few hours after Deputy Schmidt’s discovery, the skin of an unidentified woman is delivered to the ME. Doctor Weiglein opens the oddly light body bag, and places the skin on one of his stainless-steel tables.
He’d known—even before med school—that the skin was the largest organ in the human body, but this is his first opportunity to weigh one. His examination is different in several other ways. There is no incision to make; no other organs to weigh; no skeleton to measure. All he can do is spread the skin for examination.
The only external sign of damage—other than being a bodyless skin—is a long, jagged tear that runs down the anterior of what had once been a body, beginning from the underside of the mandible, and continuing all the way to the pubis. The tear shows signs of having been forced from inside the body.
Weiglein examines the skin for signs of cutmarks to explain the absence of muscles, organs, and bones. There are none. He makes a note about two peculiar aspects of the remains: the skin—that once enclosed the arms and legs—is inside out; he also detects an unfamiliar musky smell. He swabs the interior of the skin, and sends it to the lab for ID.
Bruce Higgins is draped, provocatively, with one elbow on the bar of The Ramrod. He scopes the crowd, looking for Mr. Right—or, at least, Mr. Good Enough for Tonight. Not much of interest. Several former one-nighters, all of whom deserved to be one-nighters. Several regulars who hadn’t even deserved that. Still, it’s a terrible thing to go home drunk and alone. He might be forced to settle on one of them. Maybe two—that, at least, might make things more interesting.
Peering down the bar, coyly looking over the salted rim of his third Margarita, he spots a newcomer to The Ramrod. “Newcomer” might— with any luck—be the operative term. He smirks. The stranger is tall, muscular, with longish blond hair. Bruce orders another drink, and has Dirk, the shirtless bartender, deliver it to the godlike blond at the far end of the bar. Thor—or whatever the mystery-man’s name is—raises his glass and winks. Bruce brushes his neatly-trimmed black mustache and saunters down to seal the deal.
They chat of this and that—then dance for a while, their bodies rubbing sinuously to an appropriately-retro bossa nova instrumental. Bruce likes what he feels. It’s a package he’s more than ready to open. They sashay, to that Brazilian beat, to the hall behind the bar. They see two restrooms; one marked “Men,” and one marked “Women” with “Wo” crossed out. The one that had once been reserved for women still has several stalls. They enter that one and choose a stall. 
The blond stranger closes the stall door and faces Bruce, who sits on the closed toilet. After a few tugs at the waistband of the black leather pants, he succeeds in pulling them down. “OMfuckingG,” Bruce whispers to himself, “… he really is a god!” He licks the godhead. If his mouth wasn’t full, he’d be smiling as the engorged flesh pushes down his throat. “It must be all those margaritas,” he reasons, “because that doesn’t hurt a bit.” A pun forms in his mind, “Way tequila mood, Brucie boy!”
The deity’s dick swells and lengthens, entirely filling Bruce’s gastrointestinal track. “Wow,” he thinks, “this is the first time I’ve had anal sex from both ends… at the same time… and from the same guy.” He was about to compare himself to a spit-roast, but he passed out before he could visualize it.
Twenty minutes later, Dirk begins to wonder what had become of Higgins and the blond stranger. He glances toward the hallway a couple of times. One time, he sees the stranger walking away from the rest rooms in the company of a tall dark man who looks vaguely familiar. He had a mustache very like Bruce’s, but he was significantly taller—and better built—than Bruce could ever have hoped to be.
Still, the bartender wonders why his friend hasn’t returned. The next time he has a break, he walks back to the men’s room. No sign of Bruce. He looks into the former women’s room and sees nothing. Then he notices that one of the stalls was closed—with no feet showing below the door. He knocks and gets no answer. The door bears several scratches, as if someone had crawled over it. 
He enters the adjoining stall and climbs, first to the seat and then up on the tank. He peers over the divider. The stall is empty. There are, however, some crumpled rags stuffed in the toilet.
Since one of Dirk’s jobs was seeing that bathrooms remained in good working order, he’s annoyed. He takes out a knife and jimmies open the latch. The door swings in, and he gets to see what was clogging the toilet.
It was Bruce. Or, at least, his most superficial manifestation.
For the second time in Doctor Weiglein’s career, a bodiless integument arrives at his lab in a practically empty body bag. For this to have happened once, was noteworthy enough… but to occur twice, in the course of one week, suggested that something very odd was happening in Westchester County. He unfolds the skin of the late Bruce Higgins, just as he had done with Ms. Fletcher’s. Once again, the same absence of muscle, bone, and internal organs. Once again, the same jagged tear. Once again, the same odd mustiness. The only real difference is that this victim was male. Weiglein has to face the fact that both were victims of some form of foul play; no animal—or other natural force of which he was aware—could have caused these results. What, or who, could have caused this was impossible to imagine.
While noting all his observations, for the record, he hears someone enter the lab. Looking up, he recognizes one of his colleagues. “Ahhhhh… Palmes, is it? I apologize… I’m not very good at remembering names… of the living.” This was not news to Doctor Palmer. He’d been working in the ME’s office for three years, and Weiglein had never gotten his name right. 
Not even once.
“I have the result of tests on the sample you gave me a couple of days ago… well, a kind of result.”
“What do you mean, ‘a kind of result’?”
“Let’s just say that it’s the kind of result that leaves more questions than answers.”
“I thought I already had too many questions… but what’s a few more? What did you find on that swab?”
“Something odd. DNA from an interesting Genus… but not from any known species.”
“Species of what?”
“The Genus Sphex, of the family Sphecidae, the digger wasps.”
“Okay. Digger wasps. What’s so interesting about them?
“They have a number of curious features, but what’s interesting in this case is that I have just identified the DNA of a creature that no one has ever seen. Where did you collect that sample?”
“Another interesting case… involving something that no one has ever seen. Until this month. And then seen twice.”
“Curiouser and curiouser, as Alice might have said.”
“Alice who?”
“Never mind. What were your interesting cases, this month?”
“Twice, in recent days, I have received the flayed remains of young people that were devoid of any internal organs, muscle, blood, adipose tissue, bones… nothing. All that was found was their skins. There were no signs of surgical procedures; no cut marks, and no evidence that might indicate that such procedures were post-mortem.”
“Whatever happened to them… happened while they were still alive? That’s horrendous!”
“Indeed. It makes one wonder what sort of person was capable of… that is, could… and would… do something like that to another person.”
“What else did you find when you examined the… remains?”
“Just what I’ve told you… and, of course, the odd smell that led me to swab the interior surfaces of the integument for analysis. Oh… and that the skin of the arms and legs was reversed.”
“The leg skins were where the arm skins were supposed to be… and vice versa?”
“No… that would have been weird. Weirder. I mean those parts of the skins were inside out.”
“You mean like what sometimes happens to sleeves when you take off a shirt?”
“Exactly so! Funny I never made the connection…”
“Was there anything else about the two skins that you haven’t told me?”
“Their only external injury was a single avulsive wound… they appeared to have been roughly ripped down the front… from the inside.”
Weiglein notices a sudden change in Palmer’s expression. What had been mere curiosity now reflected a wide-eyed, raised eyebrow, full-blown “AHA!” moment. “What is it, man?”
“You remember that I said the Sphecidae was an interesting Genus? It just became a lot more interesting…”
“How so?”
“The digger wasps are a special kind of parasitic insects. They insert their eggs inside the bodies of certain other insects. The larvae hatch, then begin consuming their hosts. The young wasps carefully avoid eating any vital organs… until the end of their growth period. They need to keep their food source alive as long as possible. When fully developed, they eat the last bits. The host dies, and the new digger wasp rips its way out of the host’s exoskeleton—in effect. its cocoon—and emerges as an adult, ready to repeat the process.”
“You think that something like this is happening, here, but with humans being parasitized… don’t you?”
“It begins to look that way.”
Over the next few weeks, more empty skins are discovered. One was found in a secluded corner of Depew Park, between some bushes by the lake. Housekeeping staff at a popular no-tell motel—just outside of town, on Rt. 202, near the end of the Bear Mountain Parkway—were horrified to find another. That one was was left dangling over the edge of a double bed whose covers had not even been turned down. Yet another was found beside the railroad tracks on Roa Hook, not far from Annsville Creek. The only other evidence at that site were several empty beer cans.
Doctor Palmer had raised some unsettling questions. Weiglein wondered: “When this sphex-like creature uses human bodies for its own breeding purposes, how many eggs are laid at one time?” It was horrible to imagine a body seething with maggots that all emerge, at once, as adults. Even if only one egg is laid per victim, does the creature live on, after ovipositing, to lay again? If so, the number of breeding insects (for lack of a better word) would still double each time. While the rate of reproduction is slower with single eggs than with multiple eggs, the number of fertile insects still grows exponentially.
Doctor Weiglein had managed to keep details about the bodies—or the mysteriously missing parts of bodies—from coverage in The Evening Star or WLNA, but he was beginning to think that the public might benefit from some sort of warning. Some form of public warning, yes,  but he has no idea how to proceed. It mustn’t be too specific, of course, at least until they knew more about what he was starting to regard as an infestation.
Doctor Weiglein is convinced that 
Should he contact the Health Department? Pest Control? Homeland Security? How can he explain the situation to the authorities, when they have had little or no notice, in the media, about the problem? 
Even if they believe him, what preventative measures might the authorities recommend? Safe sex… whatever that might mean, now? He cannot even say, for certain, that sex (for the human victim) was involved in the attacks… ‘though, based on circumstantial evidence, it seems probable. Abstinence? Parts of the government have tried that—in the past, for other reasons—with an entirely predictable failure rate.
As he expected, the number of bodiless skins increased dramatically over the next two weeks. Remains were found in dozens of places, many by civilians. One skill was found in the shower room of the local YMCA. Another was lying on a picnic blanket In Sprout Brook Park. Still another was draped over the ladder of the float in the middle of Mohegan Lake. The public began to panic, and demand explanations from the authorities. Also, as the doctor foresaw, reliable explanations were not forthcoming. All sorts of frivolous and baseless claims, often contradictory, were issued by various officials. None of them reduced public anxiety in any way. Weiglein feared that he would face increasing pressure, and scrutiny, and he was right again.
Lee Lillja tends bar at the upscale brewpub across from the Peekskill train station. She is eating a free slice of the pub’s signature roasted garlic pizza when she sees the 10:07 from Grand Central arrive. She spots a tall, good-looking man stepping down to the well-lighted platform. She puts down the remaining crust, gives the bottom edge of her tank-top a little tug, and reaches into her purse for a Listerine Breath Strip.
The man she noticed had worked up a thirst during his ride, and discovered—much to his dismay—that the bar car was only available during rush hour. He spots the “No Draft Dodgers” brewpub, just across Railroad Avenue, and hurries over. 
After spending most of the evening chatting across the bar with Lee, he convinvces her to agree to go out when her shift ends. It wasn’t much of a struggle; she was convinced before he walked in the door. At closing time, they walk out to the parking lot. She touches his hand and coos, “Let’s go for drive… so we can talk in private.”
He loves the idea.
They tool up Route 9, and at the end of a long downhill section, turn left to pass over the bridge at Annsville Creek, invisible in the darkness. She swings through the seemingly endless series of tight curves on the Bear Mountain Parkway, finally pulling into a lookout on the left, not far from the Bear Mountain Bridge. 
“At last,” she sighs, “I thought we’d never get here!”
They lean toward each other and kiss. Clearly, the conversational portion of the evening’s activities is over. Looking into his eyes, she reaches down to the front of his pants. His eyes close, and he sighs in anticipatory bliss. She undoes his pants and takes his penis into both hands. It is very warm. She likes the feel of it… almost as much as he does. She bends down to lick the hot flesh, and he groans with pleasure. He sighs again, a little louder, then again, louder still. With her head down, she can’t see the expression change on his face. 
He doesn’t look happy.
With his penis growing in her mouth, she imagines the choking sound she hears is some unusual form of ecstasy. 
It’s not. 
His body shivers, then stiffens. She looks up to see his head thrown back. His mouth agape and his eyes stuck wide open, unblinking. Finding herself suddenly alone with an unexpected and totally unexplainable corpse, she screams in panic.
The couple in the next car turn toward the sound, hastily scramble into some of their clothes, and run to see if they can help. Their eyes bulge at the sight of the partially-clothed dead man. They both look away. Having seen more he wanted, the guy runs back to his own car for a cell phone to call 911.
Deputy Schneider, on his regular route, gets the call from the dispatcher and flips on his siren and all of his lights. He power-slides through the last couple of turns, skidding to a gravelly stop between two parked cars. A small group of people stands next to—but not looking into—one of the cars. 
“This is beginning to become a bad habit,” he muses. He walks to the back window and peers in, half-expecting to see another flayed human hide. The onlookers interrupt him, telling him to look in the front passenger’s seat. 
He’s seen plenty of dead bodies, most of them more than just skin, but this was something else. The victim’s death grimace, combined with his giant erection, made Schneider hesitate in mid-stride. He gets back to business, taking down everyone’s information, then walks back to his car. He gets on the radio to call for the coroner—all in one breath—exhales, and sits back to wait. 
Schneider has a thermos full of coffee, and a bag of chocolate-glazed doughnuts, sitting beside him—but his normal appetite is nowhere in evidence.
Dr. Weiglein was working his way through the night’s supply of flayed former humans when the coroner’s van pulls up to the loading dock. The team wheels a gurney into the lab. It seemed like ages since the doctor had seen a fullbody bag arrive. He looks forward to the return to normal. 
It’s not. 
He unzips the bag and tries to slide the body onto a work table. Something catches in the bag, interrupting his usual practiced procedure. Pulling on the open edges of the bag he sees that a large erect penis is caught in the zipper. “The guy’s lucky to be dead… that would hurt like the dickens if he wasn’t,” he chuckles to himself. There are no other living ears in the lab. He doesn’t need to pretend that constant exposure to the dead hasn’t deadened some of the more compassionate feelings that others deem necessary. He’s not a monster—or at least he doesn’t think so—no matter what they think.
Such thoughts are a distraction, not conducive to maintaining his efficiency as a medical examiner. He sets them aside, and gets back to work. 
The first think he notices, other than the giant phallus itself, is that the member is covered with oozing blisters. It looks like a particularly nasty case of poison ivy. He makes a note of it before continuing the examination. He makes the standard Y-shaped incision, and removes the organs, weighing them and looking for anything out of the ordinary. He reflects that, lately, everything is out of the ordinary. He looks at the man’s face and notes petechial hemorrhaging of the conjunctiva. He finds no sign of abrasions or ligature marks on the man’s neck, so he reaches up from the chest cavity and feels along the trachea. Intense swelling has caused it to be completely closed off. So… the cause of death was asphyxiation. His questions, now, were who or what, in turn, caused it… and how was it done without leaving external visual evidence?
He then recalls, with a shiver of disgust, the blistered priapism. The symptoms, at distinctly separate parts of the body may not be coincidental. What if both were caused by the same thing? “This is beginning to look like acute anaphylactic shock,” he marks in his notes. In hopes of identifying the causative agent—or agents—he takes samples of the liver, blood, and the stomach contents. He also takes a swab of the inside of the mouth, and another of the liquid adhering the tip and sides of the penis. 
“More treats for Doctor Palmes’ lab,” he says out loud, though he is alone in the room.
The next day, Weiglein gets a phone call from a very excited Dr. Palmer. “I ran DNA analysis on the blood sample you sent me.”
“I assumed you would…”
“Where did you collect it?”
“From a cadaver in my lab, why?’
“From a real cadaver… not just another one of those empty skins?”
“Yes. What is so significant about this particular sample, that you want to know about its provenance?”
“Because the DNA is an exact match for the first swab you made… of the interior surface of the first flayed victim.”
“But this sample was not from a victim…”
“Of course! That means we have our unsub, right here in the lab!”
“Not only that… it means that, for the first time, we have an actual specimen of a species we could only imagine before! We are going to be famous! There might even be a Nobel Prize in Medicine for this!”
“Unless, of course, there are no unflayed humans left on the planet to award it.”
“You’ve spent too much time in the company of the dead; you’re developing a very dark outlook. But you’re right… it would definitely be in our interest… as a species, and not just as potential Nobel Laureates… to prevent the annihilation of our kind.”
“How very altruistic of you, Doctor Palmes.”
“Never mind. I need to get back to the rest of the tests you ordered… I was just so excited by the DNA results that everything else was put on hold!”
Palmer rings off, so Weiglein returns to the drawer holding the specimen in question. With renewed interest, he slides the cadaver onto a table and begins a new examination. He first takes a closer look at the genitalia (he has decided to stop referring to it as “a penis”). Slicing it open, he does not find the expected tumescent, blood-engorged tissue. Instead he discovers a nested series of fleshy tubes, something like a telescope, that could be extended to nearly a meter in length. More surprising still is the presence of both testes and ovaries. 
This thing that bears a superficial resemblance to Homo sapiens is anything but human. It represents some form of hermaphroditic species that has acquired the ability to mimic us in order to reproduce itself. 
Weiglein is intellectually stimulated by the specimen on his table, at the same time as he is repulsed by it. For now, he has seen more than enough. He slides the thing back into its stainless-steel drawer, and returns to his desk. He calls “Palmes” to see if any progress has been made on the other samples he’d sent.
Weiglein posted messages about their findings to several online discussions among Medical Examiners. He intended the messages to be warnings… but was shocked at how large the response turned out to be. Other MEs, from around the country reported that they too had seen flayed-skin victims. He was careful not to reveal what they had learned about the creature he was storing in his lab. No one else had encountered anything like what Palmer and Weiglein had found. That was reassuring—as far as their Nobel aspirations—but they wished they could collect additional data to reinforce their theories. 
“It’s always a tricky balance between proprietary secrecy and the advantage of shared data from one’s colleagues,” Palmer commiserated with Weiglein.
“Speaking of which… what else have you learned from the samples?”
“That’s what I was coming to tell you… in person… I didn’t want anyone to overhear a phone conversation. You were right about anaphylaxis…”
“How do you know?”
“His… or her… or its… histamine levels were off the charts. Our friend was strongly allergic to something in the barmaid’s car… something it hadn’t been exposed to earlier… or it would have died sooner.”
“Something he ate?”
“No. There was nothing in the stomach. In fact, the stomach was practically a vestigial organ… it was too tiny to support a body of that size.”
“What supplied its energy needs?”
“I suspect it completed its feeding during the larval stage. It was living off fat reserves built up before it emerged as an adult.”
“If the allergic trigger was not consumed…”
“It was like contact dermatitis, but it caused a much stronger reaction than we see with compounds like poison ivy’s urushiol.”
 “Urushiol was my first thought when I examined its blistered member.”
“It was an excellent hypothesis… but you were thinking of the wrong allergen.”
“Are you going to make me beg for the answer?”
“No…” Palmer laughed, “… it was something that the barmaid had on… or in… her. We would have thought of this a lot sooner if the officer who responded to the 911 call had included Ms. Lillja’s bad breath in his report.”
“Barmaids and cops are often of the same social class… why would he even take note of her halitosis?”
“First of all, that’s just rude, insensitive, and classist… and, second of all, it misses my point.”
“Fair enough. I admit to maintaining a certain amount of distance …metaphorical and physical… between myself and the hoi polloi. But what was your point? Oh… and a point of rhetoric: when you begin a sentence with ‘first of all,’ repeating the ‘of all’ is superfluous and in bad taste.”
“I stand corrected, your grace,” replied Palmer with full-on facetiousness. “The reason I mentioned Ms. Lillja’s breath was because it reeked of garlic.”
“Our tests indicate that the irritant that caused the creature’s massive histamine reaction was allyl methyl sulfide, one of the key components of garlic breath.”
“Very interesting! I wonder why he wasn’t put off by it?”
“Perhaps these creatures can’t perceive it… until it’s too late?”
“If so, we might have discovered their Achilles Heel. We have a way to fight this infestation!”
Palmer shuffles into Weiglein’s lab and drops into one of the two chairs. The ME looks up from his notes and greets him, “Why so glum, Palmes? You’re almost as wan as one of my patients.”
“You know, it’s good that we turned over our findings… most of them… to the authorities… and glad they’re actually doing something about the infestation, but…”
“Let me guess. You’re tired of hearing about vampires?”
“My god… there’s no escaping the subject. Every channel has special coverage… with different talking heads going on and on… and on… about vampires… their history, their legends, the kinds of animals that drink blood… and the movies! Who knew that so many movies have been made about things that want consume us? They’re on all the channels, all the time… the only break we ever get is when they drag out those talking heads for yet another mind-deadening dialogue about you-know-what.”
“It is boring… but the repetition is well-intentioned. If people take heed, the infestation will… eventually… come to an end.” 
“Of course… I know it’s important… but what about all the garlic growers’ associations and their self-serving PSAs?”
“I must agree… there’re only so many times I can bear to hear that vapid jingle, ‘Vampires walk among us… eat some garlic every day!’ Much as I like garlic, I never again want to wake up in the morning thinking that I have to sprinkle garlic powder on my granola.”
“Ughhhh,” Palmer shuddered. Then his eyes closed, and his head tilted; he was clearly revisiting some ancient memory. 
“What is it Dr. Palmes?”
“I’ve been thinking that our current situation seems very familiar….”
“To what? Surely you’ve never experienced anything like this before… none of us have.”
“Not exactly… but, back in the fifties, we were afraid of so many things… things that we couldn’t see, but threatened to destroy us.”
“I’m not sure I understand…”
“Polio, commies, radiation. Every day, we were warned that… at any moment… we could be killed… or worse. Even the movies… like Invasion of the Body Snatchers, suggested that hidden forces were out to get us. For a child of the fifties, real boogiemen were all around us.”
“A lot of that was a mixture of red-scare propaganda and irrational fears of the science that was beyond the control of ordinary people… the creatures in the films were metaphorical communists.”
“I understand that… now… but, as a child, I had a terror of the unknown. I think that’s what seems familiar today.”
“How so?”
“My parents used to take me to drive-in movies… usually in my pajamas. One of the films we saw had Charlton Heston battling army ants, somewhere in South America. Naked Jungle… that was it! It was terrifying. The last scene I remember was of a guy who was supposed to open a floodgate, to wash away the invading ants… supposed to do so… but he passes out drunk, and the ants ate him… right down to his skeleton.”
“You’re older than I thought… a true child of the fifties! Why haven’t you retired yet?”
“That’s a different story… and not relevant. The only reason I mention seeing the movie, now, is that I probably closed my eyes to avoid looking at it… and fell asleep before the ending…”
“It gave me nightmares for years… because I never found out if those unstoppable ants won.”

This story is an excerpt from Ephemera: a short collection of short stories

available as a Kindle book. ©2020 Gary Allen


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