Seeing the Stranger Out


[It Began with a Dream]

TW: arachnids, bugs, don’t read if you’re squeamish

The stranger who served as Ahsi’s guest will henceforth be called R. Why? Because it’s his first initial. Aside from his opinions, and grandiose trying-too-hard demeanor, he was wholly unremarkable. Truly.

When Harvey dismissed him so blatantly from dinner, R wandered grumpily towards the entrance hall.

“D*mn sympathizers. Every last one of ‘em.” He grumbled to himself. They deserved his miserable mood, not him. From his perspective, anyway.

“It’s gotta be a house full of ‘em!” He declared, stubbornly kicking a table leg. “I’d bet this Gina is one too.”

Sllk! Sllllllk! Slllk! Slllk! Instinctively, R stopped walking. That was not a pleasant sound. Like a lot of little, metallic legs slipping by in the walls. He couldn’t help but let his eyes dart around. Nothing looked that out of place.

A cockroach scuttled by. Vindictively, R crushed it underfoot. Then he ground his heel into it, pushing it as hard as he could into the tile floor. He scrunched his lips into a pursed snarl, graveling his throat into a minor cord. He couldn’t stand Ekzers.

“D*mn sympathizers.” He repeated, grumbling to himself. He shoved his hands into his pockets, absentmindedly fishing his pinky finger through a hole. The tip of his finger contacted the skin on his leg. He could actually feel the hair there. In the meantime, he stepped into the entrance hall.

“Aah!” He exclaimed in an embarrassingly-high voice. At the exact same moment, he yanked his hands out of his pockets. A wasp was still attached to his pinky finger. A big, red, weltering sting was growing on the tip. Frantically, he started waving his hand around.

“Get off! Go away!” He yelled. The wasp was persistent, maintaining its determined grip. No matter how much he swung his hand around, the wasp just wouldn’t let go. He started stumbling around the room, trying to bang his hand into something.

Clang! He bumped into a wire umbrella stand. Several bugs scuttled away from underneath it: spiders, cockroaches, and ants mostly. It was unnerving how many of them he saw. When he blinked, he thought he saw movement on the steps. And that wasp was still on his finger.

“I need to get out of here.” He mumbled to himself. His adrenaline was surging in his blood. R stumbled for the door, but tripped over his own two feet. When he hit the floor, there was a wolf spider directly in front of his eyes. It wasn’t even two inches away.

The size of his palm, the furry, dark brown arachnid was staring right at him with big, black, beady eyes. It had what looked like two long, furry fangs protruding down from its mouth. As its body seemed to rise up, R caught sight of more wolf spiders behind it. They were running right for him.

“F*ck!” The stranger exclaimed. In an instant, he was on his feet. As he scrambled for the door, something slithered up his leg. He winced in pain when the bites started making contact: on his leg, his neck, his arms, and his hands. The door began to ease itself open. He thought he saw a dark hand on the outside handle.

Thump! He slammed into the floor. The tile was hard, unforgiving. Behind him, he caught sight of an army. The wolf spiders led the charge, climbing onto him with incessant speed. But he was so close! The bugs started coating his legs. Next was his chest and head. He tried waving his arms and kicking his legs, but they only weighed him down. Soon he could barely move.

R caught sight of the bottom of the door. Someone really had opened it. Desperately, he forced his hand through the mass of arachnid bodies. He felt their little hairs itching against his skin. As he pushed his hand through, he felt the firm, yet scuttling legs and torsos. As soon as he grabbed the door, he made the mistake of sighing in relief.

The cockroaches launched the next phase. They invaded his mouth, crawling down his throat. He could feel the antennae and insipid legs swarming into him. In no time, they were choking him. As he struggled to gasp for air, his hands flew to his mouth. He started yanking them out as best he could.

For every cockroach he forced out, another two were already in. It was a losing battle. In the meantime, panic set in. His adrenaline spiraled upwards into a lightheaded, pitiful, almost ghostly burst in his skull. He tilted his head back, his hands flailing. He was slowing down, unable to combat the swarm.

A shadow was in the doorway. He thought it belonged to a woman, the owner of the hand he’d seen on the door handle. When he blinked, the darkness came in around his vision. But he could still see someone there. Inside his stomach, he was cognizant of the cockroach army expanding to push out his gut. His lungs were enflamed, burning on the insides. This woman was his last hope.

Gina. He tried to say her name, but the mass in his throat was too large. When she stepped forward, he got a better view. The light was still behind her, so her face was in shadow, but he was seeing ripples moving along her skin. When she began to lean towards him, he finally figured it out.

She was a golem. A being made entirely of bugs.

The cockroaches began marching up her arm. They joined the worms and ants that made up her fingers, settling in at her knuckles. When more slithered up, they darted into her humble clothes. Slowly, the mass in his belly lessened. He still couldn’t breathe (and the world was growing darker), but at least they were leaving. The weight surrounding him was also lessening.

“You will leave.” Gina thundered like a million gusts of wind. “And you will never come back.”

The stranger tried to nod his head. But then the world went dark. He was out.

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