I is for Insectophobia, The Fear of Insects

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“Hey Stan,” the plump woman seated at the front desk called over her shoulder.  “I got a live one for ya.  200 East Elm.  The lady on the phone’s practically hysterical, so you better get over there right away.”

“All right, Doris,” Stanford Moye responded from the office with a weary sigh.  “I’ll take the new kid with me, show him the ropes.  Did she say what it was?”

“She was screeching like a monkey, Stan,” came the indignant response from the front room.  “I did catch the word basement, and something about a buncha tails, so I’m thinking silverfish.  It’s the right time of year to be seeing those little devils, right?”

“Sure,” Stan replied.  In truth, silverfish weren’t seasonal, but he wasn’t in the mood to get into it with Doris.  She could be a pain in the backside when corrected.  He gathered up his clipboard, phone, and wallet, and headed through the dingy office suite toward the front door.  As he passed his smartly dressed assistant, he noted her disapproving frown–she had commented many times in the past how his uniform had grown shabby over the years–and respectfully asked, “Please call up Trevor, will ya?  Have him meet me over there.”  As she picked up the phone, he trudged out the grubby, glass door to his van.

Trevor’s battered Honda was parked across the street from his destination when Stan arrived.  He pulled into the driveway of the neat, little cottage, parked the vehicle, and made his way to the front door.  Apprehension softly caressed his heart when he discovered the crisp, blue, door slightly ajar.  He hesitated, then pushed the door open wider while calling out “Hello?  Ma’am?  It’s Stanford Moye from Stan’s Pest Control.”

Silence.  The air suddenly felt heavy and still, as if all the world was holding its breath.  Stan shook off his uneasiness and stepped into the house.  “Trevor?  Are you in here?  Hello?  I’m coming in.”

The cottage wasn’t large, and he could clearly see into a majority of the rooms on this level.  Its pleasant, rustic decor did nothing to calm the sense of foreboding now crawling up his spine, and he had to bite his lower lip to stifle his urge to run.  Instead, he walked deeper into the house, stopping abruptly when he saw what could only be the door to the basement.  It was halfway open, and completely coated in silverfish.  The creatures were streaming up out of the basement like a tidal wave of squirming legs, metallic scales, and twitching antennae.

“What the–” The words tumbled out of Stan’s dry mouth only to be cut off when he caught a flash of pink amidst a mass of swirling, silvery, scales lumped together at the threshold.  He took an involuntary step forward to get a better look, and recoiled when he realized the deformed lump was actually a motionless, human hand wearing a glove of insects.

Immobilized by shock, Stan watched in horror as the bugs crawled toward him.  When he could feel them wiggling up his legs beneath his trousers, something within him shattered.  He screamed and spun around to escape the way he had come, but it was too late.  The army of silverfish had blocked the exit with their writhing bodies, and were advancing toward him.

Once they began biting, Stan slapped at his body in a futile attempt to knock them off, but it was no use.  His desperate screams were drowned out as the silverfish swarmed into his ears, nose, and mouth, suffocating him.  His last thoughts as he collapsed to the floor were a litany of regrets.

 

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