Lost Souls

A Million Demons

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A Million Demons

by Rick McQuiston

Randy wiped the remains of the beetle off his shoe in disgust. The thick pulp of the bug’s innards coated the tissue so much that he had to use a second one. He didn’t like bugs by his desk, particularly ones that were larger than a penny or had hard, shiny shells that reflected light in distorted ways.

He leaned back in his chair and took a deep breath. The day promised little, other than sporadic instances of mildly important or interesting situations and although he had grown somewhat accustomed to days like these he wanted nothing to do with them. He yearned for change in his life but usually lacked the motivation or energy to create any. So he wound up passing his days firmly within the realms of the ordinary.

The uncomfortable sensation first manifested itself to him while in his apartment one evening watching a movie. Ripley had just finished incinerating the main batch of alien eggs, thus pissing off the alien mother quite badly, when he felt the unsettling feeling on his thigh. At first it was no more than a slight tickle but it quickly increased to a nasty little plodding not unlike a large spider scuttling across one’s leg.

He immediately stood up and dropped his jeans to examine the area. Fully expecting to find some type of insect only added to his surprise when he found nothing. Even his skin was completely unblemished with no trace whatsoever of any punctures or residue from tiny, multi-legged creatures.

Normally Randy Sourre was a level- headed type of guy, one not prone to the anomalies that life would invariably toss into the pot, but this was really weird. He knew he had felt something crawling on his leg.

* * * *

The incessant buzzing was driving him crazy. He rolled over and lifted one eyelid to see what time it was. A groan escaped his lips when he realized it was four-ten a.m. He had to go to work in the morning; he needed sleep!

The noise was starting to increase both in volume and intensity. Where the hell did all the flies come from? His bedroom sounded like a restaurant dumpster. He reached over and flipped the lamp on knocking over a glass of water in the process. To his amazement an empty and silent room was all that were seen.

* * * *

He couldn’t wait to get back to his apartment. The embarrassment that he had suffered through in the parking lot was beyond belief. Several of his neighbors, including the blonde with the hourglass figure and knockout smile, had witnessed him flailing around like some lunatic, attempting to swat imaginary bugs. But he couldn’t help himself; they had been driving him crazy for half the day. He’d even

gotten stung a few times, although when he looked he could find no visible marks. Literally sprinting up to his place was tiring to say the least but it did afford him a short reprieve from the buzzing and stinging. He promptly slammed the door shut behind him.

The apartment did not offer any sanctuary as he had hoped. Within five minutes of being home he was relentlessly pursued by innumerable flying and crawling bugs. They whined and whirled all around his head, they stung his arms and legs, they scuttled back and forth across his back and shoulders. His misery knew no bounds.

Not knowing what to do he eventually collapsed into a helpless and broken heap in the middle of his living room. Mercifully, death came quickly for him, slicing away his breath with one swift stroke. Strangely, it was not brought on by venom but by heart failure. His heart simply could not accept the strain the impossible had placed upon it. It was incapable of grasping the concept that all life, no matter how small or insignificant, possesses a soul to some degree or another. And with a soul comes the possibility of an afterlife.

His last thought as his body stiffened and his breath grew short was that perhaps he should have respected life a little bit more.

* * * *

Damon screwed the lid back onto the large plastic container. His schedule for the day was unusually full so he decided to have an extra cup of coffee to get him through it. Pouring the steaming brown liquid into his mug he thought of his four- year old boy. Little Danny had been sick lately, a nasty cold, so Damon reminded himself to pick up some medicine for him on the way home.

He took a large gulp of coffee and breezed over his agenda. D n’ D Pest Control had two houses to spray for mice, one house had a spider problem and a big factory was infested with cockroaches of all things. His delight at the infusion of income for his business was tempered by his exhaustion and desire to see his little boy. He could only hope that the caffeine would kick in soon.

And then he heard the buzzing around his head and felt the sharp stings.

Copyright Rick McQuiston 2007

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