There is a house at the crest of the hill outside of Aberdeen where the pikes of the wrought iron fence are crowned by metal crows. It is said that at midnight, under the light of a full moon, the crows come to life and devour anything that moves. How anyone could witness such an event and live to tell the tale is beyond me, but I know for certain that the stories are true as I’m the welder that made the fence and the work cost me dearly in blood and tears. I’ll be paying that price until the moon rises no more.
The ants collected in a massive whirling ball of legs and antennae, fire spitting out from the center, igniting the underbrush. Ball after ball of the fiery insects scattered flame and confusion, driving the villagers from their shacks straight into the maw of the mutant queen ant. She gorged herself even as the flames rose higher sending a signal of smoke to the other queens: the time has come to feast.
“Why do the squirrels eat our peaches?” The boy twirled the short hair behind his ear.
“Well, they get hungry, so they eat what they can find.” The mother carried a stack of weeds to the compost bin. She stirred the contents of this bin and closed the lid.
“Why don’t the squirrels go to the grocery store like we do?”
“Well, I guess the peach tree is their grocery store. We go to a people store, and squirrels go to a store that better for them.”
“Do we buy people at the people store?” asked the boy.
“Of course we do, then we bring them home and cook them up and eat them,” the mother replied.
“Yay! ‘Cause I’m already hungry!”
The mother smiled and ruffled the boy’s hair.
As the formic acid coursed through his veins, his skin burst into flames of agony; every nerve jolted into an uncontrollable scream of crawling itching overload. The straps on held him in place, restrained him from scratching himself to death, but did nothing to prevent the transmutation from twisting his flesh into a chitinous shell.
At night he runs, following a dream path, a world tucked away in the folds of physical laws and the unrelenting imagination borne of fear, a darkness pursuing. He stumbles, falls, scrambles to his feet. The ground pulls at his every step, binding his arms, restricting his breathing. There is no escape, only delay. The darkness approaches.