by K Tilley
Winner of the Daily Slice Horror short story contest.
| The creatures started appearing three months ago. There had always been dragonflies in Brooksville, like any small town in the south, insects of all kinds we’re quite common during the summer months. Though these we’re certainly not your average dragonflies. Billy Rickter had seen (and caught) the first one; the day he walked into the local Fire station holding a huge mason jar with a foot long dragonfly should have been seen as a harbinger of things to come but the small town just looked at it as a freak accident of nature. Even though it made the front page of the Brooksville Gazette, the article was read with mild curiosity and any fear associated with the unbelievably large insect came only from the very young members of the town’s population; at least for the first few months that is.
Two months after the first abnormally sized dragonfly (affectionately named Bertha) was found, a second even larger specimen was found, this one was discovered in a crib attempting (and thankfully failing) to devour a small two year old. After this extremely strange (and frankly terrifying), a Center for Disease Control team was deployed to the small southern town, with a small research lab quickly built near the large marsh on the edge of Brooksville. Although this brought a certain sense of relief to the townspeople, the feeling would be very short lived. One quiet, humid Sunday afternoon after an unintelligible 911 call from the lab, all contact was lost with the CDC scientists.
Being the town Sherriff, head of the neighborhood watch, county coroner and one of only two legitimate police officers in the town of Brooksville it was Tom Richard’s duty to head out to the remote lab and investigate. Leaving his deputy in charge of the station, Tom saddled up into his lifted, Jeep Cherokee and gunned it out towards the marsh. Tom had never really planned on going into police work but after his father’s death three years ago he was the obvious choice for sheriff and the rest of the town’s people would not take no for an answer. Over the past few years Tom had actually begun to enjoy his job, not having to deal with anything more serious than the occasional drunk and disorderly or vandalism, he spent most of his days watching soap operas on a small television set in the back of the station. As Tom saw the marsh and the three small lab buildings coming into view in the distance he had no idea what to expect.
Tom killed the engine and quickly hopped out of his truck, cautiously pulling his service revolver from its holster (thinking to himself that this was the first time he’d ever had to do so in the line of duty) and walking towards the main laboratory. Even though it was the middle of the day, the humidity combined with the fumes from the marsh had created a thick, almost impenetrable seeming fog surrounding the complex. As Tom approached the door to the main building he suddenly heard a strange sound coming from inside, a disturbing high pitched buzzing. Taking a deep breath and steadying himself Tom remembered his academy training and gave a solid kick to the lab’s front door, causing it to fly open.
At first Tom could see nothing but fog, but slowly as his eye’s adjusted to the strange atmosphere inside the lab, he took in an unbelievably disturbing sight; seven men and women in CDC uniforms were lying on the ground of the small room, each was being mounted and subsequently eaten from the head down by a gigantic, bear sized, bloated, furiously buzzing dragonfly. Unable to believe what he was witnessing Tom could do nothing but gasp. As soon as his breath exited his lungs every single one of the monstrous creatures in front of him turned to stare at him, mouths dripping with fresh blood. Tom had time for one more horrified gaze before he felt his eyes being torn out of his face by a multitude of proboscises.
Three days later the entire population of Brooksville had been devoured. Two days after this the entire county was torched by a series of US government approved bombing runs. Although Operation RAID caused a certain amount of collateral damage it was considered a complete success. No more reports of abnormally sized insects have been received, at least for now….