The day was hot and humid, but It didn’t notice as It watched the woman wield a flimsy, paddle-tipped wand around the room. A thunderous noise vibrated through the air whenever the weapon made contact with the blinding white surface.
“Damn! I missed that one.” The blooded one muttered under her breath as she hunted for her next victim. She had no need to hunt far; Kin surrounded her.
Like It, they were waking, and upon waking, they were hungry. Instinct led them to their destiny. To follow the Code. The Code was simple: live, feed, breed, die. All Kin adhered to the Code.
It had not yet done Its duty beyond waking.
“It’s not like I don’t have a hundred more important things to do today than chase you tiny-little varmints all over my clean kitchen! Stupid neighbor kids rode their damn bikes through my new daisy bed.” SMACK! “And right after that good rain. They tracked mud all over my driveway.” SMACK! “Laughed at me when I ran them off. Damn parents aren’t any better. Does no good to tell them about their delinquent brats tearing up my yard. No respect! Next time, I’m calling the damn police.”
More Kin arrived from the breeding ground beyond the mesh portal. A small rip in the seam gave easy access to the room. It had arrived not long ago in that manner after waking in the slime-filled pool of life-giving fluid. The shallow depths of the clay receptacle made a perfect spot for breeding. Several dishes sat on the wooden porch, all filled with the fluid of life. It would return to Its beginning to breed another generation of Kin.
“Ah, hell! One got me!”
Her sudden yell brought Its attention back. There was only one which met the criteria for a feed and she possessed a sweet, tangy scent that invited a taste. Yes. That was what It needed: to feed. Yet to feed, It must live. It must live to follow the Code.
“God, I hate summer! Hotter than Hell and you have to peel off the humidity.” she griped as she rubbed her skin.
“Topping the news this evening, the Dallas area can thank the lack of freezing temperatures this past winter and recent torrential rains for the alarming rise of the mosquito population.”
A black box sat on the counter. Inside the box sat two tiny Bloodeds, a male and a female, talking. It did not understand their words, but they had no scent. No blood.
A picture filled the screen. It glanced at a nearby Kin and recognized the picture as one of Its own kind. Fascinating.
The voice of the male droned on with dire warnings of pestilence.
“…linked to several deadly viruses, Dallas County is preparing for an influx of West Nile and Zika cases.”
“You don’t have to tell me. Damn vampires with their tiny, hypodermic needles, biting and sucking my blood and leaving huge bumps all over that itch like the dickens!”
It shuddered in delight at the sight of the red blotch which appeared on her blue-veined hand. One fortunate Kin had tasted the Blooded’s nectar.
In time It would as well.
The Blooded pointed her weapon at the black box. “I need my damn blood! Every stinkin’ drop! And I don’t want it contaminated with freaky little bug germs!”
The Blooded returned to waving the wand as a pendulous glob of crinkled skin swung from under her arm. As she moved her scent rose, circulating through the air. The faster she flapped her arm, the greater the attraction.
“And now your germy little guts are sliming my nice, clean cabinets! Die, dammit! Die!”
It watched her rant and dance around the room. The sweet scent of blood rose enticingly; hunger intensified with every second denied of the siren call.
“Where did all these dang bugs come from?”
“Experts report that these tiny pests breed in stagnant water and advise the public to empty any buckets, pots or other water-containers to minimize the spread of disease.”
“God made a big mistake with these mosquitos. He forgot to give the damn critters a purpose. Except maybe to annoy the living shit out of me. The Good Book says to ‘love them all’.” Her last words were intoned in a sing-song manner as her chest heaved from exertion. “Lord knows I try to be a good Christian but I can’t love bugs. Pastor Johnsson says a person can eat insects. ‘It’s in the Bible’ he says. Who in the hell would want to eat a freakin’ insect? I doubt that little tidbit includes these little pests.”
The woman waved her hand at the box on the counter. “All these nasty bugs just because we had a five-minute winter! Damn grandkids had to stay here on the make-up days. Drove me absolutely insane!”
The uninteresting couple on the screen was gone. In their place, an Ancient crawled up a wall only to be hit by a stream of toxic chemicals. The unassuming Ancient lurched from the molding and dropped to the floor where it laid with six brown legs stiffened into the air.
A disturbing image. One It did not wish to see again.
“They ran inside and outside. Back and forth. Tracking in a bunch of mud. Let the freakin’ bugs come inside.”
It glanced toward the portal where It could see the arrival of more Kin. Excellent, there was safety in numbers.
There was also danger.
The Blooded were monsters.
But monsters smelled delectable. The heavenly scent of sweat beaded her face and chest. Tendrils of gray-streaked hair lay molded to her damp scalp as her destructive efforts pulled strands free of the tight roll positioned high on her head. Her dark-colored shirt and short pants were plastered to her form. Exposed skin on the female’s neck, chest, arms and legs gave ample opportunity for feeding.
She was perfect.
Its hunger peaked but one glance at the once pristine surface proved yet again that it was not safe to feed. The remains of two Kin lay on the white marble.
“All because they got no snow days. What in the hell were they goin’ to do with a damn snow day anyway? Make a stupid three-foot-tall snowman? With mud and dead grass sticking out the sides?” A wheeze percolated from her chest as she spoke.
Her fat-tipped stick never stopped swinging.
“After making a God-awful mess of my yard, then the little darlins want to play some rowdy video game all day.” she continued to mutter to the empty kitchen. “I love those little freaks, but I’m thrilled to send them home so I can re-sterilize my house.”
More Kin smudged the surface. Next to the bodies lay a smear of precious red liquid.
A tremor of excitement filled the air. It had never partaken of the fluid, but understood the importance. This was the ambrosia which sustained life.
“Hah! Die you blood-sucking buggers! Two more down, ninety million to go.” The Blooded grumbled with a grim smirk teasing the corner of her lips. “But there you go again, making a mess of my clean kitchen.”
The hunger was nearly overwhelming, but the Code also dictated It not fall victim to a crazed Blooded. If It were to feed, then Its life would be at risk before Its mission was complete.
Life was short. There might be other blooded ones, but there was no time to locate a safer option.
Ten bodies now gave evidence of the dangers of this meal. Something must be done to stop the rampage.
It emitted a high frequency: a call to arms. Within seconds Kin, young and old, lit on the surfaces nearby while another met an unfortunate fate to the monster and her wand. No matter. More would answer the call.
Within minutes, Kin were all over the place, watching the frantic motions of the target from the safe haven as more numbers gathered.
It considered the scene below. Nothing in the Code gave instruction for this type of event. Impulses from nearby Kin provided similar input. The Code could not be adhered to under these circumstances.
Something must be done.
It sent a signal through the line.
Yes. The Kin were in agreement.
Their bodies continued to tremble until the high-pitched frequency tuned into a single, toneless note. The space between their bodies narrowed until two became one. One-by-one, It waited as Kin combined together and the impulses merged.
“Agh! They’re everywhere!” she cried out as she reached to open the mesh portal. The waving didn’t stop as her other hand swatted near her head. “Go! Get out of here! Leave my house right now!”
Instinct brought more numbers in through the portal. Kin raced to join their bodies with the masses before they could fall victim to the wand which now waved and landed without impunity. Female Kin surrounded It for feeding in prime target areas while the males arranged their bodies to provide greater impact. The assembly gained numbers and strength in spite of the Blooded’s attempted massacre. It was only a matter of time; she would learn from her error.
Three Kin stopped to drink the spilt blood on their way to attach to the forming congregation. The minute feed spurred the growing frenzy, giving sustenance and building the desire. The need.
“All that buzzing is making me crazy!” she cried.
The pack contained thousands of Kin, hundreds of thousands, all with the same intent: live, feed, breed, die. The beat of their wings were no longer silent.
It thought as one. It beat as one. It moved as one.
It was no more.
It was now the Collective.
“God! I can’t stand it anymore! Where is that damn noise coming from?” she shouted as she turned to investigate.
The Collective loomed over the monster. It hovered several feet taller than the Blooded; Its girth was twice the size of hers.
It felt powerful. It was impressive.
Her eyes grew large. Fear made the pupils darken against the exposed whiteness shot with blood. Her scent increased.
The Collective buzzed. The smell of her fear sang through the air.
The Collective moved forward.
The wand dropped from her hand as she ran for the door.
Its wings trembled with contentment. The feed had been everything It anticipated. And more.
“In today’s Health Monitor, Dr. Richard Nobles is here to discuss severe allergic reactions and what to do about them.”
She had tried to run. She had battled valiantly. The Collective was too powerful. She had been overcome.
It had not taken long.
“Common allergic reactions can include sinus symptoms, itching, rashes and hives. The most severe reaction is anaphylaxis.”
The Blooded lay on the floor in stunned silence; her eyes staring toward the ceiling where Kin retreated to digest their meal and observe the monster. Her discarded wand lay several feet from her hand.
“…occurs when the vessels of the body, the veins and airways, constrict and don’t allow any movement of blood or air.”
Red whelps appeared over the visible skin before a violent shade of red flooded the remaining paleness. The crimson spots swelled greater than the surrounding tissue to deform the wrinkled skin. Her hands flapped as her frantic claws swiped across her skin, leaving behind bloody trails, before reaching for her throat.
Newly awoken Kin arrived to partake of an easy meal.
“Medical attention should be sought quickly for an injection of epinephrine. Those with a known history of anaphylaxis keep auto-injectors available in the event of allergen exposure.”
She struggled to rise without success. She tried to call for help, but a strangled rasp emerged from the swollen throat. A heavy pulse filled the room and the heavenly scent faded as blood slowed through sluggish veins. Wheezing breaths transitioned into shallow gasps as air refused to move through tightened passages.
Until they ceased.
“If not treated, anaphylaxis can result in death in as little as a few minutes.”
The Kin were safe.
The day was hot and humid, but It didn’t notice as It watched the swarm of activity below. Upon waking, It sought to fulfill Its destiny.
The mission was no different; to follow the Code. The breeding pools were filled to the brim as more Kin emerged to seek their destiny. Kin roamed the room hunting for a feed. But feeding had become difficult.
For too long, the only offering had been the lump on the floor. Elder Kin told of the lump as a deadly, blooded monster. The fabled wand wielded by the female had served the demise of many Kin. Too many.
Until the Collective.
Ancients scurried over the counters and the talking black box, and crawled over the bulk in the center of the room. Thin trails of excrement remained in their wake. They too were in a rush to find sustenance. Their long antennae tapped the mountainous mass but found the glob unappetizing. The Others had come and left behind their brood to feast on the remains. The younglings were growing rapidly.
Elders spoke of the Collective. Of beating as one, moving as one to subdue the Blooded. They described the glorious taste of her nectar, feeding the masses. With the need satisfied, the Collective dispersed to continue the Code.
Nothing remained to attract Kin. Nothing fresh. Nothing like what had been encrypted to the Collective as the final edict of the Code was fulfilled.
A new Code.
A knock on the door disturbed the quiet din.
It shifted to watch a Blooded enter the room. Intriguing.
“Mom! Oh my God!” she shrieked.
Clear liquid splashed down her pale cheeks as the female screeched for help over a small box in her hand. All the while her nectarous scent rose.
An unfamiliar odor came from the fluid on her face. Not overly appealing but it did not conceal the desired aroma of blood and sweat. The sweet smell spiked as blood pumped frantically through her veins. Her scent enticed and nearly replaced the putrid stench of the Other’s leavings.
A refreshing change.
A wailing drone filled the air. More Blooded filled the room.
Its patience would soon be rewarded.
More sweet blood. The time to feed was near. Anticipation grew.
“Ma’am, can you tell me what happened?” A male Blooded dressed in blue spoke to the hysterical female.
“I don’t know, Officer Simmons.” she sobbed. “I’ve been trying to call her for a couple of days. Mom never leaves the house except to go to the grocery store or to church, so I thought something was wrong. I couldn’t get a hold of her neighbor, so this morning I drove up from San Antonio to check on her. And I found her like this.”
It observed the conversation, aware of hungry Kin gathering nearby, attracted by the aroma and the lust for blood. All waited.
“Does your mother have any medical conditions?”
“None. Just allergies.”
“What kind of allergies?”
“Insect bites mostly. She gets a good-sized whelp when stung, but nothing like this.” The female gestured her hand toward the lump. Her eyes no longer looked toward the remains.
The male in blue spoke into a device. Sweat trickled down his face and into his collar. The sweet scent mixed perfectly with odor of hemoglobin.
It lusted with need.
The male Blooded turned back to the female as he scribbled something onto a small tablet. “I’m allergic as well. One or two are no big deal, but I got eaten alive while fishing one year. Made me sick as a dog. It sure looks like the mosquitos gorged on her. We’ll have to wait and see what the medical examiner says.”
One Kin was close enough to sample the offering. It watched with peaked interest as the Kin landed on the back of the male’s thick neck. A drop of ambrosial nectar slid downward as the sharp proboscis penetrated the Blooded’s taut flesh.
The first to sample the lusciousness.
It twittered with excitement as It witnessed the feed. It could smell the fresh blood.
The Kin lived by the New Code. Now the Code was to live, feed, breed…,
©2017 T. A. Seitz