Darkness fell. The stadium grew quiet. The humans emerged. Night was the only time the humans were safe, because thatís when the bugs went to sleep. And the zombies. The zombies woke much easier than the bugs, but the bugs didnít let the zombies near their nests so the humans stayed near the bugs. The bugs nested in the stadium.
The children played with the collectables and trinkets in the gift shop. The adults went to the cafeteria to find food for their families. The adults werenít worried about the noise; it took specific conditions to wake the bugs: you had to touch one of them and make a lot of noise, and the bugs slept in an alcove outside the stadium. The children sat playing with sports memorabilia while a group of adults stood guard. The adults were armed with everything from shotguns to machine guns.
So the children played in the gift shop. All except Anna-Lucia. She sat away from the other children. Anna-Lucia was different: she understood the bugs. That didnít make them want to infect her any less, it just meant that she knew what the bugs were ďthinking.Ē This ability helped the humans to survive though the city was infected and overrun by bugs, but it also isolated her from the other children. They called her bug-girl, monstress, or demon-girl. The adults never scolded their children even though Kevin begged them to put a stop to the teasing. Anna-Lucia was the only reason those people were still alive. There were about a hundred of them left.
Anna-Lucia pulled the cover off the air vent. She preferred tight dark spaces with stuffy warm air to the open areas that the others liked. Just like a bug. The adults began to spread out across the stadium and take up watch. The children ran through the halls, laughing and running from each other in games of tag and hide-and-seek. Anna-Lucia crawled through the air vents. The children were dirty and smeared with mud and grease and blood.
A corridor that had been used to display the private collections of the owner ran along the outside of the stadium. Despite vaulted ceilings and bay windows, the owner's rare items, now junk, cluttered the corridor. One of the boys ran through the hall avoiding the junk and looking for a place to hide, when he found an artifact lying on the floor: a WWII Luger. He picked it up and looked at the shiny pistol in his hands. A sense of dread came over Anna-Lucia as she watched from her air vent. She shuddered and stopped, her skin crawled, and she felt like she was going to throw up.
The boy turned the Luger over in his hand, examining the shiny metal. He found the clip release. When he pressed the button, the clip slid into his hand. It was loaded with rounds. He slid the clip back in and chambered a round. Out the bay windows he could see the sleeping bugs. He stared for several minutes at the gun in his hand and came to a decision. It was 4:00 AM.
The boy climbed out the window. The laughter was over.† Anna-Lucia wanted to scream as terror filled her mind, but her voice had caught in her throat. The bugs slept very heavy and did not wake easily.
The boy walked up to the nearest bug. They looked like giant cockroaches with multiple legs and hard shells and four eyes. When people were infected they turned into zombies, and the zombies eventually turned into bugs. The more recent the completed transformation the clearer the shell, with the most recent being as clear as bubbled glass. When the bugs slept they curled up and slept with their heads exposed. The boy walked up to the nearest bug.
He had tears welling in his eyes. Tears welled in Anna-Lucia's eyes too. She covered her ears with her hands as the tears streamed down her cheeks and pooled on the bottom of the air vent, her mouth open in a silent scream. The boy placed the gun to the head of a bug and it twitched. A moan escaped Anna-Lucia and floated through the air vent. The boy pulled the trigger and the bugís shell rippled as the bullet destroyed its brain. The bug bumped into another bug. It and three others stirred. The boy vaulted through the window before the bugs could see him.
Anna-Lucia stopped crying. This was the doom that came to Sarnath, and now that doom had come to the stadium. The bugs rose and looked around for the source of the disturbance. Now they would search through the stadium for people, and if they saw anything the whole horde would rise and swarm the stadium. Bugs didnít have good night vision. The boy hid behind a pillar between windows in the shadows as the bugs started sniffing around their fallen comrade. He stood there shaking, waiting for the bugs to find him. Anna-Lucia shook as the shock of what the boy did settled on her. He had just killed so many people.
The bugs started looking through the bay windows but they couldnít see in the shadows, and though one stuck its head in the window close enough that the boy could have touched its eye, it did not see him. The bugs filed in the window and walked into the hall to look throughout the stadium. Anna-Lucia wept. With the bugs in the stadium the boy hopped out the window and ran along the side of the stadium, away from the sleeping bugs, to the front entrance. The bugs stalked the halls, but because of the deep shadows the children and adults saw them and hid without being seen. The adults had heard the gunshot and knew something bad happened. A man and his daughter ran into a side room that had been a guest room, and he hid his daughter in a drawer while he hid in the closet. The street lights from outside the window landed on the closet where the man hid. He had forgotten to close the bedroom door all the way. The stadium was built by a rich man who had also built a mansion to one side of it.
Bugs stalked the hallways. They came to the door and pushed it open; two bugs came in while the others walked on. Anna-Lucia crawled to the end of the vent. The bugs walked around the room, feeling in dark corners and flipping the bed. The man in the closet trembled. A bug stomped to the closet door and felt the handle with a leg. Light spilled onto the man in his hiding spot when the bug opened the closet door. The bug made a low growl as its antennae swept back along its head. Anna-Lucia screamed in the air vent. The bug screeched its war cry. The horde roused. The bug impaled the man and began to eat his flesh. The girl pushed the drawer and rolled out of the dresser. She rose to her feet and ran into the waiting arms of the second bug. The humans turned the lights on and began firing at the bugs.
Anna-Lucia crawled out of the vent as Kevin was running by to find her. She surprised him but he only stopped for a moment as he picked her up and tucked her under his arm. He ran through the halls avoiding gunfire and bugs.
The sky grew lighter and the zombies awoke as the war in the stadium raged. Kevin and Anna-Lucia made it to the front entrance and found twenty other people who had guns and were ready to make for the zombie line. At least there they had a chance. They ran across the parking lot racing in and out of abandoned cars. The zombies noticed them and ran towards them. The survivors in the lot blasted at the oncoming zombies. Suddenly a convoy of vehicles came screaming into the parking lot. They screeched to a halt in the survivorsí path.
Doors opened, ramps dropped, Anna-Lucia felt hope, and men came rushing out to collect the twenty or so survivors and shoot any zombies that got too close. The people climbed into the vehicles, the doors shut and the ramps rose. Anna-Lucia shook with the deaths of eighty or so people that the boy had sacrificed to the bugs so he could have his revenge. The boy stared at Anna-Lucia from across the transport with the dead eyes of someone who had sacrificed 80 people for revenge and knew it.
Read the next story in this series, The Escape