Author : Matthew Banks

“It’s starting to hurt again,” said Kevin. Myrna stood in the doorway watching him with red-rimmed eyes. She pressed her lips together.

“It’s probably moving around.” Kevin clutched his stomach.

“It’s getting worse! Jesus!” He let out a long, low moan, like a man with the world’s worst indigestion. Myrna just watched him. She reached down to her belt and snapped her holster open, touching the grip of the pistol for reassurance. She kept watching Kevin as he squirmed and lay back on the bed, staring up with watery eyes and holding his belly. Myrna frowned.

“If you want me to…you know…” her fingers touched the pistol again “…just let me know.” Kevin looked over at her and blinked, then clamped his eyes shut and gripped his clenched stomach. The spasm passed after a moment.

“It’s burrowing out, isn’t it?” Myrna didn’t say anything. It wasn’t really a question. Her fingernails tapped the grip. Kevin was now staring at her hand. His eyes dripped with tears, and every few seconds, lines of pain engraved themselves on his face. “Just promise me you’ll get the Bug that did this.” Myrna nodded, then jerked backwards as Kevin screamed and curled into a ball. This time, it didn’t stop, and he started thrashing on the bed, pounding his stomach with his fists and groaning and screaming. Myrna took the pistol out of the holster but didn’t cock it. Kevin yelped and whined like a wounded dog, then uncurled and sobbed quietly. After a moment, he looked up at her. His eyes were glassy and bloodshot. His stomach was starting to bruise and swell. They exchanged knowing expressions.

“Tell me we didn’t do this for nothing,” he whispered. Myrna’s eyes got misty for a moment, and she gripped the pistol tighter.

“We didn’t. The flyboys bombed that hive an hour ago.” Kevin blinked.

“Are you just saying that…” he grunted and clawed at his writhing stomach “…to make me…feel better?” Myrna didn’t say anything. Kevin started groaning again. His body stiffened as he prepared for another wave of pain. Then, all his muscles started to clench. Even so, he still stared at her, blinking wetly. “All right…do it…” His speech dissolved into screams and grunts. Then, Myrna crossed the room, the gun fired, and Kevin lay still and silent. His stomach, though, was still squirming. With her tears now flowing freely, Myrna looked up at the ceiling of the bunker, trying to look through it, to the bombers that should have been there but weren’t. Soon, the new hive would be deep enough that no bombing run could destroy it. Los Angeles, like a dozen cities before it, would have to be evacuated.


Myrna stepped out into the hallway, pausing on the threshold to massage her own aching stomach.

“Tell me we didn’t do this for nothing,” she said to nobody, then pointed the pistol at her temple.


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