Photo is author’s friend
Len knelt in the corner of an empty room with his hands behind his back.
What’s binding me? Not handcuffs, rope, or tape. Zip ties? Maybe. How the hell did I get here?
He scanned the enclosure — one barred window and a door.
It feels like an oversized jail cell.
A profound sense of helplessness and the perception of impending doom blanketed him like a death shroud.
But what peril? Besides being hogtied, nothing looks like much of a threat.
A dark-reddish liquid seeped from beneath the room’s only door.
Diesel oil? No. I’d smell it.
Flowing freely as water, it covered half the floor before spreading upward, onto the walls.
Impossible. The liquid would have to fill the room first.
The substance closed in on him. Panic replaced fear.
Not liquid. Bugs — millions of tiny ones. And they’re red. Shit! Poisonous?
The teeming throng inundated him and swarmed into his opened mouth, stifling a scream.
The door flew open to bang hard against and dent a large, metal trashcan. Sarah strode across the threshold, carrying a telescoped, silver tube. Long, dirty-blonde hair cascaded from beneath a purple football helmet, and a royal-blue cape flowed behind her like a flag in a gentle breeze.
Pain and weakness drained the very life from Len. His mother’s face appeared, looking twenty years younger; a dog he’d had at the age of seven lapped at his cheek.
This is it!
An instant inferno erupted. Flames danced everywhere at once. Burning bugs sparked and popped in mid-air like miniature fireworks.
Wait! The fuck? — Fire! The tube is a flame thrower!
Len marveled that his shirt and pants were ablaze, yet he felt neither heat nor pain; Sarah beckoned him to approach.
I’m free. The flames must have incinerated the bindings.
Relief poured over him like a waterfall as Len brushed ash from his hair and shoulders before taking a step toward Sarah.
My beautiful, blue-eyed honey saved my life.
Shock replaced amazement when Sarah drew nearer and began to morph.
Her eyes doubled their size and turned fiery red, then her lovely face melted into an oozy green mass before it elongated and took on the shape of an orb. Razor-sharp pincers emerged from the sides of her head, beneath what had been her ears.
She looks like an enormous, gelatinous ant.
Les backed into the corner again and a purplish liquid — poison? — dripped from the needle-sharp tips of the Sarah-monster’s mandibles. The abomination’s eyes quadrupled in size to take on a dark, reddish-orange glow.
The biting bugs swarmed him again, but Sarah The Beast was the greater menace.
The monstrosity grasped his head with a pincer in each ear. Len heard the deafening crack when his skull imploded. An attempt to scream produced nothing but a faint, high-pitched squeak.
“Len! Wake up.” Sarah gripped his shoulder and shook. “It’s only a dream, babe.”
Throwing his arms around her neck, he hugged her tightly to his chest and heaved a massive sigh of relief. He kissed her ear, her cheek. Still half asleep, Len wondered why they were both fully dressed. Mostly, the visions of that horrific dream lingered in his head.
“Oh, my God! What a nightmare. You were a freakin’ monster, babe.” Len backed off to look at her before grasping her upper arms. The last he remembered, they’d been talking after a long day at work. Pulling her close, he buried his face into her bosom, like a young child seeking comfort from its mother.
“Uh-huh,” Sarah grunted in an unrecognizable, low-pitched, gravely voice.
Len held her and arm’s length.
Suddenly, her eyes doubled their size and turned fiery red.