The march of the insects.
by Andrew Murphy
forum: The march of the insects.
speculative fiction for the internet generation.

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The march of the insects.


       Harold was shaking in his lab-coat. He had escaped his time-line once he noticed the inexplicable wave of tea cups was encroaching on his mother's lawn. He figured the only way to escape grueling evenings of shoveling porcelain into a skip was trans-dimensional travel. It seemed worth it, too.

       It had been a success, more or less. He had landed on Earth - which was a plus - and still had all his limbs. To top it all, he could not find his mother. However, they were a few differences: it rained every Wednesday, people's names, curiously, were always made of an adverb and a verb and the birds here were unusual. They were unusual not because of their size or any particular increase in ferocity, but because of the volume of their song.

       It was maddening! Morning, noon, tea-time and night - you could hear a bird. Except that one did not so much hear them, as faintly register their song over the crippling migraine they gave you. Consequently, technology on this time-line was less advanced. "These ametures haven't even descovered the atomec bomb," thought Harold (who was dislexic even in his own mind). Harold had always thought that life was just not worth living without the fear that, at any moment, the world could be destroyed six times over. He considered it motivation to just get on and get things done.

       Harold introduced the world to the wonders of nuclear fission. Once that was done, a Cold War started. Suspicion, fear, xenophobia and paranoid reigned; a foreigner could not even sneeze without it being documented and analysed. This was because governments were convinced that if their country sneezed too much then a "cold-gap" would develop though all the time lost - not to mention a "paper-gap" that would be caused through the overuse of Kleenex. After a nuclear catastrophe was narrowly averted, caused by the exact same number of people calling in sick on a Tuesday in every country, Harold thought: "Much bettar. Now I can get something worthwhile done!" and decided it was time to take care of those bloody birds that had been keeping him up every night.

       Harold offered his services to the world's superpowers. Fearing that a "bird-gap" would develop, his expertise was hotly contested over; until Bigrub - the dictator of a little known South American country - had the brilliant idea of kidnapping Harlod and threatening to cut off his eyelids unless he worked for free. Bound to a chair, a knife to his throat, Harold
thought that it was quite a generous offer and vehemently thanked Bigrub for his custom - adding that he was an excellent negotiator and handsome, to boot.

       Under the supervision of armed guards, Harold worked day and night until he developed an antidote to the bird problem. He discovered that the male birds of this time-line were unnaturally virile - and, to be scientific, horny. To release tension, they tried to sing louder than each other in a competition not unlike young human males seeing who can piss the highest up a wall. This is done not to attract a mate - obviously - but to prove superiority and thus earn the right to lay first claim on any potential mates.

       Harold could sympathise, he had gone to an all-boys boarding school. But even more, he wanted revenge, in some small way, against every bastard that had beaten him. His solution was a pressure activated, pheromone emitting bomb, disguised with all the fittings of a fully developed female bird. He was delighted with its effectiveness when, during human trials, a man spent a fortnight in intensive care and was told he could never have children, or pee standing up.

       It was the first day of Harold's "fucking bird bombs" being employed - which is why he was shaking in his lab-coat; he was trying to restrain his excitement. And, of course, failure meant death - so he was also shaking trying to restrain his bowels.

       There was a long pause, filled with bird song; then a thousand simultaneous small explosions. Then silence, actual silence. He had done it!

       Now, Bigrub was a sharp man. He knew that every country in the world would be eager for FBBs - for the "bird-gap" was already opening - so sold them not only to the highest bidder, but to every bidder. Bigrub was a very sharp man. He then bought diplomatic immunity, an island, all the tea in China and a Harem. Bigrub was an exceptionally sharp man.

       It was only a matter of time before every male bird in the world had been detonated. Consequently, there was no new generation of birds either. As a species, they welcomingly became extinct. Not even the bleeding heart animal activists had any sympathy for the annoying buggers.

       What followed was a golden age of prosperity for mankind. The world leaders no longer suffered from chronic lack of sleep and so became considerably less paranoid. The Cold War ended, Utopia was born and, for the first time in any time-line, the world knew true peace. Dissatisfied, Harold left in his trans-dimensional transporter.

       While new leaps were made in science, arts, ethics, philosophy and humanity - a silent, secret enemy planned their domination from the shadows. A race that had been persecuted since before the dawn of time started to rebuild. With cool efficiency and purpose they drew designs against all other forms of life, and they waited. Distracted by all the new sights, sounds and thoughts; no one noticed the extra odd spider here, the extra crop devoured by locust there. Life went on as normal; but in the shadows, burrows, corners, lofts and basements a threat was growing day by day.

       Then, one day, out of every hole, crevasse, dark corner and plug hole came the insects. Freed from the brutal, testosterone driven hunting of their bird masters, the insects saw their chance to take over the world. Nothing could stop them. For every bullet, twenty of them existed, for every bomb - two thousand. Nothing could stop the march of the insects. They ate all the crops, flies infested all the live stock, making their meat inedible. Every water supply was firstly poisoned, then every drain hole stuffed with bodies. Then every tube, exhaust and method of transport completely clogged until it was unusable. The world ground to a halt. During stupid inadequacy, the spiders built webs over every door and cocooned every living thing. In weeks, every living thing was thrall to the insects.

       Every living thing - that is - with the exception of Bigrub, who lived a life of luxury until he died, of natural causes, a very happy man. Turns out Bigrub was an exceptionally sharp man.



copyright 2006 Andrew Murphy.

Andrew Murphy:

I'm currently eighteen, working in GAME in Bracknell and waiting for my UCAS to go through so I can study psychology at Nottingham University; but I'm somewhat contemplating staying on indefinitely in retail as it's an amazing place to meet and greet society's worst.