Invasion from Below

At first, it was just the weather. Warmer in the sun. Wetter in the winter. You know. Normal stuff. “It’s just a warm winter,” they said. “Watch out. Next year we’ll get a lot of snow!”

Except next year we didn't get a lot of snow.

It was bugs, after that. Hoards of ants started appearing on the sidewalk, immune to the exterminators and building anthills as fast as the city could clean them out. With the ants came mosquitoes and the stuff that ate them. I saw a dragonfly big as a shopping bag, lazily diving through swarms of mosquitoes like a bomber.

They're still pretty, that big. But scary too. I’m glad they eat bugs.

It didn't just happen in the city, either. Farmers reported huge clouds of locusts, bigger than any they ever saw before. Millions of them, who could eat a field down to nothing in minutes. It was worse than being hit by a tornado, they said. At least the tornado left SOMETHING to rebuild.

Funny, but it was the mosquitoes that brought the next phase, and they didn't really get bigger, there were just more of them. We all slept with netting over our beds that summer, when it was too hot to keep the doors closed. We looked forward to winter when they would all die off.

Winter didn't bring respite. It was the warmest on record. Warmer than it should ever have been. The scientists were baffled, then they were scared. “This was unprecedented”, they said. “No one knows why this is happening!”

You know, they always tell you in school how mosquitoes carry disease. Malaria, tengu fever, and worse. It’s not something you’re ever REALLY afraid of unless there’s an outbreak in your area, but I lived far north and it was never a thing for us.

We should have been scared.

Diseases rampaged through humanity, impossible to stop. The bugs were everywhere as people started to die in droves, and that only made things worse, because when they died, the flies swarmed.

Big and biting, they were diseased too and never lived very long. I remember vacuuming them off our window sills while my dad watched the news- Asia was a wasteland because of the population density. They got hit the hardest by the mosquitos, and then the flies. South America too, although they actually knew how to handle the bugs, so they did a little better.

Our third warm winter was when everyone really realized that it wasn't going to stop. We had lots of water, but it was thick with bug larvae. Some places were doing better than others. Food crops were gone- most livestock too, but bugs are okay to eat and we had lots of those.

Humanity is pretty hard to kill, it turns out. We struggled along for a while, as culture changed and people flocked far north where it still got cold in the winter and the bugs weren't so bad. Satellites could see the huge swarms now.  They grew every year, and they were starting to starve too. There was only so long they could go before they ate everything there was to eat.

Problem was, that was only true of the ones that didn't eat other bugs.

By the fifth year in, scientists finally found out what had happened to us. A solar wave hit one of the poles and microwaved the ice. Under the ice- or in it, I never really found out- was huge veins of frozen oxygen. Bugs breed fast, and they change to the atmosphere they live in.

More oxygen. More bugs. Bigger bugs.

Everything that could eat them was doing pretty okay, really. We had so few species left by then that we were almost happy for the frogs and the geckos. Our new pets, keeping the bugs away.

That’s when the Colossus started to appear. They were the REALLY big bugs. We’re talking rhino beetles the size of cars. Dragonflies big enough to ride, if they didn't eat you first. Moths got huge too. They were pretty, for a while. Until we found out the dust from their wings was one more poison to add to the rest.

The Praying Mantis were the worst. They stood about the height of a tall man. Two meters or more usually, and they hunted humans.

That’s how my dad died. He bought me and mom a chance to run. He didn't stand a chance, but it stopped to eat him before it chased us. Mom never recovered. She died of Malaria a few weeks later.

Humanity lives in bunkers now, guarded by huge doors that are backed by freezers. Cold is the only thing that slows the bugs down anymore.

The problem is, they’re evolving again.


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