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The Hive

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The last few weeks have been pretty rough for me. My wife divorced me out of the blue because she found another lover, which happened to be one of my colleagues, which made my depression reach a whole new type of low like I've never experienced before. We have been together for over 10 years and she still cheated on me with a man I used to call my friend. I still can't believe it now, honestly. I did everything I ever could to support her and love her, tried to fulfill her every wish, and she still decided to treat me like garbage and left me for another man. A man I used to trust and talked about the problems me and her were currently facing, at that. I was just... hurt and betrayed.

Because of this whole mess I became very apathetic, irritated and unfocused at my job, which, as a welder, was a dangerous state to be in. I made more stupid mistakes in 1 week than ever in my entire career; completely forgot to put my helmet on on multiple occasions, randomly dropped parts when I was daydreaming, and I even almost caused a fire once when I accidentally left the flame on in my mental absence. Needless to say that I got fired, understandably. I can't even fault my boss for that one, as much of a jerk as he can be.

Since I lost my only source of income, and needed to support myself in some shape or form, I needed to kick myself and my mental illness in the ass and get another job, logically. It wouldn't be too hard, I told myself.

Luckily, a tiny fastfood restaurant downtown searched for new employees after a lot of them suddenly quit apparently, which was a great chance for me to get back onto my feet. I don't think I need to mention that that job would've paid less money than I would've gotten if I would've tried to get another job as a welder, but in my state, I didn't want to touch a job where I could accidentally harm others if just one little mishap happened, for a long time. The restaurant was not too far away, but I had to take the subway to go to work every time I had a shift, which wasn't too bad, since I've gotten used to it when I always drove to my old workplace. So, one day I decided to give it a short visit and apply for the job.

The application process went fairly well. I instantly hit it off with my new boss, an old man in his 70s. He seemed sort of senile, forgot my name 30 seconds after I have told him, but otherwise really sympathetic and overall a nice person to work with. He even sort of treated me like his own grandson only minutes after the first meeting, which weirded me out at first, but slowly grew on me as sort of soothing, like I was talking to my actual grandpa. That's just the kind of aura he gave off.

He told me that even though the establishment was fairly small, it was also fairly old, having been built in the early 50s. Apparently he wasn't the original owner of the place though, but took over after "he" retired. I didn't know who "he" was, but I assumed he was either an even older man enjoying the evening of his life on the Bahamas, or already dead. Honestly, I didn't care that much at the time to ask for the tiny details, and my boss was way too talkative as is, so I saved those questions for later and let him show me around.

My new colleagues were nice as well, mostly teens applied for a summer job here to make a quick buck or two. They were pretty much like what you'd think people who work at a place like this were like, rather friendly with a lot of patience. The old man was really popular with the kids as well, even helping them with their homework when it was lunch break.

However, I did notice someone who stood out from the crowd. A pale teenage girl with long black hair, bags under her eyes, and a tired, cloudy gaze. When working, all I saw her do was fiddling with her clothes, and biting her nails like she was nervous. I honestly couldn't find out what was wrong with her. I tried talking to her, but whenever I did, she just mumbled something I couldn't understand no matter how closely I listened, and went back to work. She also had this weird, skin-crawling habit of scratching herself all over her body, mostly her neck for some reason. First I thought it was just a bad habit, but on some days she showed up with her whole neck completely covered in red, the skin all irritated. I did try to mention that to her a few more times, told her this habit couldn't be healthy, but she did her usual mumbling routine and went back to ignoring me. Eventually I realized that trying to talk to her was completely in vain, that she was probably just kind of a weirdo or in a bad mental state like me. 

Another colleague of mine told me that she apparently wasn't always like this. She only started behaving this way about two weeks ago at the time, which I found really... odd. I wondered what caused the sudden change, so I tried asking around further, but the other co-workers didn't seem to know much more than that, since they only know her from work. Even the old man didn't seem to know, even though he supposedly was really close with his employees. Seemed like I wasn't the only one who was really worried about this girl.

A few days later though, I messed up my shift schedule, and drove to work when I actually had a nightshift that day. However, when I realized this fact, and was just about to turn back to go back home and ponder over my own stupidity, I saw through the glass window of the backdoor that the pale girl had the morning shift, and was working at the cash register. There weren't any customers yet since it was so early in the morning though, meaning that she was just standing behind the counter, just scratching herself in an agonizing fashion, mumbling the same thing over and over, walking back and forth, restlessly.

I was starting to get really nosy and pressed my ear against the backdoor to eavesdrop. Her mumbling got louder and louder to the point where it gradually evolved into chanting, like a mantra of pain. The words suddenly became clearer as they rang in my ears.

"It itches.... It itches....... Please, make it stop itching......"

She started scratching harder and harder, to the point where her sharp nails finally tore her flesh, leaving her fingernails tainted with a crimson red. She was breathing heavily, hoping for the sweet release that she hoped would overcome her by scarring her flesh violently, but she only became more and more desperate. Her whole body shook, repeating the mantra over and over while her fingers tore deeper into her skin, turning her whole neck into a bloody, pulpy mess. I was in shock when I saw this, I didn't even know how to react to this kind of self-mutilation. I just stood there, listening to the girl's despair-filled pleas, and watching the blood slowly drip down her neck  and onto her uniform, until I finally took action, and tried to grab her to finally stop his mess.

She instantly panicked, releasing her neck and trying to focus on fighting the force that was me holding her tight from behind. Like an escaped mental patient, she was kicking and screaming, being more emotional than I have ever witnessed her being before. The desperate girl tried to hit me with her bloody fists as some sort of last effort; her screams became ear-deafening as she still chanted the same phrase over and over.


Eventually, like I suspected, she became tired, and her screams turned into quiet sobbing. I felt sorry for the girl, having finally snapped from whatever mental torment she has endured for who knows how long, and for the breakdown to be this... bloody and violent. I made sure to immediately call an ambulance to tend to her wound, and they quickly arrived and took her to the hospital.

At that time, the old man has arrived at the restaurant, being alarmed by hearing the ambulance sirens in the distance. He sprinted over to me when I was standing outside, watching the ambulance car drive off into the distance, like his age didn't matter at all in that moment. He frantically asked me what happened, and I told him the whole story. For a moment he went quiet, looking down in a thoughtful manner, as if he was lost in thoughts. Then, a few moments later, he looked up at me once again, smiling weakly, and responded:

"Ah, I see... Thanks sonny, you can go home now. I'll handle this."

"I'll handle this", he said. I couldn't help it, but, I had the feeling like for some reason, he knew something I didn't. Maybe it was just my paranoia, but I couldn't shake off this weird feeling I had. It's not like I suspect that the old man lied to me, he isn't the kind of person who'd do that sort of thing in such a serious situation, but things still felt... odd. Like he was hiding something from me.

After some pondering on my end, I did end up going back home like normal eventually, preparing for my actual nightshift. I was worried about the girl's wellbeing, but I also couldn't just neglect work to make my head hurt by thinking about something I didn't know the answer to. It seemed like the best option was to wait and visit the girl in the hospital when her wounds were fully treated, although the doctors might've put her in a straight jacket or otherwise disable her hands so that she couldn't scratch her neck like that again in the near future. Even though I tried to ignore the odd sensation in the back of my mind, I couldn't stop thinking about the incident the whole day, until I eventually fell asleep from exhaustion.

In the evening, I finally went out for the night shift, packing my uniform and my lunch to prepare for the following night. I went to the usual subway station, at my usual place, waiting for the clock to strike 10, as always. Besides me there didn't seem to be anyone there, which was sort of strange, since usually I had at least 10 people taking the subway alongside me, even on really quiet business days, but I didn't linger on it. I supposed it was just one of those days, the ones where you just take a subway into the smaller part of town, all alone.

The air was really chilly for some unexplainable reason, even though the station wasn't even located outside. Even when I zipped my parka all the way to the top, I was still freezing, like I was loafing around outside on a December noon. It was strange; waiting for the subway, all alone, having a lone chill running down your spine. Even stranger was that the subway seemed to take its time that night, to the point where I repeatedly casted my eyes down to my watch to check if I didn't miss it already. I ended up waiting about half an hour in that eerie atmosphere, beginning to scratch my scalp. The whole station was dark and empty, basked in a somber light, with only me desperately waiting for my train, all alone.

After one whole HOUR of waiting, I had enough. I wasn't taking much more of this, I didn't care that I would've missed work, I didn't care that I probably would've disappointed my boss; I was not going to stay at that creepy station any longer. I honestly couldn't care less at that point, so I was just about to get the hell out of there.

Suddenly, I heard a sound.

The sound of something... crawling?

I quickly turned around to where the sound came from, only to be faced by total darkness. The lights seemed to be broken, keeping about one quarter of the subway shrowded by a black void, or so it felt like.

The cold running down my spine intensified even further, making me more and more paranoid, heightening all my senses. Another cold wind blew into my face, with no indication to where it could have come from. I bit my lip, still not having moved an inch after making my decision to leave, completely stuck in place. The remaining lights in the station flickered, leaving it completely dark for a fraction of a second every now and then. I stayed calm, and tried to head towards the subway exit as soon as possible to just finally get out of there.

Another sound.

Barely audible screeching.

My casual walk to the exit quickly evolved into a faster jog, and all of the sudden I found myself running. I couldn't take this anymore. Just let me go home.

The sounds became louder.

I was running as fast as humanly possible, not stopping for anything in the world. Or that I thought.

I felt a presence behind me. I turned around to see... something in the darkest part of the station, with the occasional spark of light giving away their position.

It wore a thick, multi-layered cloak, as if it had a blanket wrapped around its entire body. It was slightly hunched over, posture completely numb, with its liveless arms hanging about. I couldn't make out its face even when the lights flickered, even when I sternly focused on doing so.

It didn't move a single inch no matter how long I stared at it, it's like it was glued to its position. However, its huge, bumpy silhouette kept shifting in a wave-like motion, like something under its skin kept moving. The creature didn't say a single word, just watching me from afar, as if it was watching out for my every next step. Suddenly, the whole room was filled with a nauseating, foul stench that made me sick to my stomach, quickly spreading across the station like a wildfire. All the sounds I could make out however were heavy breathing and the sound of the gnashing of teeth. It sounded like it was both frustrated and even in pain.

No, there was another sound. Suddenly there was a wet 'fhlop', like something fell on the ground. The sound rang through the whole station, and immediately I frantically tried to see where it came from, looking in every direction.

And then I saw it.

Next to the horrid creature, something... started moving.

A big, wet lump, writhing in its own fluids, looking and sounding like it seeks the relieving embrace of death. I tried to hold back my gag reflex, but ultimately failed as I was forced to swallow the disgusting waste that almost got pushed back up my throat. I couldn't make out what the lump was at this distance, but honestly, I didn't want to find out. 

But then, out of the blue, I also felt a strange, light pressure on my left foot. I swallowed, almost panicking, and I looked down, afraid of what I would see.

It was a gigantuous maggot trying to climb up my leg. It didn't have any feet, but instead pressed itself against my knee, spreading its sticky fluids all over it, hanging onto dear life. Once again I tried to suppress the desire the puke, but this time it didn't seem like I had any control over my own body anymore. I felt sick to my stomach. 

I wiped the vomit off the corners off my mouth, kicked the maggot off my leg and ran, I ran like I have never run before in my entire life. My breathing became irregular and my skin crawled at every step, my whole body feeling like it was about to burst into a thousand pieces. My heart couldn't keep up with pumping enough blood into my body it seemed; I started feeling nauseous, like I would trip and fall at any given moment. I persevered, however, trying not to lose my mind, and sprinting to the exit as fast as I could.

The exit was just in sight, the cold wind again shaking my body. Behind me I only heard one 'fhlop' after the next, sloppy sounds merging with one another, until they became one. I never stopped once to turn around to see what was behind me, all I could hear was wet noises, accompanied by ear-piercing screeching, screams of despair. The stench and the noises got worse and worse, like the creatures were right behind me, ready to tap me on the shoulder. I sped up even more, reaching a velocity that I didn't know I was capable of. 

"It itches."

"Make it stop."

"Kill me."

The screams got even louder. I couldn't stand it anymore. I held my ears shut with the palms of my hands, hoping for them to be stop, but the deafening screams got even louder.

Like they were inside my ears all along.

My skin began to crawl even harder, I had to resist sinking my nails in my skin that very moment, and my mind went blank, only thinking of escaping the hell. Breathing intensified when I seemed to have reached the exit, not stopping when I dashed through the underground tunnel. I needed to get out of there. I wanted to go home.

With every second that passed, the noises gradually became quieter, finally. They seemed to have given up on chasing me, but I still didn't dare to look back. Maybe they were still behind me, but not giving away their presence this time around. The feeling under my skin never vanished. I ended up running straight back to my apartment, for who knows how many kilometers, but I didn't care. My body felt like it was on fire all the way through, but I couldn't risk to get caught by whatever may have been still chasing me.

I couldn't believe what I saw that night. I still can't believe it. At this very moment I am still shaking when trying to memorize this night's events. My flesh, irritated, turning a harsh, reddish tone. No matter how much I try tearing at it, it is all over my body. My arms, my legs, my torso, my head. After a few days of locking myself in my small apartment, my nails have seem to have gotten sharper and sharper in my mind, making it easier to gnawl at my now crimson body, yet the sweet release never comes. I tried cheesegraters, knives, everything, but all they did was destroy it even further, polluting every fiber of my being with my now viscous, worm-ridden substance that was once my blood.  The maggots seeming to grow bigger and bigger the longer and harder I scratched, first pouring out of my bloodstream and continuing to spread over my entire body, sucking me of my essence. I just wanted it to stop.

The worms didn't have a conscience of their own, all they did was relieve me of the fluids pouring out of my torn-up veins. They have no mentality, no alliance; all they seem to live for is to survive off of me. No matter how many I tried to get rid of, they kept coming and coming, like a neverending loop. Even now i can feel them moving underneath my skin. 

No matter what I did and tried, all that was left was me craving for more. More pain so that the feeling would finally stop, an even more intense sensation so the pain would be blurred out. A sensation that even beats the prior ones, so that I can finally think straight again.

I don't think I can go to work ever again.

Not with this itch.

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