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The Woods of Canada

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Winter trees, Romick Hill, in a clear blue sky, Christmas, Anchorage, Alaska, USA

I woke up laying in my bed, still completely made from the night before, save for the imprint I made in it laying on top of the covers. "It's freezing," I thought to myself, as I pulled a thick jacket over my stiff and mildly sore frame.

I walked out of my back door to the fire pit and got a fire roaring pretty fast with some left over matches and kindling, and threw on some coffee. I went back inside to wash my face and freshen up. After that, I felt much better, so I took my cup of coffee, put on some shoes, and walked into the thin, wintery forest that surrounded my house. I was doing my daily rounds to check my snare traps and make sure no uninvited guests were wrecking my property, when I caught a strange scent. It smelled like a cross between ozone and burning meat.

I wandered around for a long time, but ultimately found nothing, so I turned back, my snares having caught nothing, and started to wander home. Several times along the way, I could have sworn I heard the faint sound of hundreds of beetles' carapaces scraping and sliding over one another, a very alien sound that I could best describe as spine tingling. By this point, I had my hand on the grip of the ten-inch buck knife I carried everywhere on my hip, seriously thinking something was wrong. Before my investigation into this new matter could get very far, however, thunder cracked the sky, turned what had been a fresh morning into a roaring downpour and what would have been a day otherwise spent hunting and fishing into a dreary, dark-as-night, do-nothing day.

I sat in a rocking chair, started a fire in my fireplace. And, not feeling totally assured that everything was exactly normal, I had my .357 magnum in my hand that was loosely hanging off the armrest of the chair. My finger was near the trigger, not quite on it, but close. Every so often, I'd stand up and check my windows. Visibility was terrible, but the few times I looked out I could have sworn I saw what looked like a raggedy, tattered, black sheet fly past. What I was absolutely sure of, was that every light was staying lit in that house until the storm blew over and I could put a bullet in whatever was causing my troubles.

Stirring me out of my thoughts and making me grip my gun tighter, though, were three loud, forceful knocks on my door. I opened up the door to see my neighbor from about a half a kilometer down the dirt road. We had never actually talked besides the first day he had moved in. He had told me his power went out, and asked if he could come in and stay here until the storm blew over. Warning him that I didn't have power to begin with, he shrugged and said that the company would be nice. We sat, we ate, we drank and I felt reasonably more secure having someone there to weather the storm with. He helped me patch a leak I found in my room and seemed to be an okay guy. I told him what was happening and, rather than flat out disbelieving me or expressing shock, he frowned.

We got to talking, and apparently similar sounds had been occurring at his place, although much more frequently. He seemed a little on edge, now that I thought of it, since he showed up. I was just about to suggest (falsely) that the storm was weakening and perhaps he should go home, when a cold, forceful wall of air came through every crack in my house, blowing out the fire and all the light it provided. Running quickly over, I tried to light it, but it wouldn't catch. I ran around the house looking for candles, without luck. And then I stopped moving for a second, and came to a realization.

It was dead silent.

No storm, no panicked breathing from my neighbor, just my own heartbeat.

Pulling out the pistol I had stored in my belt by then, I did a quick check of every room in my house. The neighbor was nowhere to be found. Hearing a faint scraping, however, I slowly walked over to the closet, finger on the trigger the whole time, and pulled it open as fast as I could.

My neighbour had had his throat slit clean open by something, or someone. My heart raced as I heard the sound again of scraping, clicking, beetle shells sliding over each other. Beetle shells?

I looked down at his face again... only there was no face... just two wide holes where his eyes had been, with beetle larvae inside. Hundreds of beetles were trying to force their way out of his horribly disfigured mouth, all about the size of a bottle cap, it appeared they had been taking residence inside of him for months. I noticed strange lumps running up and down his exposed skin and knew what it had to be.

I went to grab him, to drag him into a better light so I could get a better look, when a giant pincer came out of his mouth and stabbed me in my hand. The barbed pincer had nowhere to go but deeper and I knew I couldn't get it out by pulling it, so I did the only sensible thing; I dropped my gun, pulled out a knife and cut it off, pulling it out the other side of my hand. Dropping the gun proved to be a grave mistake though, as what happened next was a flurry of movement and would be extremely confusing to the average onlooker; a giant monstrosity resembling the lovechild of a scorpion and a scarab beetle burst forth from his chest, his bones apparently having been liquified. I stood in shock as it pushed forth into the world.

Thinking fast, I went for my gun, but it had one of its black, shiny claws wrapped around my arm and crushing it before I could get there, which I responded to by chopping away with not much success at its monstrous crab-like arm. Realizing if I didn't get my arm out soon my bones would be pulverized, I flipped the knife around into a backwards grip and stabbed the freak show bastard in its compound eye, causing it to audibly screech, a horrible sound that sounded like a combination of an out of tune violin and nails on a chalkboard. It let go, though, and that gave me the respite I needed to grab a shotgun off my mantelpiece, load it and blow the abomination's head section clean off the rest of it. Satisfied that it was dead, I quickly picked it up and brought it out to my shed.

Opening the door, I looked inside, disgusted. Dozens of fresh bodies with slit throats and shotgun blasts to their torso, eyes missing. How had this goddamned bug used a shotgun? Oh well. I hefted the corpse of the bug, threw it into the shed. I went inside and sat down on my nicely made bed. "I've had a long day," I thought.

After taking off my jacket and realizing just how tired I was, I didn't even bother to get comfy, just laid there and allowed myself to fall asleep on top of the blankets.

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