Kat Mirabile

Wasp Killer Zombie Fungus Apocolypse

AN: Inspired by finding a wasp killed by some kind of fungus while voluneerting in New Zealand

I still remember the first time I saw one of them. It was a warm sunny day, in fact, the first not-rainy day in weeks. My sunlight-elaborated
spirit carried me along the narrow forest track, and the fresh air that filled my lungs with every breath had an earthy, reviving scent to it. A cheerful tune on my lips and all my riches in a small, worn backpack, I made my way to nowhere in particular. I was nought but a tramp, sleeping wherever I found a dry spot, and eating whatever I found on my way. Mostly wild turnips, fabulously seasoned with the wild onions that grew like weeds back then.

Back then, there were many plants. We could actually go outside safely and enjoy the cloudy sky, or the fresh breeze. Oh yes, things were a lot different. I was just living a content vagabond life, wanting to be free from all sorrow and responsibilities. The people nowadays will never know what true freedom means.

What it was that caught my eye I don’t remember. Was it the bushes’ bright yellow blossom, or its sweet scent? Was it the absence of humming and chirping? Or just a general feeling of unease and solicitude? Whatever it was that made me stop my gay stroll, I curse it to this day. I would rather I had died an ignorant fool than lived with this terror.

Curious as I was, I investigated the strange, thorny bush. There were a few of those around, but I had never regarded them as anything special. You already know what I saw; you have seen plenty of them. I was not terrified at first, not even disgusted. Merely my scientific interest had been stimulated by the otherworldly creature clenching a spindly branch. Idle curiosity made me break off the branch and take the abomination with me.

I thought it was dead, and at first, it was. Wasps weren’t something note-worthy back then. They existed and would occasionally sting you if you bothered them. They weren’t appreciated by the general public like the fuzzy honey bees, but tolerated. Even if I was not yet conditioned to fear anything that can fly, I should have been more careful. The thing, I am not sure if I could call it a wasp at this stage, looked gruesome. By the paleness of its body I could tell that it had died some time ago, and yet the wings had not started to decompose. The little insect was firmly clenching one thorn; its hairy legs were completely stiff. But that, of course, was not the most peculiar thing. What was truly revolting was not the small, striped insect itself, but what grew out of it. Stalks. Dozens of brown, bristle-like fungus-stalks. In my ignorant carelessness I did not drop it in disgust, I carried it with me. If I met a scholar or someone with broader knowledge of the forest and its creatures, they could maybe tell me what it was. Obviously, that was not necessary; I figured it out by myself.

That night, I found refuge in a welcoming village inn. The money I made by playing my tin whistle was enough for a meal and I promised to help the innkeeper with weeding the gardens for a bed.

Amongst the other guests there was a little girl with her parents. The family was traveling to visit her grandparents. They were too old to farm their land and relied on their children to help them with their work.

I went to bed late; too worthwhile were the conversations and too good the ale to go to sleep. My pest of a new pet I placed on the closet at the other side of the room, so that I could look at it before falling asleep.

Screams of horror disturbed my idle slumber. I drowsily tried to figure out what was happening. Screaming, so much screaming. And a vicious humming. I jumped out of bed, and ran downstairs as soon as possible. People were running around in the taproom, running from something. I couldn’t make out quite from what. I felt something tugging on my trousers, the little girl from earlier. It was too loud for me to hear what she was saying, but I didn’t need to. I saw her mother lying on the ground, lifelessly. Her father was desperately hitting the air. I knew what to do; I grabbed and ran, as fast as I could. You might think me a coward; that I should have stayed and fought. I didn’t, I abandoned people who showed my kindness to save myself. I am not proud of that, but I don’t regret it. After all, I could save the girl. Maja was her name. The poor thing had just lost everything: Parents, the little savings they had, her future. I had barely owned anything in the first place and I could do without my spare shirt or my tin whistle, but she was all alone. Well apart from me.

I tried to keep her calm and protect her from the agonizing screams of our companions, and so we spent the rest of the night hiding in the bushes.

The sun rose, and the screaming stopped. The humming didn’t. It became louder and louder. It came closer. In the pale light I could make out a little wasp coming towards me. A grossly misshapen wasp with brittles growing out of its body. Could that be the dead one I found? I heard a rustling sound. The innkeeper had managed to flee as well! He was hiding not far from us. He started screaming, and ran away as the wasp approached. That was his last mistake. Faster than any man could run the wasp darted towards him and stung his throat. His face started to swell up then it turned blue. I covered Maja’s eyes; she had seen too much gruesome tragedies. He coughed up blood as he tried to catch one last breath. It was over within minutes. We remained calm, and for some reason the wasp left us alone. Maybe it didn’t see us; maybe it knew that I was the one who brought it to all these people. It was my fault, I realized. Had I just left the monstrosity where it was or crushed it, this tragedy would have never happened. It was my fault. I killed all these people.

What happened next you already know. Maja and I tried to get to the next town as fast as possible, but without money to hire a coach or buy a horse, we could only walk. Every time we found a little village, someone told us a new story about people getting attacked by wasps. The villagers thought these survivors were crazy, so we kept our story to ourselves. More and more people found seemingly dead wasps and brought them home for examination. Usually, they didn’t live to see the next day. I heard one boy bragging about his curious find: a strange, bristly wasp that he now kept hidden in his parents’ cellar, and maybe managed to save his life by burning it. To this day, fire is the most effective weapon. That’s why we have all these torches. Helping him didn’t do us any good. While he was yelling at me for destroying his discovery, a swarm of wasps attacked the village. I had sent Maja to the market to try and beg for some bread earlier. She was stung. I couldn’t save her. The boy and I only survived because we were in the tightly sealed wine vault. That’s where I got the idea of building this underground bunker. I built it shortly after losing my last companion, and tried to bring as many people in here as possible. We have supplies, we get by. For the most part, we are save. I don’t know how long we have to stay in here. When we send up scouts they never make it back down. We have to be patient. We might be the only ones left.

I still remember the first time I saw one of them. It was a warm sunny day, in fact, the first not-rainy day in weeks. My sunlight-elaborated spirit carried me along the narrow forest track, and the fresh air that filled my lungs with every breath had an earthy, reviving scent to it. A cheerful tune on my lips and all my riches in a small, worn backpack, I made my way to nowhere in particular. I was nought but a tramp, sleeping wherever I found a dry spot, and eating whatever I found on my way. Mostly wild turnips, fabulously seasoned with the wild onions that grew like weeds back then.

Back then, there were many plants. We could actually go outside safely and enjoy the cloudy sky, or the fresh breeze. Oh yes, things were a lot different. I was just living a content vagabond life, wanting to be free from all sorrow and responsibilities. The people nowadays will never know what true freedom means.

What it was that caught my eye I don’t remember. Was it the bushes’ bright yellow blossom, or its sweet scent? Was it the absence of humming and chirping? Or just a general feeling of unease and solicitude? Whatever it was that made me stop my gay stroll, I curse it to this day. I would rather I had died an ignorant fool than lived with this terror.

Curious as I was, I investigated the strange, thorny bush. There were a few of those around, but I had never regarded them as anything special. You already know what I saw; you have seen plenty of them. I was not terrified at first, not even disgusted. Merely my scientific interest had been stimulated by the otherworldly creature clenching a spindly branch. Idle curiosity made me break off the branch and take the abomination with me.

I thought it was dead, and at first, it was. Wasps weren’t something note-worthy back then. They existed and would occasionally sting you if you bothered them. They weren’t appreciated by the general public like the fuzzy honey bees, but tolerated. Even if I was not yet conditioned to fear anything that can fly, I should have been more careful. The thing, I am not sure if I could call it a wasp at this stage, looked gruesome. By the paleness of its body I could tell that it had died some time ago, and yet the wings had not started to decompose. The little insect was firmly clenching one thorn; its hairy legs were completely stiff. But that, of course, was not the most peculiar thing. What was truly revolting was not the small, striped insect itself, but what grew out of it. Stalks. Dozens of brown, bristle-like fungus-stalks. In my ignorant carelessness I did not drop it in disgust, I carried it with me. If I met a scholar or someone with broader knowledge of the forest and its creatures, they could maybe tell me what it was. Obviously, that was not necessary; I figured it out by myself.

That night, I found refuge in a welcoming village inn. The money I made by playing my tin whistle was enough for a meal and I promised to help the innkeeper with weeding the gardens for a bed.

Amongst the other guests there was a little girl with her parents. The family was traveling to visit her grandparents. They were too old to farm their land and relied on their children to help them with their work.

I went to bed late; too worthwhile were the conversations and too good the ale to go to sleep. My pest of a new pet I placed on the closet at the other side of the room, so that I could look at it before falling asleep.

Screams of horror disturbed my idle slumber. I drowsily tried to figure out what was happening. Screaming, so much screaming. And a vicious humming. I jumped out of bed, and ran downstairs as soon as possible. People were running around in the taproom, running from something. I couldn’t make out quite from what. I felt something tugging on my trousers, the little girl from earlier. It was too loud for me to hear what she was saying, but I didn’t need to. I saw her mother lying on the ground, lifelessly. Her father was desperately hitting the air. I knew what to do; I grabbed and ran, as fast as I could. You might think me a coward; that I should have stayed and fought. I didn’t, I abandoned people who showed my kindness to save myself. I am not proud of that, but I don’t regret it. After all, I could save the girl. Maja was her name. The poor thing had just lost everything: Parents, the little savings they had, her future. I had barely owned anything in the first place and I could do without my spare shirt or my tin whistle, but she was all alone. Well apart from me.

I tried to keep her calm and protect her from the agonizing screams of our companions, and so we spent the rest of the night hiding in the bushes.

The sun rose, and the screaming stopped. The humming didn’t. It became louder and louder. It came closer. In the pale light I could make out a little wasp coming towards me. A grossly misshapen wasp with brittles growing out of its body. Could that be the dead one I found? I heard a rustling sound. The innkeeper had managed to flee as well! He was hiding not far from us. He started screaming, and ran away as the wasp approached. That was his last mistake. Faster than any man could run the wasp darted towards him and stung his throat. His face started to swell up then it turned blue. I covered Maja’s eyes; she had seen too much gruesome tragedies. He coughed up blood as he tried to catch one last breath. It was over within minutes. We remained calm, and for some reason the wasp left us alone. Maybe it didn’t see us; maybe it knew that I was the one who brought it to all these people. It was my fault, I realized. Had I just left the monstrosity where it was or crushed it, this tragedy would have never happened. It was my fault. I killed all these people.

What happened next you already know. Maja and I tried to get to the next town as fast as possible, but without money to hire a coach or buy a horse, we could only walk. Every time we found a little village, someone told us a new story about people getting attacked by wasps. The villagers thought these survivors were crazy, so we kept our story to ourselves. More and more people found seemingly dead wasps and brought them home for examination. Usually, they didn’t live to see the next day. I heard one boy bragging about his curious find: a strange, bristly wasp that he now kept hidden in his parents’ cellar, and maybe managed to save his life by burning it. To this day, fire is the most effective weapon. That’s why we have all these torches. Helping him didn’t do us any good. While he was yelling at me for destroying his discovery, a swarm of wasps attacked the village. I had sent Maja to the market to try and beg for some bread earlier. She was stung. I couldn’t save her. The boy and I only survived because we were in the tightly sealed wine vault. That’s where I got the idea of building this underground bunker. I built it shortly after losing my last companion, and tried to bring as many people in here as possible. We have supplies, we get by. For the most part, we are save. I don’t know how long we have to stay in here. When we send up scouts they never make it back down. We have to be patient. We might be the only ones left.

 

All rights belong to its author. It was published on e-Stories.org by demand of Kat Mirabile.
Published on e-Stories.org on 11.03.2017.

 

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