THE HORROR OF THE FLY PEOPLE by Neal Privett

 

Janice Kent sat in the living room and listened intently to her father mixing chemicals in his study, which doubled as a laboratory. Glass jars and test tubes clinked together and fizzled down the hall as she sat there. The young woman did not claim to know much about her father’s work. All she knew was that he was engaged in some top-secret assignment from the military. Her father, Dr. Simon Kent, made sure to keep all vestiges of his work hidden from his only daughter. Everything remained constantly locked behind the big wooden door of the study. And that is the way the good doctor wanted it.

 

“What you don’t know can’t hurt you, Janice,” her father always said when she enquired as to the nature of his never-ending experimentation. Her pressing always seemed to make the soft spoken, middle aged scientist nervous. He acted as if he feared some sort of reprisal from some unknown enemy. Perhaps it was the government. Maybe the FBI would descend upon the house if his secrets were somehow divulged. So Janice stopped asking. But that didn’t mean she stopped being curious. There was something strange going on in that laboratory... something inexplicable behind that door. Her father was doing something potentially dangerous for the federal government. Something big. And she would find out what it was.

 

The loud roar of a motorcycle ripped Janice from her deep reverie. She glanced out the front window to see her boyfriend roll up on his Indian. Chuck Peterson stopped in front of her house and switched off the engine, pausing to fish inside his leather jacket until he found a pack of smokes. He pulled a cig out of the pack with his teeth and lit up with his flaring Zippo, peering from behind his sunglasses at the window shades being pulled down ceremoniously in unison on both sides of Janice’s street.

 

Janice watched from her window and laughed. She knew what those silly fools were thinking. What’s a dirty greaser doing in front of the house belonging to the most prominent scientist in California? What kind of woman was his daughter anyway?

 

Chuck was trouble. He was a hell-bent youth with no direction and no future, or at least that’s what they said. The neighbours. The townsfolk. The 9 to 5, church on Sunday, family automobile-kind of people who never dared to think beyond their neatly manicured front lawns. It was the modern age, atomic and fast. This was 1958, not 1858. But that didn’t seem to matter to most people.

 

Janice was enrolled in college, had a clear path mapped out to success and happiness. But she loved Chuck. Her rebel. Her rock and roll grease-monkey. All he wanted to do was smoke cigs, listen to the jukebox, and work on his motorcycle. He said that he wanted to marry her. But she knew better than to think that her father would ever give his consent. They could elope, but that was not the way Janice wanted to do things.

 

Chuck oozed from his bike and strolled up to the house, winking at the old lady next door who watched him from her front window. The elderly spy studied him with all the tenacity of an offended cat... ready to pounce and draw blood. He sucked the last drag from the cigarette and flipped it into her yard, where it lay smouldering.

 

Janice met him out on the front porch and threw her soft arms around him. “Hi, baby,” she purred in that crazy love voice he really dug. Chuck’s lips tasted like axle grease and tobacco, stale coffee, broken dreams, and highway dust. And Janice loved it. She sucked it all in with her tongue and sighed as her heart quivered deep in her breast and their bodies melted together like they were made of molasses, or something sweeter.

 

Suddenly a black automobile pulled up behind Chuck’s Indian. Two serious men in suits and one in military uniform bounced from the automobile, their eyes hidden behind pilot sunglasses. They raced up the steps and passed the two lovers with no acknowledgement of their presence. They rang the doorbell, then let themselves inside the house without waiting for an invitation.

 

“Well, how do you like that,” Janice muttered.

 

Chuck pushed her back and studied her closely. “What’s goin’ on, baby?”

 

Janice shrugged and opened the front door to listen in. Before she could react, the two men in suits stormed back out, almost knocking her over. This time they carried a canister with them. They moved quickly down the front steps and melted into the car as if they were a physical part of it. Then they pulled away and vanished down the street.

 

Janice stood there, completely mystified. Her father stepped out onto the porch and took one look at Chuck before he frowned. “Oh... hello, Charles,” he said dourly.

 

“Hello... Doctor Kent,” Chuck smiled, exposing his yellowed teeth.

 

Kent turned to the girl. “I have business this afternoon, Janice.”

 

“What’s going on, Dad? Who were those goons?”

 

“Government men, dear. Nothing to worry about. I am to meet with them later. We are going to perform an experiment, and if all goes well... we won’t have to worry about money ever again.”

 

Chuck grinned, in his irritating way of feigning innocence, as the scientist turned to glare at him. “Young man... I would appreciate your not appearing at my residence looking like a relic from the La Brea tar pit.”

 

“Yes, sir.” Chuck was still grinning sardonically.

 

Dr. Kent hugged his daughter and vanished back inside. Janice shook her head sadly. “There goes diligence and dedication. Back to work in the lab again. I won’t see him for two more days. I just hope he remembers to eat.” She thought for a moment, then punched Chuck in the arm. “You know, Dad’s right. It is about time for an oil change and a bath, love,” Janice laughed.

 

 

 

Dr. Simon Kent chose a subterranean laboratory, far below the university science department for his official unveiling. The dedicated scientist and his potential sponsors met in a mostly unused lab where old equipment was temporarily stored.

 

It was late evening. Classes were over for the day and the only body roaming the quiet halls was old Mr. Fudderman, the night watchman; exceedingly ancient and faithful to his duties. Dr. Kent had the necessary equipment moved down there by student workers who were well paid, so he did not worry about their loose lips around campus. Even if they did talk, he could pass this secret demonstration off as a departmental meeting regarding government funds. So Kent was not worried. About anything... least of all his experiment.

 

The government agents, the military attaches, and the money men took the elevator down three floors underground to witness the end result of a whole year of experimentation, failures, and more experimentation. They came to see what government dollars would buy.

 

The elevator door opened. Kent led the solemn, business-like congregation down the hall, to the darkened lab: where science was about to leave the realm of normal possibilities and enter the far-flung realm of the fantastic.

 

Kent flipped the switch and light infiltrated every corner of the lab, but the atmosphere still seemed dim and gloomy. The scientist walked over to a table and stopped in front of a lone petri dish. He reached into his lab coat and removed a syringe, holding it up to the light. The liquid inside was glowing, a chartreuse green.

 

“This is what you are paying for, General,” Kent said with a confident smile.

 

General Ronald Douglas nodded. “Excellent... excellent, Doctor. Let’s see the formula work.”

 

Kent was impressed at the who’s who list of very important men that now stood before him. General Douglas of the U.S. Marine Corps. Captain James Riley of the United States Army. Doctors Silas Marney and Fritz Weinerhorne. Frank Scott of the Federal Bureau of Investigation. All of them were there to see the results of Kent’s hard work. All of them waited impatiently, their hearts beating frantically in their highly decorated chests. “Gentlemen, this is the product of over fifteen hard months of losing myself in the lab... of experimenting... of unmentionable failures... and finally, the moment of triumph... as you will see momentarily.”

 

“If this formula does what you say it will,” the General said. “This will be the day that Fascism dies in the world.”

 

“It works,” Kent said. “I used the formula day before yesterday.”

 

The General almost jumped out of his uniform. “You did? What was the result?”

 

Kent removed a vial from his coat. A fly buzzed fearfully inside. “See for yourself.”

 

The scientist squirted the green liquid into the petri dish and ceremoniously held the vial over it. The strange liquid bubbled in anticipation of the coming sacrifice.

 

“My God,” the General said. “The formula is... alive!”

 

A weird light appeared in Dr. Kent’s eyes. “Witness, gentlemen... the birth of a fly man!” He pulled the cork from the vial and shook the fly over the petri dish. The frightened insect plunged into the green liquid and sank. The formula accepted it hungrily and began to bubble and fizz.

 

“Now watch,” Kent said defiantly.

 

The petri dish began to shake violently as the contents flowed over the sides and covered the lab table in quivering green foam. The audience shook with stunned disbelief as a form appeared amid the bubbling liquid... a form that grew larger and larger by the second. It writhed and churned in agony and doubled, then tripled, in size. It continued to grow and grow... larger and larger before their very eyes. Whatever it was, it began to buzz and moan in a human-like voice that eerily resembled the cries of a new-born baby, much to the horror of the general and the others.

 

“What... in God’s holy name... ?” the Captain moaned.

 

“This has nothing to do with God,” Kent said triumphantly. “We are now beyond the pale of exact science, gentlemen! I give you... the fly man... the world’s first indestructible soldier. The saviour of democracy around the globe!”

 

All of a sudden the table splintered beneath the weight of the thing. It rose, hunched over... with slavering jaws that dripped foam. It loomed above the men on thin, tube-like legs; a giant killer fly... but it was anthropomorphic. Insect... yet man. The eyes were huge and round, great bulbous receptacles of light and image that sent violent chills up and down every spine in the room. Except Kent’s.

 

“I created one of them day before yesterday, in an abandoned warehouse on the edge of town. I got the same results,” Kent said.

 

The General moved close to Kent, never pulling his eyes from the weird beast standing before them, a good head taller than the tallest man in the room. “What... what did you do with it?”

 

“I eradicated it,” Kent said. “I only wanted to make sure that the formula worked before I presented it to you gentlemen today.”

 

The thing lifted its head and roared... and every man in the lab jumped back. The beast’s face began with the eyes and ended with savage mandibles capable of horrible rending and tearing. It raised its hands... appendages tipped with razor sharp claws. The onlookers gasped as it sliced the air.

 

“Eyes that can see a solid mile away,” Kent said proudly. “Claws that can cut through the strongest metal. Speed that makes a cheetah seem like a turtle. And you know the best part?”

 

The General spoke, his eyes locked in horror at the menacing thing standing tall and unfettered before him. “What, Dr. Kent... what’s the best part?”

 

“Acidic saliva,” Kent laughed.

 

The beast spat. Its foamy spittle landed on the face of the General and bubbled. The lab blew apart into pure chaos. The General clawed at his face and wailed in extreme shock and agony. The foam clung to the man’s face like glue. Great pools of bubbly gore formed on the floor beneath his well shined shoes.

 

The General clutched at his face and fell, moaning and writhing in a pool of blood as the life oozed out of him. The others did not stay to see the finale. The hall was clogged with the mad rush of men, their brains raging white hot with unbridled fear. They raced to the elevator and the Captain began pounding on the button, but the bell merely rang. The door did not open.

 

“My God! Hurry!”

 

“It won’t open... we’re trapped down here... ”

 

There was a commotion and the beast exploded out of the laboratory. It lunged down the hall... its bone thin, barbed insect legs propelling it forward at sixty miles an hour. The fly-creature was on top of the panic-stricken men before they could react. The beast flung two of them against the wall, cracking their skulls. The bodies fell to the floor with a sickening thud and lay there in motionless heaps. Then the fly-creature grabbed the Captain and pulled him close to its mouth. It ripped open his throat with the jagged mandibles and from out of its bowels came a nauseating foam that flowed from into the neck wound of the Captain. The light left the Captain’s eyes as his torso began to convulse and expand from the effects of the exchanged bodily fluid. Suddenly, his sides and chest exploded and reddish, well digested flesh fell to the floor, ready to eat.

 

The fly-creature feasted.

 

The remaining scientist and officially the last man standing, Weinerhorne, backed up to the cold wall and slowly slid to the floor, blubbering and crying in German. The slurping sounds from the fly’s feast sent the doctor into a cataleptic state. All the man could do was stare off into space and mumble to himself.

 

Kent emerged from the lab down the hall. “I am very sorry, doctor... for all of this. I discovered the other day... to my chagrin, I assure you... that it would be more profitable to me to keep this formula for myself and sell it to the highest bidder, rather than fall prey to misguided notions of patriotism and hand over my hard work for a mere pittance.”

 

The brain-dead zombie before him nodded absentmindedly.

 

Kent laughed. He reached down and patted Weinerhorne’s head. “Good boy.” He turned to the fly. “Finish him and come with me.”

 

Blood spurted from the scientist’s head and splattered on the wall as the creature crushed it in his mandibles. “The world awaits,” Kent mused.

 

The elevator door finally opened.

 

 

 

 

On the way out of the university science building, Kent made a long-distance call to person or persons unknown. Then he led his creation away into the night. They pushed through the woods behind the college and emerged on the main street that led through the heart of town. Clinging to the shadows and taking advantage of the lateness of the hour, Kent and his creation strolled right into the business district and stopped in front of the jewellery store.

 

Man and monster stood before the window. Kent smiled at the diamonds and pearls on display. The fly-creature growled, his great armoured chest heaving... rising and falling with every monstrous breath. “I created you... you will serve me,” Kent said. “Bring me those diamonds.”

 

The creature groaned and ripped into the door, hurling wood and glass into the air behind it. There was a great crash and the alarm sounded. A moment later the night was filled with sirens. But rather than run, Kent laughed and waited until his beast emerged from the shattered storefront with two clawfuls of diamonds and stringed pearls that dangled and gleamed like beacons in the darkness.

 

As if on cue, three patrol cars came to a screeching halt in front of Kent and the creature. The officers emerged, with guns drawn, and shielded themselves behind the open car doors. One of them yelled, “Don’t move... put your hands above your heads.”

 

“Don’t be absurd,” Kent jeered.

 

Kent stepped behind his creation and called out to the officers as a rain of bullets hit the beast and bounced off his armoured skin harmlessly. “Go ahead and shoot, you fools! My creation is like a tank!”

 

One of the officers rushed the thing. It caught the man up under his abdomen with its claw and sent him flailing into the air amidst a gory shower of intestines and blood. Another officer moved around the patrol car and began firing point blank into the beast, but the bullets did no damage. The thing’s armoured hide was thick and impenetrable... the barbed hide of a super-fly.

 

The beast leaped across the sidewalk and grabbed the helpless officer in a tight embrace of death, squeezing until the ribs and the spine cracked and splintered inside his dying body. Spouts of blood spewed from the officer’s mouth and when the fly released him, he fell lifelessly to the pavement.

 

The remaining police continued to fire on the creature. The bullets bounced from its hide. The fly began to shake and stretch and something strange and new began to form from its shoulders. Appendages of some kind began to grow from its flesh and within seconds a fresh, wet pair of wings appeared. There was a great buzzing and the beast wheeled around to clutch its master. The police moved closer, increasing their fire.

 

The fly pulled Kent close and took to the air. The police stood there, frozen in awe at the sight of the gigantic fly-man sailing across the late-night sky with its master in tow. They watched speechlessly until they were gone.

 

The police sergeant holstered his gun and moved alongside another awe-struck officer. His voice choked in his throat, “I don’t believe it!”

 

“I... I don’t, either, sir.”

 

“I think I’m puttin’ in for retirement.”

 

The sound of incessant buzzing still filled their ears.

 

 

 

Dr. Kent stood outside the abandoned warehouse on the edge of town. There was no one within earshot for a good solid mile. He motioned for his creation to follow him. The interior was pitch black and littered with debris. Kent lit a match and led the thing through the first couple of rooms, empty and haunted in their abandonment. The thing stepped over a broken pipe, moved around some dilapidated crates... into a far room where the doctor placed an empty plate on a dusty table. He walked to a rickety bookshelf and removed a jar of clear liquid. He poured the contents onto the plate.

 

He gestured at the plate. “Eat.”

 

The fly man pounced on the sticky sweet solution and quickly sucked it into his mouth. Kent watched it eat, and when it was finished he pointed at a filthy mattress in the corner. “This is where you will stay... until I need you. I will come back in the morning to check on you.”

 

The fly shuffled over to its bed. The rusty springs squeaked and protested under its weight. The doctor waited until his creation was still, then he vanished into the gutted heart of the warehouse and out the doorway.

 

A mournful buzzing sound came from the thing’s mouth and echoed throughout the empty building.

 

 

 

Janice was sitting in the darkened living room when Kent arrived. He found his daughter on the couch, clad in her housecoat and slippers. She frowned in the soft glow of the lamp and studied her father intently. “Where have you been, Dad? It’s three o’ clock in the morning. I heard there were some murders down at the college... did you go there tonight?”

 

Kent smiled effortlessly. “No, dear. I’ve been out at the army base, meeting with General Douglas about my... work.”

 

Tears welled up in the girl’s eyes and she rushed over to her father, throwing her arms around him. “They said old Mr. Fudderman was mopping the hall and found the bodies... torn to shreds by something... ”

 

“Well, that’s... that’s terrible,” Kent said. “Do the police have any clues as to who is responsible?”

 

“Not yet. I was so worried about you, Dad. I thought you might be one of the... the... ”

 

Dr. Kent caressed his daughter’s dark hair. “It’s alright, Janice. Soon we will have everything we want. Maybe we will move to another city... another country, even. We will be rich beyond our wildest dreams.”

 

Janice pushed away from her father and wiped the tears from her eyes. “What do you mean, Dad? I don’t want to be rich... I just want you. My father. I want happiness... I want to get married.”

 

Anger rocketed through Kent’s mind and his long, stone cut face grew red. “Married? To that Neanderthal? That greaser hood? Surely you jest, daughter!”

 

Janice stepped back. “I love him, Dad. We are getting married. I had hope for your...  approval.”

 

“You most assuredly do not have it,” Kent shouted. “No daughter of mine is marrying a motorcycle gang reject! I have bigger and better plans for you... ”

 

Janice stood there, shocked and hurt. “Goodnight, Dad... ”

 

She vanished into her bedroom and closed the door. Kent stood there, seething and staring out of the front window at the forlorn night.

 

Just before dawn Janice picked up the telephone and dialled Chuck’s number. He answered sleepily. “Hello?”

 

“Let’s go, baby. Let’s get out of town.”

 

“You mean it? You wanna elope with me?”

 

“I mean it. Come get me.”

 

“I’ll be right there!”

 

Chuck hung up the telephone and slid into his dirty white t-shirt. He threw on his leather jacket and walked to the mirror hanging on the wall of his cheap, rented room in the cheap, rented part of town. He took the pomade from his dresser and dipped a handful out, smearing it over his long, thick hair. He took the comb from his back pocket and slowly sculpted his hair into a pompadour. When the grease dried, it would be bulletproof...  and ultra-cool. “Chuckie, old boy... you dig okay!”

 

The motorcycle’s engine roared to life and Chuck shot off into the dawn like a bullet... like a cowboy that had just won the gunfight at the O.K. Corral. The future was going to be as bright as the sun that would shortly rise. Brighter even. Janice and Chuck forever...

 

He pulled up in front of her house and shut off the engine. He raced stealthily up the hilly yard to her bedroom window in the back and knocked gently on the glass. Janice brushed back the curtain and lifted the window. She handed her suitcase to Chuck, then crawled out.

 

“Hey... you’re wearin’ blue jeans,” Chuck laughed.

 

“Hard to ride a motorcycle in a dress,” she replied.

 

They rushed down the hill. A few seconds later, they were gone. Chuck’s bike was a time machine, with the lever pressed all the way forward into the future. There was nobody to stop them.

 

The sun was rising by the time they made it to the outskirts of town. Chuck pulled up in the old manufacturing district, a part of town where there was nothing but abandoned factories and warehouses... the relics of a past prosperity. The residences and businesses of Ridgewood were far behind them, clear across town. Up ahead was a series of old warehouses crumbling with age and neglect. Chuck inched his bike on down the road a little farther and came to a stop.

 

“What’s wrong?”

 

Chuck grunted. “There’s somebody in that old warehouse over there.” He pointed to a crumbling three storey brick structure with a phantom light in the bottom level windows. Chuck laughed. “Let’s go check it out, baby. Maybe it’s a ghost!”

 

Janice shivered. “What? No! What if it’s some deranged killer or something?”

 

“I’ll be right there to protect you, doll.” Chuck grinned spritely. “Hey... maybe it’s two people rollin’ in the hay!”

 

Janice laughed. “Well, I definitely don’t wanna go in there if that’s the case.”

 

“Aw, c’mon... we can scare the holy hell outta ‘em!”

 

Janice started to protest some more, but Chuck cut his motor off and pushed his bike further down the dusty road. He stopped and put down the kickstand. “Let’s go!”

 

Janice groaned. “We shouldn’t be doing this. We should just get out of town like we planned.”

 

“Just a few fast kicks, baby... then we split, okay?”

 

Janice nodded. “Okay.” She latched onto Chuck and they moved slowly towards the warehouse, melding together in the early morning darkness as if they were one animal. Chuck smiled. “I dig your hands round my waist like that, doll.”

 

“Stop that, you cretin!” Janice punched him in the ribs.

 

The front door was missing, having long been detached and carted off by an unknown looter. The kids moved through the opening and stopped. Ahead was the light, shining from another room, fanning out towards the centre of the old building. Janice grabbed onto Chuck’s arm. He instinctively placed it around her. “It’s okay, doll.”

 

They inched forward, keeping close to the wall. At first, they heard only crickets and other night sounds. But as they moved nearer to the light, they could hear voices... voices locked in a heated conversation.

 

Chuck pulled Janice into the shadows. They listened intently for a moment before moving again. A man’s angry voice drifted in from an adjoining room. Janice stiffened at the sound and melted further into the darkness behind her boyfriend. She started to whisper something, but Chuck put his hand over her mouth.

 

They moved closer. Something was going on in the very next room. Scant shafts of light illuminated the dirty concrete floor, which was littered with rotten building timbers, bits of shattered glass, broken concrete blocks. Chuck navigated these obstacles in a nervous attempt to step lightly.

 

The man in the next room shouted again and the kids could make out his words now. The man was irritated and his voice echoed from the rafters above. “That is not the agreement!”

 

Another voice met his head on. “Well, that is the best deal I can give at this point.”

 

“Damn you!”

 

Janice leaned forward. “That’s my father’s voice!”

 

The night was broken with the sound of a scuffle... of glass breaking, of flesh striking flesh. Then there was the unmistakable sound of a savage gunshot in the night and a body hitting the concrete floor with a dull thud.

 

Janice jerked away from Chuck and screamed. Before Chuck knew what was happening he was following close behind her, headed for the front exit. There were shouts and a commotion in the rooms behind them and all of a sudden frantic footsteps were everywhere.

 

They were being followed.

 

Chuck pushed ahead of Janice and took her by the hand. They ran for their lives, out the front of the warehouse, where Chuck’s motorcycle waited. He was about to swing his leg over the cycle and pull Janice behind him when a shot rang out and gas began to gush from the hole in the tank.

 

“Hands up... don’t move!” The voice was foreign... Russian, maybe. Two men in suits raced over to the pair and shoved a gun in Chuck’s face.

 

Chuck reached for the firmament. “It’s cool... don’t shoot us, Dad... ”

 

The other goon grabbed Chuck from the bike and shoved both of them back towards the warehouse. Janice cried out, “What do you want? Where are you taking us?”

 

“Shut up!” The man with the gun shoved her forward. Chuck exploded with fury and took a swing at him. Even though the man was older, he was definitely no novice in a fistfight. He ducked out of the trajectory of Chuck’s meaty fist and counteracted by bringing the butt of his pistol down on the boy’s forehead. The greaser collapsed to the ground. Janice helped him up.

 

“Now move!”

 

Janice helped Chuck walk and the group moved across the weedy lot to the waiting warehouse. They moved through the front rooms to the only lit section of the place, where a lone lamp sat on a simple table and created shadows that danced all over the walls and floor.

 

Janice screamed in horror.

 

Lying comatose on a filthy mattress was the most gruesome sight she had ever witnessed. All of a sudden, the room was filled with an infernal buzzing sound and the creature’s eyes filled with light. It sat up slowly on the makeshift bed and turned its massive head to stare blankly at the kids.

 

But the terror in her stomach from this unholy monster vanished like smoke, when her eyes became adjusted to the half-light. A crumpled figure appeared to the right of her, lying face down on the floor. She recognized the white lab coat immediately. “Dad!”

 

The girl rushed over to the body and fell to her knees. Chuck started to go to her, but the man with the gun motioned for him to get back. Janice rolled her father over on his back and sat there, cradling his head in her lap. She stroked his hair and cried over and over, “Dad...  Dad... ”

 

The good Dr. Kent was most definitely dead. A crimson stain on his chest grew larger by the second. Janice leered at her captors. “What have you done?”

 

“Allow me to introduce myself. I am Vladimir Portchcov. This is my associate, Igor Rasvinsky.”

 

Chuck snarled. “What do you bastards want?”

 

“We have what we want... your late father’s formula. As far as what we desire from you two... well, unfortunately you have seen too much to live.”

 

The shaved headed brute known as Igor... over six feet of pure Russian brawn and muscle, stepped forward and whispered something in the gunman’s ear. Vladimir smiled and nodded. “My associate has a fantastic idea. You... ” he waved the gun at Chuck. “Sit down in that chair over there.” Igor grabbed Chuck’s arm and pulled him towards a rickety wooden chair.

 

“So this was what my father was doing... creating monsters for the Reds... ”

 

Vladimir cackled. “True... true, my dear. Your father was a traitor. He sold his country out for a mere pittance.”

 

Janice hid her face in her hands and sobbed uncontrollably. Chuck tried to go to her but the gun swung in his direction again and he remained seated. Vladimir continued. “Your father created a formula... a means to make a race of super soldiers... an army of fly-men that was capable of conquering the world.” He pointed to the fly-creature on the bed. “Look at him! A perfect killing machine. Imagine an army of these beasts unleashed upon the nations... ”

 

Janice screamed. “You’re crazy!”

 

The Russian’s voice grew louder and more frantic. Sweat rolled down his face. His eyes glowed with the light of the megalomaniac... the crazed disciple, drunk with a brutal and primitive religion. The religion of power! “Is that crazy, my dear? Feast your eyes on him! That is the product of pure, perfect science... the results of your father’s genius!”

 

“My father’s genius,” Janice sneered. “And you killed him!”

 

“Yes... it is most unfortunate. Your father would not listen to reason. He wanted more money. He wanted to send you to an expensive college back east... and he would not barter for his invention.”

 

“Oh, Dad... ”

 

Vladimir grinned. “You Americans. You are so... sentimental.”

 

Chuck yelled. “Leave her alone, you sons of bitches!”

 

“Ah yes,” Vladimir laughed. “I almost forgot. Igor... ”

 

Igor produced a syringe from a black bag on the table and moved towards Chuck, who rose defiantly. Vladimir hit him with his gun again and the boy collapsed back into the chair. Igor quickly removed his jacket and grabbed his arm, plunging the needle into his flesh. Janice noted the glowing green liquid in the syringe just before it vanished into her boyfriend’s body.

 

Igor stepped back, holding the spent needle upwards. He grinned, as Vladimir moved beside him. “Let’s test Dr. Kent’s formula before we carry it back to Moscow.”

 

Chuck threw his head back and screamed in agony as the formula ran rampant in his veins. The green liquid pulsed violently throughout his body, carried along the vast and unending highway of his bloodstream. His muscles began to shake and bulge and the greaser fell to the floor. He rolled back and forth in a chemically induced seizure as the serum went to work. The transformation was horrible and Janice fainted at the very sight of her boyfriend mutating into a gigantic fly monster.

 

Chuck rolled over onto his knees and held on for dear life as his features... his body changed from human to something more than human... but less than mortal. His arms stretched to the breaking point and he howled in pain. His face melted away and the spiny, mandibled visage of the conqueror fly was left in its stead. His spine rippled and rolled back and forth and protruded from his flesh. And a pair of clear vein-lined wings ripped from his back and fluttered in the air.

 

Vladimir slapped his knee in jubilation. “Excellent! Our superiors will be well pleased, Igor!”

 

Chuck, now a ravenous killer-fly... bolted from his chair and grappled the gun wielding Vladimir. The man pumped five shots into the fly man’s abdomen, but there was no effect. Chuck lifted the Russian into the air, holding him tightly around the throat. Igor shook himself from his spellbound shock and rammed his bent elbow into the fly’s shoulders. There was a crunch and Igor screamed in pain as he fell to the floor, clutching his crooked, and very broken, arm.

 

Chuck squeezed his claw and Vladimir’s head toppled from his neck, amidst a red shower of spewing blood. The head hit the ground and bounced over to Igor. The giant of a man instantly transformed into a snivelling child and he screamed in terror as he stared full into the dead face of his former partner. Vladimir’s eyes blinked and the mouth moved as if it were trying to impart final words, but there were no intact vocal cords. The light left the eyes in Vladimir’s disembodied head and it was finished.

 

Igor tried to crawl away, but Chuck pounced on him and lifted him effortlessly above him, pulling him closer. Igor screamed as he saw multiple hellish images of himself in the fly’s bulbous eyes.

 

Chuck drove his mandibles deep into the terrified human’s chest and began pumping instinctively into him the digestive juices of a hungry mutant fly. Igor’s body began to convulse and great ripples of foaming flesh popped up all over him. The fly tossed his first kill away as the body split open and the red foamy meat pulsated and popped. Then the thing leaned down and calmly began to feed. Janice awoke and as soon as her eyes focused enough to see the horrible ceremony before her, she jumped up and ran for the door, screaming to wake the devil.

 

Dr. Kent’s original fly creature jerked around as soon as it heard the scream, and roared to vibrant life. The beast no longer had a commander, so it looked around, vainly searching for someone to serve. It glanced down and saw its dead master lying nearby.

 

There were others... mutilated remains of humans being consumed by... a thing like it. A brother? No... not a brother... an enemy... a rival...

 

Janice tripped over a broken cinder block and tumbled to the floor. The girl...  beautiful...  tasty...  a prize to be taken. Kent’s creature turned its attention away from Chuck and eyed her hungrily.

 

Chuck, the fly that was once a young man, turned his attention to the girl as well. He... it... rose with eyes flashing and its mandibles clicking. It rushed towards Janice... buzzing and ready to kill. But there was still some remnant of memory, a semblance of humanity, in Chuck’s possessed mind. He quit his kill... and as he looked at the frightened girl lying on the floor, something happened inside him. Some faint wisp of memory haunted him and he found an unexplainable urge to protect this human female.

 

The other fly beast lumbered past him. Chuck didn’t know why, but he had to stop the other monster from harming this girl. He lashed out suddenly and knocked Kent’s beast flat. The thing hit the floor hard and almost immediately, bounced back to its clawed feet with the fly’s cruel instinct to destroy rampaging through its brain...

 

The two monsters of science clashed and the air became choked with an angry buzzing drone that made Janice cover her ears and hide her eyes from the horrible struggle before her. The two creatures circled one another, their wings flapping wildly in the air as they sized one another up and zoomed in for the kill. Mandibles and claws ripped black fur lined flesh that was impenetrable to all except the razor clawed savagery of another fly.

 

 

Chuck leaped on his new-found enemy with all the vigour and violence he could muster. The other creature was bigger... and it wasn’t letting up. The thing latched onto Chuck’s neck with its mandibles and slung him against the wall with the force of a direct cannon shot. He sailed across the room and hit the concrete so hard that he felt blood spurt from the pores of his thick hide. He rose, shaking the dizziness from his swirling head, and tried to charge, but the other beast tackled him and brought him down. It sat on top of Chuck, raking its claws into his face.

 

Chuck tried to scream... but the screams that emerged from his mouth merged into one long and steady buzz. He tried to fend off the larger fly, but the thing had him weighted down and he could not unseat the godforsaken bug-man. So he held on.

 

The creature drew blood and chunks of flesh from Chuck’s face, but he managed to hold those claws at bay... away from his eyes, at least for the moment. If Dr. Kent’s monster dug deep into his eyes, he would be blinded... and that would spell his doom. And what would happen to Janice? Chuck didn’t want to think about that... it was too terrible. The creature was either going to eat Janice, or mate with her. And neither was an option that Chuck wanted to entertain.

 

Chuck and the other fly were locked into a fierce death-struggle. The boy-fly held the other thing’s claws tightly as it raked at his vulnerable eyes. It was stronger than Chuck and its razor-sharp claws would destroy his sight at any second.

 

Then all of a sudden, Kent’s fly-man lurched forward and jerked spasmodically. The light left its eyes and it fell helplessly to the floor. Chuck glanced up and he saw many shifting images of Janice standing over him, a broken piece of wood in her hands. She had struck the fly man across the head and saved him.

 

She helped Chuck up and stood there with a heart-breaking confusion scrawled all over her pretty face. Chuck tried to speak to her, to tell her that everything was going to be alright, but all he could muster was an indecipherable, “Buzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzz... ... ... ... ”

 

“Oh, Chuck,” she cried.

 

The monstrous insect-man took her soft hand in his fly claw and brought her fingers up to his mouth. She winced in revulsion as the fly’s tongue and feelers brushed over her fingers and caressed them but she kept her stomach down and touched Chuck’s head, rubbing the fur... feeling the tough black hide of the man she loved, now a human fly.

 

The moment was short lived. There was a great buzzing sound and from out of nowhere, the other fly shot across the room like a bullet and snatched Janice up. Before Chuck could react, they were gone.

 

Chuck took a running leap and launched himself into the air in pursuit. It took a second for him to gain a feel for flying, but he took to it quickly, almost instinctively, as if he were somehow born to flit about the midnight yards and junk pits of the world.

 

Chuck flew straight up into the star littered sky, gaining on them. He pursued them above the warehouses on a direct flight straight into destiny, maybe even destruction. Janice hung in her captor’s claws helplessly, praying that it would not drop her. Chuck prayed the same... he flew closer... planning to swoop down and catch her should she fall from the scientific anomaly’s grasp. The beast turned to see Chuck gaining on it. It veered a sharp hard right and sailed downward, in the direction of an old run-down factory. It placed Janice safely onto the roof. She grunted as she landed and scurried to take cover behind the chimney stack.

 

Then the other fly-creature circled back around to take Chuck out. It lowered its great head and came in at 90 miles per hour; a screeching, kamikaze bug-horror of death from above. Chuck felt the wind leave him as it tackled his frame and took him straight down on a hard, fast b-line for the ground. It was going to crush him to death, to pummel him to gory mush upon impact.

 

Chuck was disoriented; the night sky, already lightening with the first rays of the rising sun, was sailing by at unheralded speed. The ground came rushing up to meet them, and in the last few seconds of his life, Chuck managed to do one thing... he focused his wandering insect brain on one image: Janice... and he knew that he had to do one final good thing... to save her. In a short life led selfishly, errantly... wantonly, he had finally found something pure and good... something that didn’t involve grease and violence. He brought the claw of his right arm up swiftly and drove the razor edge right into the fly-man’s eye. There was a wild convulsion, and the thing let go of Chuck, grasping at the yellow ooze dripping from its decimated compound orb. Chuck could feel a thousand tiny receptors wailing in pain.

 

In the last instant just before impact, Chuck pulled away from the fly-man. His wings worked hard to catapult him like a rocket back up into the sky. Beneath him, he heard the nauseating splat of the thing as it collided with the waiting earth at top speed. The results were deadly... when Chuck looked down, he saw entrails and gallons of yellowish-blood splattered across the field below.

 

He circled back around and came to a stop on the rooftop of the old factory. Janice lay there against the chimney, staring at him with fear in her eyes. “Chuck?”

 

Chuck buzzed and nodded. He moved closer to her, but stopped when she drew away. “Chuck... I... ”

 

Chuck stood there, with the rising sun behind him. A healing light dawned on the world and banished the phantoms of the previous night. Janice couldn’t take her eyes off him. Something was happening. A change was taking place. The awful face of the fly began to shiver and quake and in a few short seconds, there was only Chuck there, and the promise of a brand-new day.

 

Janice ran to him and threw her arms around his waist. “Darling... I can’t believe it... ”

 

Chuck held the only thing that ever mattered close to him and closer still. He knew at that exact moment that he would never, never let her go. They made their way carefully down the creaking fire escape and walked arm in arm to the road, where Chuck’s Indian still waited.

 

Chuck sighed. “What a night, huh?”

 

“A night of horror,” Janice said.

 

They stopped in front of the bike and locked their lips into a sticky sweet, passionate kiss. Chuck pushed Janice back and stared into her eyes. “I love you, doll.”

 

Then something came crashing from out of nowhere, knocking Chuck into unconsciousness...

 

 

 

Chuck floated in a nether-world of nightmares where insect men ate children alive, munching on their intestines as they shrieked and clawed at the air. He drowned in dreams polluted by the buzzing horror that would never end.

 

... then it was daylight and he awoke in a hospital bed.

 

Chuck was lying in a bed fitted with white sheets, in a white, disinfected room. He glanced down at his arm and saw that there were several tubes protruding from his flesh, hooked into machines. He tried to sit up, but a harsh pain shot through his body and he gave up.

 

His stomach felt funny. He reached down and rubbed it.

 

“Good morning.” He recognized the soft voice and smiled as Janice sat down easily on the bedside. “How do you feel, love?”

 

“Better now that you’re here,” he said, and meant it. They had been through a horrible experience and Chuck knew that it had made their bond even stronger than it had been before. And now, there was no one to protest their engagement.

 

“That creature wasn’t dead,” Janice said. “It attacked you just after you transformed back. It was about to get me, too... when it finally collapsed. I fainted and when I awoke, we were riding in the back of the ambulance.”

 

He tried to sit up again, but stopped. “I’m glad you’re okay, darling. I... I’m going to buy you a ring when I get out of here... we’re goin to have a great wedding, I promise... ”

 

Janice smiled and stroked his hair. “Relax, love... get better first.”

 

“I love you, Janice... sweetheart... ”

 

“I love you, too... ”

 

Sharp, unexplainable pain shot through Chuck’s stomach. “Ahg... what the... ”

 

“What is it?”

 

“I don’t know... my stomach... ” Chuck lurched forward and pulled himself into a foetal position. He started to gag and cough, but nothing came up. Waves of unchecked agony rolled through his very centre. Janice made him lie back and jerked the cover away. Chuck’s belly was pulsating, throbbing spastically. He cried out and tried to massage his stomach as it rippled and pulsated.

 

“Oh my God,” Janice said. “I’m calling the nurse... ”

 

The flesh burst apart from Chuck’s stomach and he let out a blood-chilling scream. The blood and entrails oozed freely onto the sheets and right in the centre of the gore was a writhing nest of new-born mutant maggots...

 

Chuck’s children cried and begged for nourishment with short, buzzing-like noises. Their small white heads peered over the ripped edges of the fleshy crater in the centre of his body. The doctor and nurses ran into the room to find Chuck, lying motionless... his blank eyes staring up at the ceiling. Hundreds and hundreds of tiny fly larvae spilled onto the bed and floor, crawling in search of blood nectar.

 

Janice ceased to be a woman at that exact moment; the horror of the fly creatures made her mind crack and falter. She became like a wild animal, with white-hot brands of panic searing the already strained membranes of her brain until her sanity was all but burned away. She collapsed to the floor and screamed until someone brought her a sedative and she drifted off into blackness with the cursed buzz of the fly ever ringing in her ears.

 

THE END

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