Today is Thursday, March 31st, 2022. What we have here is the penultimate entry in the CHROMOPHOBIA table of contents. That’s right, only ONE more story to go! And if the last story was, perhaps, a more light-hearted horror, then this one is a return to darker fare.
You can pre-order the special hardcover edition of CHROMOPHOBIA HERE.
by Jeanne E. Bush
They decapitate her every night.
She is alone on the road as she drives. The evening sky starts to darken, and the headlights seem dim as she scans the empty Kentucky road. The branches of the trees lean in as she follows the winding lane through the woods. The music coming from the speakers changes and “Paint It Black” by the Stones begins to play. This stretch of road is long—she knows this—and she hums tunelessly along, watching the road get darker as the evening deepens.
Suddenly, a silvery gray insect lands on the windshield—is it a fly? She doesn’t think so. Then another lands and another after that. More insects gather, landing purposely on the windshield, writhing together as they crawl over each other. Soon it is getting difficult to see the road, the buggy grayness filling the view. She turns on the wipers, smearing dark bug bodies across the glass.
She continues on, almost blindly, talking softly to herself in her horror but knowing that she must keep moving on as the insects continue to gather. Their gray bodies are on every window now, and she can hear the clicks on the glass as their little feet move across the space. She can almost see their thousands of mouths chomping up and down, up and down, and her terrified eyes open wider as a soft horrified “Oh” escapes her lips. She speeds up, desperately wanting to be off this road and among other people.
Then the unthinkable happens. One of the insects emerges from the air vent to her right. She somehow thinks, “Wheel bug?” as she sees the small circular sawblade pattern on its back. It struggles, pushing itself through the vent, then it is up and flying. Frantically, she works the buttons for the air conditioner, panic-stricken as she tries to close the vents. But more insects break through and soon dozens, then hundreds of bugs are in the car flying around her.
The car crashes into a large tree, and her arms flail around her face at the merciless swarm. She feels a sharp sting on her throat, then dozens of little bites. She screams as her hands move to frantically brush the insects from her neck. But they are hungry now, so hungry. They continue to bite her neck until red blood drips, then in a frenzy they continue to gnaw and cut.
Terrified, she opens the door, stumbling from the car, running, but the insects are on her, needing her blood, continuing to bite her at the neck until she falls. She feels them writhing in her shirt, scurrying across her face and arms, scuttling through her hair. But they want her neck. They begin feeding, cutting the veins and arteries and tendons in her throat until her blood pours forth. They continue chewing through to the discs and joints of her neck bone. She is dazed, nearly dead, as the assassin bugs continue to cut the head from her body, feeding, feeding.
…and THAT is a helluva an opener! Jeanne E. Bush’s short story is a quick but ambitious tale, cyclical in nature, like a nightmare. And, since talking about it in too much detail spoils the narrative, we’ll just say, “Enjoy!”
Jeanne E. Bush is another up-and-coming writer in the horror community, and we are pleased to have picked up her story for CHROMOPHOBIA. You can give her a follow on Twitter HERE!
Want to read the previous CHROMOPHOBIA showcases? Click a title:
Pre-order the special hardcover edition of CHROMOPHOBIA HERE.
Check out part four of editor Sara Tantlinger’s CHROMOPHOBIA roundtable HERE.