An Original Story by JH Glaze
Horror Challenge Topic: Hummingbird
Suggested by Brittany Carrigan
A Garden Secret
Madeline loved her backyard garden. It was easy to see how much pride she took in every display of color, especially her rose bushes. Although she had never entered any competition, she often said that her roses were prize winning. They were stunning. Every summer, she invited friends for afternoon tea, just to show off her flowers.
One beautiful Saturday morning, she was out in the garden again, fertilizing and pulling weeds. As was her typical routine, she began on one side and methodically worked her way around to the other side, taking care to inspect and improve every inch of the rich black soil that made everything grow so well.
She was nearly finished for the day when she looked back over her work and caught a glimpse of something she hadn’t noticed before. It was some sort of container with strange markings on it. If she had to describe it, she wouldn’t have called it a box, a bottle, or even a cylinder. It was an oddly shaped item to be sure. How she could have worked this soil only a short while ago and not have seen it?
“What in the world? Where did this come from?” she asked aloud to nobody there as she bent to pull the thing from the ground. It was partially embedded as though it had been there for some time. “How could that be?” she wondered. She wrapped her gloved hand around it to pull it out. The thing began to buzz or maybe it was a vibration. Startled, she let go of it. Rather than use her hands, she decided to dig it out with a shovel. She would have to go through the door at the back of the garage to fetch one.
Madeline entered the garage just in time to hear the phone ringing in the house. Her mouth twisted in frustration as she walked through the door that led to the kitchen through the laundry room, removing her dirty gloves as she went. She managed to catch the phone on the fourth ring. “Hello, this is Madeline,” she answered, forcing a cheerful voice.
“Hi, Mads!” the equally cheerful voice on the line greeted her. She immediately recognized her friend, Carol. “What are you up to on this beautiful afternoon? I bet you were working in the garden, right?”
“Yes, I was. You know me so well.” She walked over to the window so she could look out at the object. She could still see it sticking up out of the ground. “As a matter of fact, right now I am looking out my window at all the beautiful color.”
“I bet it’s gorgeous on a day like this.”
“Indeed, it is. It’s the strangest thing, though. I found something odd out amongst the flowers. You might think me crazy, but it looks almost… alien?”
There was a slight hesitation, and then the sound of Carol’s unbridled laughter came ringing out of the phone. “Really, Mads, I just love your sense of humor! That’s why I called to see if you wanted to go shopping at the plaza later. I thought maybe we could get a bite and…”
“No, Carol. I’m not kidding. I found something out there and, believe me, I’ve been working that dirt for years, and I’ve never seen anything like this before.” She swallowed hard. “Tell you what. Come on over in… let’s say, an hour and a half. I’ll dig it out and show you. Then we can go to dinner and shop.”
“Okay then. See you around five.”
“Right. Bye now.” Madeline was eager to get back to the garden. She went back to the garage, put her gloves back on, got her shovel, and then back to the garden she went. For some reason she had felt a little panicked, as if the object might be gone when she returned, but a sense of relief washed over her as she found it right where she had left it.
Careful not to crush any of her flowers, she placed the tip of the shovel against the object and pushed it down with her foot. Lifting the object up and out, it fell away from the dirt as clean as though it had been washed. It was about a foot long and cylindrical in the shape of some kind of missile made of some kind of shiny metal. The end that had been buried in the ground was turned with threads like a screw.
Madeline slid the shovel further under it to lift it out of the flowerbed. It was heavier than she expected. She moved her hands toward the metal head of the shovel and tried again. This time it was easier to lift, and she carried it to the center of the grassy area between the beds and laid it on the ground. She got down on her hands and knees to get a closer look.
It was a work of beauty, smooth and iridescent in the light of the sun. She turned her ear to make out whether the quiet hum she heard was indeed emanating from within the peculiar object. Oddly, she found the sound to be quite soothing.
Without warning, one end of the object began to turn, twisting itself off the cylinder. A full two inches of the flattened end, fell off onto the ground. She was spellbound. Part of her wanted to run away, but the other part wondered what would happen next. A few seconds later, she had her answer.
Madeline saw only a blur, and then she heard a low buzzing noise. The thing took off across her garden, weaving in and out of the flowers the way that a bee might, but this was no bee. A small body, rapid wing movements, and long needle-like beak… Were those legs with feet on them hanging underneath?
Captivated by the flashes of changing color as it flitted about, she followed it with her gaze. It must be some kind of hummingbird, she thought. In a moment, the thing was hovering only inches from her face. “You are a strange little creature.” She spoke quietly so as not to scare it away. Before her eyes, the tiny bird-like creature cycled through a range of the most beautiful colors she had ever seen. “Strange to be sure, but beautiful.” Almost as though responding to her words, the creature buzzed in a rhythm with her voice as she spoke. “I think I’ll call you Buzzby.” She smiled. “But what are you?”
Just as her lips formed the last word of her question, the thing flew straight into her mouth. She let out a squeal of surprise, but there was no chance to spit it out. It braced itself against her tongue and drove the sharp spike of its beak straight through the roof of her mouth directly into her brain.
She could make no more than a muffled sound as the Buzzby blocked her mouth and rapidly extended its beak to a full three feet. It quickly curled through her skull and entwined itself in her brain. When she fell face first into the dirt, Buzzby was stunned for a moment and was forced to regain his footing inside her mouth. He was in the process of surgically connecting her neurons to his consciousness.
The fall jarred his concentration, and he no longer had the control he required. The plump creature he was working on was lying on the ground, jerking and twitching, and that was not what he had intended. He needed to take control so he could begin his feeding. It had been so very long since he had eaten. With a great deal of mental focus, Buzzby finally located the creature’s control center. As the body relaxed, its mouth opened allowing the warm light to shine in. At last, it had stopped moving.
Wasting no time, he began sucking on the fluids that were seeping down along his long proboscis. He vibrated to keep a constant flow. Once he began to feel somewhat satisfied, he realized that something was happening that he wasn’t expecting. Small bumps were cropping up all over his body. At the same time, his hunger returned. The more nourishment he took in, the larger the bumps became.
In minutes, the bumps were so large that he felt his body filling up the small space he currently occupied. He shuddered. Suddenly, the bumps exploded all at once, and Buzzby was dead. Collapsed inside the host creature’s mouth, his limp body was buffeted by tiny wings as more than a hundred Buzzby clones struggled to free themselves from the cramped space. As they reached the opening, they flew to freedom and spread out across the landscape.
Next door, a woman stood on her back porch calling her dog when the tiny colorful creature flew into her mouth. Seconds later, she tumbled down the steps to land crumpled on the sidewalk below. Two houses down in the other direction, three children were playing on their backyard gym. They were chasing each other and laughing when the small group of ‘bugs’ invaded their bodies. One little girl screamed just before she collapsed, which brought her mother out to see what was wrong. The woman yelled and fell next to her kids where she lay helpless and twitching on the ground.
Madeline’s friend, Carol had decided to leave her house early. As she pulled up in front of her friend’s house, she noticed the man across the street lying in the grass next to his running lawn mower. She started over to help the man but, when she saw his condition, she decided it would be better to call 911 and get help right away. When she got to Madeline’s front door, she loudly pounded on it with her fist. Unwilling to wait for an answer, she tried the doorknob. The door swung open.
Carol ran in calling out to her friend, but there was no one to be found. From the corner of her eye, she saw the phone and hurried to dial for help. The dispatcher asked, “911, what’s your emergency?” Carol told her about the man across the street, gave Madeline’s address as a reference, and hung up the phone. She wondered what could have happened to Madeline. Surely she was around here somewhere, maybe in the garden.
She would go out there just as soon as she got herself a drink. There was a full pitcher of filtered water sitting right in front of her on the counter, and her anxiety had made her extremely thirsty. Probably, Madeline needed a drink as well if she was still out in the garden. She opened the cabinet above the sink and took out two glasses, then poured some water from the pitcher. Just as she put one of the glasses to her lips, a small colorful bug tumbled into the water unnoticed. Hearing sirens, she went to the front window in time to see the ambulance pulling up across the street. She watched as the paramedics got out and ran to the man.
Relieved, she took a long sip of the cool water. No sooner did she swallow than she felt a pain in her stomach. A long needle-like object began to poke through her sweater. It stretched out in front of her nearly six inches. A small spot of red started to spread across her belly as she watched in horror. Panicked, she ran out of the house toward the paramedics. As she rounded the ambulance, she found them convulsing on the ground next to the man. She was so frightened she let out a scream. Another ‘bug’ took advantage of the opportunity and flew into her mouth. It quickly sent her tumbling to the ground.
All through the neighborhood, the cloud of death was spreading. The tiny colorful creatures flew and people fell. It happened so quickly, no one could send out a warning. By the next morning, the sprawling city fell quiet. Bodies littered the streets, and a colorful cloud of tiny creatures drifted across the countryside growing larger by the minute.
No one in their path was warned. They only heard the buzz.
Copyright ã 2012 by JH Glaze.
Reprint permission granted to thecoverbybrittany.blogspot.com
JH Glaze is the Author of “The Paranormal Adventures of John Hazard” series (The Spirit Box, NorthWest & Send No Angel), The Horror Challenge series of short stories, and other books. He lives in Atlanta, Georgia with his wife Susan and their two dogs.
Visit his website www.JHGlaze.com for more information. His books are available exclusively on Amazon.com in print and eBook formats.
On Facebook at www.facebook.com/JHGlaze.author
On Twitter @themostcoolone
On Amazon www.amazon.com/JH-Glaze/e/B005SWFQGI
Watch for new stories coming soon!