Peter Dumeaux lived his pale-skinned existence for twenty-five years without a single alarming incident or superbly tragic encounter. He was a natural redhead whose origins remained a complete mystery. The identity of his birth parents was unknown to him, and a loving family adopted him and took him in as their own. The foster family gave Peter an identity when he had none, and he remained grateful for the blessing. However, the emotions remained inescapable; Peter was a social outcast, regardless of the loving family. A nagging sensation persisted, screaming he would always be a human defect.
A series of failed relationships followed Peter as anchored baggage. Many times, the awkward youth swore he understood love. Still, the confidence in such a notion dissipated when an authentic opportunity for a long-lasting romantic union presented itself. As time passed, he realized he loved no woman willing to share his bed for an intimate rendezvous. This scared him beyond measure. It left him empty inside, like an alien looking in.
Having steered clear of college and people, Peter found comfort in obtaining employment that required little to no teamwork. Carrying out tasks as a solitary individual brought him immense joy. This created an even greater rift between Peter and people; human relations grew harder to maintain. His new job lived up to the meaning of a dream come true. He would work maintenance in a facility during the graveyard shift. There would be little interaction with people, and they would pay him to carry out tasks alone. He was so beside himself with joy that the excitement kept him awake the day before the first shift.
"Do you think you get the gist of it?" Andy asked Peter as he approached the concrete stairway to the facility's basement.
Peter regarded the training technician. The weathered old man carried much experience under his belt; he paid for this experience by sacrificing the hair on his bald head through the stress of gaining it. "I think so. I do my rounds, check the offices in the administration wing, and watch for and change burned-out lights around the building. I also try to complete as many work orders as I can. Does that sum it up?"
Andy grinned, happy with the new hire. "You got it. This is the last part of your rounds down here. You just have to walk through the basement and make sure all the pumps are working."
Peter nodded and followed the bald, portly old man. Although he had only met Andy at the beginning of the shift, the man had already irritated Peter. This irritation always arose when circumstances forced Peter to be around another human for too long.
After allowing the heavy metal door to the basement to slam shut behind him, Peter turned his cautious gaze down the dimly lit staircase. A sudden chill ran up his spine, and the sensation of being surveilled brought the hairs on his skin to attention; every inch of his body grew alert.
"This is my least favorite part of the night." Andy cleared his throat. "I hate going down here. Gives me the creeps."
"Why is it so different down here compared to the rest of the building?" Peter tried to shake the eerie ambiance. The architecture of this sublevel seemed so old compared to the rest of the structure; an arcane décor had taken over.
"This building has been here for almost two hundred years, give or take - built way back when." Andy continued.
"What year?" Peter's curiosity took hold.
"Around 1810. Could have been before or after, but you get the idea. This part of the basement is the oldest. Over time, the rest of the facility grew around the original." Andy sighed, wanting to escape the creepy sensations looming in the air. "Let's keep moving. We've got five pumps to go over."
Peter followed Andy down the staircase, where the amount of lighting did little to brighten up the dark feelings. A long corridor met them at the bottom of the stairs. With careful haste, Andy instructed Peter on the remaining aspects of completing the nightly rounds. He led Peter through the intersecting corridors to long basement tunnels and unlocked boiler rooms to inspect the tucked-away equipment. With each step taken, Peter became more than confident that something - not someone - monitored his every move.
After five days of constant instruction, Peter worked his first night shift alone. Relief filled his soul. The freedom to ponder, alone, and be at peace without the outside distraction of others soothed his anxiety-ridden soul. This type of solitude made Peter feel at home.
Upon completing the first set of rounds, which included Peter checking the first and second floors, he stumbled upon work orders strewn about in a careless pile on the communal workbench. The second shift always vacated in a hurry. One work order stuck out for reasons beyond Peter's understanding.
He lifted the piece of paper, reading the printed text.
REQUESTOR'S NAME AND POSITION:
Andy, Maintenance Engineer Level II
February 12, 2008
Take insect spray and spray all the corners and walls in the primary basement corridor. Laundry transport staff spotted ants.
Basement. Primary corridor.
Peter remembered the eerie atmosphere pressing down on him, and the paranoia of being monitored inside the basement returned. The sudden fear chilled him to the bones.
It's just a basement, Peter thought.
* * * *
The silence blanketed Peter as he descended the cement staircase. The sensation of unseen eyes intensified; the hairs on his body stood from head to toe. Each step seemed louder than it should have been as his foot touched the damp corridor ground. He tried slowing his pace to control and soften the landing of his boots to cement; it did little good.
As he reached the middle of the corridor, he caught a small army of red ants moving back and forth as if on a mission of the utmost importance. What struck Peter as strange was that they didn't gather food as ants are wont to do. The tiny creatures appeared to be waiting for him, and Peter swore their movements stopped one after another like a wave of dominos. All activity ceased, and the ants stood before Peter, looking in his direction.
What the fuck is this?!
With a deep sigh, Peter took a few more steps toward the small red blotch of ants. As he approached them, the lighting cast a slight glow, and he held the spray that would terminate the vile creatures. At that moment, a maddening flash of jumbled imagery shot through Peter's mind. He dropped the spray gun and cradled his head in pain.
What's happening to me?
The imagery soon became apparent after a few heartbeats of pain and confusion. Peter held the image of a woman in his mind. She was a beautiful woman with soft white skin and hair as red as his own. She smiled at him with a posture demanding he come closer. An uncontrollable, animalistic lust took control of his body.
Jesus Christ! What's happening to me?!
The lust intensified as imagery of the naked woman with flowing red hair continued to flash through his mind. Her curves were beyond sensual, and her smile became more seductive than any physical touch.
It dawned on Peter that the army of red ants surrounded him, and the ants were broadcasting the imagery and sensations.
"What do you want?!" Peter yelled in a fit of furious anger.
He did his best to break his mind free of the images. The more he tried to sever the connection, the more insatiable the lust grew.
Why is this happening?
While falling to his knees, the ants approached as if welcoming one of their own. A distinct scratching noise originated from behind the wall to Peter's left. He studied the wall in utter horror as the bricks tumbled out of place with some force and rattled on the damp cement floor. The head of an ant, the size of a small dog, poked out and peered in Peter's direction.
Try as he might, Peter could not make a sound to match the petrified fear on his pale face. The last image Peter beheld before blacking out was that of many giant ants emerging from the hole in the wall and heading straight toward him.
* * * *
He awoke in a room that had been void of human presence for a long time; the light illuminated little. Peter stood up, discovering his nakedness, and studied his prison with a curiosity that blanketed the fear. The sound of the giant ants marching across the cold cement ground caught his attention, and his eyes focused on the open doorway with renewed horror.
What are these things?
We are of the same origin, Peter. A female voice spoke in his mind. Follow the children to me.
Two giant ants stood by the doorway, facing Peter. Unsure of what to do, Peter obeyed the voice, taking careful steps with his bare feet to navigate the cold, uneven cement floor. The two giant ants led him down a series of strange subterranean corridors that were like those of the facility but untouched by anyone in ages.
Two ant guards led Peter to another opening in the wall of one corridor. The organic membrane of a new passage shocked and awed Peter simultaneously. The membrane was flesh-toned, and Peter peered through it to glimpse other ants walking about.
Enter. The female prompted within his mind.
Peter stepped through the strange tunnel of organic membrane and experienced the warmth of the fleshy substance upon the souls of his bare feet. He disregarded the sensation and continued walking as naked as the day he was born. The two giant ants stayed behind at the entrance of the strange subterranean dwelling, and Peter continued, unsure of what he would find next.
At the end of the corridor was an open area. The walls comprised the same substance as the tunnel. In an odd way, the immense room invited Peter like a long-lost lover, and he drowned in a strange sense of belonging.
I've been waiting a long time for you, Peter. I lost you long ago. You were born to serve. That is why you have returned. The female voice seemed stronger in his mind.
"Where are you?"
The membrane opening and separating startled Peter; a gelatinous substance fell off the open edges with a sticky splat that disgusted him. Emerging from the opening was the beautiful woman who appeared in his visions. Her stance was seductive, and Peter was powerless against the woman. Her curves were as sensual as he had seen within his visions. The sudden lust took over, and his nakedness did nothing to hide the sudden erection.
Sensing his discomfort, she took a comforting step forward. "It's okay. This is where you belong."
"I don't understand." Confusion filled the young man.
The redheaded woman caressed Peter's face. Her touch soothed the senses as she closed her eyes. Flashes of imagery bombarded Peter; they revealed his true origins, and it turned out that he wasn't human after all. He was born of the colony to one day be called upon to serve and reproduce. He was a stud, and the human form masked his true nature. He was a creature like the ants and the woman standing before him.
"Who are you?" Peter asked, drunk with the new knowledge that flooded his senses.
She kissed him on his forehead with a gentle smile. "I am your Queen."
The kiss was beyond perfection, and the ecstasy of being near her soft, smooth skin was maddening. Peter gave in to the lust and allowed her to take control. He was soon on his back, and she mounted him with majestic dominance. The two made love on a level that was beyond anything he had ever experienced. Life and death were irrelevant. The moment was overpowering. He transcended into something more and connected to the colony. He was a part of them. He fit in.
The climax left his body trembling; he opened his euphoric eyes; her beautiful smile greeted him. It brought Peter boundless joy to please his queen. What distressed Peter next was that the image of a beautiful woman changed. Her features transformed from a human into something else; a hybrid insect revealed itself, and Peter witnessed with petrified horror as the inhuman creature continued to straddle his naked body.
His own flesh rippled, changing shape and shade. A silent gasp escaped his changing mouth; antlike mandibles protruded, and his speaking ability vanished. The human shell he and others had seen for so long melted away. He became what he was meant to be.
It's okay, Peter. You did well. She reassured with the confidence of a lover.
Peter experienced a sense of ease coming from the voice. He had served his purpose. His seed would help breed a new colony, and his kind would live on. A sense of peace and happiness took hold as his flesh was being eaten, first by the queen and then by the giant ants that lived beneath the facility.
It comforted Peter that he wasn't alone; finally, he fit in.
About the Creator
I'm a Puerto Rican storyteller/filmmaker who uses lies to tell the truth; this is the essence of what I love about good stories. Author of Casino City and Distinction of Realms! Scifi, fantasy, horror, and thriller are among my favorite!
Very well written. Keep up the good work!
Compelling and original writing
Creative use of language & vocab
Easy to read and follow
Well-structured & engaging content
Original narrative & well developed characters