We set the collapsible table up in the garage. Our house was 175 years old and the garage was a cave of pink insulation and fifty pound salt bags (for the water softener). It was haphazardly connected to the slat board shack where we slept and fought. The night before the picnic, dad moved the Buick, our two rabbits and the tractor so we could sweep the place out. We were so busy we missed the meteor shower.
The next day it was ugly hot, air so damp like breathing water. I was sweating in my party suit. Why did I wear this?
When I went to stir the bean dip, there was this enormous cockroach looking bug that was the typical color… like super-tanned hide, with a waxy sheen. Then, another thing appeared: a combination slug/turtle with the same exoskeleton. It surfaced, shell first, in the chilé con queso, tilted back revealing its soft underbelly, and, from its behind, sprayed a viscous yellow fluid across the gingham table cloth.
Neither mom nor dad were anywhere to be found. All the people arriving, that I thought I knew were strangers of the most simple and needy variety.
As I prepared to start gathering things up, dulled by the lame horror creeping in my synapses and the incessant questions of the doddering party attendees, I saw the “insects” outside: through the window in the garage. Fat, pulsing larvae with wet green eyes and veined wings. They swarmed in clouds clicking against the siding like sleet, splattering kamikaze on the windows. There was so many of them, they blocked out the sun. Now they were flying in, pinging off the guests, falling in the baked beans, dying in the Jello Pudding. I was distracted by something else at that point. I kept thinking, I need to immediately throw away all this food because there was no salvaging it; the creatures were dying, squirting and multiplying among the pot luck offerings faster than I could stumble across the oil stained garage floor.
What is everyone going to eat? A picnic isn’t a picnic without food.
I slipped on the nasty things three times, almost hitting my head on the picnic table bench as I scurried, responding to the conditions and questions from people I no longer recognized yet who seemed to know everything. That is, everything except for where my parents where.
Overwhelmed, I ran around trying to act normal as possible while trying desperately to distract everyone from the increasingly grotesque environment- I belted an acapella version of One Direction’s ‘Bring Me Down’ while I dumped uneaten food, crockery and all, into the trash can. As the fourth Pyrex dish of vermin riddled picnic food disappeared with a thud and a crack into the plastic container, I noticed several homunculuoid creatures (also with waxen flesh. but more ostensibly human) shivering in out-of-the-way places… as if they were consciously hiding, waiting for their opportunity to do… whatever. One in particular was a larger half-formed ‘male’ dragging his misshapen torso and impotent legs around using heavily veined and sinewed arms. The abomination was maybe a foot and a half long, its face a shrunken head mask consumed by grin. The hands were claws. It left blood streaks on the pavement. When it noticed me noticing it with its one pus-filled eye, it shambled under the tool bench at the far end of the garage as quickly as it could. Which wasn’t very quickly at all.
I thought, “I have to kill these things. I can kill the ones that have heads, and even the ones that don’t, by hitting them with a shovel.” The shovel is always the go-to answer, isn’t it? The best way to kill any slow moving or maimed thing in the garage or backyard. Shovel or hoe. To avoid the splatter and mess, my solution was to open the rear door. It was insane, considering this allowed more of the things to enter that way. Nothing was leaving; the space was filling. But, in my disordered thinking, maybe the chaos of the garage would be too much and, at least, the larger things would seek escape outside. Then, I could follow and relentlessly smash… as many of them as I could… to death.