– Juzzzt bykozzz juh are yung, juh zzzhink ve vhilll make ehn exzzzzepschen?
The coordinator cockroach, sitting behind a large desk, is being an asshole about this. Periplaneta technokrata. They are having their exchange somewhere down the esophagus or thereabout and The Infected One is trying to explain to the chitinous creep why he cannot work today [or any other day]. A cochineal red is oozing down through the huge opening that has been eaten into the rib cage. The meaty sight is revolting.
In furtherance of his argument, The Infected One has repeatedly opens his mouth and points at his teeth, the incisors in particular. His gestural efforts have also been an attempt to get his opposite number to communicate likewise by I.I.S.S.L, improvised inter-species sign language, so that he can catch a breather from the grating sounds. No such luck.
– Still underdeveloped. Nothing I can do. I need another day or two to complete my metamorphosis.
– No! No veee need everyone. “Every bug, doezzzz itz bizz”.
He steps up to desk, snatches a pencil and a scrap of paper.
– Your maps are lousy. You’re loosing bugpower sending them off to the wrong places, not knowing where your crawlers have gone, etcetera. Watch.
As best he remembers he draws a map of the human anatomy with the important organs and most of the skeleton. He takes his sweet time. It feels good. At last doing something he is not 100% unfamiliar with. The sketch itself is maximally mediocre but compared to the jittery scribbles of the insects it is photorealistic. The Infected One hands it back to the cockroach whose antenna begin quivering with excitement or irritation. This one’s a Blatta orientalis, smaller and accordingly meaner.
– If you don’t mind I’ll be doing recon. Captain Crawlie.
– Fffery wehllll, juhhng one. Report back to Officer…
He listens to the rest of the sharp, insectoid fricatives but the message is lost on him. The Infected One is thinking hard about what would be the next logical place to go to. The idea itself that in a metropolis of insects whose “job” it is to disintegrate a gargantuan human carcass there is such a thing as logic, seems risible. He blurts a burst of laughter and strides away down the long, dark tube towards the mouth like a vomitarian homunculi, dedicated to the reversal of the existing order.
Two hours later he is standing out in the malodorous outdoors before an open black portal the size of four soccer fields. It’s the left nostril. Long black nose-hair is curling down from the distant rafters like glossy liana. The Infected One expected the nose to have been long gone since as he remembers it, protuberant soft tissue and cartilage is the first point of attack for beasties. He takes a few tentative steps inside, clamping down on his own nose again and stares up, to see if there is any threat of boulders of bugger: negative. And what exactly is he hoping for? Why does he give the brain so much due? It’s the thinking man’s fallacy and The Infected One wonders if this time he will pay for it. He takes one final glimpse outside. The square is still swarming and in places the sky is black with flies. He needs to find a way out of this insectoid dystopia and get back to… he scratches his head, waiting for an answer or memory to bound forth… none does. Just get back to where he belongs.
For a second he studies his two nervous hands: they look like a coagulation of black letters, a teeming, alphabetical mess. Whenever he gets back he will get a doctor to take an inside look at his own head to see what’s producing these phobic delusions.
Five hours later the Infected One is in a comfortable leather seat approximately 15’00 meters above the Atlantic. A cool flute of champagne is cooling his clamped palm. A passing blonde flight hostess accords him a professional smile, those that look so CGI-grade real that one must simply assume from a sense of duty towards cynicism that they are fake. But fake/fabricated on a whole different level because even the emotions that would be able to create such a smile have to be genuine, however much they have been fabricated/conditioned during millions of pan-global exercises.
Above the clouds.
[t. b. c.]