Outside of the Pentagon
A torrential downpour of hard rain laid siege to the Pentagon and its surroundings. Water exited from storm gutters and streamed into the parking lot. In a hurry to escape nature’s fury, civilians and military personnel alike covered their heads with whatever object they happened to have in hand so as not to get soaked by the rain. Quickly, those people caught outside made their way to the dual outer doors of the primary entrance to the U.S. sanctioned facility. Within the massive confines of the structure, secrets were well kept and only the highest ranked individuals had access to what lay within.
One such individual was Simon Grant. He squealed his Corvette into his usual parking spot and leapt out of the vehicle after having grabbed his much needed essentials. The downpour increased in its force as if to forecast how his day was going to be. Ignoring the immediate line of thought on that matter, Simon rushed inside of the building.
Simon Grant was six feet tall to the inch and had black hair slightly offset by his strikingly blue eyes. He paused near a display with a glass enclosure that reflected the several hallways branching parallel to the entrance and one main hall leading forward. He stroked his hair back trying to brush away the water particles that hung onto his follicles like leaches on fresh skin.
Viewing his tanned, peach skin and his neatly pressed black suit he wore, Simon smoothed down the bottom of his jacket that was folding up on itself due to the water. He flicked a finger at himself indicating that he was the ‘one’ and every bit King-Of-The-Hill. If his charming posture and elegant clothing style were any indication, Simon was a ladies’ man. A fact that was hard to miss in any social get-together. This was no less apparent as he turned and proceeded down the main hall toward his office that was located on the lower levels. His very walk indicated his social status, as did his newest potential target sitting at the receptionist’s desk at the end of the hall.
Simon paused for a moment and smiled keenly to himself. He took in the blonde haired beauty who was typing away stoically on some document or another. Hmm, fresh blood. Wonder what happened to Mary-Lou? Eh, oh well. Better make a good impression. He smiled impishly as he approached the reception counter and made sure to brandish his pristine teeth.
Upon reaching the counter, he held himself in his most strait forward stance and, still smiling, awaited the receptionist’s attention. He casually glanced down to see a small, golden nametag on the front of her gray dress-suit. Audrey Ochler. Somehow goes with those glasses. He considered, watching a slight motion of her head bobbing up and down as she typed. Her hair was pulled up into a very professional style and he imagined it must have been long, given the breadth of said hair-do.
His smile faded some, as Audrey had still to recognize his presence. Several moments passed and he was starting to get impatient, so he did what was most natural in such events,
“Uhn-hmmm...” the sound came from his clearing throat, hoping that would get her attention.
“I’ll be right with you,” she responded, not looking up.
Alrighty then, he thought, a smidgeon of pursed lips adorning his visage. Audrey finished typing what it was she had been typing and then cast her glance up at Simon. The sunny smile suddenly reappeared on his face.
“May I help you?” Audrey inquired in as serious a tone as he had ever heard.
Oh, yeah. You can help me with a great deal many things! Now if you’d only get rid of those stupid glasses and flash that beautiful, Angel’s smile that I know is in you...he remarked to himself, though he wouldn’t dare speak those words outloud. Lord only knew what kind of impression that would have made. Audrey patiently awaited his response.
“Yes, Simon Grant,” he started, proffering her his hand, which she didn’t take, “Uhh...Research Division. I need entrance...to those doors over there,” Simon minutely stumbled for words to her rather cold response. Oww...
He motioned hurriedly toward the doors some twenty feet away to his left and beyond the receptionist desk. A guard stood there smiling to himself and pulled his eyes away as Simon glared at him. Audrey looked at the set of doors by the guard then looked back at Simon, her facade never wavering.
“Ok. Let me see your security clearance,” she requested and held her hand out awaiting the proper identification.
Simon hesitated momentarily then reached for his badge within the suit pocket of his jacket. He handed the little card to Audrey. She continued staring at him.
“Your license too,” she said.
He cleared his throat again and reached for his wallet. After handing her the ID, he stood there in an uncomfortable silence as Audrey typed in his information. Simon imperceptibly looked around the receptionist lounge, trying to ascertain if he was being watched. His smile had all but dissipated in the secret knowledge that his come on had just went south for the winter. Audrey handed the cards back to him.
“You’re all set. Just swipe your card at the doors. I’m sure you are aware of that procedure by now, Mr. Grant. You have a nice day,” she flashed a quick smile then returned to work.
Simon stood for a second, holding his cards in his right hand. Damn, he thought and turned to head to the doors that would lead him down to the research levels. He didn’t have to go through her to get to the doors, as she plainly reminded him. However, he couldn’t resist a chance to get to know the new help. Not that ‘help’ was a word he would have used to describe their first meeting.
He arrived at the doors and did his best not to look at the guard as he swiped his card through the reader. However, he could hear the snicker brewing in the guard’s demeanor.
“I’m guessing someone already told her about me?” Simon inquired, still avoiding the guard’s eyes.
“Mr. Grant, she’s a stiff one. You’re not the first to try their hand with her today. But, yeah,” the guard chuckled, “there’s some rumors about you floating about!”
Simon looked at the guard and smiled knowingly. The dark skinned man, who stood nearly as tall as Simon, understood him better than most. Afterall, Officer Desmond Stevens was one of Simon’s best friends.
“So I’ve noticed,” the door chimed allowing Simon free entry into the Pentagon interior.
“Have a good day, Sir,” Stevens said, slightly tipping his hat.
“You too, Stevens,” Simon responded and proceeded down the next hallway that would take him to the elevators leading to the Research Division.
Back within the lobby, another receptionist had arrived to take her place alongside Audrey. She sat down and suddenly screamed as she leapt back out of her chair. A uniformed guard, just arriving for duty, rushed over to see what had startled her so much. Audrey stopped typing and stared at the woman, trying to figure that out herself.
“Ma’am, what’s wrong?” the guard asked.
“Look!” the woman pointed a slim finger at an insect on the countertop, prompting Audrey to roll her eyes.
The guard looked at where she was pointing and saw a fly sitting there. Trying to hold back a smile, the guard rolled up a newspaper he’d been carrying and took a swat at the insect, smashing it before the thing could take off. The woman tried to stifle a further scream and was only mildly successful.
“Ma’am, calm down. It was just a fly. It’s gone now,” he did his best to pacify her, and raked the fly corpse into a small trashcan.
“Eww! God, I hate those things! They’re so filthy and carry diseases!!” she huffed.
The guard let his smile loose, unable to hold it back any longer. He proceeded onward toward where his partner, Stevens, awaited him.
“I don’t think they’re quite that bad,” the guard stated, walking off, “so, relax, it can’t hurt you,”
The guard half laughed as he approached his smiling partner. Stevens shook his head. It was going to be a long, albeit entertaining day. Audrey, on the other hand, was not amused and just figured it’s going to be a long day.
Elsewhere on the Pentagon grounds...
Within the confines of an old Oak tree...
The chamber was massive, as far as insect understanding went. It could easily fit the corpse of a human being, were there a necessity for the such. This fact wasn’t on the mind of the thousands of buzzing flies, communicating amongst themselves. They were an armada that had been brought together for a singular purpose: invasion.
Just beyond this massive chamber, within a specially carved room overlooking the fly horde, two flies stood in a human-like pose. The first was extraordinarily large, by fly standards, and looked over his minions through the large window in the control chamber. He was the General. His two main arms were drawn and folded behind his lower back, while the other four arms lay crossed on his abdomen. His gaze was steely and mandible almost wasp-like. His wings comfortably rested upon his two folded arms. Spikey hairs sprung out of his flesh, reminding any who viewed him of a porcupine. If porcupines were flies, that was.
His companion was much smaller. That one was a fruit fly; small, unobtrusive, and had metallic skin tones that reflected the minuscule light in a spectrum of the rainbow. He was the commander of the armada below, and had dire news to share with the master, the General. The slight commander absently rubbed his two main hands together and pursed his extended mouth in anticipation.
“Master,” the commander began, hesitant to bring forth the knowledge bestowed upon him, “I have received word that we’ve lost contact with our scout,”
He stood silently and awaited his master’s will. Words that came from the General were usually short and commanding. No doubt, this time would be no different. Finally, after too long a silence, the General spoke without looking at his tiny companion,
“Prepare the soldiers,” he said and left the commander to his devises.
“As you command, Master,”
He left the room and the General simply stood there in the barely illuminated chamber, contemplating that which was to come.
* * * * *
Deep within the confines of the research facility...
A buzz sounded as the massive, inner doors to the labs opened and allowed entrance to Simon Grant. It was a white, sanitized environment filled with individuals in white labcoats. The impression someone would get by seeing this lab, would be that the occupants were engaged in advanced, biological experiments. Such an impression would have be correct.
Simon walked the short distance to his office at the far end of the lab complex. It was on the lower tier of the two tier room. Several people watched him, as he went, and seemed troubled. This didn’t have anything to do with his black suited personage traversing a mostly white interior, but rather something else that Simon was hesitant to guess at. He glanced around from the corner of his eyes. Something was definitely amiss.
Entering his office, Simon was just about to take his seat when his intercom buzzed.
“Grant,” comes a gruff voice, “I want to see you in my office. Now,”
“Right away, General,” Simon answered and then straightened his tie as he thought to himself, Well this answers some things. What does that belligerent fool want now?
Simon walked the short distance up a half flight of stairs to the second tier where the General’s office overlooked the rest of the lab. Through the window, he saw General Claymore pacing in agitation. Shit. He looks pissed. He thought as he pushed open the door to Claymore’s office.
The General stopped pacing at the edge of the window and kept his view plastered to the workers on the floor. He was dressed in his green uniform, decked with various medals earned over a lifetime of military service. The man was six foot two and weighed roughly two hundred and sixty pounds. A slight gut was brewing beneath the General’s coat making him look, to Simon, like a teddy bear trying to be a G.I. Joe.
Refusing to acknowledge Simon, the General kept his back to him and continued staring out the window. Moments passed as Simon took a seat in a chair that looked to be pulled out for him.
“You bellowed?” Simon taunted, settling in comfortably, preparing himself for a good chastising.
“Your results disturb me,” Claymore stated, making a mental note of Simon’s sarcasm.
“I don’t know what you expect. The funding is less than...” he countered, but was cut off before he could say anything more.
“Stow it, Grant! After last month’s little incident, the bureau doesn’t have much faith in your capabilities to oversee this operation,” Claymore spoke as he turned to stare at Simon and continued his pacing, “You talk of a lack of funding, however your inactions in this matter are why those funds are so low. If it were up to me, I’d cut all your funding, and get you the hell out of my face! Are you even trying to rectify any of this? We still have an operation to complete and you’ve yet to deliver a suitable contingency plan!”
“The work is proceeding. Yes, a contingency plan was enacted and headway is being made. We’ve had to ...re-evaluate our resources and their usefulness in the field. You can let the bureau know that the new subjects are responding well and I have faith there will not be a repeat of last month’s events,” Simon related cooly.
“For all our sakes, you’d better be right. There is too much riding on this operation. The target is moving north and there isn’t much time left. If your little experiment works, you can expect a nice little bonus for you and all your hard working associates. Then the bureau will have its new weapon...” Claymore spoke as he returned his view out the window.
“If you want to look at it that way,” Simon answered.
“I don’t look at it that way,” Claymore turned his view back toward Simon and stared intensely at the man, “they do, though. Consider this and consider it well, the two of us are just pawns in this game of theirs. We complete the operation and we complete it without incident. I suggest you remember that, Grant. Don’t lose sight of the objective,”
General Claymore listened to the door shut behind Simon as he vacated his office. He didn’t treasure the feeling that resonated through his body. He certainly didn’t like all the research going on under the facilities. Yet, he knew that Dr. Simon Grant was one of the most brilliant biophysicists on the planet. The bureau had offered him this position on the Research Division team in response to a threat that no one had anticipated. But is it worth it? Can it get any further out of hand? The things scientists do...God, save us all.
Back within the huge Oak tree chamber outside the Pentagon...
The fly horde stood at full attention, saluting the commander as he took the platform before them that they had come to call ‘stage.’ Silence befell the armada as the commander saluted them back and instructed them to be at ease. The horde did as instructed and awaited their instructions.
“Colleagues, fellow soldiers. The General has come to a decision and sent me before you. You know why you are here. You know what must be done. The moment is at hand. A fellow colleague of ours is felled,” the commander spoke as a slight din of buzzing broke out, “he will be honored and avenged. He was the best scout we could have asked for and did his duty without question. The human empire must be punished!”
Cheers broke out from the gathered fly horde. The time was come and there was great excitement in the air. The chance to take back what had been taken from them had finally arrived. The commander motioned for silence.
“Now is the time, as the hard water rains have subsided and our targets are eager to enter the strike zone. Let us use them as our vessels, our passage to victory as they would have, and did, used us. Go forth, now my colleagues, as soldiers of a greater cause! Liberate our brethren and take what is rightfully ours! We may meet our deaths this day, but it will be a death well met for we will be a dagger into the mind’s eye of our enemy! Remind them who we are! Godspeed, colleagues!” he finished to a uproar of approval.
A tremendous buzz filled the massive Oak chamber, a place they had chosen when forced to flee. A place they had come to call home. Now that home resonated with the fierce echoes of the horde armada as they lifted off in unison and flew from the tree toward the pentagon entrance. Within the control room, the master watched and waited. He would be joining them shortly. There was just one thing he had to do first.
* * * * *
Lunchtime had come for many of those in the Pentagon complex. People hastened to the local restaurants of choice to grab their meals and some commented on how the weather had improved from earlier. They were oblivious to the black van that took advantage of this time of day. No one paid attention to the seven military men as they got out of the van and headed for the front doors. And no one, including the military personnel, paid attention to the unusually thick swarm of flies hovering around the compound.
The lounge area was nearly vacant as the military men, complete with black briefcases, hurried through to the doors that would take them to the subterranean levels. They didn’t notice that an armada of flies hung unto the sides of their briefcases. The men were only intent on the task at hand. The bureau had sent them to get a certain program back on track.
A man passed their path on his way to lunch, as the armed contingent arrived at the locked doors. Stevens stood aside to allow all of them entrance. His partner, Elliot, amused himself with a magazine and didn’t really pay attention to the men. This was a matter Stevens would have to bring up with Elliot. Then he looked down at the briefcases the men were carrying and saw the legion of flies sitting there looking innocent.
“Uh, Sirs,” Stevens started prompting the lead official to glare at him, “you might want to know that ya’ll got a bunch of flies on your briefcases,”
The men looked down and saw the flies. A look of surprise donned their faces. At the sudden attention given by the military contingent, the flies know the gig is up,
“Our cover’s blown! Attack! Attack!” the call went out from the lieutenant in charge of the main assault.
The flies converge on the officers and the two guards. Then they fanned out to attack anything else that was moving in the immediate vicinity. The military men swiped at the flies, feeling the bites of the fly horde.
“Somebody call the exterminator!” Stevens cried out, batting several flies out of his face and off his uniform.
Audrey Ochler and the other receptionist stood up to see the chaos and then witnessed a plague of insects heading their way. The man who had been rushing to lunch earlier was swinging like mad, trying to knock the stinging flies away from himself. The other receptionist screamed in terror and tried to flee toward the entrance doors down the hall. She fell down under a cloud of insects before she got half way.
Audrey could only stare wide eyed as she watched the flies swarming the lounge. She didn’t think flies were deadly, yet the way people were acting was like they were under attack by Africanized bees. Then a swarm of them had converged on herself. She felt their stings on her flesh and that was when she realized they had to be venomous.
She swatted away as many as she could and was about to run herself, when two of the flies landed and looked like they were engaged in some sort of conversation. Which was odd and presented a matter of disbelief that two flies were standing in a human posture on top of her desktop. It was a matter of fact that the two flies were indeed having a conversation, of sorts,
“Hey! Did you hear the one about the fly and the pig? Yeah, the fly says, ‘Move over bacon, here comes something meaner!’ Ha hah!!” Marcus quipped.
“Now’s not the time for jokes! We have a job to do. Now, listen up. Those men are going to want to get into those doors. We won’t have much time, so get a small squad together, we’ll need five. Spread the word to let them through and only us. No one else enters. Get a move on! I’ll grab our hacker,” Lieutenant Reno spoke to his subordinate.
“Sure thing, boss!” Marcus responded and took off.
Reno launched himself to go find their hacker. He’d been assigned squad leader for this leader by the Commander himself. It was a special honor. Though, he harbored reservations about attacking the humans. Why couldn’t they live in peace? Weren’t they all from the same intelligent mold? Yet, he had a job to do and do it he would. Regardless of any doubts. He was the one chosen out of thousands. He was the one given the responsibility of leading in seven specialists to allow entrance of the horde to the lower levels. Reno wasn’t about to fail in that task.
“We don’t have time for this nonsense! Jackson, open the doors! Now!” One of the military men commanded.
They all stood there, trying to swat away the attacking flies. Time was fleeting and they had to get their documents downstairs. One of the men swiped his card and opened the door. Stevens saw Audrey in a panic trying to get away from the onslaught.
“Ms. Ochler, come on! This way!” he called out to her and she ran over in his direction.
The seven men, Stevens, Audrey and Elliot all entered through the doors. There was a hall beyond the doors which led to an elevator and several passages to office rooms.
“You, watch that door. When everything has been cleared, return to your position. You,” the top official spoke indicating Stevens, “take the receptionist down to the inner lounge and stay there until this matter has been taken care of,”
“Yes, Sir,” Stevens said.
The men continued towards the elevator at the end of the hall while Audrey and Stevens took a separate elevator to the inner lounge. No one took note of the seven flies that had followed them into the hall and now followed Stevens and Audrey. Those two were heading to where the seven flies needed to go.
“I’ll bet the General will get an earful when those men arrive,” Stevens commented with a grin.
* * * * *
In the receptionist lobby...
The fly horde continued its onslaught. Those people still in their offices had tried to flee but were over powered and brought down by the venomous insects. The flies spread out to eliminate their enemies.
While the slaughter ensued, a separate swarm of flies broke off from the main group and made their way through the twisting corridors and into the ventilation shafts. Their target mission was simple: get to the deepest level possible in the government compound.
* * * * *
“Repeat that?” Lieutenant Hudson inquired, unable to believe what he was hearing from the exterminators up in the main lobby.
In the lobby, the exterminators had been spraying the insects with every available chemical in their arsenal to no avail. The flies weren’t responding to the substances. One exterminator was on the phone,
“I said, we have a serious fly problem up here!” he had to shout over the din of buzzing that seemed to get even louder, “We have people up here dying! I think the damn things are venomous! It’s the damndest thing I’ve ever seen. They look like regular house flies, but nothing seems to be affecting them! An evacuation of the main complex needs to be ordered until we can get this infestation under control! You boys keep it tight, and I don’t think they’ll get down there!”
In one of the main offices of the Research division, Hudson listened to the incredulous report. He was at a loss for words but knew to let the exterminators do their jobs. He was going to have to deliver the news to General Claymore.
“So...what do we do?” an officer asked Hudson.
“Order the evac of all level one offices and keep a lock down of the lower levels. I’m going to inform the General,” Hudson replied, getting to his feet and preparing to deliver the bad news.
“Yes, Sir,” the other officer replied, and got on the intercom.
* * * * *
“All personnel, evacuate ground floor and await and designated retrieval zones. All lower levels are being locked down...I repeat...”
Audrey and Stevens listened to the broadcast. They looked at one another with startled expressions. They had only been in the ground level two lounge for about fifteen minutes and it looked as though they were going to be there quite a bit longer.
“Is it that bad up there?” Audrey voiced their shared thought.
Stevens shook his head in wonder and opened the door to the adjoining office where a secretary was engaged in the tail end of a conversation.
“Ok, let me finish this and I’ll get right on that,” she said as Stevens entered.
The secretary and the official she’d been talking to looked over at him. She smiled pleasantly while the officer looked back at the woman.
“Make it quick,” he spoke and entered the doors at the other end of the office.
“So, what’s going on that required an evacuation?” Stevens asked the secretary.
“Oh, the infestation is a little worse than they expected. So all non-essential personnel on the lower levels are being ordered to stay put while they evacuate the first floor. I’d just stay in the lounge there and not worry about it,” she responded with a smile and went back to typing.
Stevens left the office and went to sent on a couch across from Audrey. As he sat down, seven tiny flies entered the secretary’s office and landed on a book shelf out of sight. The squad leader, Reno, addressed his team,
“All right, it’s up to you to access the network and open the inner doors. The secretary should be getting up momentarily. Once she leaves, you’ll have free access,” he spoke to his female companion, the group’s most notable hacker.
“I’ve got it,” she said, and flew off towards the secretary’s desk.
“Do you think she can pull it off?” one of the other flies inquired of Reno.
“She’s the one with the training. If anyone can do it, she can,” Reno responded confidently.
His colleague approached the desktop and landed. Unfortunately, her landing didn’t go unnoticed. The secretary had seen the fly from the corner of her eye. Reno hoped the secretary wouldn’t react until he saw her slowly reaching for a fly swatter with her right hand. Reno stared in horror,
“Oh, no...” he muttered to himself as his associates looked on unable to say anything.
* * * * *
“Grant!!” General Claymore yelled at the top of his lungs across the research labs.
All work suddenly ceased as the people looked up to see the General standing outside of the door to his office. Simon came to his office’s entrance and yelled back,
“Yes, General, what can I do for you this time?”
“You can get your skinny white ass into my office now!!” Claymore responded, anger brewing on his reddening face.
“As you wish,” Simon responded more quietly as he noted the eyes of the room affixed on him.
Simon left his office in not the best of moods. Too much work had yet to be done and here he was again going to the General’s office. The man must love me or something. The thought worked its way through his head. He was halfway to the office when he saw seven military men leaving. This didn’t look good.
It wasn’t long before Simon had arrived and was sitting in the chair across from the General’s desk. He sat in this chair so often, he had toyed with the idea of having his name carved into its back. Claymore had resumed his all too familiar position by the window overlooking the labs.
“Hudson, give your report to Dr. Grant,” he huffed.
“Well, Sirs, as you are aware, we’ve had to order a temporary evac due to a small infestation in the main lobby. I thought it prudent to inform you of this. The exterminators should have it under control shortly. Though, they have spoken of several casualties due to a potential venom in the insects’ bite, flies I believe,” Hudson delivered his report and stood at attention with a perplexed expression.
“Flies? We have a fly infestation? I don’t see...” Simon’s eyes went wide as a thought struck him.
“That’s right, you get it now don’t you?” Claymore stared down at Simon.
“You said there have been casualties? What sort of casualties?” Simon asked, hoping to not hear the answer he knew he’d receive.
“A few deaths, Sir. It looks like some people had a allergic reaction to the fly bites,” Hudson replied.
“There will be a lot more before all is said and done... Hudson, I need you to make sure the lower levels are completely locked down. Nothing and no one gets in, do I make myself clear?” Simon leveled a finger at Hudson.
“Yes, Sir,” Hudson responded, not sure of what was going on.
“Grant, I don’t need to tell you the level of screw up that is developing here! You take care of this and take care of it now!” Claymore shouted.
Simon glared at him and wanted to strangle the man. He got up out of his chair and stood at the desk matching his gaze with General Claymore.
“I will take care of this, and I don’t need your crap on top of everything else! I have a plan to deal with this. Let me do it,” he spoke and turned to exit the office.
Simon didn’t like dealing with Claymore anymore than he did dealing with him. It was a necessary evil for the benefit of the research. Unfortunately, the research wasn’t at the level it should be.
* * * * *
The secretary raised the fly swatter and brought it down onto the fly before it had a chance to escape. Upon the book shelf, Reno say this and couldn’t believe his eyes and could only watch in horror as the secretary brushed his associate’s corpse onto the floor. She wasn’t just his associate though, she’d been more. She had been his mate and he was left with only her name on his lips,
“MAG...gieeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeee!!” Reno shouted, his voice tiny against the human sized room.
“Fear not, young warrior, for her sacrifice shall not be in vain,” a deep voice resonated from behind Reno.
He looked up and behind him to see the lethal form of the General of the entire armada. Reno rose up from his knees onto which he had fallen and was perplexed to see the General here. He hadn’t expected him to be joining the attack. And he certainly didn’t expect to see him in the presence of six very large yellow insects.
The six were the size of a human’s palm and were bright yellow. Reno saw that they were a member of the fly family, yet their natural stripe pattern was reminiscent of a yellow jacket and their mouths looked to have been patterned after the same insect. Only the mandibles set at the end of an extended fly mouth. They terrified Reno more than he could have imagined, but he maintained his dignity.
The General cast his black eyed gaze at the six and issued a command,
“Kill the woman,” he spoke and the six flew after the secretary, “go and open the doors,”
The General motioned to the small squad to continue on with the mission. One of the flies speaks up,
“Our hacker is dead, we don’t know how to open the doors,”
“That one there does,” the General motioned towards another in the group who had been trained alongside Maggie, in case she were to fail.
“Yes, Sir,” she responded and prepared for the task to come.
* * * * *
“Boy, this is really something,” Stevens said, sitting down on the couch across from Audrey, “I guess we just wait here for the exterminators to finish doing the deed,”
Audrey shook her head and said nothing. She stared at a clock on the wall wondering why she had even bothered getting out of bed . Working for the Pentagon was supposed to be one of those dream jobs with cushy benefits. Instead, she was privy to arrogant men and swarms of venomous flies. So far, her day had been less than ‘dreamy.’
Stevens picked up a magazine and started reading an article inside its pages. Audrey watched him as the seconds drug on into eternity. It wasn’t long before that eternity gave way to a piercing scream from the secretary’s office. She and Stevens exchanged puzzled expressions, then leapt to their feet to see what was the problem.
Opening the door that had drifted shut, Stevens stands aghast as the secretary’s body falls to the floor. Audrey stares in horror at the sight of six, yellow insects, each the size of a man’s fist, stinging the woman without mercy.
“What the HELL!?” Stevens shouted out, taking his newspaper out to take a swing at the six insects.
He could tell already, though, that the woman was dead. While Stevens busied himself swatting the deadly looking insects, Audrey watched a giant, black fly land on the secretary’s desk. She also noticed a little fly accessing computer files.
“Uhm, Mr. Stevens,” Audrey spoke, waving her hand in the direction of the computer, “is that fly using the computer?”
The large, black fly stared at her, suddenly. Before any further actions took place, the door at the other side of the office flew open and Simon Grant rushed through. He froze in place when he saw the scene.
“You!” Audrey heard the black fly shout, actually shout, at Grant.
“You!” Simon shouted at nearly the same moment and rushed forward to push Stevens and Audrey back the way they came, “Leave her! She’s dead!”
“What!? I’m not...” Stevens started but Simon cut him off,
“No time! Run!!” Simon commanded and ushered the two back through the other door.
* * * * *
“Attack him!! He is the one!! Go! Go! Go!” The fly General barked at the six.
Their pursuit was halted as Simon slammed the door behind him and the two others, preventing the six from following. Not willing to give up the pursuit, the six darted through the vent they and the General had used to enter the building. They wove their way through the ducts to find the way into the hallway beyond the inner secretarial offices.
* * * * *
Simon led Audrey and Stevens through the halls toward the elevators leading to the main floor. He didn’t bother looking around to ensure they weren’t being followed; he just ran.
“When you get to the first floor, run like hell to the entrance! Don’t look back! Don’t stop!” Simon was telling them as they approached the elevators.
“What about the infestation?” Stevens inquired.
“...Do your best. Just don’t get bitten and you’ll be fine,” Simon spoke.
“Real comforting, Simon,” Stevens responded biting back any further retort.
“I’m not going back up there with all those...flies...biting everyone. I’m in no hurry to die,” Audrey said, determined to stand her ground.
“You stay down here, and you definitely won’t be getting back out,” Simon retorted and pushed the button for the elevator.
Audrey said nothing to this, not relishing the idea of rushing through a cloud of venomous insects while avoiding their stings. It was already a daunting task. The debate is ended, though, when the six arrive out of the vent over the elevator and begin an attack run on the three people.
“Change of plans!” Simon shouted as they ran in the opposite direction.
Stevens pulled his gun and started taking shoots at the yellow flies that were giving pursuit.
“Stevens, you idiot! Who do you expect to hit!?” Simon queried not relenting in his run.
Audrey matched Simon’s pace while Stevens drew back.
“Regardless, I’ll hold them here, Mr. Grant. Get Ms. Ochler out of here,” Stevens shouted while unloading his weapon on the converging insects.
“How noble,” Simon commented wryly.
“We’re not just going to leave him?” Audrey asked Simon.
“He’s a grown man and can take care of himself. Stick with me, and I’ll get you out of this. Of course, you can always try your chances with the flies,” he spoke and motioned back the way they had come.
They rounded a bend down another hall. To the left hand side of this one, was another elevator. This one, however, only goes one way; down. They entered the opened doors and Simon pushed the button that would take them to the lowest levels of the complex.
“Where are we going?” she inquired.
“Down,” he said cryptically.
“No shit, but why?” she wanted to know but he only stared silently waiting for the doors to close.
A buzzing sounded from around the corner and Simon found himself reaching for the button and tapping it again. Audrey found herself holding her breath as the buzzing grew louder. The doors close just as the buzzing seemed right on top of them. Simon and Audrey audibly exhale and cast sidelong glances at one another.
* * * * *
In the hallway where the elevator doors had closed, six yellow flies gathered around the elevator summons panel. They looked up at the floor indicator and saw where the other elevator was heading. The lead fly pressed the summons button which caused the second elevator to open up. Once inside that elevator, the leader of the group pushed the button to the lowest level.
* * * * *
Reno knelt before the stricken corpse of his beloved Maggie. Life had quickly drained from her form and he could only cry at this loss. He held her close to his chest, his thousands of pupils dilating from behind a human shaped eye. Reno kissed Maggie’s forehead with his long, nose-mouth and silently cursed himself for believing in the frivolous lies bestowed upon him.
His naivete had cost him the only woman he’d ever loved. Coming to this place, the construct called Pentagon by the human clan, had been the gravest of mistakes. It was obvious to Reno now that the General had anticipated a heavy resistance from the humans; that they were merely canon fodder and a diversion from the real insurgency. There must have been another team, as well, Reno figured. The yellow flies were the strike wing.
From within the vent they had entered not long before, came a legion of fly warriors. Those warriors were bread different from the common caste. They were larger, though not quite as large as the yellow flies. Reno had heard somewhere that the secret cast were called ‘Horse flies’, whatever those were.
Reno saw the General standing upon the desktop from his position on the floor. The steady drone of a keyboard echoed through the room and then a massive clink was heard from a place just beyond the small secretarial office. The door remained open from when the one called Simon Grant had burst through. Now, he could see a opening doorway at the end of the hall beyond that opened door.
“The doors are unlocked and opening now,” spoke the hacker at the computer.
She smiled ruefully at the General. He stood straighter and would have born a smile had his mandibular jaws allowed for the act.
* * * * *
Within the main lobby of the complex, a major part of the fly horde hovered over dead bodies of humans felled, and they waited. Dinging sounds emitted indicating that the overrides had been installed and all the doors were opened. The inner entrance swung wide and the horde entered towards the elevators at the end of that hall.
* * * * *
The General climbed into the air and followed his warriors into the lab at the end of the hall. His revenge when soon be at hand and the human defenses would be breached. Though the group continued onward, Reno remained at his mate’s side. Gathering her in his arms, he rose into the air and headed back towards the air-vent. There had to be another way. A full frontal assault to this extent resulted in too many deaths. He knew this wasn’t going to end well and had to make plans for the future.
* * * * *
General Claymore sat in his office watching the crews below on the floor preparing for after the crisis had been adverted. Sweat flowed down his brow and he was unable to wipe it away. Everyone, including himself, had dressed themselves in the emergency radiation suits. The visors were unremovable. This meant he would have to suffer through the discomfort for a while longer.
A clamor arose on the floor below and Claymore got to his feet. The doors to the lab were opening. They were massive, nuclear blast doors that were magnetically sealed and could only be opened by him. Though, it seemed that was no longer the case.
Then the elevator doors opened with a sliding thud, and he knew the chaos had just entered its most lethal phase. Flies were pouring into the room from the blast doors and the elevators. The assault began immediately as many workers succumbed to the venomous force of intruders.
“God help us all,” General Claymore muttered and stared in horror.
* * * * *
A ‘ding’ emanated as the auxiliary elevator reached the basement level. Simon and Audrey exited the device and proceeded down the hall. Simon led the way through the labyrinth of halls towards a room containing the furnace and air conditioning units. There also lay in wait a machine hooked into the ventilation system. Once activated, the machine was designed to release a deadly neurological toxin.
“But, won’t this substance kill the people left in the building?” Audrey inquired, unsure about the wisdom of such an act.
“That shouldn’t be a problem considering that the complex has been evacuated. Only those in the labs should still be within the confines of the building. And, those people would have been ordered into their containment suits. All this had been installed during the cold war. In case of enemy infiltration, the gas was designed to eliminate the hostages as well as the enemy in as quickly a manner as possible. In the interest of national security, of course.” Simon informed her as they made their way to the room with the gas.
“Well, isn’t that just wonderful! So, we’re just expendable employees? All to protect their little secrets!?” She spoke angrily.
“What did you expect? This IS the Pentagon and our nation’s headquarters for counter-terrorism.” He replied.
“Regardless, the lack of caring for life is staggering. So, what do they do if this machine doesn’t work?” Audrey asked with a grimace crossing her face.
“Then this is going to be a quiet neighborhood for the next thousand or so years.” He quipped.
“What is that supposed to mean!?” Audrey cast her glance at Simon and grabbed his arm to bring him to a halt.
“There’s a nuclear warhead beneath the basement. In event of complete intrusion, we’re set to blow.” He spoke and turned towards the door they stopped near.
Audrey released her grip as Simon entered the boiler room. She stared in horror of the idea at a wall. Simon looked at her and spoke reassuringly,
“Just relax, alright? Those are last resort methods. We’ll never have to use it. So come on, we don’t have time for this.”
She reluctantly followed him into the room. Within the interior, they made their way towards the back of the room where a control box mounted on the wall resided. They rushed past steam valves and other structures of unusual design which reminded Audrey of something crossed with ‘Aliens’ and ‘Tron.’
“Wait,” Audrey spoke suddenly, realization hitting her, “won’t we be exposed to this stuff?”
They saw the box after having reached the end of the series of twists and turns. Gadgets on that wall bleeped eerily in a dim light.
“You see that closet over there?” Simon motioned towards a door with a small oval circle inset into it.
“Yeah.” Audrey responded as Simon reached for the box.
“When I hit the button in this, we’ll rush over to that closet. It’s vacuum sealed and contains a couple of extra containment suits.” Simon said as he released the box locks.
“Ok. Will we make it there in time, though?” Audrey inquired, looking at him in concern.
“Yes. The ventilation release is on a ten second delay specifically for that reason.” He spoke.
“Not a lot of time...” She huffed.
“Don’t worry about it, we’ll make it.” Simon responded as he reached for the button inside the box. “Here goes nothing.”
He reached his hand towards the button but found himself blocked by the sudden appearance of a massive, yellow fly.
“Holy hell!!” He shouted.
Simon and Audrey quickly darted back the way they had come. The yellow fly was joined by two others and they gave chase down the myriad of piping in the boiler room.
* * * * *
“Do not be deterred by their containment suits! They are helpless before us! Victory is at hand! Attack! Attack them all!” The fly General called out, rallying his soldiers.
The fly horde had finally penetrated the Pentagon research labs and now they were stinging at the humans with all their might. Despite being garbed in thick radiation suits, people were fleeing before the armada in terror. The General smiled inwardly. Yet, the horde still was having a hard time with the attack. They landed upon the humans, encompassing their beings entirely, but the suits proved far too thick to pierce with the horse flies’ stingers. This allowed the humans too much time to ‘drop and roll.’
Humans were grabbing fire extinguishers to spray off the horde troops. However, the flies were unaffected in the counter attack. A stalemate had been drawn.
Hoping to end this fact, the fly General flew towards the human General’s office. The one called Claymore stood behind thick plexiglass and stared at the fly General. The glass was bulletproof and flyproof. However, he remembered a secret and flew off to a place just beyond the eyesight of Claymore.
* * * * *
“What are you doing, my malevolent friend?” Claymore wondered aloud as the fly General flew around the sight of the plexiglass.
Not liking the feeling he was receiving from this act, Claymore reached for the magnum in his top drawer. He checks to make sure it is loaded and stares back out the window. Somehow, he knew things were drawing to their imminent conclusions.
* * * * *
A fly landed on a countertop within the besieged lab. He watched as several members of the original seven intruders landed beside him.
“Say, do you all notice a certain someone missing?” He inquired glaring around the chaos in the labs.
“That coward! Reno is so busy pining over his fallen mate, that he cannot find it within himself to join his colleagues in certain victory!” A second fly exclaimed.
“He has done his part, let him grieve.” Commented a third.
“Done his part!? There will be plenty of time to grieve over a lifeless corpse once we have annihalated this human pestulance!” The first responded, then added, “Though, this battle is getting us nowhere. I have an idea that will gain us some ground!”
His tone brightened and an evil cander entered his voice. He rubbed his two front feet together in anticipation while the second inquired,
“What do you have in mind?”
“Come with me, and you will find out! Besides, I’ll need your guys’s help.” The first continued and they rose off the countertop.
* * * * *
“Where are the other three?” Audrey huffed her query out as they rounded a corner of piping.
“I don’t know...” Simon responded.
They came to a stop and looked around. Simon caught his breath and was preparing to continue to backtrack through the pipe works when the other three showed up to block their evasion.
“Run!” Simon shouted and the pursuit continued.
Simon and Audrey were forced to separate and hope that they would end up back at the control box. The three flies that blocked them divided up in the chase. Two went after Simon as the third continued after Audrey.
Simon ended up getting cornered several turns later as the two yellow flies beared down on him. Steam prevented him from seeing too far past the two hovering insects jetting back and forth in the air just before him. One of the yellow flies darted in towards him and stung him on the base of his neck before he had a chance to dodge. Searing pain shot through his veins and blurred his vision. Not waiting for the other fly to take its shot, Simon swatted it aside and rushed pass them.
Venom caused him to stumble slightly as he paused for the two to regain their composure and come after him. This doesn’t take long. Luring the two past a steam valve, Simon waited until they were almost upon him before pulling on the handle set into the side of a wall at a junction of piping. The steam caught the two flies in flight hurtling them into a nearby wall. Simon slid down the wall he braced himself on and came to a seated position, watching the two insects writhing in burnt suffocation. They ceased moving.
Simon pulled himself back up and shut off the steam valve. He barely felt the pain as he leaned into a hot pipe. Badly burned, he fell to his knees and nausea began to overcome his person. Before he could get sick, however, he witnessed from his hands and knees the two burnt flies twitching and flipping over onto their stomachs. They came to their hands and knees and stared at him in sheer anger.
“You’ve got to be shittin’ me...” Simon drooled, blood and bile oozing from his mouth and onto the floor.
The two flies stood up and, as they do, the three other flies show up and hover behind them. They glared at Simon and prepared their strike.
“I’m in trouble...” Simon slurred to himself.
* * * * *
Audrey ran as fast as she could down the pipe formed halls of the room. Close at hand, was the yellow fly that was relentless in its pursuit. She neared an utility locker and could plainly see a military issued shovel inside it. Grabbing the utensil, she quickly swung it around in time to swat the fly and send it spiraling out of control. Its trajectory sent it between a set of pipes emitting from a control box at its base.
The fly buzzed and flapped in an irate manner. She remembered a trick from her youth and shoved the shovel in between the pipes, pinning the insect. The fly squealed in anger at being imprisoned. Audrey reached to the control box and pulled free several hook-ups grounded into the electrical conduits. Holding the two wires by their insulated sides, she touched the ends to the shovel’s metal handle. Sparks flew and a massive explosion sent Audrey careening into a wall across from her.
Lights flickered as Audrey unsteadily stood back up. Her suit and several hairs had been scorched, but fortunately the backlash wasn’t enough for any further damage. Looking in between the pipes, she couldn’t say the same about the yellow fly. Its remains had been burned beyond recognition.
“Hope you enjoyed the shock treatment, you little fuck.” She commented dryly and wound back through the boiler room to find Simon.
* * * * *
Simon hurried back towards the closet and the emergency button. He had to trigger the ventilation release. All the while, though, the five yellow flies taunted him in his trivial attempt to escape their grasps. He opened the door to the closet upon arriving, and turned to head towards the emergency release. However, the five flies hovered in the air before him and prevented him from seeking out that course of action.
His vision blurred as he sagged against the wall where the closet was. He could barely stand as the venom was working its way through his system in deadly resolve. One of the flies spoke to him, then,
“The end has come for you, Simon Grant, harbinger of chaos. Is it not a line in one of your movies? ‘This is the part where you fall down?’” He laughed after speaking this.
“Feels...about...right...” Simon responded through a groggy haze as the flies gathered around him menacingly.
“Hey!” A voice came and abruptly shifted the flies’ attention.
The five swiveled around in the air and saw Audrey standing by the release button with her hand hovering above its red sheen.
“The human woman is not eliminated! Stop her!” The lead of the five commanded and they charged.
Audrey depressed the button and ran straight for the swarm of flies. Surprised at her brazen maneuver, the five inadvertantly allow her to rush past them and towards Simon. The flies gather their wits and take pursuit of the audacious woman. She half tackled Simon as she pushed him into the closet and shut the door behind them.
The yellow flies hovered just outside the small window to the closet looking inside in fury. They work feverishly to find a way to open the door. However, the door had been locked by Audrey. She grinned at them and flipped the flies off.
“We have...to get i...our suits...The...air...is going to get...thin real quick.” Simon sputtered out.
She worked to help him get his suit on knowing the time was running out. Alarms started blaring almost immediately. Looking out the small window, Audrey sees the flies dropping to the floor. The age old joke suddenly popped in mind. She finished getting Simon into his suit and figured out how to hook up his oxygen supply. She looked through the window and at the floor. Features of the flies were already dissolving.
This was a small room, and she knew the oxygen inside would run out fast. So she got her own suit on very glad that this was almost over.
* * * * *
Three, flying sleds hovered slowly into the main lab. Mounted upon each of them, were laser turrets that were being used to mow down the human presence with absolute prejudice. Piloting the sleds, were the three flies from the squad of seven intruders. They grinned in pleasure as they unleashed their carnage.
Humans screamed in terror while the fly horde screamed their approval. The three knew every control for they had been exclusively trained to pilot them. For the flies, victory against their makers was close at hand.
* * * * *
General Claymore felt helpless as he watched his crew torn to pieces by the machinery they had built for these insects. He reflected on how they had escaped a month earlier. They must have been plotting this revenge ever since.
A click distracted Claymore and he bore witness to his own sanctuary being violated as the doors to his office slid open. With great flamboyance, the General fly made his entrance and landed on Claymore’s desk. He stared at the insect in utter disdain. This was the ultimate insult, to have one’s soldiers betray you in murderous intent.
Once again, the two Generals faced each other. Only this time, there was no window that separated them. They stood completely upright in their most formidable poses. However, General Claymore stood slightly to his right with his arm towards the plexiglass window.
“Even now, Claymore, you cower before me! Afraid to face me without this suit of yours, are you?” The creature hissed.
“Yes.” Claymore spoke instantly and pulled his magnum forward.
Claymore swiftly took aim as tiny black eyes focused on the weapon. Sparing no words, Claymore pulled the trigger and splattered the fly General’s body parts all across the desktop and far wall.
He placed the weapon on top of his desk, and went back looking out the window at the carnage below. He wondered how he would survive the day when the horde discovered what he had done to their General. A swish interrupted his train of thought as a green, vaporous gas exited the lab vents. Again, only one word is uttered by Claymore,
* * * * *
Within the ventilation shafts, a young fly carried his fallen mate towards the entrance of the compound. A swishing sound and a vapor was quickly overcoming his position. He knew what it was and wasted no time flying out of the ventilation shafts and into the main lobby. He saw the entrance ahead. Were it not for the human body lying in the floor blocking the door from automatically shutting and locking, the fly would have been unable to exit the building. It was a small exit and any vapors leaving through that crack would be diluted by the moisture in the atmosphere, Reno figured.
He flew outside, free from the confines of the Pentagon and the fly army as a whole. He retreated into the wilderness beyond.
The carnage within the complex came to an end and left all invading flies dead or dying. Laser sleds stopped firing. And a very relieved General stared out at the survivors of the attack.
* * * * *
“Feeling better?” Audrey asked Simon as he sat in the chair beside her in General Claymore’s office.
Several hours had passed since their rescue and the clean up crews were busy erasing the traces of biological components and fly carcasses. Simon and Audrey had had a chance to rest while locked in that closet. Which meant he could offer her a smile to her query.
“Much better. Thank you. ...Thanks for saving my ass back there. Without your help...” He sighed and looked ahead, then continued, “How about I repay you for your kindness? At least, let me get you a cup of coffee.”
“You know, I may just take you up on that offer. Yes, I...think I will.” She smiled at him.
Audrey thought he was a real prick earlier during the day. Well, she still thought he was a little too macho for his own good, but, at least he was trying to be just himself. Too much had been going on. The compound was shut down until further notice and, as far as the outside world was concerned, only a mild fly infestation had occurred.
“Cool. Anytime, anywhere.” Simon spoke sincerely.
A few moments passed and General Claymore entered the room. He was flanked by two members of the Military Police. The MPs stood to the back of the room as Claymore shut his door.
“Excellent work, you two. Ms. Ochler, how are you doing?” Claymore questioned taking a seat behind his desk and folding his hands in front of him.
“Good, sir. It’s been very crazy today. What were those things? They looked like flies but, they were...mutated or something.” Audrey replied with an exhausted smile.
“Those were a figment of your imagination.” Claymore spoke with authority and leaned back into his chair.
Simon shifted his position uncomfortably. He knew where this was going and didn’t like it one bit. He bit his lip in frustration.
“A...what? What...” Audrey began.
“No one knows what transpired here. That’s the way it’s going to stay. Your family can’t know, your friends can’t know, certainly not the media, and you should forget about it too. There was a minor fly infestation. End of story. I’m telling you this, because you were a tremendous asset to us all. I want you to continue to be in our employ. But I need assurances.” He spoke matter-of-factly.
“Assurances? That was no minor fly infestation! That was an invasion!” She blurted out angrily, “Just what is going on around here!?”
“That’s on a need to know basis. Know this, you’ll be taken care of and no harm will come to you.” Claymore said in a warning tone.
“No harm, huh? Is my life in danger now or something!? What is going on down here!?” She made to stand.
Simon put his hand out to try to calm Audrey down, however, she was beyond reason on the matter. She was angry at being threatened and angry at everything that had happened.
“No, Simon, I want to know what’s going on! I get thrown into this nightmare and now I’m getting threats! That’s it! I’m calling my...”
“I was afraid of this,” Claymore overspoke her, silencing her tirade, “Gentlemen?”
Claymore motioned for the MPs and they moved forward to take Audrey into custody. Audrey resisted, her anger mounting. She calmed enough to be escorted from the office.
“Hey! Now wait a sec...!” Simon stood.
“Sit down, Grant.” Claymore interrupted his outburst in an authoritative voice.
“Grant!” Claymore bellowed.
“Where are you taking me?” Audrey interred as she was led to an undisclosed location.
She looked back at Simon who mouthed I’m sorry. To her. Silence prevailed in the office for a few moments after the door slid shut. Simon had slowly retaken his seat in frustration. Claymore rose to his feet and went to stand in front of his window. Simon kept his gaze somewhat downcast while awaiting whatever it was the General was going to speak next.
“I abhor what transpired here this day,” Claymore started, his back still to Simon, “My report to the bureau made that fact plainly clear. I lost a lot of good people today...” He turned to look at Simon who raised his eyes somewhat, “Too many innocents died needlessly. You, however, managed to keep Ms. Ochler alive, though, didn’t you?”
“I think she was the one who kept me alive.” Simon replied.
“Hmph. Regardless. Don’t let whatever feelings you’ve developed for this woman get in the way. Bear this in mind, not another of my crew will come to harm while in my employ. Not if I can help it. You’re going to play nice for now on. Understand?” Claymore spoke and stared hard at Simon.
“The Bureau, on the other hand, and against my wishes I might add, has come to conclude that your work here might, just might, be beneficial. They liked what they heard about this and want you to continue the next phase of your research. Those bastards liked what they heard about how effecient of a killer you developed.” Claymore said bitterly, “Do you understand what I’m saying, Grant?”
“Yes, sir.” Simon responded, lowering his eyes to his hands.
“Dismissed.” Claymore spoke angrily and returned to staring out of his window.
“Yes, sir,” Simon spoke and stood, “What of Audrey?”
“Sorry, Grant.” The General replied.
“Yes, sir.” Simon turned away from Claymore and exited the office.
* * * * *
Deep within the bowels of the Pentagon...
At the lowest depth of the complex, is a basement few have seen in decades. It is within the confines of this rarely seen room that an entire sect of the fly swarm had specifically come. This has become their final resting place. Their corpses litter the floor. Fifty plus fly bodies remained motionloess as small, white worms crawled amidst the carcasses, devouring them slowly. At the center of the mess, lies the body of a janitor who had followed the swarm down there in hopes of eliminating the insects. However, he had become food for the true purpose of their mission: to lay their eggs at the heart of the complex.
A small larvae crawled atop the janitor and shuddered in slight convulsions. The shell cracked open and out crawled a small juvenile fly. He gasped the new air and stared off into the darkness.