Now the creaking noise was really loud. April could hear quite well now, that it was right above her. She looked up at the ceiling, and saw that there were cracks forming in some of the hemp-fiber panels, and the metal frame around them was bending and snapping. April continued to stare at this spot, as the creaking got louder and the cracks got larger... when suddenly, much to her confusion, she heard a voice, ridden with panic, coming from the ceiling, as well as the vigorous buzz of a pair of wings.
And then the ceiling finally gave way. First as small clouds of dust and fibers, then in small chunks of hemp. April set her Snapple down on the floor as the smaller debris floated down, and then jumped out of the way and onto the ground, as soon as those chunks started raining upon her. And then the rest of the failing panels, and parts of the framing, crashed around her feet, bits of the debris grazing the heels of her shoes as she landed. And yet, she managed to remain mostly unscathed --
...key word, mostly.
The ceiling may not have gotten her, but what was hiding within it did. It was a male aedine, who looked to be around forty or so. April hated insects, so she couldn't tell you what a 'good' insectoid looks like, but this one was horrifying and sickly-looking. The aedine was very thin, almost anorexic-looking, with a brittle-looking dark taupe exoskeleton, glassy wings, a full head and antennae of unkempt brown hair, a stain-covered tank top and pair of jeans, big swamp-green eyes... and most horrifying of all, a giant mouth, that would put to shame even Steven Tyler.
...'s most ridiculous-looking caricature. It was disturbing how huge it was; a mouth that big, the aedine looked like he should've had Kirby's food-inhaling ability. Not to mention it had sharp teeth, with strings of drool running between them. And they had ended up dug deep into the shin of April's leg.
April screamed in pain and fright, as she saw the pools of blood forming at the aedine's teeth. Then the aedine looked up at her, and screamed as well. As they both screamed, April felt something go out of the aedine's mouth, and up her leg... inside her leg. At first it just felt like saliva, but then she felt something else go in. Something thicker, more solid. Could it have been a piece of food? A drumstick or something? Or, knowing April, she'd probably think it was something way more gross.
The aedine finally stood himself up, looking down at the bloody bite mark he'd left on April's leg as she continued to scream. He was as horrified as April was by the whole situation, and only felt worse when he saw her scratching at the swelling wound. She was certain there was something that wasn't spit in her leg, and he knew that she knew that she wanted to know what it was.
"Oh gob, oh gob, oh gob, oh gob..." he said, shaken. "So sorry about this... how'd... how'd I even --"
"Ya bleedin' snot!" April shouted, frightened and enraged. "What did ye pit in meh?!"
"I don't... I don't know! I don't even know how I got here! I don't --"
Suddenly, April jumped up and tackled the aedine. He was able to take off five feet off the ground before she was able to grab him by the feet.
"What did ye spit intae mah laeg?!" she shouted. "Mangoworms?! Jiggers?! Botflies?!"
Anyhoo, it was this question, of course, that finally broke the aedine. April saw the sweat leaking out of his forehead, and the tears flowing out of his eyes. He looked like a broken sprinkler, and sounded like one too, whimpering like a coward as the mephitine girl held an iron grip to his feet. As the silence from him continued, April became more and more certain of what she thought. His silence was just too incriminating. She went over this thought a few more times in her head... before she let out a loud, shocked gasp.
"Ye dirty WANK!" she shouted.
And then April threw the aedine to the floor. He yelped as his body was yanked downwards, and bounced around on the floor like a balloon as he tried to fly away, before he finally plunged face-first into the wall. April now had him right where she wanted him, right where she could tell him off as he trembled.
"Ye gave meh botflies, dinnae ye?!" she yelled. "Dinnae t'ink ah dinnae ken what diseases an' parasites ye aedine fucks 'ave! Ye left a gingin' dipterous maggot in meh bodeh! Ye gross, dirty wank! Ye've given meh botflies! YE'VE GIVEN MEH --"
CCK... CCK... CCK...
April froze as she felt something pull at her shin, in tune to faint sucking noise. It felt like someone was tugging on a string threaded up her leg. But there wasn't any string around... what was it tugging at her leg? Or was on her leg? Or was... in her... leg... oh. Oh no. It couldn't have been... that, could it? Could it?!
April slowly tilted her head downward as she stuck her foot out, looking down upon the streams of blood going down her shin. She quickly patted away one of the trails with her middle finger... only to come across something to make blood look tame. The confirmation of her suspicions. A quarter-sized hole in her shin, with something that looked like a giant ball of leporine shit wriggling inside, thrusting about, swelling her leg up, looking like a tumor from the outside.
Yep. It could. And it was. How freaked out exactly was April at this sight? Well... hopefully these long strings of A's followed by single H's answer your question.
April fell over screaming, screeching, at that little dipterous larva in her leg. She'd seen those videos on YouTube, of bipedes and occasionally pets, having larva and worms and other gross parasites, plucked from their bodies. It baffled her that those videos had such a huge following, disgusted her that parasites so horrible actually existed... and horrified that one was now inside her leg. And it was big enough to be a bipedal one, which was just even more...
As April continued to scream, the aedine decided to sneak off and fly. He managed to avoid any physical wrath the mephitine girl could bring upon him, but not the last few insults she had built up in her.
"Ah yeah, ye better fly aweh! Fly away, ye wee bastid, ye waste o' eggs! Piss off!"
Not that April didn't make the attempt, though. She threw a chunk of hemp at the aedine as he flew, but it ended up missing him, as she threw it at the wrong angle. It only ended up hitting the upper wall, next to him, about six feet up. Sports weren't exactly one of April's strong points, and neither was dealing with bugs... especially bipedal ones inside her.
April felt the area around the larva... well, more accurately, held her finger so lightly on the area, she was basically hovering her finger above the wound. She didn't want to touch it. It was far too gross for her to want to make any physical contact with it; it was the size of a fucking tennis ball, if not bigger, and was covered in barbs that felt like fingernails scratching against the inside of her skin. When part of April's finger actually ran over the wound hole, she let out another scream.
"AAAAAAAAAAH... AAAAAGH... Agh... Egggggh..."
April let out a few panicked breaths as she backed up against the wall, next to her half-drunken Snapple. And then she pulled out her Android from the pocket of her dress, and tapped the power button. The nine-dot lock screen faded in from the black.
"Ye be'er answer 'is, Auggeh!" she said, hastily entering her password, running her finger through the dots. "Ah swear tae gob!"
Meanwhile, in the library, Margo and August were still organizing the manga section, straightening out and alphabetizing all the books on the shelf.
"And that's why Teen Titans' 'Things Change' is one of the worst finales of any show ever," Margo proclaimed. "Why would they even end the episode on a cliffhanger when they hadn't even been renewed for a sixth season to resolve it?!"
August stared silently at Margo for a while with a puzzled expression on his face, before finally making his reply.
"Next time," he said. "Don't just randomly make a concluding comment to a rant, when you never even began one in the first place. It makes you look weird."
"You at least agree with the jist of it, right?"
"Uh, yeah, I guess --"
August heard his phone go off in the pocket of his khakis, vibrating as it made that high-pitched bell sound.
"What in the..." August muttered to himself, as he looked over at his pocket, glowing with the light of his screen. "I thought I turned this thing off."
"Dude!" Margo scolded, as she watched her mephitine friend pull out his phone. "You can't be on your phone! Mr. Beast -- uh, Mr. Hansen's gonna come any minute now!
"Chill, Swordsy. It's probably just a junk text. Either that, or my little sister Abby."
"You mean there's a difference?"
OHHHHH! BURN! BURN! OHHHHH!
...okay, only this narrator reacted like that. But August did let out a light chuckle at that funny little burn of Margo's.
"Good one," he remarked.
And then August finally turned his attention to his phone. He was confident it was just a junk text, not even thinking enough about it to read a preview of what it said. He just tapped it with his thumb and let it bring him to the messages menu, he was so sure it was a junk text. Then he actually read the text... and his head hurt so bad reading it, he felt like he was about to have a migraine.
The text on August's phone was from his twin sister April. And he could tell just by how badly written it was, with the capitalization and punctuation and even a few grammatical errors, that she was freaked the fuck out:
'Fuking aidine gave me botfly! Im runing home now Auggie sry GROSSGROSSGROSS! Help me when your home GROSS!!!'
...this narrator will take 'frustrating incorrect uses of homophones' for 400, Alex.
Anyhoo, August stared at the message for a while, shocked at what he was reading. A botfly? But those live down in South Amareica... not in the United States! He was willing to believe that a mosquito would bite his sister, even a bipedal one if it was on accident. But giving her sister a disgusting parasite? That seemed like a bit of a stretch, even for her. Regardless, like a good brother would, August still was worried about his sister. April would never lie about seeing something so gross to her.
August continued reading the message, several more times, as its words slowly sunk in. And then his arms went limp, dropping his phone at his feet as he looked back up and stared, just stared into nothing, like a traumatized war vet.
"You alright there, Kenny?" Margo said. "You said it was just a junk text."
"I said it might be," August replied, emotionless, seemingly broken. "But it wasn't. It was my sister April. She's skipping out on detention."
"Some aedine apparently bit her, and she says she has botflies."
A long... cackling laughter came out of Margo pretty much immediately. Yep, no long silence for tension this time. She just went right for the reaction, couldn't contain it. That statement of August's was just too hilarious. It sounded like some hilarious excuse, one of the funniest she'd ever heard. Like, seriously? Botflies? As in dipterous robots?! How funny!
"That's not funny, Margo!" August shouted. "Do you even know what botflies are?!"
"Why, of course I do," Margo replied. And then she broke out in a stereotypical robot impression, complete with the jerky body movements and a monotone, computery-sounding voice. "Beep. Boop. I am a botfly. Buzz buzz. RAHHHHHHHHHH! Ding ding!"
"Oh, for the love of --" August muttered, dragging his hands down his scowling face in frustration. "No, Margo!"
Margo darted her eyes over at August, and let her body slowly go limp, like a robot powering down. She let her arms hang like wet noodles and hunched her back like Quasimodo, as she made a progressively quiet whirring sound.
"Then what is it?" she asked.
"A botfly is an insectoid that lives down in South Amareica," August remarked. "Mosquitoes and aedines pick up its eggs and carry them for a while, until the larva hatches when it finds mammalian skin to burrow into. If it's a regular one, it can be plucked out with tweezers or even crawl out on its own after a while. But a bipedal one... a bipedal one can grow big enough to leave my sister crippled or worse if it's not surgically removed."
"Wait, that thing?!" Alan shouted, annoyed. "She's skipping out on detention, because she had a panic attack over something that doesn't even live in this part of the world?! Boo!"
August turned to the rest of the library, to see that everyone was turned his and Margo's way, sided with Alan in booing and jeering him... well, April. But being her twin, anything stupid she did, would always reflect badly on him, like ink on a paper. Sure, the ink mark be made on one side, but part of it always bleeds to the other. And August's was the side to which the mark on April's bled.
"Help me, Auggie!" Alan said, in a mocking, whiny tone. "The aedine, it gave me a botfly, it gave me a botfly, Auggie, help me! Ehhhhh, wehhh wehhh, it gave me a botfly! Help me, help --"
"Leave my sister alone!" August shouted, raising his bushy tail an inch or two. "Leave my sister alone or I'll fill the library!"
"Dude, August," Wendy said. "Your sister made that dumbass excuse --"
"Hey-haw!" Donnie groused.
"...sorry, Donnie. That dumb excuse."
"That's what I thought you meant... hmph!"
"She obviously made that dumb excuse so she doesn't have to face us for that spectacle she made of herself earlier. You need to learn how to call your sister out for her shit, instead of just coming up with excuses for her every time. Besides, she owes me --"
Wendy paused to retch at her own smell for a moment. She puffed her cheeks up before popping her mouth open like a balloon against a needle, and then took some deep breaths for some fresh, not-trashy-smelling air.
"She owes me one hell of an apology... preferably in the form of sixteen cans of tomato paste! It's bad enough I get neglected at home, I don't need my parents locking me out because I don't smell 'decent', as they put it!"
"Excuse?!" August retorted. "My sister doesn't lie about her experiences with insects!"
August heard his phone go off again as it lay on the floor. He looked over at it, and saw it was still on his little chat thread with April. She had sent an image now, a vertical nine-by-sixteen shot that August could only make out from a distance as a dark, gray-and-red blur surrounding an even darker object. But once he got a good look at the image, he could tell exactly what it was... and it made him feel like his brain was shitting itself.
It was a close-up of the larva in April's blood-stained leg. And it was a big one alright; the lump in her shin was the size of a grapefruit. Eww. Gross. Her right index finger was pointing to the lump, and there was an X-eyed emoji sticker pasted in the top left of the image. Eww. Even grosser.
...sorry, that was just this narrator. Emojis are awful. August only cared about the larva.
"BLEGH!" he revolted, almost spitting the sound out like a bile. And then he turned to face the rest of the library, holding up April's selfie for them all to see. "Okay, look at that, you see? She's really got one. Can we all shut up now?"
"Oh, there you go again," Alan said. "Spewing crap out of your mouth just to defend your sister. That's a stock image she sent to you, I bet."
"And just what is going on here?" a familiar, adult voice scolded.
The kids all turned their heads to the front of the library, and saw none other than their feared feline principal Hansen, standing in front of the doors, hands behind his back. He scanned the area silently for what felt like ages, with his piercing yellow eyes. And then he made a low, grumbling noise, intimidating like a sleeping bear. A lot of things weren't sitting right with Hansen about what he saw, but one glaring thing stood out the most. And everyone, especially August, knew what thing that was before he even said it.
"...where has Miss Lowry gone to?" Hansen spoke. He turned his head over to August. "Ah, Mr. Lowry, you're her twin. You tell me. Where's your sister gone to?"
August felt drops of sweat leaking out of his skin, trickling down, making him feel like he was out in the desert. He grabbed the collar of his polo, feeling like it was suddenly strangling him, wrapping around his neck like a snake. His head slowly turned away from Hansen for a while, at all the other kids glaring at him. From his point of view, it looked like one of those cliche shots in the movies, one of those shots of a bunch of disapproving faces pointed the protagonist's way after their epic screw-up.
"Well, Mr. Lowry?" Hansen spoke again. "Where's she gone to?"
August turned back towards Mr. Hansen, and tried to get the words out.
"Uh..." he stuttered. "Well, um, she's gone to, uh..."
"'Uh' is no place I've heard of," Hansen replied, slowly walking up to August, looking like a giant, ominous shadow. "Where is this Uh? Does Jeff Goldblum live in Uh?"
"Uh, no, Mr. Hansen, she's gone out of the building. She's... she's ran off."
"Ran off, has she? What's the excuse this time, she's afraid of a fly?"
"Yeah, uh... yeah, actually, that's kind of right. She has a botfly larva in her leg."
"...no she doesn't."
"Yes, she does! I have the photo to prove it!"
"Oh, do you now?"
August held up his phone, still on the image of April's selfie, for Mr. Hansen to see. He was determined to prove to him that his sister wasn't lying. Margo hadn't yet seen the photo for herself, however. So she decided to sneak a peek at it, as Hansen took his own look at the photo.
"Wait a minute," she said. "I haven't seen the photo yet -- DAAAAAAAMN!"
...heheh, that reference will never get old. Anyhoo, Hansen stared at the photo for ten long, dragged-out seconds, before finally voicing his opinion about the photo.
"Anyone can inflate a part of an image in Photoshop," he stated. "I've had real botflies pulled out of me from vacations to Panllama. They don't make ridiculous bulges like that, that's cheap photo-editing trickery anyone can do. Real ones look like pimples from the outside, really large pimples, not tumors."
"But this is a bipedal one!" August retorted. "And look at the blood stains! You don't fake --"
"Stop, August," Hansen demanded. "Just stop. Your sister is a stupid cow who likes coming up with excuses. Tell her that she's suspended for the rest of the week. I don't want anyone else in this school getting any ideas from that prissy little shit."
Your permission to insult Principal Hansen is granted. Seriously, fuck him.
Anyhoo, Principal Han -- 'scuse this narrator, Pissable Hansen, looked over at the manga shelves, and saw, much to his satisfaction, that the mephitine and his ginger leporine friend, were well on their way to getting the shelves fully organized.
"With that said, however," he continued. "Glad to see you and Tab -- uh, Margo here, are getting these shelves in order. Keep up the good work and don't stop."
And then he walked off, not even taking any notice of how August reacted towards his words. He was pissed the fuck off, gritting his teeth, giving him a fiery glare... which of course he didn't see, either that or he just cared that little. He wasn't usually the shouting type when he got angry, or even the physical type. He was more like the bottling type, someone that suppressed their anger for whatever reason, either because they thought anger was a useless emotion, or that they'd only make things worse if they did get angry.
Luckily, though, he had Margo by his side, to give a voice to his thoughts.
"Fuck Hansen," she muttered.
"Yeah," August replied.
They continued glaring at their principal, as he made his way over to the shelves being organized by Alan and Wendy.
"Blegh!" Hansen revolted. "You stink, Miss Wyler! Take a shower!"
One hour later, the clock had passed 4:30PM. The detention kids had gotten the library shelves all organized, and were allowed by Hansen to leave, one by one, as he checked their work one last time. August and Margo were the first ones checked and, likewise, the first allowed to finally leave. August waited until the door had closed behind him, before he said what was on his mind.
"If he wasn't our principal," he said. "I'd go full sacs on him."
"If I was a mephitine like you, Kenny," Margo replied. "I'd go full sacs on him. Principal or not."
"And that's why you're such a great friend, Swordsy."
Margo squealed with joy as bright splotches of red shined through the freckles on her cheeks. She lightly clenched her hands over her mouth as she smiled, and then lunged over to August to wrap her arms around him in a tight embrace. April was right, August thought to himself. Margo really did like him. As in actually liked him, wanted him as a boyfriend, not just a regular friend. And the thought of it made him blush, turned his whole face a cute peachy shade. His friend had a crush on him. How cute, how awesome... how flattering.
August looked down at Margo as she continued hugging him, and ruffled her messy, carroty hair a little as he smiled.
"I hope your sister gets the help she needs, Kenny," Margo said. "She doesn't deserve that, nobody does."
Margo let go of her mephitine friend -- excuse this narrator, crush, as she continued speaking.
"And sorry I made fun of botflies earlier."
"Ah, don't feel so bad," August reassured. "Dipterous scum like that deserve to be made fun of. Besides, 'botfly' is a stupid name anyway. I thought it was the same thing you did when I first heard the name."
"Can't say I blame you, Kenny. I mean, 'Beep. Boop. I am a botfly. Buzz buzz.'"
"Heheheh. Actually, that is pretty funny, Swordsy. Can you do it again, one more time?"
"Beep. Boop. I am a botfly. Buzz buzz."
"Haha! Love it! I think I should have you do that to cheer up April when we get the chance. Don't know if she'll appreciate it, but it's worth a try."
"She'll find it funny in the right timing, trust me. Anyway, I best be heading off now. See ya tomorrow, Kenny!"
Margo adjusted the straps on her backpack, and then ran off, giving one last wave before leaving August's sight, disappearing as a blur to him, going behind the walls.
"Goodnight, Swordsy!" August called out.
Now alone in the hallways... save for a few more students being let out in the library, August realized that he suddenly felt thirsty. Two hours of sorting books bought eight to twelve sips from the fountain, and he was not leaving until he was quenched. Luckily, there was a water fountain right in front of him, right outside of a dimmed hallway, that had only one distant light at the intersection of the hallways left on. It was almost as if it the hallway was lit like that on purpose, to have someone emerge from its darkness in a dramatic reveal.
Anyhoo, August walked over to the fountain, and slurped up all the water he felt he needed. As he took his last sip, he heard a voice, a strange, male, raspy voice he hadn't heard before, of a bipede who sounded his age.
"You straighten sixteen shelves," the voice said. "What do you get?"
August looked up from the fountain, and saw, to his surprise... and this narrator's confirmation, a messy-looking chiropteran boy, emerging from the darkness of the shadowy hallway. In a dramatic reveal. Heheh.
"A ravenous appetite for Ma Nature's sweat."
...yeah, no use trying to build it up. It was Randy Haggard. Remember him? That weird rhymer from chapter 3? Well, nothing much had changed over the past several hours with him. His black hair was still moppy, and he was wearing the same hoodie and sweatpants that he was in the early morning. Except how, he was also wearing glasses. Really goofy-looking, thick-rimmed glasses, that looked like Buddy Holly's. As he walked out of the shadows, he turned his head over to August, and spoke again.
"What is it, you silly boar? Have you not seen a chiropteran before?"
August could only think to stare silently at Randy, bug-eyed with astonishment at his presence. He really hadn't seen a chiropteran before, at least not anywhere in the town of Grunvale. The closest ones he knew about, were those who lived in the caves of Mount Hatcher. He knew all about how secretive they were, how protective they were of their caves. To see a chiropteran actually come down to Grunvale was a very rare experience. So imagine how lucky August must've felt to see one with his own eyes.
"...n -- no," he mumbled, shocked at what he saw.
"The name is Haggard," Randy spoke. "Randy Haggard, of Hatcher the mountain. These words I must tell you, before you're far from the fountain."
There was a few silent seconds between the two of them, preceding August's reply.
"I saw your sister get that nasty bite, infected with a gross little parasite. While I hope she gets the help she so desperately needs, I'm gonna give you a warning, that you must heed."
Randy darted secretive eyes around the hall for a moment, making sure no one was around to hear what he had to say. He then let out a deep, anxious sigh, before he continued.
"The mother of that worm is an insectoid corrupted. It's otherworldly power, that has her mind interrupted. If you know what's best for you, you'll listen to my rhyme. You do not want to be knocked out, like my friend Gilda Grime."
August's face slowly melted into a puzzled expression, as he processed the words of that weird chiropteran boy.
"Gilda... who now?"