We got the buzz on tiny flying insects.
Writers responded to the prompt, and what follows is a collection of perspectives in 99-word stories arranged like literary anthropology.
Those published at Carrot Ranch are The Congress of Rough Writers.
An Unnatural Glade by Chel Owens
Var paused. This opening felt different.
The echo of his soot-crusted boots ceased. His kerchiefed breathing slowed. As charred branches, brittle pine boughs, and scorched roots recovered from his recent passing; he realized he was not alone.
Furthermore, Var could not be the only living thing in this unliving world.
There! Ash-strewn sunlight touched a new, green bud. And, there! A lonely peppered moth took flight. Oh, there! Buzzing annoyance nipped a sunburned ear.
But, there! -Most of all, there! In this unnatural glade amidst a smoldering hell of war’s aftermath, he heard an ancient sound: sweet, whistling birdsong.
Little Things by Rebecca Glaessner
Almost unshielded, Earth is hotter now than my last visit.
Yet, its natural chaos is still wondrous.
These humans don’t plan well, their cities struggled with the changing, despite how gradual.
Chaos is hard to protect, to regulate. Impossible, they said.
But humans inspire me. Their fragility breeds courage, authenticity.
I had to return.
Despite humans, across all those years, nature survived.
I made sure I recorded memories of the little things – ants in the lawn, onslaughts of flies – and used those memories to design this form.
What a glorious Earthen day. The insects don’t even see me.
Defending Scotland by Geoff Le Pard
‘Have you thought about this year’s holiday, Logan?’
‘I’m staying here.’
‘Oh you can’t. We’ve been locked in and…’
‘We chased our tails around the States, if you remember….’
‘That wasn’t a holiday.’
‘You’re telling me…’
‘I meant it was business…’
‘Those goats weren’t a pleasure, that’s true.’
‘So a holiday…’
‘Abroad is out.’
‘We could do a staycation.’
‘Too many English.’
‘What about Wales?’
‘We’ll never survive the attacks.’
‘They’re not unfriendly…’
‘We’re not talking of the people. Remember?’
‘Exactly. Midges. Genetically designed to eat the English. William Wallaces with wings…’
Warfare by Reena Saxena
The Prize is being given for a discovery, not an invention. The scientist calls it an ‘act of God’ and not his creation.
A new breed of insects discovered feed on viruses (not the man-made computer ones). They are fed the deadliest ones and its mutants, and the tiny insects appear to thrive on those.
Windows are shut as those insects throng the sky.
“OMG!” Someone in the lab exclaims, “Have you tested the impact of these insects on humans? Or have you released a new monster in the world?”
The deed is done. It is biological warfare.
Hosts by Joanne Fisher
A team was sent to investigate the planet’s surface. They found an inordinate amount of tiny flying insects everywhere they went. After taking off their protective visors they were swarmed by them. They signaled for immediate retrieval.
“What’s with the red eyes?” the commanding officer asked when the team returned onboard. They didn’t say a word, but opened up their sample boxes and suddenly the entire ship was engulfed with tiny insects.
Once the spaceship was under the insects control, via their human hosts, the insects now planned to explore the rest of the galaxy, and take it over.
Flying Purple People Eaters by Doug Jacquier
Apart from their milk-white skins and their shoes, you could always tell the new kids in the tropics. They had gentian violet daubs on their arms and legs because they’d scratched their midge bites. Thus newbies were referred to as purple midgets. Midges bite more on a full moon, adding rampant lunacy to the constant irritation, which led to the legend that victims briefly turned into werewolves with wings, spawning that hit tune of the 50’s, The Flying Purple People-Eater. Eventually, immunity would set in and you became a local, primed to mock the next influx of purple midgets.
BBQ the Fly by Norah Colvin
Named for their favourite thing, BBQ’s parents farewelled their son on his first independent foray.
“You can! Avoid the can!” they called. BBQ had trained relentlessly, perfecting every manoeuvre — walking on ceilings, buzzing people and, especially, dodging the dreaded spray.
BBQ’s antennae zeroed in on a backyard barbecue where he chose a juicy sausage for his ritual dance. He had just extended his proboscis when a swarm muscled in. Through the crowd, one of his compound eyes caught the glint of something metallic —a can!
He retracted his proboscis and escaped just as the spray downed the unfortunate swarm.
Probe by Laura Finn
I’m just a tiny thing – that sends giants running. My weapon isn’t meant to kill, or cause mass destruction. I just hunger, for flesh – the pulsating flow of blood. I can’t resist. Your heat draws me to you, and I probe, deep into your meat. I feed.
You, giant, don’t like that though.
I imagine the sow, who covers herself in mud to abate my advances, doesn’t either, but I do not woo her as you do. You, hungry for her flesh, stick your probe into her, taking from her body, for yours. We, too, are alike.
Tiny Biting Insects by J.B. Scarce
“GO AWAY!” yelled the Bi-Leg as he swatted at a Dragonfly.
“You are Dolittle’s descendant. You understand us. We- we need you!” The young fly cried.
“What can I do?” the man asked sadly. “I’m just some old man who’s losing his hair and his mind. What good am I?”
“You love all of God’s animals, including spiders. Even I’m not fond of them, and they’re my cousins. But you care.”
The Bi-Leg looked at the Dragonfly. Then a smile crept onto his face.
“All right, you talked me into it.” the Bi-Leg agreed, and beamed at the Dragonfly.
A Summer Afternoon by Michael Fishman
Tad sat with his father on the edge of an old oak stump. They sat, father and son, watching the water.
Tad didn’t have the heart to tell his father he’d rather be in the water than sitting and watching the water.
“Don’t fret, son. It takes practice; you’ve got it in you.”
“Yeah, I know, but—”
“Hold it, Tad, look,” his dad said as he poked his son in the side.
“There, to your left. Now watch.”
Dad threw his tongue out, grabbed the unsuspecting mosquito and pulled it back into his mouth.
“Wow dad, cool!”
Bugged by Bill Engleson
“Leave me alone. I’m sleeping.”
“Yeah, really. What’s it to ya?”
“I’m a little concerned about you.”
“What’s to be concerned about? I’m fine.”
“Fine for now. Depends how long NOW is.”
“What’s that mean?”
“Well, life expectancy, for one.”
“It means…how long you’ve got…to live.”
“You mean, at some point, I’ll die?”
“Yeah. Like, if you were a male mosquito, you might have five or six days. The ladies live much longer. Unless they get swatted.”
“Whew…thank goodness I am no mosquito.”
“Really, you’re sure about that?”
Small Song Reigning by JulesPaige
Mist clears before mine eyes
Overnight precipitation, – in morn, sunrise
Clears the deluge of a haunting nightmare
Those torrential images caused me to, stare
Thankfully no monsoon, just a cooling
No freezing sleet, to kill young roots spooling
Nor hail to rip the garden’s gentle heart beating
Cloudburst came, though not so fleeting
Flooded with relief, yet there’s disappointment
Showers brought an onslaught of lament
Drizzling in swarms; biters – midge and mosquito
Pour I must salves upon myself from head to toe
Even with that sprinkle of bugs, I love rain
And will stream words welcoming refrain
Surprise Discovery by Duane L Herrmann
I began waking down the hill to my truck. I hadn’t gotten very far when I began to hear it. At first I was puzzled: what was that odd buzzing sound? It was a different kind of buzzing than I was familiar with. As I descended, the sound became louder and louder, yet not real loud. I reached the clearing above the creek and saw a mist that was not a mist. Then, I understood. There was no wind down here, the creek and pools of water were here – and so were mosquitoes. Millions of them!
Travel Plans by Ruchira Khanna
In November, my family and I decided to trek the redwoods.
The fog, chirp of birds, and redwoods combined to create a calm, moist environment, like the cloud forests.
Just then, a buzzing noise caught our attention, and it started getting louder with each second.
“What’s that noise?” asked my son.
We looked yonder and saw a grey cloud coming our way.
“Duck” was my instant command.
We gave way to them. The swarm of insects passed by us within seconds as if they were on a mission.
They didn’t bother us since we didn’t disturb their travel plans.
Time’s a Changin’ by Cara Stefano
Frank had been a cross country trucker for some time. Burn-out was coming on strong, though; keeping his eyes open for a pertinent sign kept his wheels turning. Sometimes during lonely overnighters on the empty highways he felt a kinship with the tiny insects that rocketed towards his windshield on their kamikaze trajectories -they didn’t know the end was near until it hit them in the face. And he hated when anything with a stinger tried hitching into the cab with him. But what’s this: a dragon fly? Bingo! Time for a change!
Mother Knows Best Even When Dead by Ellen Best
A knocking of the front door made Mavis stop. “Mavis, coooeee, it’s me, alright if I come in?” Mavis poked her red face from under the stairs. “Stop catterwalling Jo, and close that door.”
“I knew I’d find it Mothers book, look Jo just what we need, one part white vinegar, a squirt of dish soap and warm water. Perfect, all I do is mix and spray liberally and Bobs yer uncle. “That upstart at the nurseries can keep his bug spray at £4 a can. Mother had a trick for everything.” My roses will be safe in Mothers hands.
Murder In Picnic Wood by Hugh W. Roberts
Sometimes, even the tiniest of things can turn a person to commit murder.
Swatting away the tiny flying insects from around her, Mary turned to her husband and demanded they headed home.
“It’s too hot, too humid, and these insects are bugging me.”
Laughing at what he thought was a joke, Micheal picked up a can of insect repellant while the persistent nagging carried on.
“Use it! Use it!” demanded Mary.
Two hours later, Michael opened a can of cold beer in the garden of his now nag-free life. I must buy more insect repellant, he told himself.
Twenty-three miles away, the tiny flying insects feasted on what remained in Picnic Wood.
River Camp by Saifun Hassam
At sunset, the River Camp was surrounded by tropical darkness.
A rogue spy buzzed intel to the Camp: Invasion at nightfall.
Lamps lit up the Camp, traps for the invaders.
No invader should get into the Camp unscathed.
Rubber tire traps were checked and rechecked for leaks. No invader must escape.
Citronella sprayers were checked for blocked nozzles.
Nightjars and bats flew overhead.
News spread fast of an approaching swarm.
First Aid Station was on high alert.
Swarm after swarm of mosquitoes darkened the skies.
Shimmering dragonflies swept into the Camp.
Beasties by C. E. Ayr
My daughter’s scream has me scrambling out of bed.
She is sitting up, hands covering her face, still shrieking.
I flick on her bedside lamp and shudder.
There are wee flying beasties everywhere, swarming around and crawling over her.
It’s okay, baby, I gather her in my arms, swatting the horrid beetle-like thingys away.
Then I panic.
There are more on her feet and legs.
I slap at them, brush them from my own face.
Then I see wings emerge from her nose.
I roar in anger and fear until I no longer can.
Because my mouth is full.
A Day For Remembering by Sue Spitulnik
The annual Memorial Day pig roast at the No Thanks was an event Michael looked forward to and dreaded. It was no live band day, so he couldn’t hide behind his instrument, singing words not his own. Often, family members remained outside, and the veterans retreated to the purposely darkened indoors to reminisce about those they had fought with and lost.
Thankfully he knew the secret to defuse a too-heavy conversation; swat his arm and say, “Damn mosquitoes.” The discussion would quickly become animated about the size of flying insects in specific war zones before returning to painful memories.
MacArthur Wasted Men Like Flies by Charli Mills
Mud and biting flies greeted Sgt. McDermott on the Pacific Island of “lady.” Leyte sprawled, a slattern who rolled soldiers in the mud. Swatting possessed insects proved futile. At night, it rained. Supplies failed to reach American soldiers. McDermott’s unit fought jungle diseases and gunfire unsupported. They lived on coconut and sugarcane, sweetening sweat and blood for the insects. Ormac Valley loomed for the taking. “You’ll get a medal, Sarge,” his men said for his efforts to conquer the last outpost. Before the official battle, McDermott dropped from a sniper’s bullet. His men dropped like flies the next day.
Horror of Flies by Roberta Eaton Cheadle
I’ve tried to picture in my mind what 480,000 bodies would look like, but all I can visualize are hundreds of fat, black corpse flies feasting on them and, even worse, laying their eggs on them. I see the clusters of flies in the corners of their eyes and in their mouths, noses and ears, and the speckles of fly dust that mark their clothes. The buzzing of the flies fills my mind and I think of those poor dead men turning into a mass of maggots. My gorge rises and it’s all I can do not to vomit.
Biting Yarns (Part I) by D. Avery
“The Lemmon Brothers! Hey there Tim, Tom. Tim, yer wearin’ pants?”
“I’m Tom Pal.”
“Oops, sorry. Tom, where’s yer dress?”
“Wearin’ pants ta thwart them dang black flies was comin’ up unner my dress.”
“Oh. Tim why’re ya wearin’ a dress then?”
“Waited too long. Got so many welts unner this here dress cain’t git ma pants on. Where’s Kid at Pal?”
“Kid’s off wallowin’ with Curly the pig, tryin’ ta git away from these black flies. Kid’s bit up all over, an’ I mean all over, after last week’s nekked gard’nin’. An’ now this.”
“Yep, this prompt bites.”
Biting Yarns (Part II) by D. Avery
“I figgered we could use our powers a fiction ta keep mis’rable critters sech as black flies an’ skeeters away from the Ranch. Now Shorty wants us ta use ‘em ta power our fiction. Hmmf.”
“Speakin’ a miserable critters, ain’t that—”
“Slim Chance! What’re ya doin’ here?”
“Heard y’all’s bein’ bugged at Carrot Ranch.”
“Only thing buggin’ me is you, Slim. You must have black flies too, I kin see the dark cloud over yer spread from here.”
“Got ‘em Pal, an’ I got a concoction ta keep ‘em off ya. I’m willin’ ta share. Fer a price.”
Biting Yarns (Part III) by D. Avery
“Why should I buy yer concoction, Slim Chance?”
“What a question! Black flies is eatin’ ya alive! Makin’ yer skin raw and itchy, all lumps an’ bumps an’ scabs an’ sores. This stuff keeps ‘em off ya.”
“I don’t gen’rally cotton ta concoctions. Anyways, ya sure it works? Yer lookin’ mighty puffy likes as if ya got all bug bit Slim.”
“It works real good. Jist kinda makes yer skin itchy an’ sore is all. Mebbe break out inta lumps an’ bumps an’ sores. Small price ta pay ta keep the bugs off a ya Pal.”
“Bug off, Slim.”
Biting Yarns (Part IV) by D. Avery
“Ah jeez. Was hopin’ this yarn, like black fly season, would end soon. But here comes Kid an’ Curly right on the heels a Pepe LeGume.
Kid, I sure hope thet’s mud yer wearin’ like a snuggy. An’ why are ya followin’ Legume aroun’ like thet?”
“Hey Pal. Yep, been earthin’ in the mud, makes ma bug bites feel better. Then Pepe happened by an’ I noticed he’s the only one aroun’ here ain’t bothered by them flyin’ insects been set upon us. So I been clingin’ ta Pepe like stink on sh—”
“Shush Kid. An’ move over.”
It seems we all know too well the frustrations of Tiny Flying Insects. What a brilliant array of perspectives here! Great work all. This was a fun one.
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I tell you what, Charli, this is an apt set of stories for us right now, as we’ve moved further into.the Green Garden of Kent, and there are plenty of flying insects here!
What a great set of stories, from earth to outer space. Welcome to the new folks and thanks for sharing to the names I recognize, real and fictitious. Well done.
Quite a collection here, Charli. Congratulations to the Ranchers. Couldn’t get my head together for it this week – I’m disappointed as I don’t think I’ve missed a prompt for years. Better get geared up for tomorrow.
Usually I read all the entries and note the ones I think exceptionally brilliant or funny or both (had to add horrific this time around) but this week I ran out of fly paper and even a SWAT team couldn’t have shortened the list to midge-t size, so Australian salutes to you all, especially to that new player, Ms Quito, from Ecuador.
This is my first 99 cent trIp, and what fun. For under a buck, I think there will be many more trips to the well. Nice work buzzing buckaroos!
Great collection of stories this week, and so appropriate considering it occurred the same week as the first hatch-out of midges (known to the locals as muffleheads). They hummed and mated looking like smoke there were so many. Congrats to all of you.
Everything is very open with a clear explanation of the issues. It was truly informative. Your site is useful. Thanks for sharing!