Chapter 1



Thank God! I almost got caught that time. If I had been just a few seconds slower getting my ass down behind this bush, I would have been feeding some fucking Wasp larva with my own body parts for the rest of a very short life. Now, if it will just buzz past me low enough, I'll rid the world of another of those damned aliens. Here she comes ... Got her! That spear through her guts will kill her for sure, and it will only take a few more seconds ... One less Wasp out of thousands, it's not much, but it's the best I can do by myself. Jimmy Johnson ran to the alien monster and pulled out his spear, delighting in the yellow fluid that passed for blood oozing from the creature. He also removed her antigravity belt and slung it over his shoulder. Later, he would find a way to wear it.

These creatures that were called "Wasps" for lack of a better name, had been on Earth for less than two months, but they had very nearly wiped out the human race. They looked so much like the earthly Yellow Jacket Wasp, except for their size, an average of three meters from their stinger to the end of their antennae, that the name stuck from the first day. Their wings were virtually useless for lift, but their antigravity belts made up for that. Their wings just aided in their movement in the horizontal direction. They must have evolved on a planet with insignificant gravity, because their body was too heavy for their wings to lift it off the ground in a 1g environment.

The Wasps were so dangerous to humans because of the way they raised their young. It was very similar to the way Earth Wasps operated. They stung their prey, which did not kill it, and injected an egg into the body of the still-living incubator. The egg hatched within a very few hours and the larva began to grow. It had a voracious appetite and began to eat its host from the moment it left the egg. It ate its way out of the body of its host when it was ready to morph into a Wasp, and the host died at last. The worst part of all this was that the host was conscious the whole time; you could tell because you could hear them scream in pain as they were eaten alive.

Other hosts would do in a pinch, but humans were the ideal host, which the Wasps found out only hours after landing and leaving their spaceships. It was not clear how so many Wasps could have existed in their spaceships, even though they were monstrous constructs. The spaceships were shaped like square-based pyramids, so it was appropriate that their first landing was in Egypt. They landed next to the Great Pyramid in Giza and dwarfed it in size.

The first ship to land simply sat in place for about four hours before a hatch opened half way up the wall of the ship. Government dignitaries, business tycoons, scientists, and tourists all flocked to the site, hoping to meet the aliens when they deigned to exit their ship. Of course, every possible TV network had cameras and commentators there, expecting to pontificate on a momentous occasion. Little did they know just how momentous the occasion would be! Without fanfare, the hatch opened and a single Wasp flew out. It seemed to look around for a moment before it moved to one side. Suddenly, Wasp after Wasp came boiling out of that hatch and three others spaced equally around the ship. There is no way of knowing how they made their selection, but each Wasp dove on a human and stung him/her without waiting for the human to react. The TV cameras caught all of this as it was happening and beamed the shocking pictures around the world.

The human fell to the ground, paralyzed, as soon as it was stung, the Wasp landed on top of the victim, paused for a moment, and then flew off, looking for another victim. The TV cameras kept rolling, capturing the horror of the moment. After all of the people surrounding the spaceship had been attacked, additional hatches opened and more Wasps came out, but these were not flying. Instead, they started to set up some sort of construction facility and started building what could only be called a nest.

Construction of the nest had hardly been begun when a new crew of Wasps came out of the spaceship and picked up the paralyzed humans lying about on the ground. These people were carried to the nest being constructed and taken inside. About 40 minutes later, human screams began issuing from the nest. By this time, all of the bodies lying on the ground had been moved to the nest. Shortly thereafter, Wasps began flying in, probably from Cairo, carrying more bodies to the nest. More screams could be heard over the TV net until the batteries finally ran down, or power was lost some other way.

Five and one-half hours after the first landing, other spaceships began landing in other parts of the world. The exact number was never known, but there were many. Military might was thrown against the Wasps in an effort to stop them, but the Wasps had a multitude of weapons which could disable the weapons of the humans, so very little damage was done to the Wasp ships or to the Wasps, themselves. The humans found that bullets were useless against Wasps, except to annoy them. Explosives would sometimes work, but they were hard to deliver against the Wasps excellent defenses. One nuclear weapon was used against a spaceship and the ship was destroyed, but so many people railed against the use of such weapons that it was the only one ever exploded. Such is the course of human stupidity—blocking the only effective weapon because people were aghast at such "barbarism!"

Bill Whatly had been on vacation when the Wasps landed. He spent three weeks in the boondocks at his fishing retreat that had no radio, no TV, and no telephone. Bill had left his cell phone behind because he was adamant about not being disturbed when he was communing with the fish. So he only found out about the Wasps 20 days after they had landed. Bill was an organic chemist who was a world authority on bug killers, so he was sought out by the government to help in the fight against the Wasps, but he was nowhere to be found.

He learned of the invasion when he stopped at a country service station for gas, a Moon Pie, and a Coke. There was nobody around, which was amazing, so he went into the store to ask what was going on. He called out, but got no response. He was about to leave when his eye was caught by a 13-day-old newspaper. The headline, "WASPS HIT BIRMINGHAM," was enough to make him pick up the paper and read the article. Quite a bit of the background was included in the article, so he was pretty well brought up to date on the emergency. Bill was appalled by the Wasp situation and wondered if he could have helped in the initial fight.

The electricity was still working, so he was able to fill up with gas and get his cold Coke, but the damned Moon Pies were all stale, but that probably happened before the Wasps even landed. As he drove toward Auburn University, where he was a tenured professor of organic chemistry, he considered what he might do to cope with the situation. Bill was no superman, but he was fit, both mentally and physically, so he was able to accept what had happened and look for survival methods. His mind was quick, and he never dwelled on matters which he could not control, so the Wasp situation did not drive him into a blue funk nor paralyze him with indecision. By a strange coincidence, he had been working for the last two years on a poison to kill wasps without affecting other creatures, particularly mammals.

In fact, the fishing vacation was in celebration for finally resolving the last problem he had with his formula. As Bill saw it, there was a three-fold problem: making enough of the poison, finding a delivery system, and doing the actual delivery. Bill thought he had the answer to all three problems, if he had enough time and help.

Production was no problem. He could make enough of the poison in his lab at Auburn to wipe out the Wasps. The poison was so powerful that less than a drop, if properly applied, was enough to kill an alien Wasp

He thought that a delivery method was at hand. If a tiny wad of cotton was dipped into the poison solution and inserted into the nose of a hollow-point .22 caliber bullet, that, if shot into the body of an alien Wasp, would be enough to kill it.

The Army and Air Force could certainly supply the necessary means of delivery. There were a hell of a lot of people around who could shoot a .22 bullet, so that was all that was needed.

QED. Now, if all of those factors could be brought together.

Bill stopped at the first gun shop he saw and went in. There was nobody around, but all of the weapons were still on the racks and the ammunition was still in the display cases. The first thing Bill did was to find a .22 automatic pistol with holster. It was the conventional holster worn on the hip, but it would certainly do until he could come up with a shoulder holster, which he was partial to. He found a case of .22 hollow-points and loaded a clip with them.

He had noticed a grocery store down the street, so he went looking for watermelons. When he found them, he fired a few rounds from his pistol into the melons and then examined the recovered slugs. Most of the slugs had deformed and crushed the hollow interior, and the few that hadn't were crammed full of watermelon pulp. That indicated that hitting a Wasp with one of the bullets was going to insure that the poison was deposited within the alien beast.

All he needed now was a source of cotton, which he could pick up at any drug store, and a supply of his Wasp poison. He went back to the gun shop and loaded up every .22 caliber weapon that he could find and all of the .22 hollow-point ammunition that was in the store. This pretty thoroughly filled the rear seat of his car, so he figured that there was no way he could carry any more guns and bullets, even if he could find them. Besides, he was in a hurry to get back to his lab.

He was rapidly approaching the interstate when he saw a man sitting beside the road. The man was armed with an atlatl, so Bill knew that this was no wimp. The man looked up and waved as Bill approached, so Bill stopped. The man said, "Where are you going and can I get a lift?"

"Sure, hop in. I'm headed to Auburn, but I can drop you most any where you want to go. I'm Bill Whatly." Bill put out his hand.

The other man shook his hand and said, "I'm Jimmy Johnson. Pleased to meet you. How did you avoid the Wasps, and what's with all of the guns and ammo?"

"I was on a fishing trip away outback and beyond and didn't even know about the Wasps until today. I'm a chemist, and I have a poison that will kill the Wasps if we can inject them with it. The guns are all .22s. I figure to put a dab of poison inside the tip of a .22 hollow-point and shoot that at the Wasps. That's the surest way I know of to get the poison into them."

"Hey, that's a great idea. Can I join the party?"

"Sure, glad to have you. Can you shoot?"

"Hell, man, no self respecting red neck would not be able to shoot, especially a .22."

Bill laughed at that and admitted that it was true. Conversation continued as Bill was filled in on Jimmy's adventures with the Wasps.

Jimmy's voice broke with emotion several times as he told his story. "I was out plowing the back 100 when I first caught sight of a Wasp. I was lucky, 'cause it came in from the front, so I could see it through the windshield of my tractor cab. It must of had me figured for a victim from the first, 'cause it swooped down kinda tail first and smashed in the windshield with its stinger.

"Lucky for me, I had my 12-gauge along in case I spotted something for supper, 'cause I jerked it up and jacked in a shell. I think the Wasp had not expected to hit the windshield and was a little stunned, 'cause it just lay there on the hood of the tractor. I didn't give it time to do nothing else; I gave it two blasts of #6 bird shot. That birdshot is damned tiny, but at the range of only about two feet, it took a big section out of the ass of that Wasp, and it fell off the tractor, deader than a doornail.

"I was scared, don't you doubt it, so I jumped out of the tractor cab and unhooked the plow. I climbed back in and headed for the house where my wife and younguns were. As I got close, I saw Wasps flying off with them clutched in their claws. I had read about the Wasps in the newspaper and seen 'em on TV, so I knew what was gonna happen to my family, but I was too late to do anything about it.

"I went in the house, what was all busted up from the struggle my wife must of put up, but it didn't do her no good! I was crying like a baby by then, but I kept looking for my ammo box. I had some #00 buckshot I used for deer in season, and I was looking for that. I only had eight shells of buckshot, but I figured that was good for eight Wasps, if I could get close enough. I swapped out the shells in my shotgun and took off after them Wasps.

"Damned if I didn't find where them Wasps had gone. The had a little nest about three miles from my house, down by the river. It was built on the ground, so I had no trouble gitting inside. I found my wife in one of them rooms, all swollen up in the belly from the Wasp grub inside her. She recognized me when I walked in, and she begged me to shoot her. I could tell that she was in horrendous pain, so I didn't hesitate, I put a load of buckshot through her body where that lump was, so I killed it and her with one shot.

"I looked around the nest at the other rooms. I saw bits and pieces of human bodies, but I didn't see my younguns. I've got no idea what happened to them. There wasn't nothing else living in that nest, so I set it on fire with my cigarette lighter and ran like hell.

"I been hunting Wasps ever since. I ran out of buckshot, and there ain't no store nearby, so I switched to this here atlatl I saw described on History Channel about a year ago. It works against Wasps, but I have to be awful damned close to one to be sure of killing it."

Bill said, "That's quite a story, Jimmy. Shit! I sure am sorry about your family. We can't help them, but we may be able to do something about the Wasps if I can get to my lab. I've got four liters of the poison already made, and I can turn out about 50 liters a day of the pure stuff just in my lab. That should be enough for about 13,000 gallons of poison mix, 'cause all we have to do is dilute it with water. That, alone, should be enough to eliminate the Wasps if we can just find them all."

They drove for another two hours around wrecked cars and finally reached the parking lot for the Chemistry Dept. Bill grabbed two semi-automatic rifles and another pistol and ran to the entrance. It was locked, but Bill used his passkey to get inside, with Jimmy right behind him, carrying a case of ammunition.

They hurried to Bill's office where Bill opened a locked cabinet and pointed to four one-liter jugs of his poison. "Bring a couple of boxes of bullets with you and I'll carry one of these jugs to my lab where we can make up some lethal bullet loads. We'll use toilet paper until we can get ahold of some cotton balls."

On the way to the lab, Bill stopped at the janitor's closet where he used his passkey to get in. Both men carried as much toilet paper as they could hold to the lab. They quickly went to work. Bill diluted some of the poison in a beaker of water and they tore off little pieces of toilet paper and dipped it into the beaker of poison solution before stuffing the wet paper into the hollow of the .22 caliber bullets.

It took a little while at first to get down the technique, but it wasn't long before they were loading a bullet every few seconds. They quickly had 50 bullets ready for use, and used these bullets to load their weapons, which Jimmy had retrieved from Bill's office.

Bill said, "I'm going to start another batch of the poison to refluxing; it will take about two hours of boiling before the brew is ready for the next step. While we're waiting for it, let's load up some more bullets and go see if we can find anybody else around the campus."

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Story tagged with:
Science Fiction / Post Apocalypse / Humor / Violent /