Alex stared at the bread. She was afraid to look away. She knew that it could happen at any moment. At any moment they would hatch. In her right hand she held a glass. She was waiting. She could wait. At any moment the eggs would hatch and millions of beetles would start swarming all over the table and then into her mouth and down into her chest where they would eat her from the inside out.
“Why don’t you just put the glass over them now? Won’t that trap them?”
She shook her head, still staring down the bread. “No. If I put the glass over them now then they’ll be ready for it, they’ll hatch with little drills in the middle of their heads, they’ll bore right through the glass.”
“Oh, okay, that makes sense.”
At any moment.
Alex took a few practice swings, stopping just as the glass touched the bread, lining up her aim. She would have to be quick, she couldn’t let out even one single beetle, because then it would get inside her, and once inside it could eat away at her insides, doing unimaginable damage. She was lucky with the first one that got out, it died in her stomach. But she could feel it in there, trying to eat it’s way out. A few more seconds and it would have succeeded. And now a weak spot was there. The next beetle would tear right through it. One more beetle and she was done.
“Can’t you just move?”
The question broke into her mental process like a bomb through a front door. She tried to process. “What?”
“Can’t you just move away? If the beetles are in the bread, then just get away from the bread, or dump it in the fire or something.”
Oh right. Jessie was there, she was new. She didn’t know yet. “It doesn’t work like that Jessie. The beetles are only in the bread right now. But they know who I am, they know where I am, if I move, then they will just move with me. I’m lucky that I spotted this one at all. It’s only because I’ve gotten more vigilant. And I got lucky. They are camouflaged really well, they blend in. You have to be looking at it from the side. Then you can see the little white eggs rising ever so slightly from the crumb.”
Jessie moved her head into frame, almost obscuring Alex’s view of the bread, and potentially ruining her aim. “I thought that was just the bread.”
“Good thing you have me to keep you safe then. They’re after me right now, but they could be after you next.”
Alex looked away, just for a split second, to put her left hand, the one without the glass, on Jessie’s shoulder. And that’s when she saw a little flicker of movement. Alex brought her right hand down, slamming the glass onto the table so loudly that everyone in the room jumped.
“Ah ha! Gotcha!”