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Science Fiction Fiction Fantasy

The sounds grew louder as I got closer to the tree. A loud, hiss-rattle sort of buzzing, almost impossible to articulate, but as familiar as my own voice. I stood beneath the crepe myrtle, no actual shade at all to protect me from the excruciating Texas sun, wondering where it was. Suddenly, I was smacked in the face with a fierce and angry flutter, as it scuttled off higher up into the branches. “Bastard,” I muttered. “I hope my cats find you!” It hiss-rattled louder in defiance at my intrusion.

“I’m just trying to water my fucking tomatoes!” I yelled at it, knowing it couldn’t care less.

It was getting darker, as the sun had already begun to set, which was basically the only good time to water anything, unless it was early morning, and I am not an early morning person. I thought maybe those little alien fuckers would be asleep, or gone, or just NOT THERE, but they were, and they left creepy, crispy, brown shells everywhere in their summer wake. I plucked them off the tomato cages and the fence, crushing them like eggshells with a disgusted satisfaction.

I continued my watering, and one flew down and landed right on the top of the tomato cage, staring at me. I stared back, studying his big black beady eyes, and large wings that were almost beautiful, if they weren’t hiding all of their icky legs beneath them.

“Don’t you have someone else to bug?” I asked. “Get it? Bug?” I laughed at my own punny joke.

“Yeah, I got it,” it grumbled back at me. Huh?

Am I having a heat stroke?

“It wasn’t that funny, and anyway, you’ve been a bitch since you came out here. I’m just trying to live, how is that even bothering you?”

“You’re really loud, dude. I get migraines. Your loud ass buzzing all day doesn’t help.”

“I don’t know what a migraine is, but I have to find a lady friend, and she’s not gonna know that I exist if she can’t hear me, soooooo…..”

I start to feel dizzy. I am having a heat stroke, surely. Or is it a mirage? Have I had too much sun? Or worse, am I developing schizophrenia?

I walk over to the table under the patio and sit down. I’m sweating buckets, even in the near dark. The cicada follows me, perching on the edge of the very full ashtray kept outside for our roommate. “This is disgusting,” he muttered. “I hope I don’t smell like an ashtray if a lady actually shows up,” he made a face. Yes, this talking cicada just made a pissy face at me.

Maybe I’m high.

“You’re not high or having a heat stroke,” he answered me, reading my thoughts? “I AM actually talking to you.”

“Why? No cicada has ever bothered to speak to me before. I feel so lucky!”

“I detect your sarcasm, but you are not wrong. You should feel lucky. Not everyone gets to talk to me.”

I look inside the house, through the mini blinds. The kitchen lights are on, but no one is around. I thought my boyfriend was doing the dishes. Yes, he does the dishes. Instead, though, it was empty, and quiet. Even my little dogs were nowhere to be seen. Usually they came outside with me, but since the temperature said it “felt like 109”, I made them stay inside so they didn’t burn their little feet.

“See, you’re so kind. Even to those little rat things.” Reading my mind again! What the hell?! “The hairier one ate my friend last week,” he continued. “You didn’t even help him. You got your phone out and made a video of her playing with him. Biting him, dragging him around the yard by his wings, his legs. You thought it was CUTE.”

“I did not think it was cute, I thought it was pretty gross, actually, and I tried to get her away from it, IF YOU REMEMBER CORRECTLY. I don’t want my dog eating bugs and then licking my face later–”

“BUGS!!!!” He was indignant. “You’re in for a surprise…”

“I think I am plenty surprised, already, and quite possibly losing my shit. Anyway, she was very determined. I think she’s part cat. Every time I tried to get it away from her, excuse me, HIM, she grabbed him and ran to the other side of the yard. Didn’t you see me cover him with a giant leaf when she finally dropped him for a minute? She couldn’t see him anymore, so I was able to get her inside the house. So she didn’t actually eat him, she just.. Played with him.”

If you could see beady black eyes without irises roll, this is what he did. My explanation was exact, though! She didn’t EAT his friend. “He still died, Human. Died from those injuries.”

“Furthermore, I don’t know why I even care if she played with him, or why you care, either. He may have been your friend, but isn’t that less competition for you with the ladies? Isn’t it better that he’s gone?”

“You’d think so,” he said wistfully. “But we did live in burrows next to each other for 17 years, so we grew up together. We had many, many long conversations. So aside from the fact that in an odd way, your dog leveled the playing field, so to speak, it is bittersweet.”

I blinked the sweat out of my eyes, and wiped my forehead to no real avail. The air was almost suffocating. I am sure that has to be why I am sitting here, having a conversation with a cicada and not actually freaking out, other than wondering why the hell I am sitting here, having a conversation with a cicada.

The least of which because I have never liked them, because when I was six years old, a boy at my babysitter’s house used to snatch them off tree branches, and squeeze them so they would scream loudly, and chase me, up and down the street. Once he was chasing me through the yard, and I tried to climb the chain link fence to escape him, snagging the inside of my knee on the top of the metal fence, blood pouring down my leg. I have that scar to this day and have never forgotten how or why I have it.

“You have that scar to always remember us!” He said, butting into my thoughts. “Nick shouldn’t have been chasing you on the daily with us, but we can’t transform in broad daylight and blow our cover, so we just went along with it. He was a sadistic prick. He was soon removed.”

“Removed???? Wait, what the fuck, how are you doing that? How are you talking, and how are you reading my mind? Where is everyone, why are your loud ass little buddies quiet all of a sudden?”

“We’re not alone. They aren’t quiet, you just can’t hear them, the way we truly speak. With our minds. Which is how I can hear yours.”

I started to feel unnerved, and then I remembered he just said we can’t transform in broad daylight and blow our cover. My blood ran cold, and I began to wonder if I was still breathing, because I could not move.

“You’re breathing, chill. Everything is fine.”

“I suppose we have different definitions of FINE.”

Suddenly, the cicada jumped off the edge of the ashtray, and into the air, almost upright. His many legs began to meld together, until he had two arms, two legs, one body, one big head, but still, two giant black eyes. He was a greenish brown, like a cicada, and his skin reminded me of clay. Somehow I was calm. Not moving. Waiting.

“I guess clay isn’t so bad, you aren’t actually disgusted by me, so, that’s a plus.” His lips and mouth, which were very small, did not move. He … smiled? “YES WE SMILE! We can’t help ourselves, just like you lot can’t.”

You lot.

“Look, I’m not going to hurt you, I just want you to come with me on a little field trip. You may even enjoy it.”

“I don’t really have time to go anywhere right now, I’m sweating like a pig, I need to take a shower, my boyfriend is probably wondering why I’m taking so long out here,” I sputter. It’s one thing I was talking to a cicada. It’s another that the cicada morphed exactly into the alien-like creature that I always thought they looked like. I think about all the cicadas I’ve seen in my life, wondering if they were all aliens.

“Yes.” He said abruptly. “It’s how we keep our eyes on you. Well not you specifically, except in this case, of course,” he chuckled. “Humans in general. Some of us get eaten by cats or birds or squished by cruel little six year old humans chasing other humans, etc, but that’s just how it goes. We are the soldiers on the ground.”

My head began to feel like a fishbowl, sloshing around. “Just relax,” he said. “You’ll be back before you know it.” Panic suddenly shoots through every one of my cells and limbs like lightning.

“Hey Marco!” He turned around, talking to someone, another alien, again without moving his lips. The alien walked up out of the darkness of the backyard and joined him. “I found my lady friend.” His big black eye winked.

August 04, 2023 18:42

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45 comments

Yvette Morelli
18:54 Aug 23, 2023

I loved it! I felt like I was in your backyard in "The Garden of Good and Evil." I was not expecting a talking cicada. Kept me interested with the banter between the two or was it just in your head?

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Jonathan Page
15:57 Aug 17, 2023

Really good stuff Heather! Very imaginative and took us on some crazy twists and turns!!

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Heather Blank
13:52 Aug 18, 2023

Thank you very much!!!

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Marty B
06:18 Aug 17, 2023

Magicicada, the 17 year cicadas seem like aliens, and look creepy! A Rom-Horror? Thanks!

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Heather Blank
12:59 Aug 17, 2023

Rom Horror— quite possibly!!! And all I think of is aliens when I look at cicadas! Lol!!! Thank you for your comment!!!

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Judith Jerdé
02:55 Aug 17, 2023

Heather, I thought your story was amazing from start to finish. Very creative and I laughed so hard when your character was watering the tomatoes and talking to the “cicada” wondering if she’d had heat stroke or worse yet schizophrenia. Too funny.

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Heather Blank
13:01 Aug 17, 2023

Thank you so much!!! I really appreciate it!! Glad I could elicit some laughs!! 😂

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Linda Lovendahl
00:03 Aug 17, 2023

I liked how easily you revealed the vulnerability of the main character through honest impressions and thoughts. The first paragraph moved me mightily into the sweep of the story. I read some of the remarks written before mine about the passage of time in Texas. I didn't see any disruption because you had a sentence about it getting darker. In fact, all your details dovetail beautifully into the swirl of the surreal!

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Heather Blank
13:03 Aug 17, 2023

Oh thank you so much!! Dovetail is such a beautiful descriptor!! Thank you for the kind words!

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19:54 Aug 16, 2023

Your story ingeniously blends the mundane with the extraterrestrial, creating a captivating narrative that keeps readers spellbound through witty dialogue and unexpected twists. The seamless integration of the protagonist's thoughts and the cicada-alien's speech adds depth to the story, leaving us intrigued by the mysteries you've woven.

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Heather Blank
13:04 Aug 17, 2023

Thank you so much for your comment!!! Very appreciated!!!

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Fernando César
23:06 Aug 15, 2023

Hi Heather, enjoyed your writing! I’m not sure I got all the details. This is completely open ended, right? We just know the character will go for a ride? I did find some passages that sound weird for me (very subjective, of course). I don’t know nothing about Texas, but the story starts “protect me from the excruciating Texas sun”, and after a brief chat (some minutes?) we are in “even in the near dark”. Am I having a heat stroke? “It wasn’t that funny, and anyway, you’ve been a bitch since you came out here. I’m just trying to live, how...

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Heather Blank
23:46 Aug 15, 2023

I don’t know nothing about Texas, but the story starts “protect me from the excruciating Texas sun”, and after a brief chat (some minutes?) we are in “even in the near dark”. --even when the sun is going down, it is boiling! I did notice that as I was re-reading, and thought I might need to explain that at some point. "So she thinks she is having a heat stroke, and some lines below she thinks she might be high; but in the middle she’s talking to it like “you’re all really loud, dude”?" --well, she may be high or having a heat stroke, but, s...

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Michał Przywara
22:27 Aug 15, 2023

That's fun :) Starts quite mundane, takes a turn for the weird, then has quite a few funny moments - particularly with the banter - and it ends, well, ominously. Sci-fi horror romance perhaps? Critique-wise, there did seem to be a couple minor issues with tense, where most of the story is past tense, but a couple lines like "I start to feel dizzy. I am having a heat stroke, surely." dip into present. Thanks for sharing!

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Heather Blank
23:40 Aug 15, 2023

Thanks so much! I haven't quite decided how it will go forward, but I was toying with an idea along those lines. Tense always trips me up! Thank you for reminding me!!! Your comment is appreciated!

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Heather OMara
19:27 Aug 15, 2023

Loved the smart dialogue!

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Heather Blank
22:11 Aug 15, 2023

Thank you so much!! I appreciate it! I've always felt I wasn't that great with dialogue, lol.

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06:09 Aug 15, 2023

Fabulous writing! Great playful voice. Cool final twist. Love!

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Heather Blank
23:47 Aug 15, 2023

Thank you so much! :)

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Bob Long Jr
16:40 Aug 14, 2023

Question ... did you just sit-down and write or did you spend some time sketching an outline ?

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Heather Blank
16:46 Aug 14, 2023

I just wrote it in about 2 hours. I’ve never been any good with outlines.. I do make notes though, sometimes.

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Bob Long Jr
16:30 Aug 15, 2023

That's great. My 1st story just came to me with no outside planning. This latest prompt though started out okay and then I ran out of steam so went back to square 1. I think I will at least sketch out a plot and then let the story unfold from there. Happy writing !

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Heather Blank
17:59 Aug 15, 2023

Thanks, you too!!!

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Bob Long Jr
16:38 Aug 14, 2023

Thanks Heather .. good story !

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Heather Blank
16:46 Aug 14, 2023

Thank you!

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Ellen Neuborne
16:31 Aug 14, 2023

I really enjoyed this: the sarcasm and pacing work very well. And it's a nice sci fi twist at the end. Well done.

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Heather Blank
16:46 Aug 14, 2023

Thanks so much!!

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Hailey Grizzaffi
16:25 Aug 14, 2023

This is amazing!!! Good job!!!

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Heather Blank
16:47 Aug 14, 2023

Thank you!! 🙏

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Tom Skye
12:23 Aug 14, 2023

Cool ending. The alien's got game 😂 maybe Really well written and funny. Good job

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Heather Blank
16:47 Aug 14, 2023

Yeah, maybe! Lol 😆 👽😉 Thank you!! 🙏

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Nancy Mac
23:49 Aug 13, 2023

Well written, exceptionally creative, skillfully developed. Definitely Texas-relatable, from the heat to the mutating bugs! The perfectly creepy ending, "His big black eye winked," may haunt me...

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Heather Blank
16:48 Aug 14, 2023

Thank you!! 🙏 Let it haunt you in a funny way!

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Eric McCrary
23:14 Aug 13, 2023

Heat exhaustion ethereal dream like, definitely a relatable feeling. Well written and interesting.

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Heather Blank
16:48 Aug 14, 2023

Thank you!!

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Nathan Klayman
22:19 Aug 13, 2023

Interesting, descriptive and well executed, with a fun and bizarre twist ending. I feel like this could be expanded into something bigger/more.

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Heather Blank
16:48 Aug 14, 2023

It might be expanded! Working on it. Thank you!

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Audrey Grizzaffi
22:15 Aug 13, 2023

I truly enjoyed reading this. It’s very well written and is a nice little creepy type story.

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Heather Blank
16:49 Aug 14, 2023

Thank you!! 🙏❤️

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Vid Weeks
10:04 Aug 13, 2023

Well written, carefully creepy story, I loved the phrase "A loud, hiss-rattle sort of buzzing"

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Heather Blank
16:49 Aug 14, 2023

Thanks so much!

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