Rockets landed, as will happen. What they carried was for the worst. As will also happen.
The sky of present was turned purple because of the grand insects. Of course, they weren’t truly insects, it was a mask, a ruse, a way to appear monstrous, to horrify and disgust. They invaded and swiftly turned the world’s greatest predators into newborns. The bugs enslaved or annihilated. Two options, they liked it this way. Kill, not kill. Slow, fast. Delete, copy. Two options.
Water Warmer, number 890920, former name collected and destroyed, stood at a counter performing the duties of her job: she warmed the water.
‘I warm the water,’ 890920 mumbled to the grand insect towering over her.
The insect’s mouth quivered with pleasure, and it twisted its revolting figure one way then another. ‘Yes, you warm the water, say it again.’
890920 struggled to repeat it, so she whispered, ‘Why do I go on?’
‘What?’ the grand insect demanded, closing in on her.
The stench from within its mouth reminded 890920 of the death she had smelled many times before. The bug clacked the barbs below its eyes. She knew the insect would not hesitate to tear them into her body.
‘I warm the water,’ she said, once more.
The grand insect nodded – a gesture the bugs had adopted from humanity. It held several of its hands together, emitting a buzzing sound. ‘But, you don’t do it fast enough.’
890920’s eyes connected with the insect’s. Her lips opened and closed, her words failing, she produced only a stutter. ‘N-no, no, no, no…’
The bug laughed how the bugs laughed, a horrible noise, a noise associated with the crumbling of skyscrapers, a tinny, screeching cackle that accompanied complete human vaporization. ‘Yes, yes, yes-s-s-s…’ the grand insect hissed. ‘You are too slow, 8-9-0-9-2-0.’ It clicked the barbs.
890920 backed away from the bug, her eyes opening as wide as the insect’s.
The monster followed each step, watching the Water Warmer back herself into a corner. He raised an arm and spoke into a band strapped to it. ‘Create a copy of 8-9-0-9-2-0, and then delete current form.’
The girl dropped into the corner, holding her hands out. ‘Stay away!’
The grand insect’s barbs went click, clack, click, clack. ‘Your copy will work faster, 8-9-0-9-2-0.’
The bug bent its body over the girl, and again, she smelled a billion deaths folded over a billion times on its hot breath. Clack-clack, clicked the barbs.
‘I had a name,’ she said, crouched in the corner. ‘I think I remember it.’
In a complex across the desert and atop a hill, a human under the hungry, watchful eyes of an insect, input a delete command into a global computer system.
Where she was, 890920 sat on the floor, not seeing the fibrous feet of the bug, but the bedroom in which she once slept. She smiled, remembering. ‘I had a name. My mother called me -‘
She was there and then not. Water Warmer, number 890920, was nothing more than an opaque mist suspended in the corner. Vapor and that was all.
The grand insect breathed in before standing back to its full height. It turned and leaned against the counter. The bug clicked and clacked its barbs, waiting for Water Warmer, number 890921. It was not interested in her name.