From the author: Leah Danvers despises mosquitos, but they're the least of her worries when a killer's on the loose.
A low and steady whine woke Leah Danvers from slumber. She opened her eyes to darkness and groaned.
Mosquitos. The little pests hadn’t bothered her all evening. None of them had appeared when she’d arrived at the campground. None had buzzed around her while she set up the tent. Why’d they have to come out now and spoil everything?
Leah sat up, forsaking the warmth of her sleeping bag. She rummaged in her backpack, pulled out a smooth cylindrical can, and depressed the button at the top.
Citrus-scent filled the tent as she covered her arms, tank top, shorts, and legs with repellent. She sprayed the sleeping bag and then returned the can to the pack.
The whine grew faint, then vanished.
Leah sank back into the sleeping bag and closed her eyes.
Beyond the thin walls of the tent, pine branches soughed in the breeze. A nearby brook babbled and crickets chirped. The lullaby of night carried Leah toward twilight and the cusp of delicious sleep.
Then, the whine returned.
It floated through the darkness toward her, growing louder as the insect approached her ear. She covered her face with the sleeping bag. The mosquito hovered over her head.
Stupid repellent. It hadn’t been worth the five dollars she’d paid for it. When she got back to the gas station, she’d not only get her money back, she’d give the attendant a piece of her mind.
On second thought, she wouldn’t do that. The gas station attendant had been—well—weird.
Her mind conjured an image of him. Dirty coveralls, unshaved cheeks, missing teeth all flashed past. But, the eyes were the worst. They had remained distant and cold while he spoke, rendering each word a lie.
Perspiration beaded her forehead as the air within the sleeping bag grew stale. She focused on the mosquito once more.
Leah uncovered her face and drank in cool air. She reached for her flashlight and clicked it on.
A scream died in her throat.
Mosquitos covered the top of her sleeping bag. They blanketed the walls, ceiling, and doors of her shelter.
As the light played over them, they rose off of their perches and joined one another in flight. Soon, a dark cloud filled the tent. The whine they emitted became a chorus.
Leah swatted at the cloud as it descended toward her. She scrambled out of the sleeping bag and through the door.
Her Pontiac stood a few yards away. The car gleamed under the light of the full moon. She rushed to it.
The mosquito’s wail grew more urgent as she grasped the handle and threw the door open. For a moment, she thought she heard a word in that high-pitched hum. It repeated over and over, louder and louder.
Leah slammed the door and closed each of the vents. Then, she lowered the shade and pulled the key from its hiding place. She jammed it into the ignition and switched the headlights on.
The dark cloud hung outside the windshield.
Leah trembled behind the wheel. She’d never feared mosquitos. But, these were different. So many small mouths begging for blood. Worse, these insects seemed…sentient.
As though in agreement with her unvoiced thought, the cloud moved toward her driver’s side window. Individuals broke away and landed on the car. Their drone was so loud, it penetrated the glass.
“Screw this,” Leah cried. A twist of the key brought the Pontiac’s engine to life.
She set her hand on the shifter and the passenger side window suddenly imploded. Shards of safety glass showered the seat beside her and something struck her thigh. She glanced up and screamed.
It wasn’t a flood of mosquitos which caused the damage. An unshaved face peered through her smashed window. Moonlight frosted his ice-blue eyes as they glared into her own. He pulled the door open.
The cloud fell upon him before he could get inside. They forced him to abandon his grip on the door as they surrounded his exposed face and hands.
Leah hit the gas. The car surged forward and out of the campground.
When she reached the next town and stopped in front of the police station, she found a singular object lying against her thigh. It was a large wrench. Dried blood and hair covered one end of it.
As Leah stepped out of the car, a familiar hum sounded near her ear. A mosquito dropped on to her hand.
The insect took its fill, then flew off into the night.
This story originally appeared in The Sirens Call e-Zine.