Bumble

                                      (image from https://www.instagram.com/ozotheclown/)
Evolution does not always lead to greater complexity, quite often the opposite is true. The natural history of this planet is rife with examples of organisms that grew simpler over time, and it was a simplification that allowed them to become so pervasive. The same is sometimes true of technology.
The hands of man that manipulate and bend nature are still bound by it. It's man's ability to not only modify the living world around him, but in his ability to create, that makes him the mirror image of God’s, and just like the creations of God, their creations were often designed with malice, and often brought with them horror, chaos, and unimaginable destruction.
By this time the scourges unleashed by man were constantly evolving and innumerable. One of these was an electronic creature classified as a Neural Infiltration Unit, but those more intimate with it simply referred to it as “The Bug.”
The bug emerged from the darkest recesses of man's imagination as a nearly microscopic creation based on the things that crawled in the dirt, flew through the air, and inhabited this planet long before the advent of man. The same things that would be around to watch with apathy as the last trace of humanity disappeared forever. Perhaps that’s why they chose to emulate the design, because of its proven longevity.
The first generation was crafted from a classified light, space-age metal. It was a simple design, with four legs, and small cylindrical body bound together with wires and microchips that were invisible to its designer’s eyes. Its head was a sphere dotted with twelve kaleidoscopic eyes allowing it a God's eye view of any room, and contained within that sphere was a fuller and more complete understanding of human physiology and neural biology than any man could ever hope to acquire.
Their sole purpose was to infiltrate a human body, employing a local anesthetic and digging through the flesh. They entered the body and began tampering with the target's neurons like a technician rewiring a motherboard. The target would be rendered violently insane from the neural damage in a matter of hours. After the target was dead, the bug would exit the host body leaving only the tiny scar from where it entered.
It had killed many, but very few had ever seen it. To any of its potential victims, it existed only as a rumor and a nightmare. The bug was hardwired for assassination and its programming executed the processes as if it were instinct. While many existed, its complexity limited its numbers and kept its population from growing too large.
Of course, their malevolent creators sought to spin the wheels of evolution and spawn the next generation of units. The descendants of the original bug were much less complex.
 They were still made to covertly enter a host body and render them insane, but instead of altering the physiology of the brain itself, these were equipped with a slow acting neural toxin that the NUI injected directly into the host's nervous system. Because of their relative simplicity, they cost less to produce. This removed production constraints and their numbers quickly swelled and soon a veritable swarm had come into existence.
Their design was cruder than that of their predecessors. Their hollow bodies were fat, and ovular, and filled with the toxic payload they delivered with a needle that protruded from its underside. Its head was a glass sphere containing the array of cameras that were its eyes. Its wings were flat and rounded. Its appearance was likened to that of a bee, and so its unofficial name became the “bumbler.” Unlike the first NIUs which were used against specific targets the bumblers worked in clusters. Once their work was done, they would shut down and their bodies would dissolve inside their victims leaving no trace.
They could descend on a population of unsuspecting victims in an almost invisible swarm and target indiscriminately. They would precipitate an outbreak of random violence on a massive scale causing a quick breakdown of any group cohesion.

Fear would take control and panic, and hysteria would ensue.  Whole communities could disintegrate overnight.

The weapon was developed by MicroAdvensits, Inc, a subsidiary of the Security Solutions Group a private security company that now handled the policing of more than half of the municipalities around the country. The town of Barclay Illinois had outsourced its police work to the company long ago. It would prove to be a satisfactory testing ground for the new bugs.
One hundred of them were loaded onto a helicopter. There was no documentation of the cargo, so technically it never existed. The aircraft was assigned to simply fly from point A to point B. Barclay was directly in the flight path, a far flung town, in the advanced stages of decay like a severed limb cut off from the body's blood supply.
The decay was advanced. Large areas sat vacant and lost. The gutted homes that sat in the deserted lots fell victim to the ravages of time and were lost forever. As the dark dilapidated buildings fell into disrepair and the necrosis spread, the residents were pushed into retreat. They became more and more concentrated into a rapidly diminishing area.
The inhabitants lived in a dilapidated tenement compound. The drab overcrowded concrete wards sat on a largely abandoned main street. The four gray structures were arranged in a rectangle that closed the residents in like a prison. The people who lived inside with their drugged emaciated bodies were a mirror image of the city's own torn and jagged form.  They were a broken people with bodies and minds mangled in every way imaginable, and now they were to have the honor of becoming the first victims of the new NIU.
Its first taste of homosapien.
Though the swarm all looked the same, there were a vast range of differences between them. They were like snowflakes, with not a clone in the whole cloud. Every variation in the physiology or in the programming, however subtle, was being tested for survivability. The results were fed into a super computer that controlled every facet and detail of the micro drone's production. The data being fed to it from units in the field arrived ever second by the terabyte.
On the day SSG's helicopter passed overhead carrying out its clandestine mission, a lanky child was playing alone on the landing of a stairwell inside one of the building.  He had just turned ten two weeks ago. He lived with his father. His mother died of cancer when he was seven.
The child led a Spartan existence, not unlike the rest of the children in the building. His surroundings in the rotting metropolis were characterized by violence and deprivation. He was alienated, but had a keen interest in the world around him. He viewed everything around him with curiosity and endeavored to find out all he could.
His current fascination was the nearly invisible world that lived under his very feet. His eye crawled over the terrain of the landing on the stairwell through the high resolution lens of his father's smart phone camera. The surface of the floor looked like the topography of a distant world. The body of a dead horsefly was a colossus compared to the dust around it. This was more than the child's hobby, it was his obsession. He spent every moment he had alone with the phone exploring the stairs.
The walls were painted white, but the paint was worn away from years of neglect. The red carpet on the landing was a patchwork of stains and burn marks. Piles of bagged refuse that grew larger day by day, lined the stairs. All through the hallways echoed the sounds of misery that emanated from each unit.
The hell inside these walls was the child's daily reality. He knew that beyond their confines, there was only devastation. His generation lived in the corpse of a society driven to madness by its addiction to opulence. John was fully engrossed in his search. His unblinking eyes drinking in the light of the device, and his hand moved steady as a rock. He barely noticed, as the heavy fire door to the landing opened behind him.
Christine, a woman who lived on the same floor as John, in her mid-thirties, worn down far beyond her years, peered out. Liver spots shown through her haggard tan skin which seemed to hang from her bones. Her eyes were sunken in behind deep dark rings, sometimes obscured by her stringy blonde hair that would hang in her face.

“Hi John,” she said with a smile that revealed what was left of her teeth. “Hi,” John muttered not turning to look. Christine sat on the top step and lit a cigarette. She took a long drag, “How's your father?” She asked. “Ok,” John answered in a monotone. “Is he still having nightmares?”

“Not as many,” John replied.  Christine nodded, in a gesture of approval.

She took another long drag and held it. “What are you doing over there”? She asked exhaling. “Looking at the floor,” John answered flatly.

“With the phone?”

“Yeah. If you zoom way up its like have a microscope,” John said. “What could be so interesting on these nasty old floors?” Christine asked.

“I don't know. I see bugs sometimes.”

 Christine chuckled "If you wanna see bugs I have plenty of roaches you can look at in my apartment.”
 “I see them sometimes,” said John.

“I see lots different stuff here. There's new stuff a lot of times.”

“Well variety is good,” said Christine, as she stamped out her cigarette butt.

John's father had been a soldier. During his tour of duty, he’d been repeatedly subjected to the ravages of combat and he bore the scars of the experiences, both physical and otherwise, all over his body. His damaged spine could barely support his six foot frame leaving his body permanently hunched and twisted. His body was soft, malnourished, and bloated with alcohol. He had lost his right arm on his last tour, and it had been replaced with an artificial limb made of cobalt colored polymers with the letters USVA printed across the surface that housed wireless microchips linked to his brain.
He spent this day, as he had countless others, lying on the couch in a cocoon of alcohol, painkillers, and television. To him time passed in flashes. There was no continuity. Each moment was like a jump on the razor sharp line he walked between consciousness and drug induced comas. He lay on the right side of his face, with his jaw hanging open, as drool pooled in the cushion around him.

The television screen flickered with the images of the riots at the Mexican border. “Fuckin' spics,” he muttered to himself. He heard the front door unlock and his glazed over eyes turned in its direction.
John closed the front door and turned around. He immediately froze, caught his father's glassy gaze. “Hey buddy,” he said slowly.

John looked down at the floor.

“What have you been doin'?” His father asked.

“Nothing really,” John answered.

“Wanna watch TV?” John nodded.

After some struggle, his father managed to sit up and John sat next to him.  They sat in silence and watched the montage of violence as it beamed into their home. John's father picked up one of the beer cans lined up on the floor by his feet and sipped down the last of the backwash.

“Do you know what’s happening” John's father asked, pointing at the television. John shook his head. “You know you're an American right?” His father asked rhetorically, “It's what I fought to protect, it’s what your grandfather fought to protect, and now it’s all being carved up and stolen.”

  “What's ours is being taken away from us and given to people who have no right to it. I spent years fighting sand niggers out in the desert. You know what a sand nigger is Johnny?” John nodded his head.  

His father shook his head somberly “It’s going to be a one world government, and they're gonna run it all. I hate to think of what your future is gonna be like Johnny. These are end times. It's all there in Revelations.”

“What's Revelations?” John asked.

“It's a book in the Bible about the end of the world,” his father answered.

“What does it say will happen?” John asked.

“Well, you kinda gotta read in between the lines. But once you do, it’s all there. Wars… one world government… disease. It’s all there, John.”

After a while, Max finally nodded off and being free of his father's company John went to the bedroom and closed the door. The narrow rectangular room resembled a jail cell. Its barren walls every bit as worn as the walls in the hallways. The tiny room consisted of only a twin size bed along the wall and a nightstand next to a barred window.
John turned on the small desk lamp sitting on the nightstand and sat down in front of it. He pulled open the drawer and put the little metal object in with all the other curiosities he had found in the stairwell. His collection consisted of many dead insects, tiny rocks, shards of glass, samples of mold, etc. He took the phone out of his pocket and reviewed his entire menagerie.
As he went over the line he stopped on the bug. He stared at it, trying to study every detail. He zoomed in on its bee-like body, rear-swept wings and tried to count the evenly spaced grooves when suddenly, they shot open. John cocked his head. He zoomed out a bit so he could get a view of the bug’s entire form. He waited for it to move again, but it didn't. He lightly poked it with his index finger and quickly withdrew his hand, but still nothing happened. He poked it a few more times, but nothing.          
He decided he was done. He went to shut off the light, but his attention was captured by a framed photo sitting on the desk. He picked it. It was an old photo of him, his father, and his mother. It was a relic from a lost age. His mother was gone and his father bore no resemblance to the man in the photo standing tall and proud in his military uniform. It had been so long ago sometimes
John wondered if it had all been a dream. He only knew what that life had been like from memory, and he was convinced it had been better. He ran his thumb over the glassy surface as if he could caress the people in the photo. Finally he set it down and shut off the light.
He could hear his father's TV blaring in the next room so he shut the door to his room before climbing into bed. The moonlight that passed between the iron bars cut the light into little bar on John's bed. He cast his eyes down. In one of the strips of light, he could see what looked like a tiny black dot racing across the light.  He swatted at it, but it was only a shadow. He looked up he see couldn't anything. The shadow disappeared. John sleepily disregarded it and his heavy eyes fell shut.
 Max wasn't always successful at drowning his dreams with alcohol. Sometimes, they would still manifest themselves trapping the helpless man in a world his mind sculpted from his violent memories.
Max found himself alone in an army field hospital. He was laying on his back staring up at a ceiling made of white canopy. He was in the middle of a row of beds that looked like they had been hastily abandoned. A row of large examination lights were suspended from the room's ceiling. None of them were on. Their large glass bulbs had been shattered and a combination of rust and soot covered their stainless steel frames.
He could only move his head. His body didn't feel like it was there. It was as if it had been disconnected from his brain. He looked down at his body. It appeared to be intact except for his right arm. Burned and jagged flesh hung where his elbow used to be. Blood dripped slowly from the wound like water from a sink. He saw something moving and a mass of nerves began to wiggle out of the chard flesh like worms emerging from the dirt. They began to emerge from his body faster and faster until there were several feet of them. The wired mass began to separate and whip around like blind snakes trying to strike at their prey.
He looked over at his left arm. The limb seemed to be dissolving and now hung by mere threads of flesh. The nerves that were left hung like wires and began to spring to life as well. Max watched helplessly as they started to slither along the bed. The swarm of neural wiring began to grow out from him like vines and began tying themselves around the legs of the bed. When Max tried to scream his mouth moved but he made no sound. Before long his own nerves had completely tied him to the bed.
A gentle wind blew, and the white canopy room rustled. Then there was the sound of footsteps. Max could only see a featureless silhouette creeping over.
 “Who’s there?” He whispered hoarsely in a voice that sounded like he was being strangled. There was no answer.
 Each step was louder than last, and each one closer than the last. Max's breath froze and his heart felt like it would explode in his chest. The figure came out of the darkness and stopped. It looked to be only a child. Max could see his black hair cut into a mop top and his ill-fitting clothes. “Who are you” Max whispered.
Without saying a word the kid took a few more steps forward finally revealing himself and to Max's horror, he had no face.
There was no blood or scars. The child didn’t appear to have been mutilated. It seemed his features had always been absent. There was no mouth, no eyes, and no nose. Just a flat featureless surface. It knelt down and picked up a shard of glass from the floor and held it up for Max to see. “What are you going to do?” He asked.
There was still no answer. The thing plunged the glass into the featureless flesh canvass and blood began pouring from the wound. Max cringed at the site, but the faceless child don’t a sound. In a slow sawing motion it began to carve even further into its own flesh.
After it had made one hole, it took the shard out and used it to make another. Max watched in horror as it carved itself two hollow eyes and an empty mouth which it filled with glass shards to use as teeth. Max was helpless as the terrible childlike creature descended on him and tore into his flesh with his glass teeth.
John was standing bathed in the glow of the television watching the life drain from his father's body. He held the glass shard he had just plunged in and out of his father's neck so tightly that blood was streaming from his palm. The bumbler's toxins flooded the boy's nervous system and he was oblivious to the seemingly spontaneous orgy of violence that had erupted throughout the building.
 It was only a few minutes before his neural system ceased to function and he died next to his father in their living room.
The next day the armed employees of S.S.G the parent company of MicroAdventists had stormed the building to remove the test subjects. They came dressed in black Kevlar banishing automatic weapons. Their faces were obscured by hazmat masks with large glowing eyes every bit as insect like as the swarm of drones unleashed on the population.
There were one hundred thirty-seven corpses in all. The people, the victims of the bugs and the people they, killed in their rapid but violent bout of insanity.
Unlike the rest of the test subjects, the bug hadn't met its end in John. It was programmed to reserve its toxins to maximize potential kill count.
It made its way into the building’s duct system to begin a new hunt. This success had been noted by the super computer controlling production. The first evolution was complete. In a fraction of a second, the necessary changes were made. And the newer deadlier line of units began production.

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