Jennifer walked down the street, the starlit night made only brighter by the flickering streetlamps that lined the road, her destination a short ways from where she worked. Shaking her hair loose from the tight bun she’d had it in all night, she sighed as the cool October air moved over her bare arms and shoulders. Closing her eyes, she did her best to get rid of the smell of liquor from her nostrils by breathing in the clean night air, her job as a bartender making this a nigh impossible task.

Crossing the street, she caught movement out of the corner of her eye: a homeless man, several coats wrapped over him, shuffling towards her, a grimy hand wrapped in cloth extended out, palms up. Looking at the figure, she flinched back: his face was horrid, with thick, black, pulsating veins running along his face towards his eyes, a wide thin-lipped mouth above an unkempt beard. His clothes were all tattered, some burnt, but all sewed together with crude patches of cloth holding together the patchwork suit of every color, style and texture.

“Spare some change?” The man croaked, moving closer to Jennifer. A wave of stench seemed to pollute the very air around him, the smell of rotting meat and refuse almost palpable to the young woman.

“Um, yeah, sure,” She said, reaching into her pocket and fishing out a single five dollar bill. The tips had been kind tonight (mostly due to a low cut shirt) and she could tell the man needed the change.

As she held out the five, he ignored it and instead grasped onto her wrist, squeezing hard enough to bruise her bronze skin. Her hand, now clenched in his vice-like grasp, opened automatically, dropping the money to the ground while the man lunged forward, slamming his face into hers with a sickening crack.

Jennifer saw white for a few moments, her body going slack as the homeless man drug her into the alley, behind a dumpster and into opened bags of trash. As she slowly regained her wits, he opened his mouth above her and began to retch, a foul brown fluid dribbling forth from his throat, followed by a torrent of thick black pods, all spattering over her in a chunky mixture of bile and partially digested rotten meat.

Jennifer screamed for a moment before a pod landed in her mouth, the foul flavor of the bile sour on her tongue, struggling to move, she felt a kick to the ribs to keep her in place. Slowly, to her horror as she felt it move within her mouth, the pods rolled open to reveal segmented legs. Giant pill bugs, with pincer-like mandibles, began to nip and bite into her skin, their long hairy legs scraping at her exposed flesh and cutting at her clothing. As she attempted to brush the pill bugs away, they bit at her and clung with small hooks.

The one in her mouth, tough and slick, and hooked into her tongue and was biting the roof of her mouth. Screaming into the pillbug’s body, she slowly became numb in several spots.

Venomous… they’re venomous! She thought desperately, wincing as she heard a loud sawing of bone in her mouth, which was rapidly filling with blood that she was forced to drool out around the pillbug. The man kicked her again before letting loose another torrent of vomit over her prone form, more pillbugs unrolling from their armored pods, crawling all over her in an attempt to find a place where they could burrow into her.

The numbing agent was spreading through her arms, making them feel heavy and disconnected from her body, along with a sudden light-headedness that she could only attribute to the pillbug burrowing up into her skull. She brought a hand up to her face, her numb fingers slick with blood as a pillbug burrowed into the meat of her forearm. Feebly she tried to pry the bug from her mouth, only to cut her fingers on the creature’s legs, her tongue now mere sliced, bloody tissue. Slowly, she felt a great sense of pressure build inside her skull, followed by a loud crack.

Jennifer fell back, limp from the cracking noise, several teeth sliding past her lips as chunks of tongue slid around her fingers in the bubbling blood broth that was her mouth. Slowly, she felt the pressure behind her eye as the bug burrowed up into her ocular cavity. Her vision immediately grew dark and fuzzy on one side as she felt an intense pain from behind her right eye, which made a slick noise before deflating, white and translucent fluid dribbling from the socket as the pillbug forced its way through the cavity, crawling along her face and up into her hair.

Her body limp from the venom and shaking from the hundreds of bugs burrowing into her numbed torso and limbs, the homeless man reached up into the dumpster and pulled down a bag of garbage, tearing it open on top of her, burying her in used diapers and old Chinese takeout. Rolling her head to the side, she numbly pawed at the garbage beneath her, unearthing a grinning skull, covered in light scratches.

“Thank you for the change,” the homeless man rasped, the sound of a nose being wiped on a sleeve making its way through the light garbage covering. “God Bless…”

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