The Bug In The Basement

by Skijarama

Chapter 15: High Fever

Two Days Later.

Eventide’s morning had been going good so far, he felt. He had woken up to Buddha licks, enjoyed a nice hot shower, eaten breakfast in the form of a bowl of sweet cereal, and all in all was just thankful for the fact that he had the day off from work. The recently fallen snow would have made the trip to get there a nightmare and a half, he knew that for a fact. Right now, he was sitting down at his computer in his room, idly scrolling through news stories on the internet for anything interesting. A little ways away was the baby monitor, through which he could just make out the sound of Beebee snoring.

A particularly loud snore drew Eventide’s thoughts from his computer, and he stared at the monitor with a raised eyebrow and small frown. Beebee had been pretty sluggish the previous day, moving slowly and acting tired from the moment he had gotten up. He hadn’t even been too keen on using his wings to fly around, and he had gone to bed an hour earlier than usual. Eventide’s brow furrowed as he thought back on that, and feelings of concern were starting to bubble up in his chest.

It wasn’t normal behavior from Beebee, not at all. Eventide had called Fluttershy about it while he was eating his breakfast that morning to get her thoughts, and she suggested that, perhaps, since Beebee was very insect-like in bodily structure and behavior, he was something similar to being cold-blooded. A possibility, Eventide supposed, but it didn’t quite seem to add up to him.

For one thing, Beebee did have his own natural warmth that he always exuded, and aside from when he was asleep, he never stayed put for long. But if nothing else, Eventide accepted that it was a possibility. If nothing else, maybe Beebee just didn’t much care for the newfound cold of winter. The sharp decrease in the temperature could have made Beebee uncomfortable, driving him to seek warmth. The basement was surprisingly warm for being underground, which Eventide largely chalked up to the insulation there being remarkably top-notch. There was also the matter of all of the electronics down there, which provided some heat as well.

His thoughts were torn away from that when a sound caught his ear. Beebee’s voice cut through the baby monitor in a low, uncomfortable groan, and Eventide’s blood instantly ran cold. Something was wrong, he could feel it. Beebee had made sounds of discomfort, even pain, in the past. But this… this was different. He wasn’t just uncomfortable; he sounded miserable. Eventide immediately shot up to his feet and began to make his way for the basement.

Buddha was sitting by the basement door as soon as he came out, and looked up at him with worried eyes. She let out a pitiful whine and pawed uselessly at the door. With the dog’s message received, Eventide opened up the door, allowing Buddha to scamper down the steps while he followed her.

As he descended, he could hear Beebee’s voice clearly, sounding even more distressed. With his worry growing ever more intense, Eventide increased his speed to the point that he was running. He burst into the bedroom without ceremony and pulled on the chain hanging from the ceiling. The white overhead light flared into life, allowing Eventide to look at his son and see what was wrong.

His eyes widened, and a horrified gasp slipped past his lips.

Beebee was resting on his side on the bed, curled tightly into a ball and shaking terribly under the blankets. His chitin was significantly shinier than normal, with beads of sweat, or something similar, rolling down his face. The sheets under and over him were sopping and drenched with moisture, and some sort of green glowing paste was pooling on the pillow by his mouth. His eyes were open only slightly, and his wings lazily wavered up and down on his back at the sight of Buddha by his bedside. “Buddha…”

The weakness in Beebee’s voice finally broke Eventide out of his horrified trance. “Beebee!” he shouted, his voice cracking with concern. He quickly closed the gap and fell to his knees by his son’s bedside, bumping Buddha aside as he did so. When Beebee saw him, his face lit up hopefully.

“Dada…” he mumbled in a weak, queasy voice. The smile he had managed to form fell away, and a few coughs tore past his lips. “I feel bad… I’m hot and cold…” he whimpered before another horrible tremor worked its way through his system.

‘You’re gonna be okay, Bee,” Eventide said shakily, reaching his hand down to touch Beebee’s forehead. The moment his palm made contact, though, he was forced to yank it back with a yelp of pain. The chitin was so hot it was painful to touch.

Beebee’s wings wavered gently on his back. “Dada… I’m scared… and I- hrk!” his words were suddenly cut off as he sealed his lips shut. His cheeks ballooned out, and a strangled groan came from deep in his throat. With his eyes screwing themselves tightly closed, he thrust a hoof against his lips as if to keep something in. Then, with a voiceless gag, more of that awful green paste pushed past his lips to add to the pool, filling the air around it with an awful, bitter stench. Beebee coughed a few times, then looked up at Eventide with watering eyes and a quivering lip. “Help me…”

    Fluttershy’s breath came in rapid, ragged gasps as she tore down the street as fast as her legs could possibly carry her, doing her absolute best to not slip on the snow as she went. She went over the symptoms in her mind again, her brow furrowing and her body shuddering involuntarily as she remembered the panic in Eventide’s voice when he had called her over the phone maybe ten minutes ago.


    “Fluttershy! Oh, thank goodness you’re there!”

    “Eventide? Is everything okay?”

    “N-no, it’s not! Beebee’s sick! Really sick! Please, you have to get over here and help me, I have no idea what to do!”

    “Woah, woah, slow down! Sick? What are his symptoms?”

    “I just- gah! I dunno what’s wrong with him! He can’t form a sentence long enough to tell me what’s wrong, he keeps throwing up, he’s hot to the touch and, and, and… oh my…. I can’t handle this!”

    “Eventide, calm. Down. Take a few deep breaths and tell me everything.”

    “Right… right… whew… okay. He’s, uh, he’s got a really high temperature. It actually hurts to touch him. He’s sweating and shaking horribly, his sheets are completely drenched. He’s so weak he can barely move, and he’s constantly throwing up this weird glowing green paste.”

    “Oh my… Um… have you cleaned up the p-paste?”

    “As well as I can, and I got him a pan to throw up into. It’s pretty constant, and it’s about half full so far. He’s also saying he’s starving and starts crying whenever I leave his side for anything… he’s scared, I’m scared! I have no idea what to do, Fluttershy!”

    “Just hang on, keep that… paste… cleaned up and see if you can change his sheets. I’m on my way.”

    “Okay… okay, thank you, Fluttershy.”

    The call had ended there, neither of them keen on wasting time with goodbyes. Fluttershy had then hurried in throwing on her winter clothes without even bothering to show, telling her parents she was going to be out for a little while and then breaking into a full-on sprint as soon as she was out of sight. She almost regretted her decision to sprint the whole way, as her lungs were burning in desperation for a rest, and her legs felt like they were being filled with molten lead.

    Keyword being ‘almost.’ Beebee and Eventide needed her right now.

    Only when she finally reached the block that Eventide’s house was on did she allow herself to slow down. Stumbling to a halt, her hand flew up to her chest where her heart beat so hard she was afraid it might break out of her chest and run away from being overworked. Taking a few more wobbly steps, she slumped to one side and leaned against a stop sign for a little bit to rest her screaming legs. Her breaths were still coming in heaving gasps. She didn't let herself stop for long though, no matter how much her body was shouting at her to rest. She shoved off of the post after a moment to continue her trek, this time at a brisk walk instead of at a sprint. Her legs were shaking, and she was still gasping heavily, but she was able to actually reach the house without collapsing now.

    She didn’t even bother to knock and pushed the door open. Buddha looked at her from her place on the chair, all of her usual happy and friendly energy gone. She could clearly sense that something was wrong, and was doing her best to keep out of the way while the people did their work. Giving a thankful nod to the golden retriever, Fluttershy continued on her way and descended down into the basement. She cringed when she heard Beebee utter a weak wail of protest, then saw Eventide appear at the bottom of the stairs to look back up at her.

    His facial features visibly relaxed on seeing her, though there was undoubtedly still that underlying sense of dread. “Oh, thank goodness. You made it…” he breathed in relief before turning and letting Fluttershy past.

    She nodded and stepped by him, coming into the basement proper. She froze, her eyes glued onto Beebee on the bed. Just like Eventide had said, he was in rough shape, and a fresh depositing of green glowing paste left his mouth to splatter into the pan, making a sound akin to that of slushy snow. Fluttershy, despite her exertion, couldn’t find it in herself to breath for several seconds while a hand flew up to cover her mouth.

    She pulled herself together after a moment and stepped forward to get a better look at the situation. Beebee saw her coming, and the wings on his back gave a weak flutter. His eyes lit up with recognition, and a tiny smile managed to force its way onto his pained muzzle. “Aunt Shy…” he murmured before going into a hysterical coughing fit, a few more flecks of the paste flying out and smattering against his pillow.

    Fluttershy sat down on the edge of the bed and carefully reached her hand out. She saw Eventide wince, and she remembered what he had said about Beebee being painful to touch. But still, she had to know. She rested her on Beebee’s forehead, then yanked it back when she felt how hot Beebee’s exoskeleton was. Eventide hadn’t been kidding, it hurt to touch him. “Oh my goodness… Beebee…” she choked out before looking up at Eventide hopelessly.

    “Make it stop…” Beebee cried in a pitiful wail, one of his forelegs uselessly reaching out before falling against his sheets with a soft thump. “I don’t like this… It hurts…”

    “You’re gonna be okay, Beebee, I promise,” Eventide said in a shaking voice before joining Fluttershy on the edge of the bed. He buried his face in his hands to take several deep breaths, then looked at Fluttershy with pleading eyes. “What do we do?” he asked quietly.

    Fluttershy blinked and looked past him at Beebee again. She considered their options for several moments before letting out a heavy sigh. This was bad. They had very little idea how Beebee’s body functioned, beyond what little they had managed to piece together through trial and error. But with a situation like this and a sickness this bad, there was no room for error. She put a few fingers on her temple and shook her head, trying to suppress a growing headache. “Okay… uh… how did he come down with this? Did anything unusual happen that you can think of? Contact with other animals or something?”

    Eventide’s face twisted with thought, his hands wringing themselves together repeatedly in his lap. He looked down at the floor for a few seconds. “Uh… w-well… I’m not sure. The closest thing I can think of it when he went outside for the first time a couple days ago, but…”

    “He did?” Fluttershy asked with her eyes widening. She again looked at Beebee before giving Eventide a more stern expression. “Had the snow come down yet?”


    “Oh, Eventide…” Fluttershy sighed and shook her head. “That’s probably where this came from, then. Between the cold and his first exposure to the outside, who knows what he might have caught… and…” her expression turned significantly more remorseful. She looked down at the floor, no longer able to look directly at either of them. “And I don’t know if there’s anything we can do.”

    Eventide stared at her in shock and horror, stunned. For a few moments, he mouthed helplessly. “Wha.. what do you mean?” he finally managed to ask, shaking. “Y-you’re the medical expert, aren’t you?”

    “Well, yes, but-”

    “So help him!” Eventide all but shouted while standing up. “Please! I don’t know what to do, but you’ve gotta know something! You always seem to know exactly what to do with him! Can’t you just-” he stopped mid-sentence when he saw her shrinking down under his onslaught and the volume of his voice. They were both utterly quiet for several moments with Beebee looking back and forth between them with wide, fearful eyes. Slowly, eventide sat back down while folding his hands in his lap. “I’m sorry, Fluttershy… I’m just scared…”

    Fluttershy winced, then nodded. “I know… and I’m sorry, too, but I don’t know enough about Beebee or how his body works to safely treat him. What if antibiotics are toxic for him? Or vitamins? What if he needs something we don’t even have?” she pointed out before putting her hand on Eventide’s shoulder. “I’m sorry, but we just don’t know enough. The best thing we can do right now, is be there for him.”

    Eventide just stared at her for several long seconds, his expression blank. Then, with a resigned sigh and his body sagging, he stood up and walked around to be right next to Beebee. He settled down onto his knees and took his son’s hoof in his hand. “I’m sorry, Bee…” he whispered, not quite able to meet Beebee’s gaze. “This is my fault. I just… I just wanted you to see the snow… I wanted to let you be outside for once when the world was at its most beautiful. You shouldn’t be forced to stay inside all the time, but...”

    Beebee coughed a few more times, then managed to weakly reach his other hoof out to place it on top of his father’s hand. He gave a confused Eventide a week smile, a quiet purring chirp coming from somewhere deep in his chest. “It’s okay, Dada… I loved the snow…” he said quietly.

    The tender remark was immediately marred when Beebee’s cheeks suddenly puffed up again. He quickly leaned over as yet more green paste was expelled into the pan, which was now almost full. Fluttershy winced at the sight and the awful smell, only now noticing it. Without a word, she gently reached down and took the pan away. She shuddered in revulsion when the glowing contents inside sloshed about

    “I’ll go clean it out and be back in a second…” she said quietly before beginning the journey up the stairs. She went right for the sink and poured the pan’s contents down the drain with the assistance of a steady stream of steaming hot water. She then took the cleansed pan back down and returned it to Eventide and Beebee. The two were quiet, with Eventide holding Beebee’s hoof and doing as Fluttershy had said.

    She silently excused herself and went back upstairs, giving the two some time to be alone. Leaving the basement door open an inch or two, she went and sat down in Eventide’s computer chair so she could keep an ear on the situation with the baby monitor. After a few moments, she reached into her pocket and withdrew her cell phone. With a few deft swipes of her thumb, she pulled up one specific profile and pushed the ‘call’ button,

    She held the phone up to her ear and waited. There was one ring, then another, before the tell-tale click told her her call had been answered. “Fluttershy, Hello,” Sunset Shimmer's voice said from the other end of the line. “What’s up?”

    “Hi,” Fluttershy replied. “Um… I have another question about the creatures in Equestria,” she said hesitantly, and she could practically feel Sunset raising an eyebrow from here.

    “Uh, sure, I’ve got a few minutes. What do you want to know?” Sunset asked curiously. Fluttershy took in a deep breath, preparing to ask her question, but was interrupted when Sunset suddenly spoke again. “Hey, are you okay? You sound like you just ran a marathon.”

    Fluttershy stiffened. “N-No, I’m fine,” she quickly lied, trying to steady her breathing as much as possible. She knew Sunset was unconvinced but was thankful to find that she didn’t press the subject. “Anyways, my question is… um… what kinds of illnesses do the creatures over there have to deal with?”

    “Illnesses? Uh… well… there are a few that are almost identical to earth diseases. The common cold, the pony pox, hay fever, horsey hives, the like. We also have a lot that aren’t really here on Earth, like swamp fever,” Sunset audibly shuddered on the other end of the line. “That one is… yeah... anyway…”

This went on for some time, with Sunset listing off various diseases, and giving clarifications when asked about symptoms or causes, whether or not there were counterparts on Earth and more. All the while, Fluttershy could hear the sounds of Beebee suffering coming from the baby monitor.