• Published 7th Aug 2018
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The Bug In The Basement - Skijarama



A changeling egg is left in the human world by its mother in a last-ditch effort to save it.

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Chapter 3: What Are You?

Four months later…

Screams. That was the sound that roused Eventide from his early sleep, alongside a deafening rumble and blast that reminded him of thunder. But it didn’t sound quite right… it was different, somehow. Off. He wasn’t sure what it was, but the unfamiliar nature of whatever it was he was hearing drove off any hope of ignoring it and going back to sleep. He opened his eyes and looked over at his alarm clock, a frown appearing on his face. It wasn’t even midnight yet.

Groggy, grumpy, and more than a little confused, he sat up to look at his clock more closely. He paused with his hand outstretched, however, when he just caught sight of a faint light peeking out from beneath his bedroom door. It was bright, almost white, but he thought there was a shade of pale blue in there as well. With his brow furrowing, he threw off his covers and climbed out of bed.

Slowly, with a hint of nervousness in his movements, he walked forward and pulled the door open. When he looked down the hall towards the living room, he found himself squinting against a blinding light somewhere beyond his windows. The light was originating from a spot in front of Canterlot High School across the street. Stumbling forward, a feeling of fear slowly building in his chest, he scanned the room for his dog, not catching sight of her on the chair. “Buddha?!” he called out in concern, and much to his relief, he heard the dog whimper from behind the chair. She was okay, good.

With her safety confirmed, Eventide returned his attention to the blinding light outside. Just as he did, the light flared and flickered out all at once, and a vibration in the floor he hadn’t noticed abruptly ended. All was still and silent. His heart rate increased, and he quickly made his way for the front door, uncaring that he had chosen to sleep in just his pajama pants that night. As soon as he reached it, he pushed it open.

As the door tilted away from him to expose the world beyond, he was greeted by the sight of… a demon?! He blinked and rubbed at his eyes, his jaw falling open in abject disbelief. But his eyes did not deceive him. In the air above Canterlot High School, he saw a red-skinned woman wearing a dress made of what looked like fire turned into silk. Two, enormous leathery wings flapped almost lazily at her sides, and her soulless black eyes shimmered with blue pupils. A sadistic grin was on her face as she looked at her body as if seeing it for the first time. Below her, Eventide saw many of the students of Canterlot High slowly shambling forward to stand below her, groaning and moaning like zombies.

“What the heck am I looking at?!” he breathed, horrified, taking a step back and closing his door. He then locked it and shot over to crouch by one of his windows, Buddha not far away. The poor, terrified dog was still cowering behind the chair, whimpering and whining to convey her feelings. Eventide shot her what he hopes was a reassuring glance before peeking up to look out the window again.

To his horror, he saw the she-demon lift her hands over her head while her cold, black eyes glared down on a small group of six students. The bloodthirsty, murderous smile on her face grew wider and sent a chill down Eventide’s face as soon as he looked at it. Her lips were moving while her hands came together above her head, and a colossal ball of fire formed between her fingers.

She then hurled the fireball down at the students, who quickly huddled together to shield each other. Eventide’s eyes widened with shock when he saw Fluttershy in that group. He cried out her name before ducking under the window again, his hand flying up to clasp itself over his mouth as the sound of a loud, fiery explosion reached his ears. Everything shook, and several objects fell off their places on counters and tables from the force. He felt his blood run cold and his heart sank deep into the pit of his stomach.

Buddha, seeing his distress, managed to work up the courage to slink out of her hiding place to press up against him, offering whatever comfort she could. Several seconds of silence came and went outside, and Eventide found himself as-yet unwilling to look at the scene again. He didn’t want to see Fluttershy’s charred body, and he didn’t want to reveal himself to the monster lurking just outside. Buddha pressed closer to him, and his free hand wrapped around her on instinct.

After a couple of minutes, there was another loud blast from outside, and a blinding light made up of all the hues of the rainbow was projected through his windows, illuminating everything in his living room in a kaleidoscope of color. Several seconds persisted before that light, too, faded away, and there was more silence. This time, it was even more deafening than before. Eventide finally managed to shakily remove his hand from his mouth, his breath coming in shaky, horrified gasps even while Buddha cuddled up to him, letting off quiet whines. Still, her presence managed to ease some of his discomforts, and he found the bravery to look outside again.

To his shock, the demon was gone, and Fluttershy was okay. Except… wait; was she sprouting a pair of wings?! Eventide blinked, shook as head, and looked on, watching the scene unfold. Fluttershy, along with the five other students she had huddled with, were standing around a newly-formed crater in front of the school, looking down on something at the bottom. He blinked again and let out a heavy sigh of relief, letting himself slump down until his back was resting against the wall, Buddha once again cuddling up to him.

He took a second to recount everything that had just happened in his head. He had been woken up by a loud explosion, saw a big red demon woman throw a fireball at Fluttershy and a bunch of other students, they all survived the blast, somehow, and now several of them were sprouting weird wings and new ears.

Then he let out a quiet chuckle, reaching over and giving Buddha a few gentle pets behind the ears. “Heh… I get it,” he muttered, giving a slow shake of his head. “This is a dream, isn’t it? Flying demons, big explosions, Fluttershy having wings...… yeah… I think I’m gonna go back to sleep, okay buddy?”

Buddha reacted by craning her neck to shove her snout into his hand, where she began to give him several licks. She definitely seemed to be relieved, as whatever danger there was had passed. And so, with his dog pressing up to him, the adrenaline fading from his system, and his brief moment of emotional turmoil having tired him out, Eventide managed to fall back into a dreamless sleep right there against the wall.

But while those two got in their rest, somewhere just below them, a certain object that had been forgotten, moved. The tiny being within sensed their mutual feelings, and with the surge of energy right across the street, it began to wake up. The egg rocked side-to-side a little bit, the tiny creature within stirring to life...


When Eventide awoke again, it was with a horrible ache in his muscles, especially in his shoulders and neck, and a throbbing in his skull. He groaned quietly in discomfort before his eyes fluttered open, revealing that he was still sleeping next to his window with Buddha resting against him. The gentle glow of sunlight streaming in told him that it was now morning.

But why was he waking up leaning against the wall?

With his face contorting in confusion, he looked down and saw Buddha, still sleeping soundly with her head in his lap, using him as a pillow. Not quite remembering why he was sleeping on anything but his bed, Eventide slowly nudged the dog’s head off of his lap so that he could stand up. As he went, he glanced briefly out his window to take a look at the weather. He froze, and his jaw fell slack when he saw the crater and rubble in front of the High school, and the events of last night came rushing back to him.

“W-w-wait!” he stuttered out in a near panic, stumbling back from the window and the soreness in his muscles forgotten. “All of that stuff was real?!

His exclamation finally roused Buddha from her slumber. She opened her eyes and looked up at him questioningly, an adorable yawn slipping out of her. Eventide saw this, then looked back out the window at the school. Now that he was really looking, he could see that the front doors were missing, too, looking as if they and their frames had been unceremoniously ripped away and hurled off to one side. In fact, now that he was looking, he was pretty sure that that pile of rubble over there was what was left of the main entrance.

For a moment, Eventide just looked on at the destruction, unable to comprehend what he was looking at. Then he remembered.

Fluttershy!

Fluttershy had been there! She seemed to be pretty involved, too, if what he was remembering was anything to go off of. Between being one of the six at the edge of that weird crater, being a direct target of the she-demon, and growing WINGS. With all of that in mind, Eventide turned and quickly made his way for the dining table, where he had left his phone overnight. Sadly, when he went to turn it on, he found it was unresponsive. He tapped it a few more times before a small picture appeared on the screen, telling him what was wrong.

Out of charge.

Typical.

Grumbling impatiently to himself, he walked back to his bedroom where he kept his charger. Buddha followed closely behind him, nervously sniffing at his ankles, and letting out worried whines as they went. She clearly sensed his confusion and was making sure he knew that she was there to make him feel better.

All of their momentum stopped just outside of his room, however, when a sound reached their ears. Eventide froze, his hand mere inches from the door. Buddha also locked up, her hanging ears perking up just a little bit. The two were utterly still for a short time, waiting to see if the sound would come again. And it did after a few seconds, clearer this time. It was a scratching sound, like someone was dragging a few rake-tips across a wooden plank. It was enough to send a disgusting tingle down Eventide’s spine, making him cringe and shudder. When it came again, he followed the sound, and discovered that it was coming from the other side of the basement door.

With a new feeling of trepidation building in his chest, Eventide began to slowly creep towards the door, listening to the sounds as he went. Buddha followed closely, her shoulders hunched and her pupils dilated. She growled low in her throat, glancing up at Eventide as if expecting him to shush her. When he did not, she growled a little louder. There was another scratching sound right on the door that made Eventide flinch back, his hand having been just about to grab the handle. Buddha let out a bark at that moment, and the scratching stopped for a second. Eventide hesitated, eyeing the handle like it would burn him. Just a quick look, he told himself. Whatever it is, get a quick look, then close the door and call an animal expert or something. With that plan firmly cemented in his head, he took a few deep breaths, glanced down at Buddha, and then opened the door.

As soon as he did, he saw two glowing blue eyes looking back up at him from the floor. These eyes belonged to a small grub-like creature covered in a white exoskeleton that was peppered with dark spots. Its face, however, was black and shiny, a pair of sharp, pointy fangs could be seen sticking down from its upper lip. Between and above its relatively enormous eyes was a small stump that came to a fine point. Looking at it, Eventide was sure he could hold the tiny thing in the palm of his hand.

Not that that was his first reaction to the creature, of course. His first reaction was to let out a very high pitched and undignified squeal while flailing backward to the floor as it hissed at him. Buddha, having not expecting his shout, let out a few alarmed barks of her own while glaring and growling in warning at the horned grub. It, in turn, backed away from her, a long and forked red tongue slipping out from between its lips as it hissed. It soon seemed to come to the conclusion that it would not win against her though. It turned and scurried as fast as it could back down the steps, leaving Eventide and Buddha all alone.

The latter, however, was not one to wait for the intruder to come back. She barked and gave chase, following the slimy creature back down into the basement. This was what finally broke Eventide out of his stunned trance. He shook his head and staggered back to his feet before running to the door and gazing down the stairs. “Buddha! You stupid dog, get back here!” he called angrily, though his words fell on deaf ears. He could still hear Buddha barking below, and that creature hissing at her.

Cursing, he began to carefully make his way down the stairs, not exactly wanting to follow a creature with glowing eyes that he had never seen before. But his dog had followed it, and he had to take care of her. He had promised Fluttershy that he would when he adopted her, after all.

Ah, the joys of being a pet owner.

As soon as he got to the bottom of the stairs, he yanked on the light-bulb’s chain, and the orange light flickered into existence. He saw that Buddha had forced the creature into a corner, where it had stopped hissing at her and was now trying to look as small as possible by curling up into a ball. She kept on growling and snarling at it for several seconds. Then it twitched, just slightly, and her angered barks died in her throat. Eventide watched with slowly growing confusion as, instead of tearing into it like he had expected her to, she instead slowly began to edge towards it, sniffing at it.

She was being so gentle…

But she was way too close!

“Buddha, get away from it!” Eventide shouted loudly before sprinting forward to place his hands on Buddha’s hips and drag her back. She growled low in her throat to protest his interference but otherwise did little to resist or fight back. As soon as she was by the stairs, Eventide risked looking away from her to study the bug in his basement. Just one of its enormous blue eyes was looking back at him from behind it’s curled body, glistening in the dim orange light. The look it had… it was enough to give him pause. It was terrified. He could just tell.

What was that sound? The little thing twitched again, the movement coinciding with a high-pitched, two-toned whimper. What was more, its eyes were getting… shinier. It started shaking and trembling, and that whimper evolved into a long, pitiful wail.

This thing… it was crying.

With his fear slowly fading away to be replaced by curiosity, Eventide’s eyes caught sight of something out of their corner and briefly flicked to one of his bookcases. There he saw the green stone he had brought into the house. Or, rather, the shattered remains of it. Raising an eyebrow in surprise, he put a hand on Buddha’s back. “Sit, girl. Stay,” he ordered firmly, and she did as commanded, albeit reluctantly. Slowly, never taking his eyes off of the bug, Eventide made his way over to the shattered stone. The bug did not move, it’s gaze bouncing between him and Buddha in absolute terror. Once he reached the bookcase, he took his eyes off the quivering creature to study the stone.

Not only had the thing been hollow, it had been shattered from the inside. There was some residual green slime pooled beneath it, long since dried. There was also a trail of the green slime slowly descending down the side of the case. Had this thing climbed down from the shelf? To be fair, that wouldn’t be the weirdest thing Eventide had seen in the last twelve hours.

Nevertheless, a realization dawned on him as he looked it over. He reached a hand out to the shell, tracing the edge with a finger. “It was an egg…” he mumbled under his breath, bringing his other hand up to his chin. “But…” he then turned to look at the cowering animal, and he felt a little more of his fear bleed away when he saw it curl up even tighter, another miserable wail slipping out of it. In place of his fear, another emotion was quickly building.

Sympathy.

Eventide slowly walked over to the creature, being careful not to make any loud noises or sudden movements. He kept casting glances in Buddha’s direction to ensure that she stayed put until he was directly in front of the bug. He slowly sat down cross-legged in front of it, studying its reaction carefully. “You’re just a baby… oh, man…” he murmured before looking back at Buddha again. She was still planted on her backside, though she let a few impatient whines escape her throat, and she shifted uncomfortably in place to convey her dwindling willingness to stay put.

When Eventide looked at the bug again, he found that it was slowly uncurling itself, a hopeful look in its eyes. He didn’t move, eyeing it very carefully as it crawled up to one of his partially extended knees. It sniffed at his knee, and then, to his great surprise, brushed its cheek along the bare skin as if to show affection. Its own skin made a small shiver go down his spine involuntarily. It was cold and still slimy, and it made his skin crawl. But he couldn’t deny that, now that he wasn’t freaking out, the tiny thing was almost cute.

Almost.

It looked up into his eyes again, and to his further surprise. Its eyes alone conveyed a remarkable amount of emotion, and if he didn’t know any better, he would have sworn it smiled at him just then. He just looked at it some more before voicing his question in a low whisper.

“So… what the heck are you?”

Author's Note:

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