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Now Mosquitos Live There

by Luc Reid

I'd only been gone for two days and already the mosquitoes had taken over. I'd had to come back because of the rain: all the boxes I'd left out for the Box People had turned half to mush and now had to be broken down for the Pulp People instead. I strode into the boxes at dusk, unaware of the new owners at first, slashing with my knife and trampling the cardboard. The Pulp People would like that.

There were touches, pinpricks on my legs. The drenched tangle of grass, product of the recent antidrought, was alive with mosquitoes.

"When did you move in?" I shouted, sweeping at them with my hands. "I just left!"

"It looked like you were going away forever," one of the mosquitoes began, but another cut her off.

"We don't need to explain anything to him," she said.

Well, I assume it was another. You can never tell who's talking, with mosquitoes. They're all Mosquito.

I fought my way through their dodging hordes, slashing at the boxes, dancing the dance that scares the mosquitoes off for a moment at a time. People passing by on the Pirate's Road stared. One carriage of Box People slowed, looked long and longingly at the boxes, and then drove away.

"I'm killing you," I said, because I had swatted at least two dozen already.

"We're drinking your blood and using it to make babies who will drink more of your blood," said Mosquito. "It all evens out."

They continued to feed. I continued to kill and slash and trample.

When I left, there had been many, many boxes left over. I'd known from the day I moved in that that place wasn't home, so I'd saved boxes. There were boxes with the names of people I hadn't lived with for years, boxes in which things had been shipped that were now broken and discarded. It was bad enough to have to throw them away once, but now I had to come back to be reminded again of things that were gone. Yet I was growing numb.

As I finished the boxes, the bats began to swoop in, diving and spiraling and snatching the mosquitoes out of the air. I grinned as I stomped the last of the soggy cardboard.

"They're just doing the same as we are," said Mosquito. "Eating what they're made to eat. Their way just suits you better!"

I was still grinning as I stepped clear of the pulped boxes and slapped my legs, killing two last mosquitoes. It did suit me.

I left for home.

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