“You fooound us.”
Beneath heavy eyelids, yellow teeth encased in stretched, cracking lips parted to release the hypnotic, sing-song welcome. Stella scrambled back against the sloping dirt wall, crying out as sharp pain shot up her leg. Her vision went foggy as she fought against the increasing nausea, attempting to fend off the creeping fainting spell through force of will.
“It doesn’t look happy to find us,” giggled that same strange voice, and through her tunnel vision, she could see the darkness moving. The spot of yellow disappeared into the shadows. “But why wouldn’t it be? We’ve been hiding for so long. Surely it’s happy to finally find us.”
“Who... who are you!?” she gasped, squinting through the white light that filtered in from the square hole in the ceiling. The door above still swung on its hinges. They hadn’t even bothered to close it. Didn’t think she could make it back up the wall. Didn’t think she could escape this place. Displaced dirt clumps rolled down the wall behind her, crumbling as they hit the ground and filling the light with another wave of drifting dust.
“It doesn’t even remember us,” the darkness whined, and Stella jerked as she felt something move across her hand. A dirt clump. She let out a breath, berating herself for overreacting, when she felt something else. She waved the dust from her vision, looking down at the black dirt clumps that had pooled around her legs.
They were moving.
She screamed, jerking away from the black, multi-legged beads that weren’t dirt clumps at all. The dust clung to their otherwise shining shells, and wings poked out from dark casings. More clumps fell from the wall, breaking apart into balls of seething black roaches, their antennas twitching as they roved blindly across the ground.
“Get away!” she screamed, kicking out with her good leg at the mass that should have been avoiding the light. She was safe in the light. Safe. But they weren’t leaving. She felt several disappear into her pant leg, legs scratching at her skin, panic rising to take ahold of her throat.
“Oh, but it remembers you,” the voice continued to whine. “They always remember you. I guess fear is harder to forget than I am. Always hiding down here. Someday, I want to be the one finding, you know? I can’t be the one hiding all the time.”
She wheezed, scrambling to rid herself of the black bugs, feeling the panic attack, knowing that it would trigger her asthma.
“Someday, I’m going to get out of here, you know?”
The darkness swelled, pushing out into the light, and a greasy-haired boy with half-lidded eyes crawled into her line of vision. He didn’t seem incredibly interested in her situation, watching with a sort of detached curiosity. A child poking a corpse with a stick.
“I get so lonely down here, you know. Fear is such bad company,” he continued, scratching his scalp. Several more beetles toppled down into the dirt. He ignored them.
Stella knocked several more cockroaches from her shirt, passing a suffocated sentence past her quickly tightening throat.
“Hmm?” the boy leaned in, pressing his ear to her lips, until she could see the roaches crawling through his hair.
“I can... get... you out.”