Humanity’s Best Friend: A Short Story

Humanity’s Best Friend
Katherine Rochholz
Copyright 2019 All Rights Reserved
Short Story
            If someone had told me the end of the world have been caused by opening a trunk found in a once unexplored jungle, I would have laughed in their faces and said something along the lines of ‘and I sit upon the throne of England.’ Which now, looking back, doesn’t seem as farfetched as it once was before that faithful day, after all the best thing about humanity is the worst thing, our curiosity, and the need to KNOW.
            I had been picking up a prescription for my sun allergy, yes, ironic a Marine with a sun allergy, when the news broke about a gulley in the rain forest leading to a jungle within that had never been explored. I let the news wash over me as I had a busy life, and I was due back on base in twelve hours before my next deployment. I wouldn’t give the news another thought until I was at the London Embassy and the first reports came in of insanity and death.
            I had been trying not to fall asleep in our boring upon boring brief, I hadn’t been as close to falling asleep when someone was talking since Sister Mary Jean was lecturing in my high school biology class about how plants and other organisms photosynthesize sugars for energy, when the news came in that within the jungle there was one thing, a trunk. I turned my head to listen to the people talking about the opening, as that seemed more interesting than stuff I already heard a million times before.
            “They found an ancient trunk, and when they opened it, a single wasp like creature came out! It was huge! It stared at them and then flew away!” Some woman was trying to not sound excited, but anybody could tell she was super excited about the nerdy information.
            Forty eight hours later and I was cursing the monster wasp. It seemed that it had an asexual breeding schedule. Within two day, there were hundreds of them. If they stung you, it would boil your brain and cause hallucinations. About what depended upon the person, some saw the dead coming back to life and claimed there was zombie, thus causing them to kill others who were affected with whatever virus the wasp unleashed. Others saw man eating monsters, and again causing them to kill other humans. I swore, as I shot a man trying to attack me, he was claiming I was purple and had a horn. It was chaos. Pure destructive chaos.
            One week. That is all it took for civilization to collapse. There were very few not stung by the wasps. At the end of the one week, there were groups of survivors, trying to avoid the now thousands of wasp like creatures. I was leading one such group.
            I had learned early on the wasps were afraid of dogs. And just my luck, I had a Labrador assigned to me as a bomb dog, his name was D.O.G. Some reason, the dogs when barking, would harm the wasps, and dogs were immune to the stings. I wasn’t going to buck what protected the group. We learned that even if one wasn’t killed after the fever took hold, the fever would kill them, nothing would bring down the fever, and many ended up drowning their organs, we even tried depriving victims of the water, but it never came down and left them brain dead within forty eight hours of being stung. I had been able to, with D.O.G., to kill a few of the wasps and given the stingers and a body to the couple of grad students that had found their way to the group, they had been studying medicine, I figured let the smarter ones work out the issue, while I tried to keep us alive.
            As I said before the best of humanity is the worst of humanity, and our curiosity gets the better of us. We had been walking towards a railroad station, one of the others pushing someone who had been stung just the day before in a wheelchair, when the person who had been stung cried out. The man was nearing the end of his life, and we tried to ignore their screams of things not there. But this scream was ‘THE NEST’.
            I had all enter the station and told D.O.G. to stay. I was going to check it out. Perhaps a nest would give us answers. I knew that the only true protection against the wasps were man’s best friend, but I had an obligation to the people. They may not be Americans, but a Marine I took an oath to protect people. And I took that seriously. And to be honest, I was curious to see if these wasps nested like normal ones.
            I perched behind a rock and watched. It seemed as they had a hive mentality. Interesting. Hive mentality, perhaps meant if the queen was killed all would be killed. I was already thinking about the materials I had to create a bomb. I was so lost in my mind I didn’t notice the wasp break from the group.
            The next thing I heard was barking. “DOG!”  I yelled.  But before I could do anything a wasp came in front of me, it was humongous, how had people not been killed by the sting! Before I could react, D.O.G. jumped in front taking the sting. The stinger went through his side. I was furious. I took my gun and shot the wasp in its face, it fell did. I scooped up D.O.G. and ran towards the shelter. Once I slammed the door, I fell to my knees to try and save my dog.
            The med students tried to help but it was useless, the stinger when further in than when they stung at other animals and humans, and had pierced his hurt. When he gave his last breath I broke. I stood and went and emptied the bags. I had a hive and a queen to destroy. I just prayed it worked.
            I stood there with the bomb. A throw and a press of the button, which is all it would take. I swallowed. I never feared dying. Dying alone is what I feared. And if this didn’t go right I would die alone. So alone. Life is all about blood, sweat, and tears. Why? Because life, and thus love, means facing your biggest fucking fears. And I am about to face mine. Because they killed my dog, who was more than just a pet to me; D.O.G. had been through and hell and back with me. We saved people. We saved lives. And he saved mine so many times, and finally giving the ultimate sacrifice for my life. So while I was making my way back to the hive, alone, I faced the fear that I may very well die alone this day. And all I could do is pray it wouldn’t hurt.
            I made it back to the hive. I had told the others to send a message any way they could if this worked, to destroy the other hives. Old telegrams worked wonders for communication, and last report probably hinted at least five hives per continent. I was behind the rock again; I see D.O.G.’s blood on the ground. And I closed my eyes and took a deep breath.
            I opened my eyes and stood and threw the bomb with everything I had in me. I was close to the blast site. Once the bomb hit the queen, I ran. The wasps on my tail. I closed my eyes and sent up a prayer to whoever was listening, that I would get a chance to save more lives; that I wouldn’t die here alone, with nobody in the world to care. I pressed the button just before I could feel the heat of the wasp behind me. I heard the explosion. I heard a scream that was like a banshee, and then I heard nothing as the world around me went silent. I felt the heat of the blast and I let my body fall. I covered my head and closed my eyes allowing the sickening silence after a bomb went off surround me as I waited to see if I would live or die… I let blackness take me…
            I woke to darkness. I blinked and pushed myself up. I looked around and bodies of wasps where lying on the ground. It had worked? I jumped up and checked myself. No fever, it had to be a few hours since I had blown them up, so I should have a fever, if I had been stung. I had a stupid grin on my face. I did it. I found a way to save those left in the world. I had stupid ass grin on my face as I walked back to the train station. The others rushed out to greet me. Asking what happened that they heard the scream and saw the blast, but they dare not move until at least morning. I told them it worked and then we went to send off the telegram. Let the world know how to destroy the bastards.
Two Years Later
            “Let’s go, P.U.P!” I yelled as I ran. It had been a slow rebuild, the world was still rebuilding, and from a population of almost eight billion people, to a few hundred million; we had a lot of rebuilding to do. I smiled down at the chocolate lab that was just a few months old. I was one of the few left of the United States military, and now I was in charge of a whole branch, of Earth’s Marine Corps.
We have had elections; we have had remapping, rebuilding, reimaging, of the world. The remaining people were closer, the hate, that once there seemed to be gone. That was the only good to come from the tragedy that opening at trunk in the middle of an unknown jungle had caused.
            The pain of loses still fresh among all, but we must rebuild, and make the world a better place. I smiled at the excited bark of the small pup next to me, Humanity’s Best Friend, right there. Loyal to the end, and beyond, after all the sacrifice of D.O.G, saved the world…

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