Bug City

📅 Published on November 15, 2021

“Bug City”

Written by David Feuling
Edited by Craig Groshek
Thumbnail Art by Craig Groshek
Narrated by N/A

Copyright Statement: Unless explicitly stated, all stories published on CreepypastaStories.com are the property of (and under copyright to) their respective authors, and may not be narrated or performed, adapted to film, television or audio mediums, republished in a print or electronic book, reposted on any other website, blog, or online platform, or otherwise monetized without the express written consent of its author(s).

🎧 Available Audio Adaptations: None Available

ESTIMATED READING TIME — 14 minutes

Rating: 10.00/10. From 1 vote.
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My cousin AJ told me this story in 2006.  He was twenty-seven years old and would soon be on his deathbed.  AJ claims that he got sick because of what happened to him back in 1998.  He was nineteen then.  Now that he’s gone, I can’t ask him any more questions.  This is everything I know.

AJ kept a pinboard in his room that was covered in a messy starburst of theories.  Some of it was nonsense.  There were clipped conspiracy pamphlets and pages torn from trash tabloids.  Government coverups were linked to articles about extraterrestrial conspiracies.  At the center was a dense hub of scientific reports alongside obvious pseudoscience.  “Superluminal communication” was the connection there.  AJ was obsessed with faster than light messaging.  I’ve looked at the pinboard since AJ died, but I can’t make much sense of it yet.

I was thirteen when AJ spilled his guts to me.  We were taking a break from video games.  I was drinking a soda and leafing through a comic book while my cousin noodled on his guitar.  He kept looking up at me, and I could tell he wanted to discuss something but didn’t know how to start.  “What’s up, man?” I prompted.  He put his guitar aside.

“It might take the whole afternoon.”

“I guess I’ve got time,” I told him, not quite diverting my attention from the comic.  I was still reading it when AJ rose and grabbed the pages away.

“But I really need you to listen.” I saw that he was serious and gave him my attention.

It was around January of ‘98 when AJ found a bug that had died on the ceiling.  It was stuck overhead with its legs pointed straight down toward the ground.  Somehow, it died on its back and stayed there, despite walking upside-down above his head during the last seconds of its life.  AJ almost dismissed this as a freak occurrence but kept it in mind as he decided to look around.  He found a second bug with its legs also pointing toward the center of his room.  It died on its back, as insects generally do, but it was stuck to the wall despite the normal pull of gravity.  Its legs were pointed towards him as he plucked it from its place and threw it in the trash.

AJ pondered the empty space that was the center of his room.  It was an unfurnished vacancy with little in the way of decorations.  “Looking back,” AJ said, “it’s obvious how that emptiness was the centerpiece.  It was the focal point of the strangeness.”

“That’s not obvious to me,” I told him.

“Just listen,” he answered.

At first, AJ left most of the insects where they’d died.  He was messy by nature, so clearing them away wasn’t a priority.  “Besides,” he said, “I wanted to keep observing.  I thought I could figure it out.”

When the spiders started spinning themselves down from the ceiling just to curl up and die, he finally gave his room a deep cleaning.  “I walked in one day to find five of them,” AJ told me.  “Five spiders – all dead in midair – like ornaments hanging from silk filaments.  I started aggressively disposing of the bug bodies.  That’s when things really got weird.”

AJ says the lights outside his window started on the night after he cleaned the dead bugs out of his house.  “Not when I first put them in the wastebasket,” he clarified, “but the night after I moved them out to the driveway trashcan.  I never had sleep paralysis before that, but it’s been happening ever since.” I remember the bags under AJ’s sunken, haunted-looking eyes.  I could easily believe that he hadn’t slept well for almost ten years.

“You think the bugs were giving you nightmares?” I scoffed and tried to grab my comic book back from the dresser where he’d put it.  “That’s stupid.” AJ got to the comic first, pulled it away from me, and tossed it behind his bed.

“Hey,” AJ stared down my smirk and turned me solemn again.  “When they build a dam over a river, the animals go crazy.  Some die, some start acting strangely, and some change their behavior completely.  If there was some kind of invisible energy that was in flux over this house, it makes sense that nature would start to do things that I’d notice.”

“What do the bugs have to do with energy flux?” I was waxing sarcastic again.

“Fine, maybe it’s stupid.” AJ acknowledged it gravely.  “But maybe I simply don’t have enough pieces of the story yet.” He stared deliberately at the soda I was drinking, and when he spoke again, his rambling seemed to have changed to a new topic.  “They put something in the water between three and four in the morning.  The elves do it.  They want to poison all the insomniacs and night owls.”

I felt worried to hear him talk like this.  From my perspective, AJ was mentally ill.  This seemed, obviously, to be paranoid and delusional talk.  My attention turned to wondering how I might facilitate getting my older cousin the help he needed.  I kept my mouth shut for the time being, though.  AJ hadn’t come to me because he wanted help.  Right now, he needed someone to listen to his story.

“The lights outside my windows appeared for the first time after I visited Bug City in my dreams.  They turn off again whenever my eyes are open, and they only appear when the rest of this house is asleep.  My family goes to bed earlier than I do, so the lights are usually there to wake me back up.  As recently as last night, the lights clicked on right as I shut my eyes to rest.  I think it’s how the elves give me the dream.  I’ve been having it ever since I threw away the bugs.”

“It’s a dream,” I cut in.  “It’s your imagination.” I didn’t even know where to begin questioning the idea of a light that only AJ could see when his eyes were closed.

“But the dream always comes before the sleep paralysis,” AJ insisted.  “Please, just let me describe it to you.”

“I’m on the outdoor patio of a café-style restaurant.  I don’t know where it is, but I can sense that it’s somewhere foreign and faraway.  It’s dark outside, and the air is dry and hot.  It’s a pleasant summer night.  There’s too much light pollution to see the stars.  I can’t even find the moon.  The sky is like a flat, gray ceiling overhead.  The only hint that we’re really outside is the yellow-orange stain of the streetlights.  Their light diffuses up through the fog to fade into nothing above us.  I think that I’m eating with friends when I arrive in the dream, but I’m never sure who these people are.

“We’re relaxing.  My friends and I are always happy at the beginning, even though I know what’s coming next.  All at once, people start running past our table in a panic.  They’re fleeing down the street, and my friends and I don’t know what’s happening.  We all jump up and join them in running away.  In the chaos, I get separated from everyone else.

“I try running down alleyways, but the side streets are all walled off.  I try climbing up fire escapes, but there’s no way to get inside any of the buildings.  Every time that I hit a dead end, I find other people who have also hit that same dead end.

“Whenever I ask someone where we are, they answer me without surprise.  I guess it’s natural not to know.  Every time I ask, they tell me urgently: ‘We’re in Bug City.  There’s no way out.’”

“AJ, wait,” I interrupted.  “If everyone understands that there’s no way out, then why do they keep running away?  Why would people try to escape if they already know it’s impossible?”

“That’s a good question,” AJ laughed.  “I wonder about that a lot.” He frowned.  “But think about it this way…” His hands shot out in front of himself as though he were recounting a grand theory that required his whole body to describe.  “If you or I were trapped inside a hopeless situation with nothing to do but wait, don’t you think we’d occupy our time by trying for a miracle?”

“It doesn’t make sense to me,” I admitted.  “But, what’s the deal with this dream?  It sounds like a regular nightmare.” I was dangerously close to calling out AJ on the threads of nonsense with which he’d become obsessed.  I listened while he told me about his first encounter with the elves:

“I woke up.  My head was tilted up toward the bedside window, and my eyes were staring out into our backyard.  There were three lights in a triangle outside – one by the lamppost, another high in the sky, and then a third burning like a fallen star right on our lawn.  Beneath the covers, I felt something crane my neck down towards my own feet.  The three lights in a triangle followed my vision inside – through my closed windowpane – and shrunk down to attach themselves to a darkened figure that I suddenly realized was standing there in the room with me.

“I woke up for a second time.  I’m not sure what transpired in the blink of unconsciousness that blotted me out.  I was back in my room, but I couldn’t move.  The elves almost seem like people, but you can tell that they’re not.  It’s in the way they move.  There are no footfalls.  Their joints don’t articulate.  The elves’ limbs just kind of…flow out from their bodies.  One was staring into my face.  It had at least a dozen eyes, and they were all targeting me.  Another elf was doing something in the corner of my room.  I couldn’t see it clearly.  I tried to turn my head away from the one that was staring at me, but I was paralyzed.  Down even to my smallest muscles, there was no autonomy at all.  I tried to bunch my hand into a fist against the bed, but even my fingers were frozen.”

AJ got choked up.  He was becoming so upset that I felt uncomfortable to see him.  My cousin didn’t ever cry in front of me, nor did he usually struggle for words.  Both were happening now.  He continued:

“One had a face like three lights in a triangle.  I mentioned him already.  He came in through the window.  He brought friends that weren’t like him, though.  There was another with a head that was perfectly round.  Imagine it – two bulbous eyes on either side of its face.  It had a gaping mouth, too – like one of those bubble-eyed goldfish.  They didn’t communicate with me.  They didn’t even try to.  I was like a laboratory mouse, and they were only there to perform some operation on me.

“The first one stared into my face the whole time.  The other one was working on something I couldn’t see.  It barely made noise, but there were small sounds as it brushed against this or that in my room.  My heart was pounding, and my eyes were wide open, but then I lost consciousness.  It was abrupt.  I was staring into the face of this thing, and then suddenly, I was completely out.  When I woke up a second time, it was morning outside.  I could move my limbs again.  All the dead bugs had been replaced on my walls and ceiling.”

Thirteen-year-old me was getting spooked by his descriptions at this point, so I tried to lighten things with a joke.  “I bet you left the bugs alone this time, right?”

“I did,” AJ said.  “They stayed there until they rotted away.  The parts that were left – their little shells – stayed stuck to the wall.  The spiders started spinning themselves down again.  If I knocked them down or tried to move them before they died, they’d run straight back to spin a new thread from the center of the ceiling.  For a while, I would crush them and leave them in the corner of the room.  I felt a need to interrupt the ritual, but I was afraid to throw the bodies out.

My Uncle Maz interrupted us by knocking on AJ’s door and then letting himself in before AJ could answer.  Sternly, he asked which one of us messed with his ham radio set.  “It’s fried to hell,” he said.  “Somebody ruined it.”

“It wasn’t me,” AJ answered.  He’d abruptly flattened and folded himself against the wall, pulling his knees to his chest and wrapping his arms tightly around them.  My cousin reminded me of a cornered cat in that moment – hunched and scowling with every muscle tensed for action.  I know that AJ wasn’t afraid of Uncle Maz.  Those two were closer than best friends.  Maz shrugged and left the room, grumbling about his broken radio.

“Why did that make you so nervous?” I asked.  AJ realized he’d tightened himself into an anxious huddle.  It took a few seconds for him to relax and answer me.

“They mess with electronics.  The elves do.  That’s how they send me threats.” I was finishing my soda, and AJ tossed me another one.  He was eager to make sure that I didn’t get up and leave, not even briefly, to go to the kitchen.

“Ok,” I asked as I cracked the tab on my fresh can.  “So, who’s been threatening you?”

“I call them elves.  I guess I needed a name for them, but I don’t remember how it started.  Maybe they told me in a dream.  They don’t talk to me at all when they’re here, but they send me messages between their visits.” He let himself become agitated again.  The next sentence that came was blurted out.

“My friend Petra played the Theremin.” AJ’s eyes darted in a circle around himself while he spoke.  “Do you know what that is?” I shook my head no.  “It’s a musical instrument,” he said, “but different than most.  It’s an electronic device with a pair of proximity sensors built-in.  There’s a loop of metal that sticks out horizontally and then a second antenna that goes straight up.  Both of these wires pick up on anything that’s passing through the air nearby.  It translates those disturbances into sound.”

“Ok,” I urged him along.  “So, your friend Petra brought her Theremin over.” I cracked a small smile, but the harsh look on AJ’s face made it clear he wasn’t joking.

“Yes.  I asked her to bring it.” When he was sure I was taking him seriously again, AJ explained.  “We set it up in my bedroom one night.  We left it powered on and stayed up in the living room watching TV until we heard it start to sing.”

“It sings?  What does that mean?”

“We set it to play a steady hum at a low volume.  If nothing came near it, the droning sound wouldn’t change.  It hummed evenly for most of the night.  The pitch and volume started changing around 2:30 in the morning.”

“So, what did you hear?”

“The vowels were modulated through the pitch of the instrument’s whining.  The consonants were formed out of static and clicking.  It sounded like the machine was breaking and failing to register something…I remember…” AJ chuckled then rubbed his head pensively.  “I remember Petra saying I’d have to pay her back if they broke it.” He took a deep breath, then continued:

“Petra and I agree that it was saying ‘welcome to…’ followed by something we couldn’t quite hear.  Petra wrote down ‘Bhagsidi’ on a piece of paper.  She thought it was a name.  That’s not what I heard, though.”

“You heard ‘Bug City.’” I responded.  AJ nodded somberly.

“Petra and I stayed up all night, and she went home in the morning.  I was alone again the night after that, and I slept like a log because I was exhausted.  I don’t know if my weakness is why the elves came back, or if it’s because we eavesdropped on them during the previous night.  Whatever the reason, the night after the Theremin was when they finally carved me up.”

“Nobody carved you up, AJ,” I argued.

“Not where you can see it,” he frowned.  “Shut up for a second while I describe it to you.”

AJ launched into another tangent.  He said he could trace this all back to a certain type of old radio tower component.  “The Leyden-Ewald 2403 Capacitor,” he told me while tapping a photocopy of some dubious article on his pinboard.  “The LE2403 was invented, installed worldwide, then abandoned almost as quickly.  They ripped it out of every tower over the next few years as problems sprung up.  Something major went wrong, and they tried to destroy their mistake.”

The LE2403 units were allegedly built in the late 80s and early 90s.  My cousin’s story reminded me of those old urban legends claiming that cell towers cause cancer and headaches, and I told him so.  “They don’t do anything like that,” he insisted.  “At least, not directly.  I think what they really do is get in the way of the elves’ communications.  That’s what causes the phenomena.”

“AJ,” I pressed.  “Who dissected you?” My cousin sighed and continued.

“After Petra left, I started doing some math.  It was all rough triangulation, but I did my best.” AJ laughed.  “I hid aluminum foil in corners that I expected to be problem areas.  I plugged any nooks where bugs might crawl out with even more foil.  I set a big floor mirror where the Theremin had started singing and positioned it to face towards the cell tower outside.” AJ pointed through his window at the woodlands behind his house.

“There’s a cell tower out there?” I asked skeptically.  The trees were thick enough that there was no clue of anything manmade beyond them.  AJ nodded.

“I can’t get to it because of all the razor wire and locked gates, but it’s out there.  In any case, I didn’t really have a specific plan.  I was just trying to make the strangeness stop.  It was evening by the time I was done, and I started thinking things might actually be okay.  I dozed off, and that’s when it happened.”

AJ says that he woke up completely immobilized.  He had been sleeping on his back with his head turned to the left as it rested against his pillow.  This position exposed his neck and also allowed his eyes to focus on the digital clock radio in the corner of the room.  It was 3:47 a.m.

“There are so many stories about silhouette figures entering the room and standing over you, but that description doesn’t do it justice.  It’s not just a shadow; it’s a flesh-and-blood thing that your senses aren’t fully understanding.

“I couldn’t look down to see what they were putting in me or how the implantation was performed.  There were limbs pressing down on my chest and stomach, and then a sharp pain like something was eating its way through me.  Imagine a horsefly bite, but happening over and over again.  It was a constant sensation until the pain was deep inside my core, and then it stopped abruptly.  The pressure against my limbs withdrew, and the silhouettes left me alone.

The device travels around inside my body.  That’s why they can’t find it.  I can feel it moving, and it’s painful when it does.  One doctor sent me through an MRI and found a few tracks of scar tissue snaking around inside of me.  The device doesn’t seem to show in images, though.

The weirdest part is that the bugs stopped collecting in my room.  It must have something to do with the implant.  Whenever I go on a hike, I can’t even get mosquitos to bite me.  They won’t come anywhere near me anymore.

About a year after AJ told me all this, I visited him in the hospital.  He was dying, but the doctors couldn’t identify the reason for his failing health.  I’ll remember the last thing AJ ever said to me for the rest of my life.  Previous to that point, we enjoyed a long conversation about normal things.  We talked about our favorite memories, our family, and the future.  When my parents said it was time to go home, AJ asked them for one more minute.  He wanted to tell me something in private.  My parents left the room, and he told me:

“The bugs were indicating something with their legs when they died.  It’s not clear what, but it’s bigger than you and me.  It’s bigger than all of us.  I guess this is goodbye, so try not to forget what I told you.”

I told him I wouldn’t forget and gave him my own attempt at a satisfying goodbye.  I don’t remember exactly what I said, but I cried especially hard on the car ride home.  At the time, I didn’t really understand why I’d suddenly gotten so upset, but now I know it was a combination of sensing the loss of my cousin and confusion from not knowing what to believe about what he’d told me.

I’ve checked since AJ died, and documentation of the Leyden-Ewald 2403 Capacitor – if such a thing ever existed at all – has been completed wiped from the internet.  All the same, my research yielded something interesting about the tower in the woods behind AJ’s house.  It doesn’t appear on any official registry of towers or antennae.  Could there really be an operational LE2403 unit that’s still out there?

My cousin was a natural storyteller, and so I guess on some level at least, I always assumed he was indulging in fantasy.  I mostly listened to AJ’s stories because he was very sick, and I enjoyed spending time with him.  At most, I thought he probably only half-believed all the crazy things he was saying.  It seemed like we were just bonding through wild speculation.  When AJ passed away, I realized this all truly might be real.

I found out eventually that AJ insisted on being cremated.  He claimed it would be the only way to destroy the device that was implanted inside him.  I never really believed him about the strange nodules in his body that nobody else ever noticed.  I reasoned that if the doctors couldn’t find them, they must not have existed at all.  That’s what I thought – at least – before my uncle got a call from the funeral home which changed my mind.

The mortuary director said he couldn’t give us AJ’s ashes; in fact, we’d never see his remains.  The director could only explain that “something went wrong” during the cremation.  Two weeks later, I heard AJ’s parents crying over a letter they had received in the mail.  Within six months, they’d moved out of that old house.

My Uncle Maz brings it up whenever he’s been drinking.  He thinks AJ’s body must have “self-destructed or something” while inside the cremation chamber.  He’s told me about it more than a dozen times, usually with tears in his eyes when he does.  “The whole building was evacuated!” he always says.  “We had the Feds at our door, telling me my son’s remains are gone, and he’s left behind a goddamn crime scene!”

I wonder who AJ’s tormentors were and what they put inside him.  I can’t imagine why they had to take him away from us.  There’s no evidence now.  We only have our stories, and so I can’t really say anything for sure about Bug City.  Things like elves, superluminal transmissions, shadowy figures, and “Bhagsidi” mean very little to me except what AJ’s described.

The details don’t matter to me, though.  I’ve decided I believe him.

Rating: 10.00/10. From 1 vote.
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🎧 Available Audio Adaptations: None Available


Written by David Feuling
Edited by Craig Groshek
Thumbnail Art by Craig Groshek
Narrated by N/A

🔔 More stories from author: David Feuling


Publisher's Notes: N/A

Author's Notes: N/A

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Copyright Statement: Unless explicitly stated, all stories published on CreepypastaStories.com are the property of (and under copyright to) their respective authors, and may not be narrated or performed, adapted to film, television or audio mediums, republished in a print or electronic book, reposted on any other website, blog, or online platform, or otherwise monetized without the express written consent of its author(s).

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