The Attack of the Devil Bug Gang
Aug 9, 2009
They were an ordinary couple, living on an unremarkable street on an uneventful day. There were no fire trucks screaming by, no dogs barking in the distance. It was a sleepy Saturday morning, and they were cleaning, and carrying things, and doing their best to be useful.
The night before, they had been quite happy, and had spent the evening out of the house, holding hands romantically.
Thus, they were unprepared and completely unaware of the evil bearing down upon them.
But that’s the way it is with a Devil Bug Gang.
Members of the Devil Bug Gangs are very smelly creatures, rank with old sweat and an atmosphere of curse words not spoken in our parts for a very long time. They are often old, and terribly vain, and angry. No, they are more than angry. They are cruel and hateful and have but one joy and one goal flickering behind their cesspool eyes.
They fly, for they are far too lazy to walk. They fly in gangs, and spit and cackle as they go, searching, ever searching, for their next victims. Their names are long forgotten, even to themselves, so they call each other “Scum” and “Vomit,” and if they’re feeling particularly gleeful, they sometimes refer to each other as “Putrescence.” One of their favorite pastimes, when they’re not “working,” is reading tabloid newspapers. They absolutely love yellow journalism, and they do their best to instigate messy events that will end up as headlines. They are especially attracted to cheating spouses and murder.
Their leader is always the most foul, for to be their leader, one must be very, very, very bad; the kind of bad that causes a judge to order an immediate execution. Unfortunately, many members of the Devil Bug Gangs that roam across the surface of the world were hanged by the neck until dead, or boiled in oil, or shot at dawn by indignant burghers who couldn’t fathom the depth of their crimes.
It is a sad fact, indeed, that snuffing out the life of a dastard does not end his dastardly deeds. Or hers, for that matter. Yes, the Devil Bug Gangs have many females in their company, although any trace of the warmth of a woman’s love is certainly not obvious in their rotting faces. Devil Bugs are masters of enticement, and spend a great deal of time loitering around electric chairs and other devices of state-sanctioned execution. As the switch is thrown, they zoom to the side of the recently departed and whisper seductive blandishments and offers.
They had an easier time years ago, when people were killed with axes and guillotines, and were drawn and quartered while still alive. Resentful victims howling under cruel and unusual punishments are much more responsive to being led down the gloomy path to the place that the Devil Bug Gangs call home. But even these modern times offer them recruitment possibilities. They do hate clergymen though, and they’re especially frustrated by the many inconsiderate judges who ignore the death penalty and sentence their potential recruits to life in prison. It offers far too much opportunity for repentance and a general rejection of evil deeds. Nuns and social workers make the members of the Devil Bug Gangs gnash their fangs against their leathery lips. Of course, there are exceptions to every rule, and they fully approve of allowing the most violent prisoners to live longer, as long as they kill and maim their fellow prisoners, or order the deaths of more innocent victims beyond their prison walls. They consider such murders to be training for the glorious moments when the felons can join their gang. They also enjoy watching prisoners kill again.
The gangs often fight among themselves, and sometimes attack other roaming gangs. It’s always a frustrating experience for them, since they are already dead, and can’t be killed twice. They content themselves with thinking of new ways to inflict pain on others, and ever more creative ways to destroy hopes and dreams and love. Once in a very great while, a member of a Devil Bug Gang begins to grow weary of a life of destruction, and tries to escape. Then hell does indeed break loose, for Devil Bugs feel intense resentment toward the happiness of others.
One might wonder why they are called “Bugs.” Being incorporeal entities, they can make themselves very small, if they wish, even smaller than angels dancing on the heads of pins. They especially hate angels, even when the angels are not dancing, so the gangs like to escape their notice. They prefer to shrink themselves down to the size of a bug, like a flea or a gnat. Of course, from their point of view they look the same, so before they embark on a rampage through a village they find a mirror, and preen and primp for hours. Their vanity is so enormous, but so misplaced, that they have no idea that their clothes are in tatters, or their hair is oily, or their teeth are decayed into stumps. They believe they’re quite handsome. The women among them follow the latest fashions, and nowadays indulge in tattoos and piercings. They really like piercings, especially in terribly uncomfortable places. They dress as immodestly as possible, and enjoy it very much when the male members of the Devil Bug Gangs are overcome with desire and chase them across the treetops.
Once the gang members are all gussied up, they spit on the ground, and curse and roar, and beat their chests wildly. Then, with a shriek and a buzz, they go hunting. They fly down peaceful suburban roads looking for couples and families who think they love each other. On the way, they might stop at a house where the family members are fighting or cursing or feeling resentful, and inject some superior negativity to help things along. They feel a special glee when they find a happy couple, a couple who believes in making others happy too. Devil Bugs know all the weaknesses and cracks that they can slip through to destroy such erroneous thinking. Happy indeed! They spit on such egregious nonsense.
The particular Devil Bug Gang that happened to be flying down the street toward our unfortunate couple that Saturday morning was exceptionally skillful in its ability to cause emotional mayhem. Its members specialized in finding the deepest pain in any heart and then flying into the center of that throbbing nerve. Once inside the emotional body of their victim, they would begin to scream, loudly and incessantly. Their discordant shrieks were worse than the cries of any banshee, and would cause an immediate disturbance in their unwitting human prey.
As they passed the house of the couple, the leader’s telepathic sense was triggered by a wave of peace emanating from the home. He cringed, and growled in his native tongue, an obscure and ancient one, commanding his followers to swoop to the right. They did so, delighted to oblige His Filthiness, His Nastiness, Carbuncle Spew, for that was their name for him. Well, at least the name that one can repeat in polite company.
The gang shrieked in unison and flew through the walls of the house and down the stairs into the basement where they found the wife. One of the conveniences of being a dead criminal and joining a Devil Bug Gang is that you don’t have to knock on doors. You can fly through the thickest of bank walls, and drool over money and gold and then even fly into bedrooms if you wish. The thought of it does make one shudder, doesn’t it?
When the gang found the wife, they circled for a moment, and quickly found a bruised synapse hidden deep in her heart. With a chortle, they plunged straight into her chest and proceeded to scream, and stomp on her emotional wound with their hobnailed boots, and kick her nerves with their pointed steel-tipped shoes. They were quite successful, since they had chosen her area of pain very carefully. In less than a minute, she wiped the sweat from her brow and spoke to her husband in a very impatient tone, a tone that didn’t reflect at all her abiding affection for her beloved.
“What! What are you worried about now? I already know about the mold in the basement!”
The women of the gang took great pleasure in persecuting men. They knew all about the ancient rage of women, and spent many an hour keening in resentment, howling about the evils that men had done to them. Thus, they waited expectantly for their chance to magnify the husband’s pained reaction to his wife’s sharp tone. At a signal from the gang leader, they streamed into the husband’s body and did their work so well that he immediately responded to his wife’s impatience with outrage, and walked away, nursing newly felt hurt and confusion.
As he closed the door to the basement, he called down to his wife in a very aggrieved tone, “You didn’t have to speak like that!”
The Devil Bug Gang laughed and danced and applauded each other’s skill. The women were especially happy, screaming to the leader, “We’ve got a turtle shell man!”
Devil Bugs have many names for the various psychological weaknesses they find in their victims. “Killer rage” is their favorite weakness, followed very closely by what they sometimes refer to as the “turtle shell” syndrome. If attacked enough, certain individuals will retreat inside themselves just like a box turtle being plagued by a Southern hunting dog on a hot summer day. They become depressed that they are being attacked, and just sit and mope and feel like hiding under a blanket. In fact, sometimes they do hide under a blanket, which makes the Devil Bugs bounce off the walls in contemptuous laughter. It is a great paradox that Devil Bugs despise the very weaknesses that they work so hard to stimulate in their victims.
Hoping that this particular husband would find a thick, hot, itchy blanket to hide under, the Devil Bugs continued their work, screaming and cursing and pinching and prodding, determined to entirely erase the disgusting atmosphere of happiness that had been circulating through the house.
The husband walked through the kitchen, followed by his wife. As they entered the dining room, he turned quickly and expressed his hurt feelings to her. The gang would have preferred it if the husband had thrown a plate at the wife’s head. Hoping for violence, the leader punched his fist directly into a dangling nerve and scraped his fingernails across the wife’s internal wound. It was too much for the wife, and she muttered an apology that didn’t make her husband feel better at all. The gang leader winked at one of the women, who smiled sweetly back through her dark brown teeth and kicked the husband as hard as she could.
Soon the wounds of both the husband and wife were bleeding copiously. Anger had blown out the lamps of their minds, and Words were being Exchanged.
“Your tone was mean!” said the husband.
“Your pickiness drives me crazy!” responded the wife.
And so it went, with pain and anger escalating amazingly quickly over absolutely nothing at all, until the wife left the room in disgust.
A half hour passed, with the husband and wife sitting in their lonely rooms, staring at the walls, and wondering how and why hell had just entered their home. The gang watched anxiously, massaging the couple’s emotional wounds with steel wool and sandpaper all the while, hoping that the Next Level would be reached. The Next Level was their favorite part, because it included tasty things like rage and curse words, and mutterings of hopelessness. In the gang’s experience, it didn’t take couples very long to reach the Next Level, if the gang did its work well.
Much to the chagrin of the Devil Bug women, the husband did not seek refuge under a blanket but instead stood up, and walked upstairs to where the wife sat, rocking back and forth in an old rocking chair. Her face was very unhappy, which pleased the gang immensely. The husband said a few things, and the wife responded with pain, which got the gang members’ hopes up. The women stayed with the husband as he went into the bathroom for a moment. They were too busy dancing on the husband’s invisible sores to notice that he had breathed deeply and looked at himself in the mirror with one of those quiet looks that contain a whole book of prayers. The gang tried not to notice such things, because they had a very strong aversion to sublime looks of any kind.
Thus, they were completely caught off guard when the husband walked to his wife’s chair and put his hands on her shoulders and said, “I’m sorry, darling.”
Oh, how the Devil Bugs gnashed their teeth at this display of niceness. Their gnashing got even louder when the wife apologized too. They jumped up and down in fury as the couple sat together by the window and gradually calmed down, and remembered that they loved each other. The Devil Bugs hate such things as forgiveness. Ugh, ugh, and blech! The Devil Bugs were thoroughly revolted.
Nothing, however, prepared the Devil Bugs for what came next. As the husband looked out of the window, he chuckled and said, “Hey, I was thinking. You know how we’ve talked about how evil spirits come back to earth and plague people? Maybe we should give them a name. Maybe they fly around in gangs like little bugs.”
The wife said, “Hmm . . . well, maybe.”
The husband said, “Okay, how ’bout Devil Bugs? Nasty little bugs that keep messing with us.”
The wife laughed and said, “Bugs, huh? Not a bad name. You want some lemonade?”
You can imagine the desperate howls of the gang as they realized that they had been found out. They swirled around the room in angry confusion as the husband took his wife’s hand and replied, “Lemonade sounds great.”
Devil Bugs try very hard to operate in secret, and they absolutely hate publicity. If they could shoot ministers on sight, they would. They do such a good job of covering their tracks that most people have no idea that their emotional wounds are regularly tortured by the perverse attacks of a Devil Bug Gang. To be recognized for what they are is profoundly upsetting to them.
As the husband and wife kissed each other, and hugged, and carried on quite excessively, the leader of the gang cursed in a long string of nasty imprecations that made the rest of the gang jealous of his fluency. The Saturday morning sun was shining down on the couple, as they gradually regained their strength and peace of mind. One of the women of the gang tugged at the leader’s greasy sleeve and pointed. He looked, and ground his teeth and spat. He was very fond of spitting, especially when he saw angels. There were quite a number of them in the room, gathered around the couple. They might have been there all along, but he didn’t know and really didn’t care. The leader hated angels, and always tried to ignore them, especially at the beginning of the gang’s attacks.
The bugs’ invasions were most successful when they caught people by surprise. Since many people’s wounds were deep, with layer upon layer of scars and broken nerves and cells scraped raw by life, the gang had dozens of vectors of attack. They had found that only a few people were aware of their existence, and fewer still knew how to defend against them. They took it as a challenge when they found defenses erected against them, because they knew that people got tired and stressed and careless. If their attack didn’t work on a Tuesday, it might work on a Wednesday.
As it was, today was not their day. The leader glared at one of the angels who was standing behind the husband, gently massaging his scalp. The angel looked at the leader with one of those annoyingly piercing looks that angels are known for, which made the gang leader even angrier. He really despised angels, perhaps because he knew that he had no power over them. He scowled again and yelled out an order to his gang members. With a shriek of rage, they streamed out of the open window and barreled down the street, staring to the left and the right, looking for another house to invade.
The angels stayed with the man and woman, massaging their shoulders and singing to them. The couple couldn’t hear them, but suspected that they might be there. It seemed likely to them that they had received help from an unseen source, help that had once again given them the strength to pull themselves out of a morass of confusion.
They had been attacked many, many times by Devil Bug Gangs, and knew that they would be attacked again. They were, after all, a quite ordinary couple living on an unremarkable street. If someone had installed a Devil Bug Attack Meter in their home, the couple might have been cited for the vast amount of times that the Devil Bugs had won the day. The couple never knew who would be attacked first. Sometimes it was the husband, and sometimes the wife. Sometimes the attacks were so fierce that the couple felt driven to the edge of total defeat. It was in their darkest moments that they had been the most grateful for the assistance of invisible helpers.
Over time, the couple had recognized that their wounds didn’t define them. The pain was like a bruised knee that kept getting bumped. A bit of salve, some novocaine of love, and proper care would eventually heal each wound in turn. Until then, they had discovered that the daily maintenance of prayer, and expressions of love and forgiveness, were the best defenses against the broken men and women who had forgotten what love meant, who had forgotten happiness, and had instead decided to fly across the world with a Devil Bug Gang.
Peter Falkenberg Brown is passionate about writing, publishing, public speaking and film. He hopes that someday he can live up to his favorite motto: “Expressing God’s kind and compassionate love in all directions, every second of every day, creates an infinitely expanding sphere of heart.”