Defense Mechanism by ff_b

The elderly woman looked like an easy mark to the inner city gang. She kind of shuffled along, carried a ponderous handbag, and at times seemed to make whistling and grunting sounds to herself. Smelled strange, too...kind of like the sea, salty and rich in organic matter.

"The old bitch is probably mental," mumbled gang leader Ramon to his crew.

"Stinks, too!," added his chief lieutenant, Jimbo. "Just what is that smell?"

"Damned if I know," snorted Ramon. "All old ladies stink!-Let's just grab the old broad's purse, and make ourselves a few easy bucks!" With a few glances and gestures to his subordinates, half a dozen young men quickly surrounded the old woman, blocking her passage further up the street. The elderly woman regarded her youthful assailants from behind thick-lenses.

"Hello, boys!," greeted the old lady in a quavering voice. "Just what might you be about this fine night?"

"We be about to take your purse, Grandma!," laughed Ramon cruelly. "Hand it over, and you don't have to get hurt!" His gang members closed the circle more tightly, their eyes cold and hardened.

"Boys, I don't think we can let you do that," responded the senior citizen.

"We?," snorted Ramon. "Who's 'we,' old woman?"

"Why, the parasites and I!," answered the crone, her eyes glinting strangely. The woman lifted her arms on both sides, and small balls started to fall off her in numbers from beneath her raincoat. They hit the ground and rolled a short distance, then shaking and sprouting numerous jointed legs. Their size seemed to expand as the appendages carried the segmented bodies swiftly in all directions until they independently reached each of the circled gang members, in some cases crawling up inside their trouser legs, in other cases moving up their clothing and kind of leaping at their faces. While small, the scurrying arthropods were numerous and aggressive with mandibles that cut readily into flesh.

The ferocity of the unexpected attack caught the gang members completely off guard, and they flailed wildly at the small creatures, steaming blood from the vicious bite wounds that were being inflicted. Several of the gang clawed at their eyes in desperate efforts to remove their tormentors, running into brick walls and parked vehicles in their panic. Others were down on the ground trying to tear the diminuative beasts from their inner thighs and testicles. Once on the ground, additional parasites sprang from the old woman to pounce on her assailants, making them appear like writhing, screaming carpets. In a short while, however, the cries ceased, to be replaced only by wet shredding, slicing sounds emanating from hundreds of mandibular razors.

The old woman smiled darkly, a strange and terrible rictus of a grin. "Eat your fill, my children!," she counseled, following that admonition with strange, low-pitched cries, whistles, and clicks. In a few moments, the woman again lifted her arms, allowing the parasites to leap up onto her body. Once all were again attached and with all now sated, the old woman shuffled her way back to the sea, that most ancient cradle of life known and unknown...