I returned to my apartment, discouraged and confused. Never mind that we didn't seem to be any closer to figuring out who was killing all these people, or that we were going to have a tough time convincing the police that they should start connecting the dots, I still had no idea if the killer was the one who was sending Mark Fielding those letters. And there was this pesky idea that I had missed connecting something myself.
I needed to think. Another beer and a skinny reefer were my prescribed self-medication.
When I opened my apartment door, the first thing I heard was Noodles, crying pathetically. I couldn't imagine what was wrong, and I reached over to switch on the light, but something sensed, more than seen, stopped me. I peered into the gloom of my room.
The floor seemed to be moving. What light was coming in from the front windows illuminated the interior of the flat dimly. And the floor was seething.
Another terrified cry from the cat snapped me into action. I turned on the light, and there were thousands, millions of red ants everywhere. The whole floor was alive with them. They were on the bed, and going up the walls.
Noodles was on the very top of my floor lamp, and a stream of the buggers was winding its way up the pole toward him.
I leaped toward the lamp, my first thought being for the cat. My second thought was for the searing pain I felt from being bitten, just seconds after my feet set down. I shrieked, and minced over to the cat, attempting to touch the floor as little as possible. Noodles sprang at me, easily over a distance of five feet, and landed on my chest. Both of us were shrieking by now, from pain and terror.
I clutched the cat, and tried to run out of the apartment. The ants started converging on me. They rose like a tide, and the wave broke around my ankles. They were biting me, and I started to dance on them, partly to smash them, partly to dislodge them.
The floor got slick with their crushed bodies, and I panicked. If I fell Noodles and I were ant chow.
The more I stepped on, the more there seemed to be. I took big slow steps. Despite my care, I slipped once, and barely caught myself. The cat was shivering badly, and I had to keep a solid grip on him, so my hands were not usable for balance. The door seemed a mile away.