LITERALLY EVERYWHERE - They arrived last weekend. From across the nation, NCAA D-III Track and Field Championship athletes converged upon the Grinnell College campus. Though they were welcomed with open arms, nobody could have anticipated the damage they would inflict.
Like locusts emerging from a seventeen-year slumber, they emerged sleepily from coach buses, blinking languidly in the weak slanting rays of March sunlight. Their eyes, red and beady, surveyed the landscape, taking in the manicured lawns and pristine edifices of campus.
On spindly legs barely able to support their body weight, they began to advance like a puddle around a melting ice cream cone, first slowly, but then picking up speed. There was no apparent leader, and yet they moved with perfect synchronization, swiveling their clicking joints and scraping their dry carapaces against each other. They rubbed their legs together, screaming in hunger, and then they swarmed.
The great throngs descended first upon the East Campus dormitories, tearing through mortar and brick to reach the sweet fleshy nourishment within. Abruptly, they then departed en masse, humming with satisfaction. In their wake they left naught but a pile of rubble, dust slowly drifting through the still morning air.
Energized by the nourishing meal, the thick cloud of sinewy bodies slithered toward Mac Field, ingesting everything in its path from grass to garbage cans. Upon reaching their destination, the athletes paused, formed two concentric circles, and then began to furiously and frenziedly mate, their bodies writhing and creaking in a disordered rhythm. It was impossible to determine where one thorax began and another ended. Before long, the earth was littered with the heads of the males who were lucky enough to pass along their genes, and yet unable to escape the inevitability of a deadly ritual fine-tuned over thousands of years.
Having completed their vehement copulation, the athletes adjusted their trajectory, humming excitedly toward the Joe Rosenfield Center. They cascaded in through every open door and window and convened in the Dining Hall, where they brushed their ovipositors across every surface, leaving sticky trails of mucus-coated gelatinous eggs behind.
An hour later, each student who had consumed the spawn of the athletes noticed a mild pain in their stomach. This gradually worsened into rumbling, piercing pangs. Beneath the skin, one, then two, then four, then eight, then innumerous quarter-sized hard swellings began to protrude, until suddenly, with a loud ripping noise, the skin burst open. From inside the abdominal cavity spilled thousands of tiny athletes, each no taller than a saltshaker, chirping fervidly and scattering to the darkest nooks and crannies of the building, in which they would bide their time, growing larger and stronger until they were ready to emerge to repeat the eternal cycle of life.
Meanwhile, the adult-form athletes continued on their fervent rampage of the College, draining South Campus of all nutrients and even grazing on several off-campus homes. Fear began to spread through the student body—when would these horrors end?
And then, as suddenly as they had arrived, they were gone. Strewn across campus, littering loggias and clinging to walls and ceilings, remained their crumbling, desiccated husks, a reminder that creatures so seemingly frail as individuals can be collectively destructive.