Stanley was not known for his skills as an entomologist but even he realised that something was amiss. Groups of dragonflies weren’t that unusual for this time of year. What was unusual was the sheer number of them and the way they were forming a large, perfect circle. If he had been able to perform calculations Stanley would’ve described the circle as being twenty times as large as his food bowl.
She thought the dragonfly circle looked liked a large, unblinking, angry eye. Bending slowly to her knees, she scooped Stanley into her arms. As she moved she could’ve sworn the buzzing got louder and the “eye” looked even angrier. “I really shouldn’t anthropomorphise creatures,” she said to Stanley, her Chihuahua.
As she stood she glanced at her truck. She estimated that the dragonflies were about twice as far away from her vehicle as she and Stanley were. Her body was screaming at her to run but her mind seemed unable to process the instruction and she remained still for several minutes, as did the dragonflies.
As there was no sign of movement she took a tentative side-step towards the truck, all the while while keeping her gaze fixed on the dragonflies. The dragonflies stayed as they were. This gave her the courage to try a few more side-steps. The outer edge of the dragonfly “eye” remained the same. Inside the circle, however, she thought she detected movement. And had the buzzing become slightly louder?
She risked a few more steps, increasing her pace slightly. This time there was a definite stirring from the dragonflies. The way they moved restlessly within the circle seemed almost serpentine and the buzzing had a deeper, more menacing tone.
Stanley’s ears detected a higher-pitched note which reminded him of the noise the neighbourhood cats made at night when he was trying to sleep. It made him physically uncomfortable and he started quivering.
This jolted her into action and she began sprinting to her truck, holding Stanley over her shoulder with one hand and struggling to get her keys out with the other. She was no longer watching the dragonflies but Stanley had a clear view of them. The circle was increasing rapidly in size as the buzzing grew louder and louder. Stanley suddenly realised that this was because they were getting closer and buried his head into her chest to block the sight of them out.
She pushed herself beyond her limits and increased her speed, ignoring the pain in her side that the exertion was causing. Her whole body started to ache and each breath felt like sandpaper was sliding down her throat.
She managed to fumble her keys out of her pocket and press the fob, unlocking the truck. She had no idea how close the dragonflies were. With one final, agonising push she threw herself at the truck, flung open the door and stuck the key in the ignition, praying to every god she could think of that it would start first time.
The engine stuttered as she slammed the door shut, still holding the quivering Stanley tightly to her. She looked fearfully through the windows.
There was no sign of the dragonflies.