When the cicadas come to a small Central Kentucky town on a hot July day, they bring another species with them. The size of humans, with an ancient aggressiveness unseen since the demise of the dinosaurs, they attack and kill relentlessly. An old man, Matthew Riley a professor with deep secrets attempts to warn everyone that they are coming. Only he has the remedy that can save the human race. The question is, will he survive long enough to carry out his plan to destroy them before they destroy everything in their path? He has many maladies that he must overcome while preparing for the greatest battle of all time.
Old Man Riley, seventy-three years old with wrinkles abundantly displayed on his face and forehead, plodded slowly down the street toward Van Hook’s General Store as if he didn’t have a care in the world. Disregarding the unusually hot June afternoon, totally immersed in his thoughts, he poked his cane in front of him, stopped occasionally to rest or seek out another old-timer to talk to. “They’re coming,” he mumbled to nobody in particular, spitting tobacco juice on the street. Amber spittle clung to his graying beard. “They’re coming, just as they did seventeen years ago. By golly, it’s going to be one humdinger of a party, too.”
“Hot for June, isn’t it?” he asked as the Naylor kid walked by him chewing bubble gum and bounc-ing a basketball on the sidewalk. Was the Naylor kid named Jake, or was it Jimmy? He couldn’t remember anymore. The Naylor clan had many kids, and it’d been a long time since he had seen the boy that was indolently walking toward him.
“Surely is,” the kid said hurrying up the street past him. “It might be colder next week, though. You know how the weather is around here.”
“Trouble with kids these days,” Riley said, and started walking, precariously poking the sidewalk with his cane. “Nobody even has time to talk about the weather. Kids are always in a hurry to get somewhere.”
He didn’t care. Things had changed since he was a kid. Yes sir, he’d been taught respect for his elders. Most certainly, he’d known better than to disobey them. Everything had changed in his lifetime including people, places and particularly, insects. Species became extinct to make way for new ones. Personally, he’d always believed he’d live to see the demise of man and the rise of another more powerful species. He had always thought that either insects or bacterium would someday replace humans. Why, it was as clear as the writing the Lord gave Moses on the tablets. It was predictable if you knew what signs to look for. He knew just as his parents had known. Yes, there were signs. The dinosaurs probably saw signs before they were annihilated from the planet, too. Their only handicap was they couldn’t do anything about it, nothing at all. They just observed and died.
Erratically, he hobbled on down the street spreading his words of wisdom to nobody but himself in the little town of Hustonville, Kentucky on that warm, sunny June day. Everyone else had business to tend to. That business didn’t include talking to some old man that seemed to talk to himself most of the time.
Well that’s okay, he thought to himself, I have a little surprise for them. Maybe they’ll sit up and take notice then. “They’re coming, and it’s going to be a hell of a homecoming,” he muttered, frustrated because his arthritis was bothering him again. “Species. They come, and they go.” His lips widened in an eerie, roguish grin that would have caused Jack the Ripper fear. A few golden teeth glittered in the hot, summer sunlight. Mumbling, moving his lips repeatedly, he sauntered on down the street without as much as a care in the world. Any bystander that noticed the old man with the trembling hands, the old worn cane, the gray flopped down “Elliot Ness” hat, and the stubby white drab beard would probably figure he wasn’t someone with very many worries, someone of any importance, however, the opposite was quite true. Riley had the burden of the world on his old, aching shoulders as he walked down the street that day. He possessed troublesome secrets only a few special people knew about.
Old Man Riley walked slowly into his backyard. Checking the traps he’d set for the squirrels and rabbits had become a daily routine with him. Leaning on his cane, he inspected the small square box he’d made only last summer when he first realized they were finally coming. It was nothing more than a box made from two-by-twos, with wire mesh stapled to the frame to imprison any helpless creature that might venture inside. It’d been difficult. The pain had been immense, almost more than he could stand. Nevertheless, he’d struggled through it until he’d constructed five of the deadly traps. They were simply constructed. One side of the cage had a door on hinges and had a strong spring attached to it. When the door was raised, it was locked in place by a flat bar that connected the trap door to the cage. When food was placed inside and the animal entered the cage, the weight of the animal released the bar securely closing the door on the trapped victim.
As he stood up something overhead caught his attention. Buzzards. They circled high overhead as if wondering if they wanted to descend on the little gray, weather-beaten building in the backyard. He could smell it, too. The odor was strong. The smell of death was always strong, and sickening. It was a necessity, albeit a terrible one, that warned most animals something dangerous was causing the odor. Although buzzards and other predators dared consume the deadly, rotten meat, another species liked the decaying, rotten bodies even more. They were carnivorous, dangerous creatures unlike the world had never seen. They did exist, and they were coming, but not for him.
“Come on down and join the party,” he said, “It’s going to be a big one. You can’t get a better meal anywhere than at Riley’s place.”
A slight grin caressed his lips, and then it faded. The buzzards still circled high overhead, obviously unimpressed with his invitation to dinner.