As extraterrestrials deteriorate the personalities of her loved ones, sixteen-year-old Jurnee discovers she can use her mystical influence over beetles to restore them. The catch? It could cost her every memory she has.
If my father were an insect, he’d be a Pan-American big-headed tiger beetle. Tetracha carolina. He settles into his favorite armchair, the rolls of skin on the back of his bald head peeking at me from above the faux leather. This man, with his gleaming, colossal braincase, had the audacity to call me Bighead when I was little. It irritated the mess out of me back then. It’s wild how much I miss it now.
The sun casts a stream of golden light across his face. I close the curtains. He’ll thank me when he’s not reaching for eye drops first thing out of the trance. The thick artery in his neck pulsates in time with the second hand of the tiny clock on the end table. 2:06 p.m. Still one minute to go, but his expression is plastic and far away already. My brain hardly processes it as human.
Probably because it’s not.
The bell tower tolls, marking the start of peace hour all across town. I go to the basement and tend to my live beetle collection, but even they can’t mask the grimy sensation of my inhabitant stirring awake. I haven’t gotten used to it, and that’s a good thing. It means I’m still me. Daddy and pretty much everyone else around town aren’t so fortunate, but they wouldn’t tell it that way if you asked. For them, the rain that brought the inhabitants and triggered the stillness was like winning the freaking lotto on your birthday.