Written by James McCann
Waylon Payne turned in that night a little after Nine, he didn't know why but recently he'd been getting tired earlier and earlier each night. He was in his mid-40's and thought of himself as being very pragmatic and very logical, so he had begun a course of nighttime medication in a bid to stop whatever illness it was that was trying to get a grip on him. Waylon hated being ill, not just because of how it made him feel lousy but because he hated not having control.
Trying to always find the best in all things, Waylon liked the side-effect that had come along with the medicine (he wasn't sure if it was the pills, or the syrup, or the hot brew, or a combination of them all) which manifested itself as wonderful dreams. He spent each night in the arms of a beautiful woman, usually a celebrity that was plastered all over the gossip magazines in the racks by the supermarket door, or one of those dirty girlies on the late night channels who kept shaking their phones at the camera. Once in a while he dreamt of a former teacher or a crush he had back in school or college.
He got up to things with those women in the dream world that he would never even admit to thinking about in the waking. There were kinky things, things that Waylon supposed most people took in their stride, but he had never thought about before. It was those dreams that Waylon had grown to look forward to.
Sleep came to him quickly that night, less than five minutes after his head touched the pillow.
When camping in the Outback, they advise you to check your sleeping bag before climbing in at night, and to bang your boots in the morning before you put them on. This might not be too bad an idea for people in other places as well, something that Waylon Payne would have done well to remember.
It crawled out from beneath his pillow once it was sure the breathing had become slow and steady. That was when it slinked its way out. It was about four inches long, slightly thicker than an earthworm, its maroon body lined on each side by hundreds of sharp, yellow legs. Its head was conical to a point, flanked on each side by large, lobster-like pincers.
The alien bug made a short circle before climbing up the pillow and over Waylon's chin, pausing momentarily to defecate in his mouth, leaving its scat just beneath Waylon's tongue. It crawled out, tickling Waylon's bottom lip slightly, and then ran across his cheek. It scuttled its way into his ear, the pincers pinching on anything it could get within reach of. It burrowed further and further in, snipping slithers of brain off and devouring the bloody grey matter.
On previous nights it had gone in only so far, the very end of its body still slightly visible, poking out of Waylon's ear. This time, however, the thing was especially hungry. Since it began eating at the Waylon All-Night Diner, it had grown in length and girth. Very soon it would go through a birthing process; up to seven or eight babies would pop out.
Waylon had incredibly pleasant dreams that night. They would be the last of his life.
The babies were born in Waylon's room, the same as hundreds of thousands were, and still are, every night all over the world.