If you're a resident of the American Southeast and have been noticing an unsettling and sinister smell in the out of doors lately, do not panic — it's merely the stink of millions of decaying cicada bodies, tiny corpses that mere days ago were full of vim and vigor.
"The stench of death is in the air," University of Connecticut-based entomologist John Cooley melodramatically told NBC News.
Or maybe he's not being melodramatic. Maybe he's being appropriately descriptive. Maybe we should all be so serious and offer a worthy farewell to our fallen cicada brothers.
The stench of death is in the air, Cooley says so breathe deep and fill your lungs with the heady scent of mortality. With every breath, feel the years go slipping by. Your childhood spent playing hopscotch and scraping your knees on the sidewalk is over. Your high school glory days when you played varsity baseball and thought that Karen — beautiful Karen with the ponytail that swished back and forth as she walked down the hallway — was the only girl for you is but a moment in the past. The day your father moved you into your college dorm and almost hugged you for the first time in your whole goddamn life only to drop his arms at the last second and offer you a handshake with a grimace and a "good luck, kid" — gone, gone, gone. Everything is going, everything is gone. Soon none of us will be anything more than rotting cicada corpses, our lace wings crumbling to dust and settling back into the ground.
Weep not for yourself, but weep for Brood II. Seventeen years spent underground, all for one sweet muggy summer spent making love, getting drunk on tree sap and shielding their blood red eyes from the white hot sun.
"CK-CK-CK," rings their death rattle. "It was all worth it. It was all worth it."
Their final battle cry catches on the wind and carries to the Northeast where the second round of Brood II are only now emerging from the Earth. The new cicadas whir their wings in appreciation before taking to the sky, ready to enjoy the final summer of their fleeting, murky lives.
Image via AP.