Peering down into the hole, Josh could
see the small featureless blob at its center. It resembled a wet marble, but
displayed an organic quality, as if it were somehow alive.
Was it an egg? Was something gestating
inside of it?
But if so, then what had laid it?
Being worrisome by nature, Josh resisted
the urge to
simply bend over and pluck the thing from its resting place. Without knowing what
it was he couldn't risk touching it.
"If only I would've paid attention
class," he lamented.
He got down on his hands and knees
and stared at the
thing. Anyone else would have seen dollar signs, trying to take advantage of
such an unusual discovery, but not him. He had morals, for better or worse, and
just the thought of exploiting whatever life might be lurking inside the thing
did not appeal to him.
"I'll call Jimbo," he announced to
"He'll know what to do."
Jimmy, or Jimbo as Josh called him,
was his cousin, and was good at chemistry and biology. He'd be able to figure
out what it was.
Josh slipped his cell phone from his
back pocket and fumbled with the buttons. Something was messing with his
equilibrium, distorting his ability to think straight, but he managed to push
the first four digits of his cousin's number.
The phone fell from his hand.
"What's happening to me?"
The screensaver of his mother stared
up at him from
the ground. Her rotund face reflected her compassion for anyone she encountered
and her still-brown hair (a marvel at her age) stuck out in a frenzied display
due to the brisk wind of the day the picture was taken.
As if in a dream Josh saw the ground
rush up toward
his face. He knew that he was the one falling but it seemed as if it was the
other way around. His senses could hardly tell the difference.
Before he knew it, he was face-down
in the dirt.
Only the dirt wasn't actually touching
his face. It
was still several inches away from the tip of his nose.
Holding his breath Josh realized where
he was, and
the thought sent a shudder throughout his body. He tried not to breathe or open
his eyes but couldn't resist the urge.
He opened his eyes.
The first thing he saw was darkness
as a dank odor
assailed his nostrils. His stomach threatened to empty so he had to keep his
mouth closed as tight as he could. The fact that he wasn't able to lift his
head out of the hole was not lost on him. He was however able to arch his neck
back slightly, allowing just a hint of daylight into the small chasm that he
was situated in.
There, roughly ten inches below his
face, was the
mass. It quivered like a bowl of jelly in a moving car, occasionally coming to
within inches of his nose. A tendril, no thicker than an ant's leg, snaked up
from the central mass and wormed its way toward Josh's cheek, and then his eyes,
and then down to his mouth, delicately brushing along the flesh as it went.
Josh recoiled from its touch and kept his
shut. He still couldn't move so he had no other choice. All he could do was
hope the thing would lose interest in him and lie back down in the hole.
The tendril paused with its probing
and settled in
the crook between Josh's lips. It then began to swell, doubling its girth.
Then he heard a familiar voice.
"Josh? Is that you with your head down
hole? What are you doing in there?"
Josh wanted nothing more than to jump
up and embrace
his cousin, but all he could do was lie there. He didn't dare open his mouth.
"Josh? Are you all right?"
The tendril tapped Josh's nose.
Jimmy bent down and reached for his
The tendril slid over Josh's cheek,
toward his ear.
Jimmy shook Josh. He tried to roll
him over but couldn't
The tendril flicked Josh's earlobe.
Jimmy pulled his cell phone from his
"Okay, Josh, don't move. I'll call for help."
Josh suddenly stood up. He oriented
himself and ran
his hands over his face, exhaling deeply as he did so. A sheen of dirt and
sweat coated his calm expression.
"Are you all right?" Jimmy asked again.
"I thought you were hurt."
Josh smiled. The glint in his eyes
spoke volumes. He
said nothing though, instead gazing past his cousin as if he wasn't there. His
smile grew, nearly splitting his face. He saw a whole new world to explore, to
be conquered, to be devoured. He saw an opportunity unequaled in the history of
Jimmy reached out for Josh but was
fine," Josh said with no emotion.
"All I ask is to be left alone." And with those words he walked away.
After all, he had work to do. He didn't have time for delays.
Rick McQuiston is a fifty-three-year-old father
of two who loves anything horror-related. He's had over 400 publications so
far, and written five novels, thirteen anthologies, one book of novellas, and
edited an anthology of Michigan authors. He's also a guest author each year at
Memphis Junior High School. Currently, he's working on a new novel.
Keith C. Walker
born in Leeds in 1939. He studied Ceramics at Leeds College of Art and the Royal College
of Art. In the late 1960s to early 1970s, he was Personal Assistant to Eduardo
Paolozzi. Keith taught at Hull College of Art and Leicester Polytechnic, which is now De
Montfort University. In 994 he retired from Academia.
Keith says, “Digital technology
has made and continues to make big changes to all of our lives: the way we communicate,
the way we are monitored, the way we entertain ourselves, and much, much more.
We now leave a digital footprint
wherever we go, and with whatever we do.
Do we already have
one foot in an Orwellian world?
My collages are an investigation, with a small
“I,” on the impact of digital technology and its possibilities.”