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Daniel G. Snethen: Wereworm

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Art by Luis Cuauhtémoc Berriozábal © 2024

Wereworm

by Daniel G. Snethen

 

After the early morning storms, Mr. Melon walked out onto his concrete steps, witness to unbelievable carnage. Night crawlers were strewn about everywhere. All of them appeared to be dead or dying. Some had managed to crawl upon the upper level on his front porch, escaping the drowning rains and whatever else precipitated such death the night before. Some had managed to wriggle halfway across his driveway, but they too were twisted up, either in postmortem, or the slow twitching death throes of the dying.

         Not one annelid could Melon find which was not harmed. A few of them appeared to have succumbed to drowning, caused by the outbursts of torrential rains, but most were inexplicably mutilated near their anterior ends, none of which had been visibly preyed upon by predators or opportunistic scavengers.

Two weeks earlier, during a half-moon, Percy, an anorexic worm, had happened upon the underlying soil of a burnt-up patch of dandelions which had been severely overdosed with poison from an herbicide spill Mr. Melon had made when recharging his hand-sprayer.

Percy consumed the tainted dirt, while recycling nutrients, and aerating the soil as a vermiform is supposed to do. This time, however, the earth tasted unfamiliar and Percy, already undernourished and not at all robust, became very ill. Sickness was not new to poor Percy and had been his plight since hatching.

Though there were literally thousands of Percy's kind, residing in Melon's lawn, Percy was lonely and had no family. All of his species were gender-fluid but that didn't matter when it came to offering Percy love. He was shunned and shamed and never given the chance to procreate, because of his diminutive size and sickly nature.

After discovering thousands of contorted corpses, Mr. Melon's gaze fell upon a wiggling deformed worm which caused him to laugh. "I'll be damned," he chuckled, "there it is, the scrawniest, most pathetic-looking one of the whole entire bunch—and it’s still crawling."

That previous evening, though it could not be seen, the moon was completely engorged, and its invisible moonbeams had reacted with the weakened body of Percy, invigorating his musculature . . . metamorphosing him into a robust creature of immoral turpitude.

Lumbricus terrestris, the common earthworm, is a hermaphroditic creature, and in his newly found vigor, Percy unleashed all of his pent-up sexual frustration. In this morph, Percy could out-crawl, out-eat, and out-mate all of his comrades. And Percy had no control, no inhibitions, and no willpower over his newly formed obsessive-compulsive disorder, to have sex with whatever looked desirable. Even the twigs beneath the boxelder tree were not safe from his amorous advances.

And, in the morning, Mr. Melon scratched his head at what he saw. Dead worms everywhere, but only on his lawn, none in the neighbors' yards. All of his soil miners apparently dead, except one pitiful example which surely would be dead before the day's end.

And Percy, Percy was slowly dragging his pathetic form, across the well-manicured lawn, with one goal in mind . . . to reach the neighbor's lawn before nightfall for another session of nocturnal debauchery.

 

Daniel G. Snethen is an educator, naturalist, moviemaker, poet, and short story writer from South Dakota. He teaches on the Pine Ridge Reservation at Little Wound High School in the heart of Indian Country. 

Luis Cuauhtémoc Berriozábal lives in California and works in the mental health field in Los Ángeles. His artwork has appeared over the years in Medusa’s KitchenNerve Cowboy, The Dope Fiend Daily, and Rogue Wolf PressVenus in Scorpio Poetry E-Zine. 

In Association with Black Petals & Fossil Publications © 2024