Welcome back to the ol’ webpage, chums! Today I am delighted to share a little flash fiction from my pal Eddie Generous. Eddie wears a lot of hats over at Unnerving… Luckily for me, one of those hats has Writer stenciled on it (quite nicely, I’d add). I had the opportunity to chat with Eddie on the Unnerving Podcast not long ago, and who knows? Maybe he and I have some more shenanigans cooking right this second? Here’s Gin Haze. Enjoy!
Yolanda Handler celebrated her fourteenth birthday with her first glass of gin. Discovering distaste for the liquor—and by extension, her friend Whitney–Yolanda shouted a holy tirade about her suddenly tarnished goodness. Whitney, less drunk by several degrees, instructed Yolanda to shut up or get out.
Out it was. Home was a six-kilometer city walk, five if she cut through the park. This typically took about an hour, but in her liquor slickened state, an hour had come and gone with another three kilometers to go.
The cement park path bent around a field. Yolanda’s heart broke with exhaustion. It was as if she’d never been so far from her bed. Across the park was the church. Once there, she still had to turn left down Honeysuckle Avenue, and beyond that, continue a block before reaching her door.
The distance toyed in the realm of lightyears.
Yolanda stumbled into the damp grass off the trail. Shortening the shortcut. She moved outside the touch of the overhead lights, into the shadows. The dewy floor danced beneath her. The gin in her blood had her limbs like greasy rubber.
Already spinning, Yolanda hadn’t noticed she was falling until she fell, took a mouthful of grass. “I hate you!” Fingers yanked green strands out from its earthen scalp.
Up, she ambled along, forcing a jog that was nearly as much sideways as it was forwards. Blackout blinks stole bits until they became chunks. Unconscious on her feet for two shuffled steps, she tipped. She awoke on the ground. How she’d gotten face down in the wet grass again was not a mystery of how, but when.
“I hope you die.” Yolanda combed the damp field as her eyes slipped closed once again.
Times passed beyond recognition and her eyes opened. Mouth sticky and tasting awful. Head throbbing. Body numb. Yolanda patted the grass, squinting at a change. Not only were the strands dry, but they were different, shorter and firmer. The drunkenness had dissipated, drastically. She looked left and then right, saw absolutely nothing. Above, far away, was a yellow sliver that might’ve been the moon.
Up, pre-gin steadiness filled her legs, though the absence of light left her shaky. Balance was an agreement between the eyes, ears, and extremities. Toe tapping for obstacles, she moved blindly. To her left, there was a moist squishy noise. She veered to the right. One, two, three steps, her extended fingers met a wall.
The only wall that should exist given her last recognizable location was the church, and even that was a stretch. Beneath her touch was not brick. Here was a surface flat and warm, steel or plastic, free of pores. Slapped palms offered virtually no report.
Yolanda had heard that bad moonshine made a person go blind. Did gin make a girl go blind? Go crazy?
The tears resumed. The squishing sound slowed, a handful of chirpy clicks joined in, mostly from her left. But in motion. Nasty, insectile chittering. Shoulder to the wall, she made distance. The bug noises, echoed from behind, below, and above.
Fear bubbled. This was the outcome of underage drinking and she’d never been sorrier.
“God, can you hear me? Sorry.” She quickened her pace as the things behind grew busier in her wake.
Then the wet sloshing became frantic, she broke into a jog, the wall leaned into her as she leaned into it, and after a dozen steps, the sound was ahead of her rather than behind her, she stalled in confusion and terror, dropped into a crouch, the sliver moon above was the only hope remaining.
That light still existed somewhere was a life preserver.
The sloppy movement continued its approach, from every angle, though lesser so from across the empty space.
The sliver of light dimmed for a half-second before two stick-like objects entered the image, followed by a huge bumpy head and a translucent abdomen that put a green hue over the faraway glow.
The truth struck. Not the moon.
The sounds at her peripherals were too close and she broke as if from blocks at a starter pistol’s bark, fourteen steps in a left-veering path took Yolanda to the wall at the far side of the room, and her middle finger crunched on contact, it hurt, but the terror was greater.
“Let me outta here!”
The squishy motion was everywhere, the sliver above had vanished behind cloudy activity. Three painful jabs at her face brought her arms up to guard.
She ran, screaming.
To her left, the noise was less.
She hit wall again.
Things prodded and broke skin.
She spun, hands to weeping wounds suddenly inhabited by digging critters, she tried to run, but a wave hit her and burrowers created pathways, the chittering teeth tore and swallowed as if her constitution resembled butter rather than fresh, untanned leather, “You got—!” the words choked away as a creature entered Yolanda’s mouth a tunnel dug through her sinus.
It squirmed an elastic body into the hard palate.
Lights on, the buttoned down scientists peered into the observation dome. It was similar every time, and though varying the scenery caused differences, it never changed the outcome.
“Much slower in the dark,” Dr. Polina Alexandrovna said.
Dr. Richard Bachman nodded. “Further suggests eyes are the prime means of locating nutrients and vessels. Subject Ten lasted the longest by two minutes four seconds.”
The body of Yolanda Handler, Subject Ten, was a lump above a dark stain in the faux-grass. It had been three hours and nine minutes since she’d died and was due any minute to…
“Ho, here we go,” Dr. Alexandrovna said.
The body of Yolanda, bloodied, gaping holes in her arms and face, rose to a shaky stance. The slack mouth hissed and chattered from within. The five bugs crammed into her brainpan moved Yolanda as if she was a string-less marionette.
“Remarkable,” Dr. Bachman said. “It never ceases to amaze me. It’s terrifying.”
Dr. Alexandrovna nodded. “Any hard numbers?”
“ROSCOSMOS and NASA are running circles, now they’re saying it might be more than twelve hundred bugs have escaped. Any word on the news?”
Below, the former Yolanda slammed a fist against a wall. Gazing upwards, seeing through the reflective tinted ceiling, hungry to infest and ingest.
“Some. I’m not going outside for a while.”
Dr. Bachman offered a sick expression. “I should think not.”
The former Yolanda slammed a fist again, mouth opening. “Feed us and you may live.” The words came out in bug clicks and chirps, but were unmistakable.
Dr. Bachman lifted his brows. “That’s new.”
“They’re learning by committee.”
Eddie Generous is the author of the novel Radio Run (from Severed Press), the collection Dead is Dead, but Not Always (from Hellbound Books), and the novel Camp Summit (coming 2019 from DBP). He is the founder/editor/publisher/artist of Unnerving and Unnerving Magazine, and the host of the Unnerving Podcast. He lives on the Pacific Coast of Canada with his wife and their cat overlords. Click him up at www.jiffypopandhorror.com!