Far Too Much Sex


“My wife’s going to be the death of me.” The thought preoccupied me for almost eight weeks. All she cared about was sex. And it’s not like I’m some kind of Adonis or even particularly good in bed, either. Something just clicked one day and she became utterly insatiable. I’m 90% sure it’s because of that vegan diet we started two months ago with all the mushrooms and stuff, but the diet’s effect on me was nothing compared to how she reacted. She never seemed interested in analyzing the reasons. She just knew what she wanted, and that’s all there was to it.

At first, I thought it was great. She’d be waiting for me in bed when I got home from work, we’d have a few minutes of fun, and that was that. For me, at least. Dianna, it seemed, needed more than I could give her. I felt pretty bad because I wasn’t able to provide it.

I know part of my terrible performance had to do with my diet. It’d been awful. Since I’m so busy with work, I’d been stress eating fast food and other processed garbage. Even though I was eating the vegan stuff too, I’d supplement it with Burger King. I’d gained weight, I felt awful, and I was tired all the time. When Dianna’s insatiability became apparent and my own inability to satisfy her was weighing heavily on my confidence, I set out to get healthier. I mean, it was the least I could do; not only for Dianna, but for my own well-being.

It’s worked, too. The last week has been incredible. I’ve taken time off work. I’ve exercised every day and all my meals are healthy, vegan, and loaded with good stuff like kale and quinoa and tons of local mushrooms. I think Dianna was pleased with the positive changes in me, although her sex drive was still astronomical and hard for me to match. I felt better about myself and I enjoyed our lovemaking a lot more. There was just less pressure, if that makes sense.

Last night was our anniversary, so I wanted to do something special. Something non-vegan as a treat. I made steaks with portobello nouveau and peppercorn cream sauce. I remember laughing to myself as I reduced the pan sauce and plated our meals. Dianna always used to be allergic to mushrooms. Deathly allergic, in fact. I don’t know what compelled her to serve them for dinner a couple months ago when we started doing the vegan thing, but the difference it made was staggering. Ever since she went to bed that night, she’s been a different woman.

I brought our meals up to the bedroom. Dianna was waiting for me. She looked beautiful. Sexy, too. She was sprawled across the bed on her back, presenting herself to me. It was her favorite position ever since her sex drive skyrocketed. I told her to hold her horses; she could wait until after dinner. She didn’t reply, but she let me feed her bits of steak and mushrooms. I emptied her perfect mouth of the food I’d put there at dinner the night before and replaced it with our anniversary meal. My head spun with love and affection as I carefully pushed a piece of juicy steak down her throat. I marveled at how the hot meal warmed her mouth.

After dinner, I could no longer resist my wife’s allure. We made quiet love in our candlelit bedroom. When we were finished, as I was tucking her into bed, I noticed small growths in her armpits and behind her ears. I turned on the lights and looked more closely. Tiny, stringy mushrooms. New life. I smiled. We were going to be a family.

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The Last of the Trick-or-Treaters


Last Halloween at 11:25 pm, the doorbell rang. I’d just gotten into bed. Thinking I could ignore it and go to sleep, I clicked off the TV and pulled the covers up. The doorbell sounded again. And again. And again.

I threw off the covers, put on my bathrobe, and stormed out of the bedroom. If it was a group of kids playing a prank, I told myself, even their parents wouldn’t be able to identify their bodies. I unlocked and opened the front door.

On the doorstep was a young boy wearing a Native American headdress and an ornately-beaded leather vest and pants. He was clutching a bag of candy to his chest. No one else was around.

It was unseasonably cold that night, and without any adults around, I couldn’t let the kid stay out there and freeze. He looked miserable. I held him by his shoulder and guided him inside, then I picked him up and placed him on the couch. I didn’t know what to do. Calling the police seemed like the only safe bet, so I dialed the non-emergency number. While I waited on hold, I heated up some water to make the kid a mug of hot chocolate.

The kid stared at me while I stood in the kitchen. He didn’t say a word. I felt bad for the little guy.

The receptionist at the police station answered and I told her what was going on. She said she hadn’t heard about any missing kids, but as soon as a car was free, one would be sent over. She cautioned it might be a while, though. Apparently Halloween’s a busy time for them over there.

With the water boiled and the instant hot chocolate made, I went over to the kid and sat down next to him on the couch. I placed the mug on the table across from us. After cautioning him that it was hot, I figured I needed to talk to him.

“Nice costume,” I told him. It wasn’t really that nice. Pretty culturally insensitive nowadays. But whatever.

“Thanks,” he replied.

“So, um, did you lose your parents?,” I asked.

The kid shook his head.

“How about your brothers or sisters? Or friends?”

Again, no.

“Want to try the hot chocolate? It’s really good.”

“I don’t like chocolate.”

“Oh, okay.” I picked up the mug and started drinking, wondering if the kid was slow or something. Who doesn’t like chocolate?

We sat in silence for a little while. He kept his eyes on the unpowered television while I did everything in my power to not appear creepy. I never know how to act around kids.

“Did you have a good time trick-or-treating?,” I asked, then realized it was a stupid question. He’d gotten separated from his family or friends, for f**k’s sake. How good could it have been?

The kid, to my surprise, nodded. “I got what I wanted,” he said.

“Oh? And what was that?”

The doorbell rang and I hopped off the couch and answered it. Two officers. I invited them in and they saw the boy on the sofa. They greeted him and asked the same questions I had. He had nothing to say to them, though. In fact, he looked angry – almost like he hated them.

After a few minutes of getting nowhere, the officers said they were going to bring him back to the station. There still hadn’t been any reports of a missing child.

As they were about to leave, there was a call on the police radio. Something about a murder on 113 Chestnut Place. The three of us stood very still for a moment. I live at 115 Chestnut. My neighbors, Paul and Lynn Chesney, had lived there for decades and were the curators at the local museum.

The officers answered the call on their radio said they were nearby. They were told backup would be there shortly.

“Wait here,” the cops ordered, and the kid and I just looked at each other while the two men left the house and headed next door.

“Don’t worry, it’s okay,” I promised the boy. He looked flat. Unaffected. Then he turned and looked straight at me.

“Bring this to the MTIC. It all belongs to them.” He handed me his bag. I was extremely confused for a second, wondering why the local Mohegan tribe would want Halloween candy. I opened the bag and gasped.

A bloody, stone knife sat atop a pile of beautiful, beaded vestments, ornate carvings, and other, old-looking artifacts.

“Your neighbors have been keeping these from us. We tried to get them back, but they just laughed and mocked our efforts. But they’re too important to give up – especially after we’ve been forced to give up so much.”

I stood like an idiot, holding the bag as sirens approached and the commotion outside grew.

“Give it to them,” the kid shouted with a deep, adult voice that was entirely out of place coming from his small body. And with that, he vanished. The headdress and pants and vest dropped in a pile on the rug. I spent a good 45 minutes convincing myself I hadn’t gone nuts.

Hours later, an officer came back for the boy. “What happened over there?,” I asked the cop. I already knew, but I needed confirmation.

“Looks like the couple got killed in a robbery attempt,” he told me. “Their daughter came home from a Halloween party and found them with their throats cut. I’m sorry.”

I let out a long sigh and nodded.

“Where’s the kid?,” the officer asked.

I had an answer ready. “There was a family going door to door with a picture of him. I guess he’d run away. But he’s back with them now.”

The cop shook his head. “And they didn’t even call us? Christ.” He paused. “Well, okay. Goodnight. I’m sorry about your neighbors – we’ll have officers in the area until whoever did it is found.”

I thanked him and closed the door. It was almost 5:00 am. It was too late to go to bed; I had work in a couple hours. So I sat down at my computer, and with the kid’s bag on the desk next to me, I mapped out directions for my drive to the MTIC.

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Rotting Pumpkins


The farm near our house had a jack-o-lantern pumpkin patch on Halloween. It was pretty cool to look at; a whole field filled with meticulously-carved pumpkins with their grotesque faces glowing from the candlelight within. There was candy strewn about in little baggies, and kids of all ages visited either before or after they trick-or-treated to get some extra loot.

We moved in across the street from that field a couple years ago. At first, we loved the idea of the jack-o-lantern patch. It looked quite haunting and really spoke to the Halloween spirit in me and my wife. But when Halloween was over, the farmer didn’t take the jack-o-lanterns away. He left them to rot.

I assumed it was to fertilize the ground for whatever crop he’d plant in the spring. It made sense he wouldn’t want all that organic material to go to waste. The problem was, they’d attract animals. Animals and bugs. In the unseasonably-warm November we had last year, the smell of the rotting gourds brought critters from far and wide to the field, and when they were done eating, they’d wander the neighborhood.

Being a small town, there was little anyone could do to stop the farmer, whose name was Ruben, from doing what he wanted on his property. We had to deal with the deer and skunks and coyotes and foxes and flies and bees and bats all eating and shitting and fucking their way across the town until no more pumpkins were left.

Last year, I approached Ruben while he was setting up the jack-o-lanterns. He was a friendly guy, there was never any doubting that. I explained the issue and he listened and nodded. He said a few other people had told him the same thing, and he’d fixed the fences over the summer so that wouldn’t be a problem anymore.

“Besides,” he told me with a smile, “last year was just a test run. This Halloween, everything’s going to be just perfect.”

On Halloween, the jack-o-lantern field looked even better than it had the year before. Even though the arrangement was the same, Ruben had hired some artists to collaborate and create truly monstrous designs for the pumpkins. They were awesome. I even did a walk through by myself in the early afternoon before the candles were lit just to take it all in. I felt like a kid again.

As the evening was coming to a close and we’d given out the majority of our candy to the neighborhood children, we were getting ready to turn off the light and lock up when we heard sirens approaching. I looked outside and saw a procession of police cars and fire engines and ambulances heading toward us. I stepped out on the porch and watched as they passed our house and took the sharp left into the driveway of Ruben’s farmhouse.

I sat on the steps with my wife and watched as lights were flipped on and the field was partially illuminated. “Oh my God,” I whispered.

In the harsh, overhead lights, I saw bodies on the ground among the glowing jack-o-lanterns. Small ones. Small, costumed ones. Kids. “Oh my God,” I repeated, louder.

Paramedics and rescue officials descended on the field and worked to resuscitate the still bodies. One by one, they gave up. Parents were arriving in droves and the sound of wailing and hysteria filled the air. My wife and I held one another as little bodies with sheets over them were loaded into ambulances.

The next morning, it was all over the news. “32 children dead in an apparent poisoning.” Ruben was arrested and questioned. He refused to speak to the investigators and he was held without bail.

Funerals were held and pumpkins began to rot. It was another unseasonably-warm November, and on cue, insects began to discover the field. Clouds of flies drifted in and out, blanketing the field in a gray haze as they left their eggs in the pumpkins’ softening flesh.

In the following days, toxicology reports on the autopsied children came back. Whatever had poisoned them was still unknown. They’d exhibited all the outward signs of a poisoning: cyanosis, hemorrhage, paralysis, etc. – but no toxins were found in their bodies. Tissue samples were held for further testing, but the corpses were released to the families.

Two weeks later, the air was still thick with flies and bees. We still hadn’t had a frost, and things that crawled and flew feasted on the pulpy remains of the jack-o-lanterns. From the house, I could see their deformed, hideous faces; faces which no longer evoked a feeling of holiday fun. They were faces that mocked the dead.

The incredibly warm autumn continued. 20 degrees above average, according to the weather man. Flowers were blooming and the cherry trees had blossomed a full five months ahead of time. The pumpkins were still there, but mostly formless, having succumbed to rot and the ravenousness of vermin. As the hot November slouched into December, the luckiest of us had started to forget about the tragedy that had befallen the town. But we still got reminders – especially on December 2nd, when Ruben broke his silence.

My cousin, Ron, works for the police department as a mechanic. He doesn’t have any access to criminals or official information, but he talks to cops a lot. And the cops like to talk.

Ron came over on the 2nd before any news had gotten out about what Ruben was saying. It was clear he was uncomfortable. Lillian and I sat and listened while Ron relayed what his buddy had learned from the detective.

The Ruben I knew was nothing like the man being described by my cousin. He’d blanketed himself with cuts and scars of indecipherable symbols and words. Every inch of his flesh was carved or mutilated in one way or another – something he’d done with his fingernails over the course of the time he was in jail.

The detectives learned that Ruben was ready to talk when he began to scream the names of each dead child. Just after midnight on the 2nd, he shouted each first, middle, and last name until his voice was hoarse. Detectives stood on the other side of his cell and transcribed what he said. They didn’t understand most of it, but it was better than nothing. The main takeaway was a date and time. December 5th, 11:00 pm.

No one could figure out what he meant by it, so there was a lot of speculation. All the police could do was park a unit over by the farm overnight just in case he had something planned. On the 5th, I sat with Lillian and Ron on the front porch and stared at the black field in front of us. 11:00 came, and nothing happened. We waited for a few minutes. I saw the cop across the street standing next to his car, smoking a cigarette.

As we were getting ready to go inside, I saw something flicker in the field. A tiny flame. “Look,” I told the others, and pointed. They saw it too. More flickers came into view.

“Hey!,” I yelled to the cop, and kept pointing at the field. The cop snuffed out his cigarette and walked around the barn to take a look. He got to the side of the field, then raised his radio to call for backup.

As we watched, the flickers intensified, as if they were from new candles that’d finally started properly burning their wicks after sputtering and threatening to go out. After only a couple minutes, more police cars arrived. I got up started to cross the street. I needed to see what was going on.

“Don’t,” said Lillian as she grabbed my hand, but I shrugged her off and headed toward the fence. I heard Ron walking behind me.

The police arrived and lit the field up with their search lights. We could see the rotten pumpkins sitting in the field, all with single candles sticking out of them. They were shaking. One by one, candles fell and hit the dry straw. The straw ignited. Police officers called for emergency assistance from the fire department, but there was no chance they’d get there in time. The fire began to rage.

Entombed in flame, the rotten pumpkins started to burst. Only after their pulpy bodies had disintegrated did we see what was inside. “Oh my fucking God,” Ron half whispered, half prayed.

In the place of each pumpkin, there was a small, human-shaped thing sitting with its head down and its knees clutched to its chest. The heat intensified further and I backed up, but I still saw it all. One by one, the things rose on sturdy legs and stood erect. They were growing, and soon they reached the size of the children who’d died.

Their skin began to char, and they walked out of the flames toward the crowd of police officers. Without any idea what to do, but terrified out of their minds, some began to shoot. The bullets did not stop them. Round after round tore through the fire-spawned children, exiting their backs and legs and heads in a geyser of gore, but they walked ever forward.

Soon, the officers who’d fired fell to the ground. They didn’t move for a second, but then they started to rot. Just like the pumpkins. Other officers backed away. I’d backed all the way up to my house, and I watched from the doorway with my wife and cousin. We were horrified.

A procession of children walked down the street, followed by the police cars. Firefighters worked to put out the blazing field, and after a little while, they’d succeeded.

Ron turned on his police scanner and we sat in the living room, listening with horror as news of dead cops and other officials came in:

“The children have reached the prison.”

“The children have burned through the cell of Ruben Rendell.”

“The children are carrying Rendell back the way they came.”

“Oh f**k,” I said, and opened the front door. They were coming back down the street – a procession of blackened, smoldering kids carrying a burning man. Ruben. And he was screaming.


He screamed with peals of hysterical laughter as he burned. The children carried him to the field and placed him in the center. They then placed themselves in the same spots as the pumpkins from which they’d emerged. Most had gone out, while some still glowed with dull, red fire.

Before Ruben burned to death, he unleashed one final scream:


There was no sound from him after that final word. Nothing but the crackling of dying flames.

The following days were a whirlwind of investigations, media visits, and speculation. No one knew what happened. No one knew what Ruben had done. And for a while, it was still a mystery how the kids had been poisoned in the first place.

A mystery, that is, until Jasmine McCray, the mother of a child who was fortunate enough to have been too sick to trick-or-treat, found a small letter in her son’s toy chest. It read:

“For a special night of Halloween fun, draw this little picture on a piece of paper and swallow it, then come to Farmer Ruben’s pumpkin patch to trick-or-treat. You will never, ever want to leave.”

The picture was of an inverted star. A pentagram.

Jasmine’s son told her Ruben had given them to kids at recess one day after he talked to the classes about what it was like to be a farmer. He came to them individually and made them promise to throw it away after they read it and not to tell their parents.

Jasmine gave the letter to the police, and then told the media. While the superstitious residents of the town took that as an answer to what had happened, skeptics like myself couldn’t believe it. Even after what I’d seen, I couldn’t believe something supernatural had occurred.

But then the photographs came in. The aerial photographs from the news helicopter the day after the holocaust at the field. Clearly marked in carbon and ash was the shape of a pentagram – the exact shape the pumpkins had been arranged in. No one had noticed it from the ground.

And at the center of the pentagram, where Ruben had screamed his final, pleading prayer, four words were burnt into the dirt. The answer to the old farmer’s prayers.


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Shadows on the Wall


Growing up, I was convinced I’d be abducted by aliens. I lived in constant, sleep-deprived fear as every strange shadow and every reflection of light on the wall signified the beginning of what I knew would be my end. Logic told me the shadows were just piles of dirty clothes or my coat rack; that the reflections were just from passing cars on the street below. But logic fails in the face of terror. If it weren’t for my older brother, Jason, with whom I shared the bedroom, there was a very real chance I would’ve lost my mind.

I remember my 13th birthday with the same detached sense of helpless violation as a victim of sexual assault. The day itself had been fine. Pleasant, even. My parents, who were always caring and supportive, did their best to make sure my birthday was enjoyable. They knew I was stressed. They knew I was anxious. I’d never told them why, though. Only Jason knew, and he promised to keep it a secret.

After the festivities, I went up to my room to play video games. I had two hours to play before lights-out. Jason sat on his immaculately-made bed, which was in stark contrast to my messy one, and watched, offering pointers as I died over and over.

Two hours went by quickly, and Dad came in to say it was time to go to sleep. He sat next to Jason on the bed and let me know he was proud of me; how I’d been brave despite having a hard time and that things would get better. He wished me a happy birthday and kissed me goodnight, switching off the light on his way out of the room.

For a little while, I felt pretty good. Like I said, I never told my parents exactly what had been bothering me. They’d ask every so often, but they wouldn’t pry. They could tell I was struggling. I heard them cleaning up downstairs, comforted by the fact they were still awake and alert. With a sense of security I hadn’t felt in a long time, I drifted off to sleep.

After a couple hours, I woke up and glanced at the clock. 11:26. I closed my eyes again. Before I could drift off to sleep, though, I noticed something. The room smelled bad. It wasn’t a scent I could identify in the slightest – it was heavy and medicinal, but organic, too. Strange. Alien.

My eyelids lifted to the sight something shuffling toward my bed. I tried to shout and bolt away, but nothing worked. No movement, no sound. Only my eyes could receive my commands, and they stared, bulging out of my skull, as thing stood over my supine body.

I knew it’d finally come to me; this was the day I’d anticipated and dreaded for years. I tried to make out the features on its face. All I could pick up on was hideousness. Deformity. A head with its upper-left quadrant missing. A mouth with no lower mandible and a shriveled tongue lolling down to its skinny neck.

“Robbie,” it gurgled.

It knew my name. It had been studying me and it knew my name.

“No more me, Robbie. No more me. Time to grow up.”

Its head came down and touched my forehead with the remains of its upper lip. As it tilted, maggots tumbled out of the cratered skull and landed on my face. They squirmed and tumbled onto my pillow. I felt them writhing against my ears and the sides of my neck.

“I’ll miss you.”

It turned and walked toward Jason’s bed. I tried over and over to scream as panic suffused the entirety of my being; the dark world around me blurred and I knew I was going to pass out. I knew I was going to fail my brother and not be able to warn him before the creature reached him. Before I lost consciousness – before I passed into a dreamless morass of black – I hated myself for being so useless. For being so weak.

My mother’s shrill, panicked shriek catapulted me back into reality. The room was bright. It was morning. Mom stood over Jason’s bed wailing and sobbing and I heard Dad thundering across the hall from their bedroom. He burst into the room and immediately saw what Mom did. I watched his knees tremble, as if he were about to fall.

I didn’t move. Everything from the night was coming back and I knew – I was certain – Jason was dead. My big brother was gone. The certainty was overwhelming and searing tears of leaked down my cheeks onto the pillow. Something wriggled against my neck. I gasped and leapt to my feet.

Everything went slowly for the next few minutes.

I turned and saw the ring of maggots around my head print on the pillow. Dad was crossing the room to take me in his arms when he saw the bugs on my pillow and in my hair and whispered, “oh my God.” He picked me up. He hadn’t done that in years.

I rode out of the room in his strong arms. “Don’t look at your brother’s bed,” he ordered. I couldn’t help myself. I looked as we exited. One glance was all I needed.

Jason’s body was on the bed. He was wearing a stained and dirt-encrusted blue suit. “Oh no,” I thought to myself, as I took in his injuries: the torn lower mandible. The caved-in skull. The desiccated, green-gray skin that was mostly gone.

Mom’s wracking sobs had escalated to hysterical screaming. As Dad and I rounded the corner and headed downstairs, we heard her shouting, “how did you come back? Why are you here? Who did this?”

Dad whispered in my ear as we walked. “It’s okay sweetheart. It’s okay. We don’t know who did it, but it’s going to be all right. It’s not your brother anymore. It’s just the body he doesn’t need. He’s still in heaven, okay? He’s still in heaven.”

I started to shake and Dad’s voice cracked with emotion as he spoke those last words. “He’s in heaven.” It sounded horribly, horribly familiar. I closed my eyes and saw a coffin. I saw my parents standing next to it, sobbing. I saw a large, framed picture of Jason and a room full of friends and family.

But I also saw the toys I was playing with. And I saw Jason sitting next to me. We played while everyone else cried. He grinned and said, “Don’t be upset, Robbie. I’ll be here to help while you grow up. You don’t have to feel sad.”

My aunt, Lindsay, came up to me and stood in the exact same spot where Jason was sitting. I remember thinking it was strange she could do that, and then she knelt down and said, “he’s in heaven” before walking back to my cousins and uncle. Jason winked at my confused face, then we kept playing with our toys.

“Jason died,” I whispered to Dad.

He nodded and I watched as he eyed the muddy footprints from the back door which led up the down the hall and up the stairs to my room.

“You were probably too young to remember, but he loved you so, so much.”

I thought back to all the fun we’d had in our room over the years, all leading up to the video games on my 13th birthday the night before.

“You’re the same age he was now,” Dad said, and tears freely flowed down into his beard. “You’re all grown up.”

Something from the previous night buzzed in my ear. “No more me, Robbie. No more me. Time to grow up.”

And then it clicked. And my screams joined those of my mother in a terrible, dissonant chorus.

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The Only Thing That Matters


I’m surrounded by corpses. People I knew. People I cared about. For hours, I sat in the stillness of this supermarket-cum-abattoir and waited. The growls and groans outside waxed and waned as each wave passed by. Waves of former friends. Waves of strangers who I never had the opportunity to befriend. Limitless potential gnawed away by the ravages of plague.

After some time, the movement started. Bodies. Body parts. It didn’t matter. That which was once animated got reanimated. A severed head blinked and opened its mouth. A puddle of viscera convulsed in peristaltic spasms. A pile of fingertips and toes wiggled. And corpses, more-or-less whole, stood.

Dylan began to squirm in my lap, still leaking. His bleating, which had been cut off by his father 80 minutes ago, resumed. It was lower. More guttural. The optic nerve protruding from his left eye socket slapped wetly against his soft cheek. My boy was awake, and my last act as his mother would be to feed him. It’s what I was here for, no matter the shape he was in. I put my thumb in his mouth and waited for his few, sharp little teeth to sink in.

His cool tongue prodded at the digit. But his jaw didn’t close. He didn’t bite. I spoke to him, encouraging him to go ahead. He shook his head and tried to spit out my thumb. I persisted. Dylan vomited a pink froth of blood and breast milk onto my hand. Still, nothing.

Three of the reanimated bodies had started lurching toward us. I knew if Dylan wasn’t going to be the one to change me, they would. But they’d tear me to shreds. Just like the others had done to his father while I was locked in the bathroom. I started to panic. I didn’t want to be torn apart and have Dylan left alone to squirm pathetically on the supermarket floor forever.

The three were practically on top of us. I’d failed. Their teeth were coming. An image of Dylan struggling in the dried tangle of my twitching entrails six months from now brought an involuntary sob. I begged him to bite me. He just growled and choked.

The first one moved in to bite. Then he stopped. He stared at me, teeth snapping together over and over, drooling shards of enamel and blood and saliva onto my shoulder. The other two did the same. Then they turned around and walked away. Nothing. They didn’t want me.

A surge of relief combined with confusion and sadness. My boy didn’t want me, either. No one did.

Time went by and waves of fresh dead entered the supermarket. They inspected me, and, like the others, rejected me. I gave up on trying to make Dylan bite. He’d never eaten anything that solid before in his life. I knew it was useless. He seemed content to thrash and flail and leak and cool.

During the quiet moments between waves, I heard soft crying. I knew who it was. As I was running out of the bathroom after the initial attack to check on Dylan and my husband, I saw a young store employee shutting herself in a small closet near the floral department.

Dylan drooled and moved his jaw as the sounds of the teenager met his ears. It had been hours since he’d eaten. It was then I realized what I had to do. It’s what any mom would do for her son.

A couple minutes later, I had control of her. She was easy enough to knock unconscious. Easy enough to tie up. But I knew if she changed, Dylan wouldn’t want to eat any more.

She yelled very loudly as I cut off a piece of her calf. I placed it in Dylan’s mouth. He tried to chew, but it was just too cumbersome. He wasn’t used to something that solid. I sighed and gazed into my son’s eye. I took the chunk from his mouth and cut off a fresh piece.

After I’d chewed and spit it into his mouth, I could swear he smiled at me. And that was when I knew our mom/son connection wasn’t broken. Even though the rest of the world didn’t want me, Dylan still did. That’s the only thing that matters.

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The Big Scary House in the Woods


It took two days to hike to the spot we’d heard about: a strange house standing alone in the middle of the woods. And if it couldn’t possibly sound any more cliche, the rumors were that the former owners of the house haunted it and killed anyone who dared to enter.

From the outside, it looked unremarkable. Had it not been in the middle of the forest with nothing around but trees and rocks, the house would’ve looked like any other run-down home in a bad area. But the fact remained: it was the only man-made structure for miles. Why, let alone how, anyone would haul construction materials through the inhospitable wilderness to build the place was beyond my or my boyfriend’s understanding.

Being journalists for the high school paper, we came armed with our notebooks and tablets. John tried to peer through the windows, but there was nothing to see. The windows were smoked out – it looked like there’d been a minor fire inside at some point.

The front door was locked, but around the back there was a rusted-out hole in the cellar door. It was just wide enough for John to fit through. No way my boobs were getting through that hole unless I did way more squashing than I was in the mood to do. No, it was okay; John would go through and open the front door for me.

After a bit of squeezing and cursing, John made his way into the cellar. Looking at the ragged, rusty metal he’d just forced himself through, I wondered when he’d last gotten a tetanus booster. With a shudder, I made my way over to the front of the house and waited for him to let me inside.

I waited. And waited. After a couple minutes, I heard John banging on the door from behind to get it open.

“It doesn’t want to move,” he shouted from the other side.

“Can you find something to break it open?,” I called back. “A crowbar or something?”

The banging stopped as he looked around. More waiting. Out of the corner of my eye, I saw a doe and her fawn. I was spellbound. Growing up in the city, this had been my first trip into the woods since I was a little girl. I’d never gotten to see deer in real life.

I carefully moved in the direction of the animals, crouching low so I didn’t frighten them, and held out my hand. The ears of the deer perked up and they watched me intently, trying to determine if I was a threat. In my head, I was pleading with them to come over.

“It’s okay guys,” I whispered sweetly. “It’s okay.”

I held my breath as the fawn stepped toward me. It was so close. The mother wasn’t stopping it as it got nearer and nearer – so close that I could see my reflection in its wide, inquisitive eyes.

A massive bang sounded from behind me, making me jump and sending the deer running for their lives. “God damn it, John!,” I yelled, turning around. “You scared them aw–.”

I stopped talking and froze. The door had flown off its hinges onto the front steps. In the doorway stood a thick, bulbous, corpse-like man. He was swollen and burned, almost like he’d been soaked in gasoline for months then set on fire. And in his hand he held the severed head of John, whose eyes stared straight ahead with confused shock.

I screamed and began to run. “Stay away from our home!,” came a voice so loud and powerful it caused me to stumble and fall. I righted myself and looked over my shoulder, tears streaming down my eyes. There was another thing now – a woman – standing shoulder to shoulder with John’s murderer. Her mouth opened and she bellowed, “and don’t fucking come back!”

She lumbered down the steps and picked up the door. She carried it back up, and before she set it back in the remains of its frame, the husband took John’s head and threw in my direction. I heard it hit the ground behind me as I ran, but I never saw his face again. Never, except in my nightmares.

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Rediscovering the Newness of Sex


The problem with sex is it eventually becomes mundane. Do anything enough and it’ll become boring and repetitive. It’s silly to think fucking might be different. Obviously, there’s quite a bit one can do to spice things up, and it works – for a little while. Then it stops. Years go by and exciting, new fetishes become dull, standard procedure. By the time I hit 44, I was in a rut. Nothing did it for me. But the desire was still there.

To say I’ve done it all is a bit of a stretch, but I’d gotten pretty close. I’ve shied away from the illegal and illicit, despite frequent temptation. I don’t want to hurt anyone, and I certainly don’t want to end up in jail. There’s no fun in that.

For a little while, I’ll admit to being depressed. I went through the motions – one joyless, soulless f**k at a time. Men and women of every sort passed between my sheets. It always ended up in disappointment.

Then I met Carson.

I’d been with other men countless times, so Carson initially wasn’t anything more than a blip on a radar full of traffic. After we’d finished, however, he sensed my despair. He sensed my unfulfillment. Before he left, he scribbled an address, a date, and a time on a sheet of paper. 27 Hallsworth Hill. October 9th. 11:00pm. He wouldn’t tell me what I’d find there.

My interest was piqued for the first time in as long as I could remember. Two days later, on the 9th, I drove across town to 27 Hallsworth Hill.

The address was the location of large, old, stone house that was in need of some upkeep. Ivy ran unchecked across the gray slabs of its granite face, and bushes, perhaps once sculpted, grew wild and threatened to obstruct the view from the large, first-floor windows. A heavy wooden door with an equally-massive iron knocker stood at the top of the steps. I knocked twice and waited.

The door opened and Carson stood, shirtless and smiling, and asked me to come in. I obliged and followed. The house was beautiful, but very, very old. Nothing appeared to have been touched or moved in decades; when we passed under a dusty, hanging chandelier, part of me was surprised it had electricity running to it.

“I want you to meet my friends, Daniel, Lucy, and Eileen,” Carson told me, and before he opened the door in front of us, asked “I want you to have an open mind, ok?” I nodded as anticipation and mild concern set butterflies in motion within my stomach.

Carson opened the door and we walked into a spacious, sparsely-furnished room. A man, who I assumed was Daniel, was tied to a marble pillar stretching from the stone floor to the ceiling. Lucy and Eileen stood in front of him, kissing one another. All were unclothed. I jumped slightly and almost started to laugh when I heard a goat bleat from the corner behind us.

“How open does my mind have to be?,” I whispered to Carson, as I studied the goat staring mindlessly at the five of us. Carson laughed. “Not that open, don’t worry.” I sighed with relief.

The others in the room didn’t acknowledge Carson’s and my entrance. The women writhed against one another while Daniel, bound tightly to the pillar, watched with lust in his eyes.

“Right now,” Carson told me, “you’re not allowed to do anything but watch.” He pointed to the sofa. “Have a seat. You can get comfortable if you’d like.” With that, he stripped off his clothes and incorporated himself into his friends’ action.

I joined them in their nudity and sat on the remarkably-comfortable couch while the four engaged in basic, moderately-kinky sex. It was pretty vanilla for me, but not unpleasant to watch. Time went by and the four brought one another to the peaks and plateaus they’d desired. For my part, I was getting a little bored. The first half hour was fun because of the newness of the people involved, but with nothing to do other than jerk off, I was ready to hit the road.

The goat bleated again. I’d forgotten about the fucking thing. I turned around and saw it shitting on the floor, effectively killing my arousal in its entirety.

“Thanks guys, it was nice meeting you – I’m going to be hitting the road now,” I called out. Carson extricated himself from Eileen and rushed over.

“Wait, please. We’ve almost started.”


Carson put his hands on my shoulders and gently pushed me back down on the couch. “Started.”

“Can you at least get rid of the goat?,” I asked.

He laughed and rejoined the group and they finished one another off with a decent enough show that I actually found myself getting into it. The four of them knew what they were doing – there was no doubting that.

Lucy untied Daniel while Eileen walked to the small table next to the couch to pour herself a drink. She winked at me and said, “didn’t Carson offer you a drink?” I shook my head. “Jesus, Carson,” she muttered under her breath, as she poured a whiskey-looking liquid out of the bottle into a wide glass and handed it to me.

I looked around for Carson. He was cleaning up after the goat. “You guys aren’t gonna f**k that thing, right?,” I asked Eileen. She looked horrified for a second before erupting with peals of laughter.

“No,” Eileen said, still practically hysterical, “we’re not going to f**k the goat.”

I laughed at the absurdity of it all, but I still needed to know. “Then what’s it doing here?”

Eileen didn’t answer. She just grinned and grabbed me. I jumped a little in surprise, then allowed her to lead me to the pillar like a dog on a leash.

“Do you consent?,” she mewled into my ear.

“Consent to what?,” I grinned, allowing her to tie me to the pillar. It was still warm from Daniel.

“Do…you…consent?,” she whispered, tracing her knuckles over my anatomy.

“I do,” I told her.

“Good,” Eileen smiled. My hands and feet were bound to the marble. I couldn’t move. Eileen dropped to her knees, and my world began to blur.

I closed my eyes and relished the sensation of her mouth and hands, entirely oblivious to the rest of the universe as I departed in a solipsistic whirlwind of hedonic bliss. I felt new pairs of hands and more mouths on me. Sopping, salty fingers pushed insistently at my lips and I allowed them inside to stroke with my tongue. Everyone was moaning. Everyone was sighing. No sounds existed except breaths of ecstatic need.

No sounds other than gasps of pleasure.

Not even bleating.

The unwanted thought of the goat took me briefly out of my haze and I opened my eyes. Then I screamed.

The four friends stood or knelt around me, covered from head to toe with blood and gore. The carcass of the goat was sprawled out on the stone floor, eviscerated and twitching. The scent of its guts hit me a second later, and I retched and struggled to break out of my bindings. The four wouldn’t let me, though. They continued trying to pleasure me, glistening and growing sticky as the hot blood on them cooled and grew tacky.

Daniel took his mouth off me and stood up.

“Trust us,” he said, looking directly into my eyes.

“What the f**k are you doing!,” I shouted at him. At them. The two women worked to keep me in the moment as Carson licked smeared blood out of my navel.

“Trust us,” Daniel instructed again, holding my head in his hands. I stared at his gore-streaked face. There was concern in his eyes.

“Please untie me,” I told him.

Eileen slid a finger inside me and I shouted with surprise and indignity. “I promise you’ll thank us soon,” she whispered.

Helpless and hating myself, I felt my arousal grow as lips and tongues and fingers forced my biology to betray me. The haze descended again and I closed my eyes as the stink of entrails permeated the room and combined with the heavy scent of sex.

A minute or two later, my climax ended the assault.

My eyes snapped open and I glared at the four. They all stood up and smiled. Wide, unsettling smiles.

“Let me the f**k out of here,” I pleaded, my voice quivering.

The smiles took on a patronizing, sympathetic quality. Drooling the contents of her mouth into her palm, Lucy said, “Honey, we’re finally ready to start.”

For a second, I was certain I was about to be killed. This was it. My quest for new and interesting sex had led me to the end of the road. Death. Snuff. My own end for their twisted pleasure. Then the goat screamed.

I yelped as the disemboweled animal’s mouth wrenched itself open. I heard its jawbones crunching and splintering as its mouth widened, its angle continuing to grow until it was a straight line up and down. It screamed again – now a deeper, groaning sound that I felt in my stomach and intestines. I watched in terror as the animal shuddered and convulsed. A series of red, knotted ropes exploded out of its throat and slapped wetly on the bloody stone.

“Fucking let me out!,” I howled. I glared at the four with panic. They were still smiling and staring at me. The goat’s body shuffled across the floor like a hairy, osseous caterpillar; its pulverized bones sounding like gravel with every peristaltic push. It reached my captors and stopped at their feet, almost as if it were a dog awaiting a command.

Finally, one of them moved. Lucy. She held the palm filled with her saliva and the product of my stolen orgasm out in front of the goat’s destroyed mouth. Its nose twitched, and one of the smaller tubes crawled across the woman’s hand. With a disgusting, wet sound, it lapped up the contents. Before before I could blink – before I could shout – the goat erected itself on its hind legs. Its ribcage exploded outward like a metal gate hit by a truck. More tubes, thicker, heavier tubes, writhed inside. And in a blinding instant, it lept against my face.

Everything went white. I floated, disembodied, free from fear. Free from disgust. Free from violation. I was in a pool of warm, white mercury flowing in lazy currents around formless porcelain and glass. It was heaven.

The world returned with a gentle shudder. The carcass of the goat was on the floor, its ropes and tubes deftly manipulating the erogenous zones of my four captors. All animosity I felt for them was gone. All indignity had evaporated. I tried to move my arms and realized I’d been untied. Legs, too. I stretched and watched the spectacle in front of me without any sense of revulsion.

A tube branched off and approached my ear. “Do you consent?,” it whispered. The voice was soft and sexless. Seductive. I hesitated as a remaining pang of concern shot through me. What did all this mean? What was happening? The questions were endless, but the sensation was undeniable. It was the feeling of newness – of blushing, virgin uncertainty. I looked at my four friends and saw the expressions of boundless ecstasy on their faces.

The knotted, red rope was waiting patiently for my answer. Was this what I’d been searching for? To my right, Eileen shuddered as an orgasm passed through her. She looked more beautiful than anyone I’d ever seen. They all did. Each one-upping the beauty of the other with every passing glance. The tube twitched and I smiled.

“Yes,” I whispered. “I consent.” And I opened my mouth.

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The Job I Couldn’t Leave


In February of 2004, I was employed as a housekeeper for a wealthy real-estate developer. I’d been gone for a few days; my uncle had died and I’d traveled from New York to Florida on short notice to help with the arrangements. I came back one day earlier than I’d planned. My boss was quite irate when I told him I was leaving in the first place, so I thought an early return might help put me back in good graces.

I got to the penthouse around 3am, ready to get a jump on the day’s work. According to the schedule my boss had given me, he’d be home later the following day and expected the place to be spotless. “I don’t care if you’re still in your funeral clothes while you scrub the toilet,” were his final words to me before I left for Florida.

When the private elevator reached the residence, I was surprised to see all the lights were on. Like I said, he wasn’t supposed to be back for almost 30 hours. None of the other staff were scheduled, either.

A strange sound caused me to jerk my head in the direction of the dining room. I couldn’t identify the noise at all. It was like a mewl and a groan and a gasp all at once. Whatever it was, it was very unsettling. I waited and listened. There was a voice. A familiar one. My boss’s adult son.

I couldn’t make out what he was saying, but I felt a little better. At least it hadn’t been a burglar. I put my supplies on the counter and headed toward the dining room.

The doors were shut. Almost shut. One was slightly ajar, and I could see movement on the other side. That strange sound came again, this time quieter. More like a sigh. Gooseflesh rose on my arms and neck. I tiptoed over to the doors and peered inside. Had the son not coughed the moment I stifled a gasp, they would’ve heard me.

My boss sat at the head of the table with his face between the legs of a dying girl. Her throat had been cut. The sounds I’d heard were her pained, gurgling breaths. The son, whose back was to me, held the girl down as her flailing tapered off. Her head came to rest with her eyes fixed in my direction; eyes that locked onto mine. Eyes that screamed “help” with silent desperation.

She didn’t move after that. I swallowed a scream.

I heard my boss grunt, “bring her mother out to clean it up.”

His son crossed the room and unlocked the gold and black-glass cabinet that’d stood in the corner for as long as I’d worked there. I couldn’t see him opening the door, but I heard a terrible, howling wail as the woman trapped inside was released and saw the remains of her daughter.

“Oh shut up,” my boss yelled at her. Then he chuckled. “My boy’s going to put another one in you soon enough.”

The whole scene had lasted less than two minutes, but those minutes were indelibly etched on my consciousness. On my psyche. On my soul.

I left the residence as quietly as I’d entered. In the lobby, I saw the lone, overnight security officer who’d let me in. Abdullah. He’d always been kind to me. “Please, please, please don’t mention I was here,” I begged. He looked bewildered, but then he nodded. He hated our boss as much as anyone.

The moment I exited the building, I called 911 from one of the few remaining pay phones and told the dispatcher what I’d seen. I didn’t give my name and I disguised my voice as best as I could. Then I waited by the subway entrance until the police cars and ambulances arrived.

I got home where I tossed and turned and cried for sleepless hours as I pictured the poor girl, who couldn’t have been older than nine or ten, bleeding out as she was so hideously violated. Even now, 12 years later, the scene is as sharp in my mind as it had been that night.

The next day, I got the newspaper, ready to see his awful, smirking face on the cover with a headline declaring him a murderer. But there was no such thing. I flipped through each page, poring over the stories and looking for his name. Nothing. I rushed to my computer and searched online. Headlines about his TV show and his business dealings were all over, but nothing about an arrest; nothing that even hinted at an investigation.

Sickness washed over me as I realized his money and influence had certainly kept his crime quiet. I sobbed at home all day.

The following morning, after I’d somehow slept for a couple hours, my phone rang. “Why the f**k aren’t you at work,” a voice screamed. It was him. I couldn’t speak at first. My mind was blank. After nearly a full minute, I stuttered, “I…I’m sorry. I’ll be in as soon as I can.” He hung up.

Everything went gray as I realized I couldn’t leave the job. If I did, he’d know it’d been me who called the police. If I even momentarily showed fear or uncertainty, he would figure it out. I had to go to work. I had to do what he told me until I was absolutely sure he’d never learn I’d discovered his secret.

So I went to work. I went like nothing was wrong at all, aside from how I claimed I was still mourning the death of my uncle. It was an excuse, but it was one he bought. “Get your shit together,” he demanded. And I did. My first order of business was to clean a stain on the dining-room table that he said had shown up out of nowhere.

As I scrubbed and held back a scream of indignant anguish, I did everything I could to pretend I was somewhere else. Anywhere but where I stood. And, for the most part, it worked. All I had to do was lie to myself and pretend I didn’t hear the nearly-inaudible sound of muffled crying coming from from the gold and black-glass cabinet in the corner.

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Tainted Candy


I won’t let my kids trick-or-treat this Halloween. Not after what happened last year. Not when half the town’s parents are still in mourning and every other week you see cribs and twin-sized beds by the curb for anyone to come by and pick up. They’re stark reminders that the losses cut deep around here. The pain’s still there. And even if those wounds have started to heal for some, they’ll always, always itch.

Last year, kids received tainted candy. 55 got sick, 31 died. It was all over the news, so I don’t need to go into a background story that you already know. My girls were lucky; they’re both allergic to peanuts so they just gave the candies to their friends. Friends they don’t have anymore.

I remember my shift in the ER when the kids started trickling in. It took a few days. The first one was on November 3rd – a four-year old named Regina. She was having trouble breathing. At first, we thought it was an allergic reaction, but none of the treatments seemed to work. As she got worse, it was only after we’d scoped her to get a look inside her lungs that we realized what was happening. By then, though, it was too late. She died on the table.

Three more young kids came in that night. They all died.

The next day, the trickle became a flood. Older kids joined the younger ones with trouble breathing. These seemed worse off than the kids from the night before. The initial symptoms had given way to the secondary ones before death, so we had to deal with the shock and terror they were experiencing as their condition progressed.

The CDC representatives arrived not long after ten more had died, and they were able to quickly trace the source to contaminated candy. The local chocolate producer was determined to be at fault, and a speedy investigation revealed exactly how the candies were contaminated. The business was shut down. The owners are still tied up in court cases for their negligence and refusal to comply with proper importation safeguards.

Like I said, after a year, it’s all still fresh in the minds of so many families. They’ll go their whole lives associating the holiday with death and devastation, rather than fun and excitement. Out of respect for that, few yards are decorated for Halloween nowadays. There are some pumpkins on front steps, but no real displays. Well, there’d been one.

A Japanese family who’d moved to town in August had been mostly unaware of the circumstances surrounding the tragedy. They’d bought the house across the street from me. Excited to celebrate Halloween in America for the first time, they decorated their front lawn with skeletons, pumpkins, monsters, and spiders. A couple neighbors visited the next day and carefully explained to them what had happened the year before. The decorations were down within an hour.

It wasn’t that anyone was truly angry that the decorations were there. Most of them were fine. Had they just left three of the four things up, no one would’ve complained. Hell, some people who were lucky enough to not have been touched by the tragedies might have appreciated a little Halloween spirit. But for some, seeing that one thing was just too much. Even I, who hadn’t lost anyone, cringed a little when I saw the setup.

It made me think back to that night on November 3rd when Regina came in. I remembered the scope going down into her lungs. I remembered how we stared at the screen in a combination of horror and fascination.

It wasn’t a skeleton or a pumpkin or a monster that had killed those children. It was the spiders. The millions of tiny, black spiders whose eggs had been in the cocoa powder decorating the finished chocolate and peanut-butter candies.

The kids who’d suffocated before the spiders had exited their lungs were the lucky ones. It was those in the waiting room or car or ambulance who hacked and coughed up clouds of them as they died who had it worst.

The Japanese family apologized profusely as they removed all the decorations. It was obvious they were mortified. As I watched them out the window, I saw Giichi wave his wife, Ai, over to get a close look at the lawn. Her eyes widened and she put her hand over her mouth. I couldn’t see what they were looking at, but I knew what it was.

Ever since last November, there’ve been webs all over the place. They’re small – only the size of a quarter – but immediately recognizable as being from the same Honduran spider that’d been accidentally imported by the chocolate shop owners. The town’s infested with them. I try not to get too close to the corners and eaves of my house because I know they’re there. Harmless, but there. Just another cruel reminder. One of many.

I haven’t touched a piece of chocolate in over 350 days. I dread having to use the scope when I’m at work in the ER. And nearly every night I dream about how it all happened, only to jolt awake with the feeling of spiders squirming through my lungs and sinuses.

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The Pilot


Like so many things, it started with a bright spot in the night sky. As I watched, it grew brighter. Closer. Before long, I could hear it. It was loud and constant; a freight train riding a persistent thunderclap. Birds were roused from their sleep and they took to the sky, soaring away from the threatening light and sound. I didn’t move, though. I had to see.

It struck the ground in the woods outside my property, perhaps a quarter mile away. A second later, a searing blast of heat and pressure singed my eyebrows and threw me to the ground. My daze, while not insubstantial, was pushed to the side by excitement and wonder.

I scrambled to my feet and ran toward the impact site. The woods were alive with fire; orange plasma licking the evergreens as the sap within boiled and hissed. I passed the charred bodies of squirrels and deer as I darted around the hottest spots of quickly-dying flames. Before long, I was there.

The crater was about as wide and as deep as a backyard swimming pool. At its center was a red rock. Bright red. Fire-engine red. Its color wasn’t from heat, I noticed with some surprise, as feathery rime crept with fractalic persistence over its exposed surface.

For a moment, there was no sound.

I peered into the crater and watched the rime crawl up the rock, wondering how ice could form so close to the still-smoldering brush and dirt alongside it. On the other side of the object, out of my view, a sliver of yellow light flashed. Before I could go around to investigate, a crack spread on the surface of the rock. Dazzling, hypnotic sparkles of yellow and green filled my eyes.

I woke up on the forest floor at some point in the morning. The fires were out. Whatever had been in the crater had crumbled to dust. Without any knowledge of how I’d lost consciousness, I felt fear tickle the back of my neck. Almost as quickly as it started, though, the feeling evaporated. All my concern evaporated. For the first time in my 40 years of life, I felt wonderful. At peace.

I followed the trail that had been left for me. It led to my garage. Impelled to write something to let the world know what had and would be happening to me, I took my phone from my pocket and started to type.

And here I am.

Here we are.

I hadn’t noticed the gossamer-thin tendril stretching from my forehead to the pilot until we’d officially met. Its eyestalks perked up upon seeing me enter the garage, and it extruded newer, thicker filaments from its bulk to greet me. They stopped at my clothes, slapping weakly and wetly against the fabric until I got the message and stripped them off. Unhindered, the finger-thick filaments, now perhaps tendrils, pushed into me.

I tasted the cosmos with my skin, and every exposed surface of my body sang in an electric choir of caressed nerves.

“Let them know how it feels,” the Pilot whispered in me.

The sensation was that of being licked by ten thousand tongues, if ten thousand tongues were the emissaries of ten billion galaxies. I felt stars blink into existence on my chest and detonate in supernovae chaos upon my hands and feet. Pulsars fondled my shoulders while civilizations discovered fire and tamed the atom on my cheeks and under my scalp.

“Have them come to us so we can let them feel,” the Pilot breathed throughout me.

I dialed 911 and sighed the words, “officer down at 133 Rural Route 5.”

It didn’t take long.

The Pilot kissed each one with its tendrils the moment they arrived. The stellar choir of skin and taste grew by nine.

The Pilot, too, had grown. It filled the entirety of the garage; its filaments and tendrils and tentacles poking and pouring out of windows and doorways. The ground grew slick with its excretions. We stood – we stand – inside, all connected. All consumed and all consuming. All feeling.

More calls have been made and our network of flesh will only increase. The Pilot is gifting us with poetry to swallow; concepts that can only be understood once they’ve been tasted. Once they’ve been digested. Once they’ve been incorporated.

It is with a fleeting sense of loss that I recall the man who I’d once been. A man who, just last night, succumbed to his fervid curiosity and ran toward the fire. Never once did he care about being burnt; never once did he worry about what may happen. And now he is here. Now I am here. Now we are here. It was his desire to learn – and now he knows everything.

The Pilot has broken through the roof of the garage and is towering above the forest. It tells me if I were to measure, it would be a mile. One mile of the Pilot stretching like a gray-green obelisk toward the cosmos which birthed it.

More sirens puncture the tranquility of our home on the outskirts of the forest. Soon, they will stop. The Pilot can now reach aircraft with its tendrils, which have grown strong enough to break through. And those bodies inside are now with us. We all taste stars – we all bathe in radiation and fling ourselves toward the expanding borders of the universe in simultaneous orgasm.

The Pilot whispers he is 20 miles tall now. Depending where you are, if you look outside, you might see it. If you do, don’t be afraid. Don’t be anxious. Just feel the one, final moment of your loneliness. Of your solitude. Then open your windows, smile, and wait.

It’s time for you to meet the universe.

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