Spore

jaroslav-maly-clathrus-archeri-2008

“Clathrus archeri” by Jaroslav Maly (2008)

Continuing the theme of horror for this glorious Halloween season, here’s a short story to tingle your spine and keep you awake at night.  Written on the 10th October 2016.


Spore

Barric gawked at the length of flesh protruding from the dirt. It had sprouted in a matter of seconds, he’d watched it with his own eyes. What was it? Some kind of meat plant? The man gave it a cautious kick, not entirely sure what he expected to accomplish by doing so. The pink thing wobbled back and forth violently like a bobblehead, and then it exploded.

Barric leapt back aghast as a thick luminescent cloud of yellow spores engulfed him and everything in the near vicinity. The fleshy thing fell over and seemed to deflate, then turned grey and quickly shrivelled up into a gnarled husk.

What had just happened? Barric began to panic. Did it have something to do with the mysterious factory that had sprung up a few months ago which now loomed over the town, belching out its never-ending storm of yellow vapour? Nobody had mentioned anything about odd tumours of flesh growing out of the ground before.

Barric was a nervous man at the best of times. Now standing dusted head to toe in yellow spores he felt another breakdown coming on. But before he could pull out his medication, his entire body was overtaken by violent spasms and he collapsed onto the path. An intense pain crept up his spine, he could feel it snaking its way up each vertebrae one by one. Then it entered his brain. It was soon replaced with a general numbness which, try as he might to fight against it, gradually caused him to lose consciousness.

Upon awakening some time later, Barric beheld a large crowd. Most of the townsfolk had gathered around him and were staring intently into his eyes. “He’s come to!” shouted a large woman, pushing her spectacles down. Barric tried to answer, tried to ask for help, but he couldn’t move a muscle. Only his eyes remained under his control, he hoped the people could see the fear in them and would do something. But they didn’t. Instead they huddled closer, their expressions depicting both amazement and disgust. What were they so intrigued about, wondered Barric.

Suddenly, he heard a tearing sound. It was followed by the crowd jumping back, gasping. Some began vomiting. Something was happening to him, he couldn’t see it or feel it but he could hear it, and judging from the people’s reactions, it wasn’t anything good.

The tearing stopped, and a second later there came a dull splat from somewhere below him. Barric’s vision suddenly dimmed. More people vomited, many now turned their backs or shielded their eyes. Barric’s own eyes bulged from their sockets, trying desperately to see down below, trying to glimpse what horrors were happening to him.

A new noise met his ears now. It sounded like slithering, or of something slimy and large brushing against something wet.

Then he finally saw it. It rose in front of him, blocking his view of the disgusted crowd. It was some kind of thick tendril or stalk. Grotesquely pink and fleshy, it looked like a larger version of the thing he’d seen emerge from the ground a short while before, only much meatier and thicker. It grew and snaked its way up past his head, stretching high into the polluted skies above.

How tall it became, Barric never knew, for in the next moment a man in the crowd leapt forward with a tree branch and stuck at it with all his might. The paralysed man wanted to scream out, wanted to warn him, but it was too late. The lurid thing began shaking from side to side, and before the man with the branch could strike again, it burst like a balloon.

A shower of yellow spores peppered the crowd, washing them with lemon horror. Their aghast faces were the last thing Barric saw before his world finally went black.

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