Excerpt by Zombi Swadley
Black tar melted down the walls on either side of the alley. The smell of smoke, Gauloises, permeated the entire area; the air here was more foul than even the diseased sterility of the hospital across the street. The thick, gray tinge of the cigarette smoke wreathed the doors and windows of the buildings, a sickening halo that forbade any entrance or exit through them. A soft hiss, perhaps a heating pipe, sounded at the alley’s end. Two red lights, cut through the gray haze, beckoning toward the hospital parking lot.
Samantha seemed unaware of the tar or smoke; she had taken this nightmarish walk many times before. She focused only on the lights that indicated her freedom from her nurse’s shift. “I know I’m late. I couldn’t get away; there was a bad crash and…” she paused as the voice on the other end of the phone spoke. Long shadowed coils twisted and moved through the light created by her cellphone, slithering across the walls and back into the darkness. “You’re right. I’ll be home soon. Is she still awake?” Another pause. The shadows seemed to make a steady hiss at the light now and still Samantha kept walking. She might make it this time. “Give her a kiss for me. Hope you kept dinner warm.” The cellphone’s light disappeared.
The gray-shadowed tendrils snaked outward, coiling about every inch of Samantha’s body. The full weight of her attacker followed, shoving her face first into the ground. She sputtered and coughed around the mouthful of mud and gravel.
The gray, tar covered tentacles pulled at her scrubs, tearing her pants off of her and flipping her onto her back. She stared at it then, the smoke colored monster that seemed hazy around the edges, its hollow, black eyes dripping with tar. Its gaping mouth spewed this same bile.
Sharpened talons at the end of each tentacle cut her shirt to shreds and that tar dripping mouth covered her own. A muffled scream. The monster pulled back, its dripping mouth twisted into a vicious smile. Samantha’s mouth was still open, but only a bubble of black goo would emerge and when it popped more Gauloises scented smoke poured from it.
The tentacles were all over her, coating her in slime, mud and gravel. Every crevice and hole was filled. Samantha’s eyes closed to the horror though the back’s of her eyelids replayed the scene as if to taunt her.
Click. Her eyes fluttered open. Samantha stared down the barrel of the gun. She could see straight up the muzzle to the bullet inside; her own reflection, twisted by the bullet’s curving tip, stared back at her in horror. As it twisted through the barrel the image of herself was distorted into a blur of crimson and marrow. Samantha swung both fists at the monster and screamed at the top of her lungs.
Her fists struck only the wadded mass of the duvet cover, and though this slowed her strikes, she could not stop her screams. She felt it so thoroughly, and even now she could feel the greasy tentacles… no, fingers of her attacker sliding down her body and rending her scrubs with bare hands. Eight months and still she felt the man’s touch all over her.