A Little Pressure (A Short Story)

“Now … you’re just going to feel a little pressure”.

But it was worse than that.

My jaw was forced open further than I thought it could go. The crunching of popping tendons competed with the crunching of the tooth being torn out. Both lost out over the sound of my screams …

Parts of my moustache were caught in the pliers, so – as the tooth was being wrenched back and forth – clumps of hair were being wrenched out of my face.

The heat of my own blood was more surprising than the taste, though – because of the sheer amount of it – it tasted different than it ever had before.

“Oh, hold your head still!”

I wasn’t even aware I’d moved it; my only focus was on the horrible crunching reverberating throughout my skull, the vicious aches slamming out from my jaw to cover the entire right side of my head.

I felt the side of my mouth split as the pliers gave one final wrench to the right. The split felt wider than the one in my bottom lip. Curiously, I expected the pain to at least lessen once the final ‘pop’ occurred as the tooth came free.

If anything, it got worse.

By this point, my mouth felt like it had been stretched out to the size of a dinner plate. Blood and drool seemed to fight each other for sheer volume, flooding over my bottom lip and dripping down onto my chest.

I think I went a little cross-eyed. Certainly, my vision was blurry. But I couldn’t say what I saw, because I was just staring off into the distance at nothing. If I say I was probably going into shock, that might give the impression that I was somehow becoming numb to everything.

I wasn’t.

I did manage to catch a glimpse of my tooth as it was pulled away. Strips of bloody gum hung from the roots, trailing threads of red saliva.

But the tooth itself looked fine.

“That wasn’t so bad, now, was it?”

My mouth was so full of blood and spit I didn’t answer. Hell, I wasn’t even breathing through it, despite the fact it was still hanging open (and felt like it’d never close properly again). I didn’t want to risk letting the back of my throat open to speak, in case I drowned in the stuff.

Still, the voice reverberated throughout my head, coming through loud and clear.

“Time for the next one … lots more to get through before we’re done … !”

Part of me sighed in resignation.

Part of me screamed.

Part of me picked up the pliers to continue the job … 

Copyright © 2007 by David Scott Aubrey
All Rights Reserved
446 Words

This short story is a work of fiction. Any and all names, characters and/or incidents are either products of my imagination or are used fictitiously. Where any such resemblance may exist to actual persons (living or dead), actual events or locales, it is purely coincidental.

Please don’t assume that my characters speak for me or carry my own opinions on various matters in any way, shape or form (though some might … you never can tell).

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Crack, Shatter and Plop (A Short Story)

WAL LIKED A good crack.

First thing he did in the morning was crack. Before he even opened his eyes, he stretched his arms out in front of him and opened his hands, pausing to savour the inevitable, before clenching his hands into fists. Multiple cracks would issue forth, filling the room, as gasses escaped from between his bones.

He’d then revolve his wrists, deriving almost ecstatic joy from the rolling thunder that came from them.

That done, Wal would place first his right hand against his left wrist and then his left hand against his right wrist. Both times, a sickening crunch gushed from his elbows.

Sitting up in bed and opening his eyes, Wal would then take on the challenging task of cracking his neck:

It was challenging, because sometimes – especially first thing in the morning – it hurt. Only a trained chiropractor should have attempted the manipulations that Wal delighted in. But Wal didn’t care.

A twist of his head – with one hand on the back of his noggin and the other under his chin – produced ten or twenty ‘good cracks’ from his neck and upper spine. Reversing the process, he got ten or twenty more.

God, Wal loved a good crack.

Wal then rubbed the sleep out of his eyes before tackling his back. He placed his fists in the small of his back and punched. The sounds that shot out could have made the weak-of-stomach vomit.

But Wal wasn’t finished …

Moving his fists up as far as he could manage, Wal gave himself another punch to the back and was rewarded with the satisfying (to him, anyway) pop of his sternum. His shoulder joints got a look-in, too, popping in unison.

Pulling his legs into a cross position, Wal then placed his right hand on the bed behind him as far as it would go and the other on his right knee. He then proceeded to twist as far as he could manage.

“Lovely, oh, lovely”, he thought, as his lower back clicked and crunched with the turn.

The opposite position produced the same results, though on the other side.

Wal then stretched his legs out in front of him and brought his knees up slightly. He hooked his left arm under his right knee. He then brought his right hand down hard on his thigh – a sudden punch.

Obscenely, his right leg popped and clicked at the pelvis, the ball shifting slightly from its socket.

Again – but this time on the left.

Crunch. Pop. Crack.

Wal then lay back down and extended his right leg into the air before bending it savagely.

‘Crack’, went his right knee.

And again on the left.

He rolled his ankles around until he was satisfied at the percussion they produced, before setting to work manually pushing against his toes for the cracks they’d give him.

Wishing he had more bones to crack, Wal figured that it was time to finally get out of bed.

He swung his feet over the side, moved to stand up …

… and every single bone in his body – sick and tired of the constant abuse over the years – instantly turned to powder within him.

Now nothing more than a pile or oozing human sludge, Wal slipped from the bed to the floor in a heap of agonized flesh and blood and internal organs and screaming nerves barely contained within his twitching skin.

Nevertheless, through the savage agony that assailed him, part of him was sad at the fact that he’d never be able to crack again.

Copyright © 2006 by David Scott Aubrey
All Rights Reserved
594 Words

This short story is a work of fiction. Any and all names, characters and/or incidents are either products of my imagination or are used fictitiously. Where any such resemblance may exist to actual persons (living or dead), actual events or locales, it is purely coincidental.

Please don’t assume that my characters speak for me or carry my own opinions on various matters in any way, shape or form (though some might … you never can tell).

The Message (A Short Story)

I CAN’T …

Oh, God … where do I … ?

If it wasn’t for my voice software, I wouldn’t be able to even post this. I can’t … I can’t type anymore …

All right.

Focus.

This is it.

My last blog posting.

How long has it been, now?

Is it three days?

Four?

I can’t remember.

It’s all such a blur …

I’ve been … I’ve been in a … I’ve been having this constant anxiety attack!

For three days!

Haven’t slept.

Haven’t been able to sleep!

They won’t let me!

They won’t let me do anything but get the message out!

I can’t believe that I forgot all about my own blog!

I’ve been so tired!

It’s horrible how exhausted constant panic makes you feel …

My blog …

It’s only just occurred to me!

I’ve only just remembered it!

It’s not a very big blog … it’s not very important.

Still … to the few hundred of you who visit regularly … well, I know you’re expecting me to talk about chrysanthemums or gladioli or roses …

It’s why you’re here.

But … you’re a few hundred more people I can get the message out to.

When I … when it first happened …

When it first happened, I tried posting on whatever forums I could get to. Whatever forums I could find.

I started trolling for them … on Google? Trying to find lists of forums.

I applied for membership to as many as I could … it didn’t matter what they were about, I posted the message there, anyway!

But … the forums were too slow … the constant application process … waiting for an email back before I could log on to them and post the message …

… too slow …

And then it hit me!

Email!

I mean, this all started with email, right?

So, I hit Google again and tried to scrounge up as many email addresses as I possibly could!

Oh, God … ! I just thought … !

My ISP … !

Oh, God … please let me have enough time …!

What if they cut off my access?

They must think I’m a spammer, or something! I mean, I’ve been sending thousands of the things in the last couple of days! That’s gotta be a violation of their Terms of Service, or something! If they …

There’s always the library, I suppose.

Though … not at this time of night …

What about an Internet Café? They might …

… no.

Not in my condition.

They’d want to call an ambulance and I couldn’t let them. Then they’d call the police! Then there’d be no way I could …

But I’ve got to get the message out!

What was I … ?

Oh …

Email.

It all started with email.

I looked on the Internet for email addresses and found some sites with lists! Thousands of them!

Still … even that only took me so far.

I started looking for freeware … open source … programs that would harvest email addresses for me! I had to find as many as I could!

And I did.

But … then I had …

… problems …

I tried copying and pasting this huge list of addresses en masse once I found them, but my computer seized so many times once I hit ‘send’ that I had to resort to copying an individual address and pasting it into the ‘to’ field then sending the message … copying an individual address and pasting it into the ‘to’ field then sending the message …

… copying an individual address and pasting it into the ‘to’ field then sending the message …

Three days I’ve been doing that!

I don’t know …

I don’t remember even getting up from the computer!

Not in three days!

I mean, I must’ve gotten a drink or gone to the toilet, or something. But I can’t remember …

It’s just been panic! Panic and …

… and pain …

Oh, God …

I have to get the message out!

I don’t know why I’m explaining all this … I mean, I’ve got to get the message out … but …
I guess I just thought that … well, since this is my last post …

I’ve got nothing left. No more ideas on where to post.

My blog is it!

I figure that … if … if people knew the story … the story behind the story … I guess they might find it more believable, somehow. I mean …

You’ll all find out soon enough …!

I just … I just wanted people to know that I’d done as much as I could.

I …

I don’t remember where I …

Oh …

See, I’d never tried finding masses of email addresses before! I’d never needed to! I mean, when I started having to do all this, I just tried typing random words into Google, clicking the link on whatever result came up. Then I just looked on the page for an email address! After all, searching on the page for ‘@’ was easy enough …

It … it occurred to me to try some hacking sites, too.

Surely, I thought, surely they’d have a way of harvesting email addresses! That way I could get the message out to as many people as possible!

But … I don’t know … I couldn’t figure them out.

There was mention of some programs, but I couldn’t find them. And I didn’t know how to go looking for them.

I guess I wasn’t ‘in‘ enough to the ‘culture‘, or something.

I thought there’d just be some easy links, you know … ?

I remember this massive panic attack just hitting me, though, because I suddenly thought, ‘Oh, God … what if I pick up a virus from one of these sites?’

What if it ruined my computer?

I couldn’t afford that!

I had to get the message out!

I went … I mean, initially … I tried ringing the media!

But none of them were interested!

Can you believe it?

Not talkback radio, not the TV stations … the newspapers wouldn’t even put me through to someone to talk to! Just the secretary, or whatever, on the front desk!

I even tried some of the magazines that would have been used to this kind of stuff, but even they weren’t interested! I thought sure the conspiracy one would be, but the guy I talked to treated me like I was a lunatic!

Can you believe that I actually tried calling the police?

They just told me to stop wasting their time!

Fine, I thought …

I’ve got the Internet.

This all started with the Internet.

That’s the way I’ll do it …

That didn’t make sense … I’m sorry.

I’m just … it’s just … I’m so tired!

But, God … my heart’s racing, I haven’t stopped sweating … and I can’t slow down my breathing! Three days …

And then there’s the … the r-reason I … the reason I cuh-can’t … tuh-type …

And the …

… the other stuff …

Sorry … I just …

Sorry.

It’s just …

… the pain …

They contacted me, you see?

know …

I sound like a lunatic …

But it’s true!

I don’t know why it was me! Don’t have any idea!

I mean, I’m not important! I’m just an ordinary guy! No wife … no girlfriend, for that matter. No kids. I live alone! I mean, I only even know a handful of people … and I don’t even talk to them all that often.

I’m … quiet!

I’m a clerk, for crying out loud!

I don’t know why they contacted me …

But they did.

And the way they did it … !

I don’t know how …

Hang on …

I’ve gotta calm down. I sound like …

God … I just thought …

How can people believe me if I don’t have some sort of … of evidence …

This isn’t making sense.

And it won’t make any sense!

have no evidence!

Well … aside from what’s …

… what’s happened to …

… muh … me …

I can’t show the original emails.

I can’t show the original emails because they deleted them!

They’re gone!

There’s no trace that they were ever there!

I mean, I’ve gone and looked! Each time, it was just there long enough for me to read it, then …

… gone!

And why do they want us to know, anyway? What kind of sadists let us know they’re coming and don’t care because they know we can’t stop them?!

God …

So tired …

Aaahhhh!!!

Oh, God …

God …

That hurt so much …

I shouldn’t have done that …

But …

… it woke me up …

I just pushed my fingers … clawed my face with my fingers …

I figured the pain would wake me up …

I never knew there could be such pain from having no fingernails …

God … I have to tell …

Okay, then.

Okay …

From the beginning …

It was … it must’ve been …

It must’ve been about three days ago …

I was … contacted.

By computer …

It was an email … an email where the ‘From’ field was blank …

I remember wondering why my anti-spam program hadn’t picked it up – hadn’t filtered it – until I took a closer look at it.

Of course it wouldn’t pick it up.

Like I said, the ‘From’ field was blank.

There was nothing in the ‘Subject’ field, either.

Without anything in either field, my spam-blocker probably couldn’t have registered that there was even an email on my system.

But … it was there.

The date and time were clear as a bell.

Even though the message is gone now – even if I don’t remember exactly when all this started … I do remember that the date and the time were there …

I remember thinking, ‘How could anyone send an email without a return address, let alone anything in the subject line?’ Because there was no return address, either. I mean, didn’t email programs disallow that kind of thing?

I don’t know.

How would I know?

I’d never even tried sending an email with a blank subject line, let alone tried figuring out how I could mask my return address.

I figured it was just some new way the spammers had figured out of getting around spam-blockers, or something.

Anyway …

I opened it …

Now, I’ve gotten some spam in my time. I mean, who hasn’t? And most of ’em were the same kind of thing. Porn. Drugs. Finance tips.

The usual crap.

But I’ve also gotten ones that had nothing but weird text in ’em. Just words strung together. The words were recognizable enough, but they didn’t make any sense. They weren’t a coherent sentence.

At first, I thought this was one of those …

I skimmed over it. I remember wondering what the hell it was all about. I remember thinking that it wasn’t one of those ‘weird text’ messages, after all. There were sentences, but what they were saying was just …

Anyway … I deleted it.

Whatever it was, I wanted to make sure it was gone, so I clicked on my ‘Trash’ folder and emptied that.

It’s funny … although I can’t remember exactly how long ago this all started (three days or four), I do remember all these little details.

I remember swearing because I emptied my trash before I’d had the presence of mind to see if there was anything in the email I could have used to add to my spam filter.

Still … too late.

It was gone.

I was all set to go back to what I was doing (updating my blog), when I heard the chime again.

New email.

And there it was again …

The same message.

The same lack of ‘Subject’ or ‘From’.

Okay … so … I knew there was a message there. And this time I decided to add it to my spam filter.

But the computer wouldn’t let me.

It kept asking me to ‘Please Select a Message’.

I remember getting a little annoyed at it all. I mean, it was taking me away from updating my blog. I’d spent the week in the library studying up on the latest in valid propagation techniques for chrysanthemums and was all set to write it up and post it. Whatever this email business was, it was stopping me from doing that.

Then I thought about my spam filter’s blacklist. I figured, ‘If I can’t automatically add it to my filter … I’ll manually add it’.

But that didn’t work, either.

I didn’t really know what I was doing.

Then it occurred to me that I might have a virus. I mean, my computer was acting weird. Emails with nothing in the ‘From’ or ‘Subject’ fields. The same email popping back up after I’d deleted it. I’d knew enough about computers to know that if my machine was acting weird, then it could be a virus.

So I looked on Google.

But, no matter how many search terms I typed in, though, no matter what pages they took me to, I just couldn’t find anything even remotely similar to the email I’d received.

There was no mention of it on virus alert Websites, nothing in hoax alert Websites …

… just … nothing.

I’d finally gotten curious enough about it all that I decided to forego my blog entry for a while. I mean, this email business was annoying, sure. But it was also intriguing … in an annoying sort of way.

So … I looked on Google to try and see if I could figure out how to determine where an email came from.

I found some interesting articles about ‘spam headers’. Apparently, spammers can fake ‘From’ addresses, so that people can’t track them down (which is actually pretty gutless).

I learned that I could get my email program to display the message headers of an email. I mean, I’d probably know that already if I’d bothered to read the manual.

But I hadn’t.

Anyway, I clicked around a bit and my email program was now showing headers.

I learned that – apparently – the ‘Received’ lines could tell me where a message came from.

‘Apparently’ being the operative word, because there was nothing in the ‘Received’ lines.

My own email address was in the ‘To’ section, but there was absolutely nothing in any line underneath that. All that was there was ‘Received’ … and the rest was a blank. Not even any information about what ‘routers’ the email may have passed through (whatever they were).

Just a blank.

And … when I looked a little closer … even most of the sections after that were all blank.

The ‘Message ID’.

The ‘X-Mailer’.

The ‘Date’ was correct.

And so was the ‘Time’.

But the ‘From’ section was (of course) empty.

The ‘To’ section had my email address (like I said) … but the ‘Subject’ line was blank.

There was information in the ‘Type’ section, but this looked to me like nothing more than information to the computer on how to display the message, because it had the word ‘text’ buried among everything else there.

And I didn’t even know what ‘Content-Transfer-Encoding’ was all about.

I remember getting tired of the whole thing, then. Curious or not, I really just wanted to work on my blog entry.

So (once again) I deleted the message and emptied the trash.

I decided to run a virus scan, too. And I figured I could do that while I went down the road to get some tea.

When I got back, the test had finished.

No Virus Has Been Detected.

‘Good’, I thought, and sat back down to get to work.

And the email was back.

growled at it and deleted it, same as before.

emptied the trash and sat back to look at the screen …

… and it returned.

So I deleted it again.

Then emptied the trash.

Again.

And again the chime informed me that I had email!

‘God’, I thought.

‘Fine … I’ll just print the thing out and show it to the tech guys at work. See what they think of it’.

Which was good in theory, except for the fact that nothing printed.

The computer said it was printing the message. And I looked in the ‘Printer Properties’ information, which told me that there was a document printing …

… but nothing was coming through the printer but blank paper.

‘Fine’, I thought.

‘I’ll reply‘.

Now, all the Websites I’d looked at about spam and emails and such said to never reply to spam, because it only lets the spammer know that your email address is active. But this was really starting to annoy me, and a sarcastic reply to whoever it was might just make me feel better. If nothing else.

Of course, I didn’t think that it would send (what, with no return address and suchlike).

Still, I fired off a quick, sarcastic reply, and was surprised when the computer told me that it had been sent successfully!

Nevertheless, I expected to later get an email back from my ISP’s mail ‘daemon’ saying that the mail could not be delivered.

In any case, I felt a little better because of my act of petty revenge.

Even if it probably wouldn’t work.

And then …

… and then the fish happened …

That doesn’t make sense …

What happened was …

I remember this sound …

This small hissing noise.

I was trying to work out where it was coming from …

It was only this small hissing noise … but it was getting louder.

And then there were these … bubbling sounds.

Just a few at first, but then really getting going. Like water boiling in a saucepan … but louder …

… like more water than would fit in a saucepan …

Then the smell hit me …

I knew then that it was something to do with the fish tank. It was this smell of … of salt, somehow (even though it wasn’t a saltwater tank) … of boiled plant-matter and rocks …

… and something else.

I got up and went into the lounge room, but I stopped before I managed to get too near the fish tank …

There was no reason for it … there was no heater in the tank (goldfish don’t really need one).

But still …

… my goldfish was being boiled alive right in front of me.

I didn’t relate the two events – the spam and my goldfish being boiled alive – until later.

My feet started shuffling forward again, even though I could see just fine what was happening without the need to get any closer, really. The water was outright boiling in front of me as I approached, and I knew that it wasn’t some sort of malfunction with the air stone (not that that could account for the mass of bubbles in the tank), because I could feel the heat growing as I moved closer.

When I’d nearly reached the tank, the boiling suddenly stopped. Not petered out. Just stopped. As though someone had lifted a pot of boiling water from the stove.

The water was full of … particulate matter … whirling about in the eddies caused by the boiling. But through it I could see something else …

Scales floating around the tank and sinking …

… and what was left of my goldfish.

Waterlogged flesh that seemed somehow whiter than before.

I recognized cooked fish when I saw it.

I was reasonably upset. I mean, Rex was just a goldfish, but I’d had him for nearly ten years.

Gingerly, I reached down to poke at Rex’s remains, but I stopped just before I could touch the still-steaming water.

Thinking there had been some sort of electrical problem with the light above the tank somehow, I turned it off at the wall.

There was this huge bang as the tank cracked with the heat all of a sudden and boiling water, the remains of Rex, cooked aquarium plants and hot sand all burst onto the floor, sending this steaming wave of heat and smell throughout the house.

If I hadn’t been off to the side turning off the switch at the wall …

For … I don’t know … half a minute, or something … I just stood there, looking at it all. The heat and the smell and the humidity all pushed up at me. My eyes were watering from it. But also because I was looking at this little boiled lump on the carpet that used to be Rex.

And then I heard the computer.

The chime again.

More email.

But this one was different.

Oh … same lack of information about who it was from …

… but the content was different.

Do as we say.

“I’ve got neither the time nor the inclination to deal with this crap”, I told the sender (well, the computer screen, anyway), and turned around to head back into the lounge to see what I could do about cleaning up …

… see what I could do about figuring out just why it happened, too. How …

I hadn’t gone more than two steps when the computer chimed again.

The water was an example.

Do as we say.

Spread the message.

Of course, now I saw a connection. I didn’t understand it, but I saw a connection. Somehow, the email and what had just happened with Rex …

I felt the first twinge of fear …

But I felt angry, too. Was this some sort of some sort of hoax?

But … how could anyone do that? How could anyone …

It was like one of those movies where there’s a person on the phone and he knows what the girl in the house is doing because he’s in there with her …

I started looking through my house …

The lounge and dining room and kitchen are all open plan, so it was easy to see there was nobody there. I looked in one bedroom, then the other, then the laundry and the bathroom. Then the toilet.

Nothing.

My only clue was the email …

The water was an example.

Do as we say.

Spread the message.

I got a response before, despite the fact that there was no return address. So I send a reply back again. And this time, my language was a bit more … colourful.

I don’t normally use such heavy language, but I was beginning to feel a bit stressed.

Almost instantly, whoever it was sent a reply back …

Spread the message!

I replied with two words that weren’t very nice …

… and every houseplant I owned burst into flame.

I don’t know how it happened, but I had more than a few, in most of the rooms in the house. Fortunately, I’ve also got a fire extinguisher, and I grabbed it and ran around madly putting them all out.

With smoke and steam and clouds of foam or dust or whatever from the extinguisher all over the place, I stood there wondering just what the hell was happening.

It wasn’t some sort of electrical fault. It wasn’t some sort of spontaneous combustion. I mean, I’ve heard of potting mix that can do that, but I didn’t use that kind. There simply wasn’t any logical reason why every single plant I owned would just …

An email chime …

Spread the message.

I dropped the extinguisher and stepped over to the computer. I’d read descriptions in novels before about people walking with ‘wooden steps’ because they were afraid.

Now I knew what the writers had meant.

I reached over and started tapping the keys with shaking hands.

“Please … who is this?”

I hit send.

You have been toldOur message must be sent out.

I spoke at the monitor, then – at the computer.

Of course, I didn’t expect an answer …

… but I got one.

“But … why pick me? Why … “

And I felt … I felt my insides heat up …

The pain …

I’d never felt anything like it.

I fell on the floor and just shook with the pain. I was convulsingFrothy spit was throwing itself out of my mouth.

I couldn’t even scream.

And then …

… just as suddenly as it had happened …

… it stopped.

Now, this was all happening so fast – everything was such a blur – that I was … well, I was overwhelmed.

But I’m not a fool.

I could see the connection for sure now. The connection between … between the … the worsening events …and the demand for me to get their message out.

So …

… I tried to leave.

Dreading another attack of whatever it was that had caused that agony, I shuffled over to the front door.

I reached out …

… and the door handle melted just as my hand touched it.

I can’t describe just how much …

… just how much it hurt …

In a panic – without knowing what I was doing – I headed for the front window, looking as I did so at the bubbling globs of flesh being flung from my hand to the carpet by the shaking of my hand that the pain caused.

With my other hand, I tried to open the window …

… but the lock didn’t seem to work.

I didn’t know what I was doing – I was moving on autopilot – as I picked up the small side-table near my recliner in one hand and tried to smash the window with it.

The table bounced off the window and smashed me right in the mouth, instead.

And there was nothing – not so much as a mark – on the window.

It wasn’t ‘special’ glass. I knew that. I’d paid for it.

It was just glass.

It should have broken and I should have been able to get out.

But it hadn’t …

… and I couldn’t.

The police …

I tried to call the police.

When I picked up the phone, there was a normal dial tone once I’d held the receiver up to my ear …

… for about a second and a half.

Then the most ear-splitting (I realize how that sounds but it’s true) sound I’d ever heard came through the line.

I fell to the floor, shaking.

What was happening?!

My ear felt wet.

With the hand that wasn’t burned, I reached up to my ear …

My fingers came away covered with blood.

I wasn’t game to use my mobile.

But I did know that I could send out a call for help with email …

I ran over to the computer and typed as fast as the pain would let me …

As soon as I touched the mouse to hit ‘send’ I found myself flat on my back.

I’d felt jolts of electricity before. In school there was some sort of generator that you could wind that produced electricity. I’d also touched an electric fence (for cattle) back when I was young and stupid.

knew what electricity felt like.

I remember I just lay there, whimpering. I was looking around wildly …

… waiting for something else to happen.

I was racked with more pain than I’d ever known, and it had come in less that two or three minutes …!

But I noticed above it all the aches in my fingers …

And in my mouth.

With the hand that wasn’t burnt, I dry washed my face, running it up into my hair in fear and exasperation …

… and pulled out some clumps.

It was while I was looking at these that I noticed my fingernails …

They were coming off.

When I started to speak – to say, “What the … ?” – I could feel …

… I could feel a looseness in my mouth …

Wisps of bloody hair between my shaking fingers, fingernails dropping off before my eyes, I nevertheless reached up to my mouth …

… and when I pushed against it …

… I felt some of my teeth plop back onto my tongue.

I opened my mouth to scream …

… but all that came out was a wheeze …

… and blood …

… and teeth.

I don’t remember standing up and running to the bathroom, but I do remember suddenly seeing myself in the mirror.

Blood was coming from my mouth, my ears, my nose.

From the corners of my eyes.

Instinctively, I reached out to turn on the tap. Somehow, some part of me figured that water would cool the pain …

… but all I got for my trouble was another email chime.

Spread the message.

Or it will grow worse for you.

Worse?”, I screamed at the computer. “How can it possible get any worse?!”

And it answered me … by email … without me having sent a reply email.

Truly scared now in the face of the unknown – more frightened that I’d ever felt in my life, actually – like a robot, I sat at the computer …

and did as they told me to.

And now – three days later … three days of mopping blood from every orifice when I had to go to the toilet – three days of swallowing blood along with the few sips of water I’d somehow managed to keep down – three days of vomiting blood, losing all my hair, feeling blood cake on me, watching my fingernails completely drop off and the remainder of my teeth fall out – three days of panic and terror and anxiety and fear and desperation and …

I came to the last thing I could think of to do …

My blog.

And now … now I can barely speak, my throat’s so raw.

Now … now I’m having trouble even seeing the screen …

Now … I’m having trouble even breathing …

The message:

They said that they were the original creators of humanity.

That mankind began as an experiment.

But enough time had gone by.

And now the experiment was over.

And it was time to collect the results.

They’d arrive in a little over three days, they said, to collect such specimens of humanity as they deemed fit.

Thousands – perhaps millions – would be collected from all over the planet for vivisection.

There would be no pattern to the collections – mothers would be taken from children, husbands from wives, sisters from brothers, children from parents – at random – from all corners of the globe.

Those chosen would simply appear to disappear.

I don’t know why they told me to spread the message. I don’t know why they decided to even send a message in the first place. I don’t even know who they are.

But I do know that they must be more sadistic that I can possibly imagine …

… and more powerful.

They’re telling us this … they’re letting us know …

… and they don’t care if we’re prepared for them or not …

… because they know that nothing we can do will stop them.

God …

I’m amazed that I can still think now … now that my body – my mind – is failing me … like it’s been steadily doing – I realize now – since I’d received the first email …

Nevertheless, now that the message is finally out …

… I can try and figure out just how long it’s been since everything started …

… but …

… but now I can hear …

… distantly …

… through my impossibly unbreakable windows and my inexplicably sealed doors …

… the screaming begin outside.

Copyright © 2007 by David Scott Aubrey
All Rights Reserved
5,336 Words

This short story is a work of fiction. Any and all names, characters and/or incidents are either products of my imagination or are used fictitiously. Where any such resemblance may exist to actual persons (living or dead), actual events or locales, it is purely coincidental.

Please don’t assume that my characters speak for me or carry my own opinions on various matters in any way, shape or form (though some might … you never can tell).