Later that night, when he lay down to sleep, Bill felt the first tremble.
His instinct was to sit up, but the fat around his middle prevented it. He rolled to his side, sliding his legs out of bed and using them to lever himself up. He was sure he’d felt a tremor. Like something pushing at him from the inside.
Gas, maybe. I shouldn’t be surprised with the shit I’ve been eating lately.
He reconsidered his vow to never return to the doctor when a searing pain lanced across his abdomen, causing him to nearly black out. He looked down at his naked gut and could see a thin red line from his sternum leading down beyond the horizon. Reminiscent of the seam a gravid woman’s stomach displayed, like a bean pod ready to release its vine. This was a cleaner line, however, and not the stressed skin of a perfectly normal human. Another shock of burning pain brought a body wide sweat and spittle dribbled from his lips. When he brought himself to look down again, nausea gripped the back of his throat, muscles seized, the contents of his stomach wobbled.
Red blossomed across the expanse of his skin, and he opened like a zipper, the flesh of his body uncoupling itself. Fat and veins, muscle tissue, bone—all of it parted with a sucking crack. Effluvium sloshed and blossomed in his nose as the gap widened. He gaped, unable to speak, unable to move, his body taking on a wholly unnatural rigor.
The pain stopped, lethargy gripped his limbs, and he slumped to his side in a pool of moonlight. For a moment, he happily greeted death, to never experience this again. Instead, he lay paralyzed, a beached whale, slopped onto the floor of his bedroom, an electric fear shocking his brain. He expected a river of blood and internal organs to spill across the carpet.
Where’s the blood? He fought furiously to remain calm and think the situation through as the edges of his vision darkened.
Time took on a muddy quality with no clocks in his vision, only the gloom of a darkened apartment. When his sightline shifted like he’d been pushed, he felt a new sense of disorientation as if fifty pounds were being lifted out of him.
Another jerk, and a hand flopped onto the carpet in front of his nose. Hand was the best he could come up with to comprehend the bony, clawed fingers slowly digging into the carpet and pulling against his weight. An inky shoulder slick with his life’s fluids appeared: hirsute, black skin, greased slick from being inside his belly. As the last of the creature pulled out of him, long feet and claws to match. A stubby tail passed in his vision.
The thing crawled a short distance and stopped, sniffing the air before pressing itself to its hind legs, stretching to its full height, and standing torollits shoulders. Its joints popped and crackled.
The squatter stiffened, then looked over its shoulder, directly into the eyes of its former home. It turned. Multiple teats led up to a malformed chimp head, but its ears were pointed, too high on its head, and they swiveled like a dog’s. The nightmare of a face had hollow eyes, milky globes devoid of pupils under a thick brow. She grinned at Bill, needle-teeth like crystal shards crammed into a mouth too large for her head. When she turned and stalked from the room, he wanted to sigh with relief, but remained glued to the floor.
Born and raised in Boston, Massachusetts, Errick Nunnally served one tour in the Marine Corps before deciding art school would be a safer—and more natural—pursuit. He strives to develop his strengths in storytelling and remains permanently distracted by art, comics, science fiction, history, and horror. Trained as a graphic designer, he has earned a black belt in Krav Maga/Muay Thai kickboxing after dark. Errick’s successes include: the novel, Blood For The Sun; an upcoming novel with ChiZine Publications; a comic strip collection, Lost in Transition; and first prize in one hamburger contest. The following are some short stories and their respective anthologies: Penny Incompatible (Lamplight, v.6, #3); Jack Johnson and The Heavyweight Title of The Galaxy (The Final Summons); Welcome to the D.I.V. (Wicked Witches); Harold At The Halfcourt (Inner Demons Out); The Last Apology (A Dark World of Spirits and The Fey); You Call This An Apocalypse? (After The Fall);and A Hundred Pearls: PROTECTORS 2 (stories to benefit PROTECT.ORG). He also has two lovely children and one beautiful wife.