“Well, that’s all we have time for today. We need to pray and accept communion.”
Terry joined his mom, kneeling on the pillows set in front of the shrine.
“Dear Lord, we thank you for your blessings and for watching over us throughout the day. We thank you for protecting us from the darkness and for providing sustenance and light. We accept this communion that you have sent and pray that you continue to find us worthy. In the name of the Lord, Almighty, Amen.”
With the prayer finished, she pulled back the curtain, revealing the converted breadbox. Inside, on a cushion of what used to be their best towels, sat the quivering mound of clear jelly.
It trembled even more as his mother picked up the knife that sat on the table, and she reached in, carving a small piece out of one side. She held it aloft, tilted her head back and let it slide from the blade to her tongue.
Terry felt a pang of guilt as she reached in for another small slice. He tilted his head back and opened his mouth the same as he had for the past two months, when the mass had fallen from the sky at her feet. His mother had hailed it as the ambrosia, a gift from God himself.
The piece slid onto his tongue, quivering, as if it didn’t want to be eaten. When he bit down, it ruptured like a grape, spilling across his teeth before he swallowed its juices.
Light-headed, all Terry’s cares and stresses lifted right off his shoulders. The feeling spread through his chest, down his limbs, to the very tips of his fingers and toes.
His mom already lay on the floor, twitching; her eyes rolled back in her head, and the smile on her face one of indescribable ecstasy. Terry lay across the pillows, to not collapse on the concrete of the basement floor.
He drifted through the stars, watching planets and galaxies drift past. Some were green, some red, and some were little balls of thunderclouds, which lit up randomly in different spots like flashing Christmas lights.
He floated through the void to a large black planet. He landed with a deep sense of foreboding: of being watched by something evil, hungry. The landscape was desolate and barren in every direction.
The ground itself was soot, and it shifted underneath him, splitting between his feet. Terry hopped to one side of the opening crevice, falling to his knees as it continued to move. Inside was a giant glass-like orb, within which what looked like a giant black hole searched back and forth. It stopped, partially underneath the edge Terry stood on.
The planet had an eye with a pupil large enough he could have dove into it. It was watching him.
Terry ran from its sight, though he was sure it could still feel his every footstep.
His foot caught in a small hole. As he pushed himself up, he found more with his hands; they were everywhere, almost invisible in the planet’s black skin.
One of them puckered, swelling up like a small volcano. Then a clear glob of mucus oozed out of it. The hole smoothed out again, leaving the glob quivering on the surface. More globs poured out of the ground around him. One swelled out of the hole his foot was caught in.
Pain burned. The jelly ate its way through his shoe, through his sock, through his skin. He turned away as the blood seeped into the clear ooze, turning it red. The other globules all moved, quivered, and inched their way along. All toward him.
The pain crawled up his leg, the ooze leaving nothing of his foot but white bone.
Then, he was screaming on the pillows in the basement, his jeans soaked with piss. His mom stood over him, the left corner of her lip tight, and her eyes narrow.
“You were punished, weren’t you? For not paying attention.”
Shaun Horton is the author of the sci-fi/horror novels Hannah and Class 5, as well as the cryptid horror Cenote. He writes from the beautiful pacific northwest, crammed between the city of Seattle and the woods of the Olympic National Forest.
He’s been a life-long fan of Horror, starting with seeing Gremlins at 4 years old. Years later, he discovered the work of Stephen King, keeping himself up at night reading the tome which is IT. Since then, he’s continued expanding the interest through authors such as Dean Koontz, movies like Nightmare on Elm Street and Alien, and the video game series of Dead Space and Resident Evil.
Featured Photo Credit: Scary Space by gomez1976