Updated: Mar 7, 2020
“Come on, man, you do it,” I argued.
“No way. You’re already missing a finger, you do it,” Jerry argued back.
“How does that make me more qualified to pull off his mask?”
“I’m just saying, if he bites you, you’ve got a little less to lose.”
“Well maybe it’s your turn to lose a digit!”
We had been standing in the cooler for about five minutes, bickering back and forth. The blood-soaked thing in the unicorn mask had been right there with us the whole time, standing completely still like it was some sort of mix-and-match Halloween decoration.
The phone battery was getting low, and the last thing I wanted was to be stuck in the dark with whatever this was. Jerry and I both agreed that it would be a wise course of action to remove the mask and see what we were dealing with. We disagreed on how to do it.
“Alright,” Jerry said, lighting yet another cigarette. “How about this? We play paper/rock/scissors. Loser has to remove the mask.”
“Because you always pick rock. You’ve never not picked rock. And if we play and I beat you and then you remove the mask and get your hand bitten off, I’m going to feel really guilty.”
“Aww,” he said. “Thanks.”
“How about we just pull it off together on the count of three?”
We both crept closer to the unicorn. It stayed perfectly still. Together, we reached out and grabbed the mask by either side.
“Okay,” I started. “On the count of three.”
I took a deep breath. My heart was beating like crazy. I didn’t know what to expect, but no matter what it was, I was not ready. Regardless, I started the count. “One…”
“Three!” Jerry yelled, ripping off the mask.
We both took a step back.
“Oh,” I said.
It was probably the least surprising thing possible. Just good old dead Abrahm, lips slightly parted, eyes wide open, face pale and devoid of life.
Jerry sounded almost disappointed. “Well that was stupid.”
I tried talking to the dead man, even though I knew that wasn’t going to work.
“Hey, Mr. Abrahm? Can you hear me?”
A low croak escaped his mouth. At least, I thought it wasn’t going to work!
“What… what did he just say?” I asked.
Jerry dropped the cigarette onto the floor and stomped it out. “I think he said, ‘to blave.’ That mean anything to you?”
Abrahm’s head cocked back slightly as another hoarse noise began spilling out of his throat. The sound was somewhere between an annoyed cow and an angry frog. A rancid smell like vinegar and onions filled the air. Jerry visibly gagged and pulled his mask back over his mouth.
“Feel better?” he asked Abrahm.
I wasn’t expecting a response. In fact, I was very much hoping there wasn’t going to be a response. But sure enough, a response we had. It felt like he was sounding out the words to the Macarena, very very slowly. To my ears, it was just creaky gibberish, but then hand gestures got involved.
The Abrahm-bomination lifted both hands up to the handle of the knife and wrapped all of his fingers around it. I thought he was going to pull it out, but I was wrong.
He continued to mumble hard syllables as he forced the knife downward, ripping his chest wide open and spilling wet gooey intestines all over the floor in a steaming pile. Green dots the size of sugar ants skittered forth from inside his open wound cavity. They crawled away from the sliding blade and took flight, filling the air with a swarm of infant green mayflies.
The knife reached the bottom of his beer belly, but it was only a short snag. The thing continued to disembowel itself, cutting straight down through the belt and causing the pants to fall to the ground. More and more of those bugs dropped or crawled out of him. Some were even flying out directly.
At this point, I realized to my dismay that the guts on the floor were squirming, rich with life, with those baby insects. It seemed that Abrahm’s blood was thick and lousy with mayfly larvae.
I didn’t even realize that we were moving away until our backs hit the cold door. I kept my eyes on Abrahm as I banged on the door as hard as I could. My hair was itching now. Those baby mayflies were landing on me, crawling into my nose and ears and getting caught in my eyelashes. Whenever they piled too thick over the phone, I’d flick my wrist and send a miniature green dust cloud into the air that hovered and reammassed and settled onto the phone again.
Only when the knife had gone as far as Abrahm could push it did I realize I needed to start doing something if I didn’t want to end up like him or worse. I brought out the can of bug spray, yelled out “Hold your breath!” and started blasting.
The amassment of green died on impact, plummeting to the ground in thick clumps like wool being sheared from the sky. As they died, the body of Abrahm seemed to react, launching its head back and screaming in a voice like a fork scraping against a glass plate.
The noise ended abruptly as a lump the size of a gumball pressed against his neck from the inside, working its way up from his stomach until it emerged from Abrahm’s open mouth.
I stopped spraying. The game had just changed, and I didn’t want to play anymore. I turned around and banged on the door with enough force to bruise my hands, elbows, and one of my knees, but I knew it was all for naught. They couldn’t hear us out there, and the door was not opening until someone on the other side deemed it so. I slowly turned back to face what was waiting.
The thing had started evacuating Abrahm’s mouth. About three inches of needle legs, green armadillo-scales, and two bulging eyes crawled up Abrahm’s face.
“I knew it!” Jerry laughed.
“What?! What did you know? What could you possibly know?!”
The legs operated in waves like those of a millipede, and when the entire half-foot of horror had finally emerged, it left Abrahm’s mouth to the sound of a wet “thoink.” The old man’s empty shell instantly went ragdoll and collapsed in a heap on top of his guts, and the demon-millipede rolled into a ball and launched itself towards us.
Jerry went left. I went right. The phone escaped my grip, and the light hit the floor. I heard the millipede ram into the door and bounce off, and then I lost track of it.
Jerry screamed, “There!” and pointed. I turned just in time to see it scaling the wall before leaping at me. Suddenly, the floor whipped out from under my feet, and I hit a pile of human debris ass-first. I’d accidentally slipped in a puddle of Abrahm, and not a second too soon. The green bug whizzed over my head. Great!
“Yoinks!” Jerry yelled. I looked up to see that the millipede had landed and attached itself to him at stomach level. Not great!
I got to my feet and at his side as quickly as I could, but the millipede had already climbed about a foot up Jerry’s body. I tried to get a hold, but the way it moved made that impossible. Each time a leg landed, the tips hooked into Jerry, through his shirt, and into his flesh. Every time I pulled, I was pulling a hundred needles. Each step it took left one hole and made another. It crawled up Jerry’s chest and neck, leaving a trail of countless bleeding pin-pricks.
“Shit, shit, shit!” Jerry said, straining his eyes to watch the thing that had just passed his chin.
I pulled out the lighter, flicked it on, and held the flame against the green shell, but there was no effect.
“Shit, shit, shit, what’s he doing now? Aw, aw gross! Gross, gross. Gross!”
The millipede stopped and perched on top of Jerry’s face mask, almost like it was trying to figure out what it was looking at. I’d run out of good ideas by this point, so I just went with brute strength, grabbed the millipede by its head, and yanked.
I may as well have grabbed a broken glass bottle. The teeth or claws or whatever I touched ripped the flesh off my palm down to the bone. I instinctively fell to the ground and hugged my hand as it squirted blood with enough force to make me consider doing something serious about my blood pressure if I somehow survived the night. I snapped out of it and played through the pain. Jerry was going to need help if--
The millipede used its front two leg claws to slice a perfect slit over Jerry’s mask, then proceeded to crawl down his fucking throat.
He lurched forward onto his hands and knees, wincing hard for at least a minute. Then he started exhaling in forceful spurts like he was working up a hairball.