Wednesday, November 11, 2009

Entourage, by Melanie Avila

The sludge oozed around my feet, a syrupy slime that congealed around my ankles, chilling me from the inside out. It was getting higher. Just moments before the tips of my toes were still dry, but I could no longer see them through the muddy goop that seeped beneath the door.

The door.

I rested my hand against the splintered wood, then traced my fingers along the rusted metal band that held the planks in place. How long would it hold? The others whispered that nothing could keep it out, that there was no use hoping for escape.

I stepped closer to the door and peered through a small hole near the top, fighting the sludge that clung to my feet and pulled me back down like it didn't want me to see what was coming. An ocean drowned the streets and anything unfortunate enough to be out there when the manhole covers first erupted like a rolling boil, spewing the thick black—what exactly was this? It looked like molasses—sludge into the air. Except it was ice cold.

"Is it bad?"

I turned my head at his raspy voice but ignored his question. He didn't want to know what was out there. Didn't believe it anyway.

A scream made me turn away from the door. The two women huddled against the far wall were scrambling over each other, reaching for the pipe that ran along the length of the ceiling. The younger woman grabbed her friend's shoulder and, with a quick yank to free her feet from the muck, leapt for the ceiling and grasped the pipe.

A deep groan echoed through the dank room.

He turned to face them. "It won't hold you."

The young woman's eyes darted his way, then back to the other woman. "Yes it will. Jump, Matusa."

Matusa swatted at her legs and a tremor ran through her corpulent frame. She looked up at the younger woman and slowly shook her head. Tears slid down her cheeks.

"You can."

It didn't make a difference to me. Dangling from a pipe would only delay the inevitable; fighting for five extra minutes wasn't how I planned to die.

Matusa tried to jump but the sludge had her by the knees.

It was rising faster.

Panic rocked through me and I was sure my heart would stop—it wasn't meant to beat this fast. I glared at him, still smug against the wall, and fought to control my breathing when my skin began to crawl.

I looked down at my own legs, but it wasn't my skin that was crawling.

Tiny white creatures swarmed over my pants, undulating upwards in an eerie dance that mesmerized me. Now I understood their screams. They wormed through the hole in the door and I snapped into action, beating my legs, my torso, my arms, desperate to get them off me.

I eyed the pipe. Maybe five extra minutes was worth it.

But it was too late. The powerful sludge pulled at my hips, trapping me next to the door. I cast a desperate glance at him, but it was too late for that, too.

The terrible moaning grew louder and the pipe shattered, sending slivers of metal raining into my flesh, into the sludge.

Unable to move—even my arms were trapped now—I watched the blood trickle down my chest as if it was someone else standing here, some other fool who didn't run when she had the chance. If only he had believed. The metallic odor reached the creatures and they moved faster, devouring the warm liquid that was so different from the muck that carried them here.

The screams began again but I couldn't tear my eyes away from what was happening to me. Was this how they died? I had assumed they drowned, smothered by the sludge—no one said anything about creatures feasting on their flesh. But how could they? There would be no way for that part of the story to pass on to the others.

An unnatural brightness filled the room, and the dark walls became white as the creatures searched for food.

I could hear him choking, gasping. Trying to speak. His voice came out a hiss. "S-s-s-s…sorry."

But it was too late.


Natasha Fondren said...

I'm actually afraid to read this, Melanie. I'm physically afraid, LOL. You said maggots when you were writing it.

I'll be back.

Natasha Fondren said...

Okay, Melanie. I had to read this in three pieces. That was absolutely terrifying. Terrifying. Um, terrifying times ten thousand.

Vivid. Was this a reference to the apocalypse? I'm only asking because I had to read this lightly, it scared me that much, and I can't read it again. I'm dead serious. It was terrifying.

Erica Orloff said...

TERRIFYING!!!!!!!!!!!! I mean kick-ass terrifying.

WELL DONE!!!!!!!!!

Melanie Avila said...

Really? You guys aren't just saying that? This is my first attempt at anything scary and I wasn't sure how it would come across.

Sadly, it was inspired when I found maggots all over my kitchen floor the morning I wrote this.


LurkerMonkey said...


Very creepy! Any story in which maggot-filled slime fills a room is good in my book. And yes, it was gross and scary. And you said you couldn't write scary stuff ...

And I hesitate to ask: why did you have maggots all over your kitchen floor?

Melanie Avila said...

Lurker, I surprised myself.

I think they had something to do with the garbage. We eat a lot of produce, it's hot... if you don't take the garbage out every day bad things can happen.

Natasha, I forgot to answer you earlier. I wasn't thinking anything about the apocalypse or anything like that -- this all came out of my head. Well, except for inspiration from The Blob (which I haven't seen).

E. Flanigan said...

I agree — this is suspenseful and scary!

One small issue .... there were a few parts I had to read over again because I was confused. Like this one:

"Tiny white creatures swarmed over my pants, undulating upwards in an eerie dance that mesmerized me. Now I understood their screams. They wormed through the hole in the door and I snapped into action, beating my legs, my torso, my arms, desperate to get them off me."

I had some pronoun confusion with the use of they/their referring to both the creatures and the people (i.e., the creatures aren't screaming, the people are.) A tiny thing.

Very icky story. Maybe you should leave produce in the trash overnight more often?!

Melanie Avila said...

E - I meant to fix that, gah! Thank you for pointing it out for me.

My husband is under strict orders to stop slacking off in the garbage removal.

Jude Hardin said...

Some creepy imagery here, Melanie, but I didn't think the writing itself was as strong as what I've seen from you before. I guess there wasn't much time to edit, having to deal with a house full of maggots and all. ;)

Melanie Avila said...

Thanks Jude. I know what you mean. After reading it here I feel like there are a lot of places I could tighten it up.

And yes, that was a hectic day. We also purged the dog's ears of giant ticks. Be thankful they didn't appear in the story too.

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