Hey folks, it’s October, one of my favorite times of the year! I get to embrace all the horror that I love so much. To celebrate, I’m taking part in a fun challenge this month hosted by my friend Lynne Hansen titled: 31 Days of Art Challenge 2020 (#31DaysofArt2020). One of the things I love about this challenge is that it can be applied to anything: poetry, flash fiction, photography, cosplay — you name it, somebody is trying it!
For today I wrote a flash fiction piece titled The Scab. Check it out below!
Warnings for gore and lots of swearing! Let’s just say I had a good time writing this one!
The scabbed wound was long, running up her forearm and ending at her elbow. If she hadn’t caught sight of it as she stepped out of the shower, she never would have known it was there. Verna dragged damp fingers over the jagged line, probing it. Her skin puffed up around it, but it didn’t hurt at all.
“What the fuck did I do to myself?” Her mind poured over every fumble, trip, and bump over the last few days. None of it could explain the black scab that ran up her forearm like a jagged bit of charcoal on her pasty skin.
Mesmerized by the strange wound, she reached down to scratch at the bottom near the dry skin of her elbow. But then her phone buzzed. That was her thirty-minute warning alarm. She was going to be late for work… again.
“Shit!” She pulled on her long-sleeved cardigan over a camisole and yanked on her dress pants. She would have to worry about it later.
Late to work and late to leave meant it was dark by the time Verna stepped through the front door of her tiny two-story home. Her orange tabby cat, Oliver, was at her feet in an instant.
“What the heck is up with you?” She asked, bone tired from the day, before realizing she was in such a hurry earlier she forgot to feed him.
“I’m sorry, Olls.” She dropped her purse near the front door and took off her shoes as she walked. The bra was the next to go, hung on the handle of the closet as she made her way into the kitchen. She normally was far more careful and organized. She hated making a mess, so she knew in the back of her mind how unusual this was, but she couldn’t help it. Work had drained her far more than normal.
She opened a can of cat food without even bothering to put it into Oliver’s bowl. The cat looked confused as she placed the can on the ground near the normal food bowls, the jagged lid sticking up from the can.
“Here you go, handsome.”
He trotted over, intent on his food, then froze. Instead of going for the cat food, Oliver sniffed her arm, right where the strange scar hid beneath her sleeve. His eyes went wide as he arched his back up.
“Olls, what’s gotten into you?”
Oliver screeched and swiped at her arm. She felt pain spread out just above her wrist and hissed in a breath, pulling her hand away in an instant. Oliver ran off, completely ignoring the fresh cat food.
“Damn it, Oliver, I don’t need your bullshit tonight!” She pulled up her sleeve to see three claw marks crossing the strange scar and slowly puffing up and blossoming with blood. With more cursing, she mounted the stairs and pulled off the cardigan. She pulled out some cotton swabs, alcohol, and Neosporin. It wasn’t the first time Oliver had scratched her, but that wasn’t like him at all. He was a very food motivated cat and a lap cat. He never intentionally attacked her. Would she need to take him to the vet? Get him checked out? Or was he just being a weird, hungry cat?
She turned to the mirror, alcohol soaked cotton swab in hand, and froze. Blood seeped out from the claw marks Oliver had left, except where he had clawed the scar. It bled black and slow, like a thick batch of syrupy coffee. She blotted it with the cotton and pulled it back to see blood with a thick splotch of black in the middle.
Her heart began throbbing in her ears. Instead of tackling the cat scratch, she worked on the scar, picking away at the scab inch by inch, using the mirror to see. As she went, black syrupy tendrils of gunk slid down her arm and dribbled into the sink. The scar didn’t end at her elbow like it had that morning, it went up her bicep, over her shoulder, and up her neck.
Verna had to get the black stuff out of her. She had to stop it from spreading farther. Even as she worked, picking off each scab, she saw the scab moving up her neck, creeping toward her jawline.
It didn’t hurt. It didn’t make her bleed, but she knew that if she didn’t stop it, she didn’t know what it would do. If it reached her brain, it might even kill her.
Finally, she reached the end. Even though the black sludge covered her and smelled terrible, she smiled as she yanked off the final bit of scab.
The pain was excruciating, and the scab didn’t come off as easily as the rest had. She adjusted her grip and pulled harder. It was attached to something bigger. Slowly as she pulled she saw the rest of it emerge from the places where she had removed the scab. It was an oily worm that was the color of a leech, and it didn’t seem to end. She pulled on it more and more, moving down her neck, across her shoulder, and down her bicep. Blood poured out of the wound as she removed its wriggling, slippery body from her skin.
She finally had all of it wrapped around her hand, and she did the first thing she thought of: she flung it into the sink and turned on the hot water. It was trying to get away, to climb back into its cocoon, back to its host, but she wouldn’t let it. She grabbed a makeup brush and shoved it into the drain, pushing and breaking its fragile body, but that made it thrash more.
She started crying, feeling fat tears go down her cheeks as her heart thundered in her chest. The makeup brush was slippery in her hands from the gunk and her own blood. Could she even kill the thing? What if it got back inside her again?
Oliver pounced up on the countertop before she even noticed he was there, and he hissed at the worm. It shuddered, then dove into the drain, far faster than Verna realized it could move. She pulled the drain closed, crying, and whimpering at the pain that tore through her.
With a purr, Oliver nuzzled her good arm, careful not to touch the blood or the gunk.
“You’re a good boy, Olls,” she whispered, trying to catch her breath. “You saved Mom today, you know that?”
Oliver gave her a look like: “Damn right I did.”
If you enjoyed this and want to read more, make sure to subscribe to my blog! Just click the Follow button on the side menu (or at the bottom if you’re on mobile). I’m planning on posting the short pieces here on my blog every day. I’m definitely aiming to create mostly horror stories this month just cause short and flash fiction format is so perfect for it!
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