's 2013 Horror Write-off:

"May Contain"

Submitted by Kiara Maher

They just keep appearing.

I've sealed up my doors and my windows. I have plugged every small, possible hole; every single possible entrance to my home is air-fucking-tight.

And they just keep appearing.

It's always at the bottom of the box, or the carton, or the goddamned tupperware container that I find them. Not all of them, though; that's the worst part. I never know. Even once I've opened a container, searched every fucking micrometer of it, eaten or drank from it and put it back, I still have to check. If I so much as look out the window and look back, I have to search again.

I don't drink milk anymore. Once was enough. The week after the first time I found one in my milk was one of the most awful I've ever had in my life; I nearly vomited every time I saw milk, and I'd brush my teeth ten fucking times a day, but the taste and the smell and the-- the texture, oh god. I donít know why in Godís name I bit down but I did and I-- I crushed it between my teeth. I have to vomit now, actually.

Alright. I think I'm okay for now.

Anyway. I was going to sue the fuck out of two different companies, or threaten to take it public, I didn't know or care at the time, whichever was quicker, I had to do something. But then I discovered it wasn't just two different brands of food, produced by separate corporations. Or three. Or five. Then, only then did they start appearing after I had already opened the container, searched it, and put it back. Like they were waiting for me to get complacent.

So, naturally, I became paranoid, as the only reasonable assumption from thereon in was sabotage. I'm not crazy, and I'm not stupid. Of course I fucking checked, I interrogated all my neighbours, my few acquaintances out here-- anyone who had been to or near my house in the last month, I questioned.

Believe me, I eat out as often as I can. But I just can't do it for every single meal; it's financially impossible.

And so, sooner or later, I have to go home. If I eat leftovers, I search the leftovers. And if I make something... if I cook something for myself, I mean. I have to search every single ingredient every time I turn my back on it.

I usually have to cry for a while after I finish making something. Even if I didn't find one, the stress, the thought of uncovering one more of them... even though I've uncovered so, so many already, each one is new and unique in some way...

It doesn't matter how few of them are in a bag of perfectly ordinary household trash; it all smells like they smell after just a few hours.

Every week I take my truck out to the lake and burn them in a nearby slough. I feel like a murderer driving there and I feel like a murderer driving back.

God, they're always so fresh. That might be the worst part. Not once have I ever seen one in a state of putrefaction. Why, then? Why do they stink so much? What the ever-loving fuck is that smell, and why do I only ever smell it when I physically, visually find them?

Sometimes they're still alive-- just barely, barely alive. Sometimes even if they shouldn't have been alive to begin with.

Those are, by far, the worst ones.

Every day I pray that I won't get another like the one that looked me in the eyes.