's 2013 Horror Write-off:

"Distance Yourselves"

Submitted by Kieran Haines

I was worried that night; to the point of insistence. The window was only open a crack but already tension filtered in as did the cold air of the night:

“Would you like me to close the window for you? It would honestly be no trouble.”Her calm manner put me at ease as she quietly shook her head and gazed back into my eyes. The opera on the open floor below us was in full swing. As it was every Saturday night. Yet no falsetto or baritone or tenor could pierce the mutual gaze set above the table that night. I wanted to reach for her hand but she would only scold me. She was embarrassed of the red blotches that had replaced her fingers. I suppose she had reason to outside, in the cold world just beyond the clear barrier next to us but in here, she had no true purpose for fearing my touch, my love. “Please, I wish to touch... No, no, I wish to hold you. This wasn’t to be a physical relationship I know; I know..” I began to stammer “But it is my wish to be near you my love. To pull you to me and tell you that I love you. Would you deny that for your own vanity?”

I brushed my hand lightly against her shoulder but she didn’t like that. Being the shitty Romeo that I am, I simply received a grunt of anger and my girlfriend shuffling in the opposite direction to me. I slowly withdrew into myself, feeling ashamed and foolish. Covering my eyes with my own disgusting form, I sighed to myself in angst. I was terrible with woman. They’re just a completely different species to men. They are much more… intimidating in today’s society than in the olden days. “The general size of the women have increased over the last decade although that could simply be down to the enhancers in the food lately and with the Order having more control in the government, the removal of suppressors from our daily supplements…”

I started rambling on to the empty chair next to me for far too long to be considered sane. By the time I had finished, I was the last person left in that restaurant, the darkness of the city outside casting a shadow and just behind it, was the perfect moon falling below the horizon. Looking around, I quickly got off my chair and started to move towards the exit. “Thank you for the food, it was delightful. I’ll be sure to come back here next week.” I laughed a little but the tension and fear still blanketed me. As I left through those doors, it only occurred to me how alone I was, even with a girlfriend. I mean, I had just spoke to a chair for the most part of an hour.

The apartment was close by, just a few blocks. With every inch I moved, I felt a strange thumping sensation from my chest. With no illumination nearby (the streetlights had been attracting too many unwanted visitors and were therefore taken down by the local Peace Preservation unit), I couldn’t check. I could only feel by rubbing my horrid slimy hands down my chest. My appendage made its descent down my sweaty torso, hoping to find nothing in its path. Unfortunately, in that one fateful move, I felt a lump. Not the harmless carcinogenic kind. It was that oh-so-publicised “talking lump.”

“Help me…” It began to mumble. My eyes opened wider than they ever did. No, this couldn’t be happening, I thought to myself. I quickly placed my hands on the mound to muffle the sound but it persisted, as if coming from a different fleshy surface. “Where am I?” I had to get home! I began shuffling even faster down that street, all the while trying to raise my own voice to block out the moans of my inhabitant. For every “I want to die” pleaded, I coughed myself into a fit. I even woke people up in the surrounding housing complexes; lights popped up from the houses like the horrible cyst that was now driving me home. For every “The pain.. It’s too much..” uttered, I would throw a rock at a nearby dustbin, creating just enough racket to block out the abomination’s misery.

For the last few houses, I resorted to acting like I had drank too much ichor from the local public house, screeching and roaring at a loud enough volume to hurt my own ears yet at a happiness that gave me the illusion of inebriation. All the while, I was thinking what could have caused this. “Beware of touchy female strangers,” I started to sing the public announcement to revive my memory, anything to give me an explanation. “They may harbour hidden dangers. Watch out for the red rash of doom or else you may have to make room for a new special friend…” The cyst even joined in at one point, uttering “Please, that song is too loud. It hurts my membranes.” Which was a jolly surprise to say the least.

The red frame of my building was just in sight. My drunken stupor started to screech to a halt before finally ending as I opened the door to my living space. I was so scared, I almost dropped the keys before I could even put it in the lock. It eventually opened and I rushed inside, making sure I wasn’t followed. Moving to my couch and collapsing in a heap, I collapsed into tears. How could everything go so wrong? Moving my eyestalks, I started to examine my torso, slime mixing with the tears within my eyes.

There it was. Splotched across my slimy body, as the cluster of red unevolved tendons and ligaments, emerging out of my body like I was an egg. The red rash stage had been breached and had now entered the animation stage; Already a face was starting to emerge from the centre of the misshapen cluster. Vestigial eyes peeked through thin layers of skin as the mound continued talking, pus dribbling from the small hole it communicated from “Can you please end me?” It writhed in agony as much as it could, trying to free itself from me. I wanted to just pull myself back into my shell and just re-do this night. I wasn’t alone any more, I had this horrid sore on me. Even as I cried and bawled, it further emerged, pushing further from my vital organs and even ripping my skin; my own green tissues being absorbed into its pulsating veins and readily developing organs. The ever growing bulge began to stretch a full 20 centimetres in front of me, to my horror.

She had infected me, my own girlfriend. No wonder she didn’t want me to move the bottom of my foot to caress her; Female molluscs can carry the disease with no ill effects which unfortunately can be passed onto males in a matter of milliseconds. The itching began now, now the skin on my back as being pulled as the growing mass proceeded to destroy all nerves on my undercarriage. I couldn’t move as the most excruciating pain began. As I was rendered skinless in the quickest time by any known Gastropodic parasite. As I was absorbed by the once extinct, all-consuming being: Homo Sapiens. In my last seconds, everything went black and excruciatingly painful; my eyes had been absorbed into the mass before my nerve receptors, to be brought back as horrid skin and bone for a being that wanted to end its existence from the moment it started.