's 2013 Horror Write-off:

" The Root Headed One "

Submitted by Hisham H.

A man in his late twenties goes to the beach, wades into the water, and is stung in the foot by an unknown creature.

All that remains from his assailant is a needle with a loose, glassy, empty capsule. He loses the remains of the creature as a wave crashes into him.

The foot soon swells, and alarmed at the seemingly allergic reaction he rushes to the emergency. He is given emergency care, and all tests are negative for any sort of venom or toxin.

After being observed for several hours, with his vital signs still stable and the swelling in his foot subsiding, he is discharged with a prescription for a soothing cream.

Over the next few days, he starts having bizarre symptoms: sudden bouts of sweating, increased appetite despite almost constant nausea, and bloating due to water retention.

As the weeks go by, he gains an alarming amount of weight, and his genitalia shrivel away. His abdomen protrudes grotesquely.

As the weeks go by, he becomes increasingly reclusive, eventually quitting his job and shunning all social contact. He starts to suffer from a new, foreign pain, in the shriveled remains of his scrotum beneath the atrophied stump of his penis.

One day he wakes up, and finds that his shrunken scrotum had split down the middle, leaving a gaping, moist, vertical slit; a development that would have elicited hysterical alarm in the past, but is now only met with faint curiosity.

He empties his bank account to purchase unreal amounts of food. He starts scavenging in the dumpsters behind restaurants and supermarkets for the vast volume of discarded food. Somewhere, deep inside, he feels utter revulsion, but he cannot stop himself.

Months later, he drives to beach where he was stung, dressed only in a bathrobe, abdomen grossly distended and bloated, the rest of his frame spindly and almost skeletal; a caricature of a starving child. His hair has fallen out, and he is unhealthily pale. Something compelled him to come; a strange craving for the salty sea air.

As he heaves himself out of his car, a sudden look of panic passes over his face as his sickly body is seized by excruciating spasms. He does not know why, but he feels the sudden urge to go into the water. It will all be fine, as long as he can get to the water in time.



He hobbles towards the surf, tears streaming down his face as the pain worsens. He reaches the water, he sloshes out to knee-deep water before the pain finally causes him to stumble.

He suddenly feels a new, intense stab of pain, and he chokes on seawater as a gout of hot blood shoots out from his crotch. All he sees is blood, then deep inside he feels something give way, and he feels an enormous relief, a great release of pressure.

He is finally at peace, and the last thing he sees in the water clouded with his own blood are tiny glassy urns, with wriggling feathery spikes, glistening like so many stars in a blood-red nebula.