Bogleech.com's 2014 Horror Write-off:
" Eyes "
I found something in the backyard. I think it likes me.
I am not curious, so I really cannot explain what made me get closer to that speck on my oak. A black, shiny bead, like a jewel embedded in the bark. At first I thought it was the carapace of some insect, but it did not move. I touched it and it was chitinous, but very warm, and it made it retreat into the wood. I took a step backward, and it came out again, stretched on a peduncle, staring at me.
I went back the following day after work. It was a fragrant, warm evening. I wondered why did I not come to my backyard more often. I should more take care of it, I thought, beyond the obligatory mowing and pruning I do driven by family guilt. It is lovely here.
The speck has grown into a bump, pink and soft looking. It has three black dots now, and they followed my movements when I waved at it. I sat down on my lawn chair under the tree and talked to it a bit. Not big stuff, mostly what I did during the day. The things the students say about me behind my back when they think I cannot hear, which are the same things the other teachers do not say, and they are the same things my father yelled at me when he was still alive. I do not care about what you are, I said. You are listening.
It has grown so big it has made a crack in the wood. I still wonder what it is. At first I thought it was some kind of mold, but it grows too fast, and moves a little bit, and recognizes me, or at least I think so. It is fleshy and porous, covered in black dots that I interpret as eyes as simple and tiny as a pinhole camera. It has sprouted extremities, tendrils or tentacles (does it matter?) that it uses to catch some insects, and lately small birds. It ate all the raw hamburger that I gave it yesterday.
My backyard is now impeccable, like it was when my parents were still alive. I dragged some yard furniture out of the attic, and I spend most of my days here, reading or mowing or just talking to the thing. It is big as a football, and fills the crack over. It has a name now, Rory, because he smells like that boy in middle school with whom I shared some moments in the locker room. It just hangs limply from the tree, catching the little critters that somehow keep going to him. Its flaps look more like a pink sponge than flesh now, and it is covered in hundreds of eyes. It is not a mold. It is not any animal I have ever seen.
Something is wrong. Spring is ending, and the oak has almost no leaves. A big branch fell yesterday when I was at work and it knocked my reading chair. Rory is not feeling well either. He is now almost yellow, and more porous than ever. Three weeks ago, he was covering a good fourth of the surface of the tree, but now it has shrunken to its previous football size, and has retreated back into the crack. I feed him daily, and it does him good, but it is not enough. Maybe I have to take him out, to remove him from the sick tree to restore his health. There must be a way to do it without harming him, maybe taking the bark with him too...
I saved him last night, armed with a saw and some pliers I got at the hardware store. Being not familiar with tools, it took me some time, but finally the wood creaked and let it out. It fell on my chest like a liquid-filled balloon, its skin too human, and it grasped me with its tendrils. Some of them stung, but I did not mind. At least he touched me. I hugged it back. I brought him to the bathtub, and let it slide wetly to the bottom. He looked soft and helpless, and he keeps reaching for me, but it cannot climb the smooth walls of the tub. I shook my head and reassured him that I would go into the bathtub soon enough, but not now. I fed him chicken scraps and sang lullabies to him, until he stopped moving, contented. In the mirror I look and I have scars in my chest, moon-shaped marks that show where he touched me. They do not feel bad, quite the opposite: they sting pleasantly, a dull ache that somehow brings me memories, or ghosts of memories.
I called in sick to school. They sounded sympathetic, but I do not think I am going back anyway. I cannot wait to go upstairs again and meet Rory in the bathtub.
I think he likes me.