's 2015 Horror Write-off:

" The Inner Kicking "

Submitted by Dandelion Steph

Tom firmly placed the device on the back of his neck. There was this slight sinking, tickling sensation—the microneedles, he guessed, keeping it in place.

At first, nothing happened. Oh, he thought. Gotta get in range for the receiver to work.

His wife was waiting in the bedroom, dressed in a nightgown and covered in a bedsheet. She looked up as he came in. “How does it feel?”

Tom hesitated, as if distracted. “You're not itching, are you?”

“No, Tom, I'm not.”

Tom shrugged. “I guess it takes a while to work.” He slid into the bed with his wife, ready to wait for something to happen. Just as he reached for a bedside book, he felt it: a slight weight over the pectoral muscles, and the heaviness and warmth of a mass of hair on the head. He could feel the flatness of his own chest, the breeziness of his own hair, but the rest, too—his wife's bosoms, felt as if his own, his wife's hair, felt as if his own. The sensation paralyzed him, made him pause—then he felt...something else.

Something kicking.

Some inner kicking, no, writhing, inside his hips, like a mouse underneath a rug. Tom shivered involuntarily.

“What is it?”

Tom paused. Don't babies kick? he thought. “You're not pregnant, are you?”

His wife tilted her head and made a puzzled smirking expression. Oh, how he loved that quirk---“I think I'd know, Tom.”

“” Tom wrinkled his brow.

“Well, first I'd go to the bathroom and drop my pants...”

“Okay, okay, forget I asked,” Tom said, giving a stop gesture. There it was again, that wriggling, writhing, kicking sensation. “Well, I guess the neural integration strip is malfunctioning.”

“What? Why?”

“'s telling me you're pregnant, with a really late-stage fetus, apparently.”

His wife chuckled. She sat up, pulling the covers off, showing off the flatness of her belly underneath her nightgown. “Clearly, I'm not.”

He chuckled with his wife—yes, it was silly. But that writhing. Again. “I'm going to take it off for tonight. They didn't say you're supposed to sleep with it, anyway.”

“You can sleep with me, Tom,” his wife said encouragingly. Tom laughed. “I sure can!” he said, as he peeled off the strip with his thumb and forefinger, leaving it atop the bedside stand. The feeling of weight on his chest faded, and the weight and warmth of hair, and then finally that ache of the kicking around his...her hips.


Tom put the strip onto the back of his neck. It sank slightly, and he sat on the bed, waiting for it to work. Then, faster than before, he felt the weight, the warmth, the wriggling. But now, it was different. His hips felt no different, but it felt like there was something beneath the skin of his sides, knocking on his ribs.

“Is it malfunctioning again?” his wife asked, shifting in the bed.

“Yeah. Yeah, it is, but it's different.”

“It can't even malfunction consistently,” his wife said lightly.

Tom chuckled. He reached out towards his wife to stroke her hair, but she turned her head and frowned. “What is it?”

His wife pursed her lips. “No. It's nothing.” Tom paused, then went back to stroking her head. It was so very pleasurable, if confusing, to both feel hands stroking his, er, her scalp, and to feel soft hair underneath his hands. But as he did so, he felt the sensation move. The writhing sensation went up his sides a little more, slithering up each rib like the steps on a ladder. Tom shivered at the feeling and hastily peeled off the neural integration strip.


Later that night, Tom laid in bed, staring up at the ceiling. What he felt was unmistakable. That strip worked just as it should have, letting one feel the sensations of another person, and yet...something was wrong. He sat up. His wife was sleeping at the other end of the bed. Tom re-applied the neural integration strip to the back of his head. He breathed deeply, trying to calm himself. Instantly the writhing sensation fluttered into his awareness. It felt like there was a tendril crawling on, no, in his armpit, while the rest clumsily wriggled on his ribs.

What?A tentacle? What is this, a squid, a leech, a tapeworm?

A cold wave cascaded down his neck as he peeled the neural integration strip off. He felt the subtle unlatching sensation of the microneedles leaving his skin, and the haze of his wife's sensations fading from him. A memory of the writhing lingered on his ribs, dissipating once he rubbed his sides.


The sensation haunted him that day. The idea furrowed his brow and clenched his fist and made his eyes twitch and glaze over. All the possibilities rolled in his mind, like storm clouds on the horizon. That night he stared up at the ceiling again, his arms crossed over his chest like an Egyptian mummy in fitful slumber.

“Tom?” his wife called.

Tom rolled onto his side, facing away from her.

“Tom, if you're worried about something, you can tell me.”

“I don't know what's happening.”

The room was silent, emptied like a chopped-down forest.

“I'm your wife, Tom,” she said, concerned, and puzzled as well.

“I felt something. Something inside you,” Tom replied. “When I used that neural strip, I felt something kick inside me—you. And yesterday, it moved. But it doesn't make sense. You're not pregnant, you're in perfect health so you can't have parasites, and, well, you never complained about feeling off.” Tom's eyes were shadowed, and he sighed. “What am I dealing with? What are you? Or, what...what do you have, inside you? I wish I knew, but...haha, I don't have a parasitology degree. Or cancer-ology, or whatever.”

His wife sat up, leaning over him. “Tom,” she said softly. “I'm your wife for a reason. We love each other, and we've known each other for years. Whatever you feel with that strip shouldn't change how you feel about me. We're married, aren't we? Remember—'In sickness and health, to love and to cherish, till death do us part'?” She stroked his face slowly, gently, looking closely at him with a slight squint of fondness.

Finally he met her gaze, and held her hand. He smiled. “You're right. You're still the same person I fell in love with. What does it matter what you have, or what you are?” He took the neural strip off his bedside and applied it to the back of his neck.

“I'm lucky to have you, and I love you.” He leaned in, tilting his head a little, and kissed her.

There was a feeling of warmth, and coziness. And there was a soreness all the way back in his throat, and there wasn't. And there was a wriggling and feeling of little suckers down his palate, and there wasn't. And there was a feeling of tiny feet or feelers probing his tonsils, and there was. And then a brief pinprick of pain, one that shot all the way up his spine and up into his brain.

Then, the warmth, and the coziness, again.

I don't need to worry anymore.