"s 2015 Horror Write-off:

"Little Snot"

Submitted by Austin Brooks

“OK, so you have the emergency numbers, and there’s plenty of food in the pantry, you said you can make dinner?”

“Yeah Mrs. Wood, I can cook something up for us.”

“Terrific, thanks for coming up on such short notice, I’ll be back by one thirty, OK?” She paused by the door.

“Goodbye Jayden, I love you!”

“God, just go already Mom! Holy Crap!” was her son’s muffled reply from upstairs.

She gave me a winning smile and was out the door. I exhaled. I’d agreed to watch my neighbor’s sick kid for the night while his parents went to some late night farm equipment sale or something. I was already regretting that decision, even though the Wood’s house was luxurious, to say the least, and they’d promised a pretty handsome reimbursement. Mr. Wood was a prolific corn mogul, which I suppose is one of the only ways to be prolific in Nebraska. Their son was twelve, and though they hadn’t asked me to babysit for about four years, he had a nasty head cold and they wanted someone around to help him out, IE- wait on their precious little angel hand and foot.
He was already trudging down the stairs, picking his nose. His face was pale and his eyes were puffy, but he looked as remarkably pleased with himself as a diseased little imp could.

“Didn't your mom say to stay in bed?”

“Didn't your mom tell you to shut your dick? I don’t care if I stay sick for another week, I haven’t had to go to school in threeahhh-btchughdays!” Mid-sentence, Jayden’s nose shot thick ropes of green snot down his face and chest.

“Shit let me get a tissu-okay you’ve got it covered” He was already wiping his face and hands on the pricey looking white sofa. He reached for the remote, but I grabbed it up first.

“Hey, good idea, lets watch some TV.” I turned on the huge plasma and flipped through the channel guide. “Hey, Steven Universe!”

“Pfft, that show’s gay.”

Well he’s not wrong I thought

“I don’t watch cartoons, except Family Guy. Hey, Duck Dynasty’s on!”

I screamed internally

“Yeah we’re not watching that. Better idea… Um, why don’t we play some videogames in your room?” I said through gritted teeth

Jayden perked up at the mention of video games, flicking away the booger he may or may not have been thinking about eating. “All right, I can’t wait to wreck your ass!”

Videogames turned out to be a bad idea too. First Person Shooters make me nauseous, and the only things Jayden seemed to play were the latest versions of “Call of Grand Theft Halo of War IX: Even More Bullets”. His endless taunting only made my headache worse, and all of his controllers were uncomfortably… crusty.

“Don’t you have anything like…I don’t know, Super Smash Bros. or Kirby or something?” I asked as he “cradle-spanked” (his words, not mine) me for the fortieth time.

“Nintendo’s for babies!” he huffed angrily, snot bubbling from one nostril as his index finger scratched the inside of the other.

“Yeah, right. I forgot how mature you are.” He was too preoccupied digging for treasure to notice my sarcasm. “Why don’t you keep playing, I’ll take care of the chores your mom asked me to do and make dinner.”

“Uh-huh…” he replied, absently tapping at his controller, suddenly more interested in the contents of his own nose than the game or our conversation.

I went back downstairs and started in on the vacuuming and scrubbing Mrs. Wood had expected me to do, and cooked up a quite delicious looking batch of shells and cheese, if I do say so myself. I called to Jayden for dinner, but the only response was a grumbled “in a minute…” I told myself I should have known better than to expect a kid like that to come down and eat at a table. I ate my share and sat down on the couch to text my boyfriend and do some social media whining on Facebook.

After a bit I looked at my phone’s clock and realized it’d been about an hour since I’d told Jayden to come eat. I fixed a plate and headed up to Jayden’s room, but I dropped it when I looked inside.

Jayden was sitting where I had left him, on the floor slumped against his bed. The lights were off and so was his game, but the light cast by the TV’s “input” screen was enough to see by. Jayden was picking his nose. Apparently he had never stopped. Fleshy wads and shards of bone littered the floor around him, and blood mingled with the thick mucus that had flowed down his face and the front of his shirt. His right index and middle finger were inserted up to the knuckle, mindlessly probing the ruins of his nasal cavity.

“J-jj-JAYDEN! What did you do to yourself?!”

His eyes were glazed over and blank… well, maybe not. I might have seen some flicker of recognition, some spark of though, but at that moment his groping fingers seemed to reach something, found purchase, and began to pull.

His entire face bulged outwards in a way that was cartoonish yet absolutely sickening. Something ripped free and tumbled to the floor, and I was staring at the glistening red inside of Jayden’s scalp. It hung open hollowly like an inflated plastic shopping bag before slowly collapsing on top of the tongue and lower jaw that had been left behind. His empty fingers still twitched weakly as his body slowly slid sideways into a heap

While I was captivated with all this, the thing Jaden had plucked from his face was stirring. It was his skull, though it looked soft and half dissolved, portions of wrinkled tissue visible under the thick layer of mucus that filled and surrounded it. Thick bristling hairs stuck out of the eye sockets and shattered sinus. Longer, bent hairs, almost looking like insect legs, began unfurling from the sides as soon as it hit the floor, dragging it clumsily at first but picking up speed, like a newborn animal. Something long and knobby and greyish trailed behind it on top of a layer of nasal fluid. At first I thought it was a string of mucus, but I realized it was a portion of spinal cord.
I stood in a stupor for a moment, before realizing I needed to go after that thing, or I’d have no proof I didn’t do… whatever people would call this to Jayden! I followed it downstairs, where it had already almost made it to the door, moving faster than its strange combination of dragging and slithering should have let it. It pressed itself against the glass front door and somehow shattered it.

I stood in the door way as it made its escape into the night. I nearly ran after it, but I knew I’d need my winter coat and boots to chase it into the thick snow falling outside, already nearly eight inches thick.

Fully dressed, I ran outside into the snow. It was not hard to follow the thing, it left a wide rut in the snow even if it wasn’t also leaving a trail of blood and mucus everywhere it went. I followed it through the corn field about 50 yards, to a huge storm drain that jutted out of a ditch at the side of the road. The steel grating had been bent aside, just enough to fit a person’s head into. A long twitching hair and a couple teeth were stuck to the metal. I considered trying to keep following, but stopped when I saw the shape shambling around deeper inside the pipe. It was dark and I hadn’t brought any sort of light, but I could still see that something huge and flabby was dragging itself further into the sewer. Thick strands hung from the walls of the drain back to its body. It made a steady plosh plosh plosh as it moved through the thin layer of ice that covered the shallow water deeper inside.

I could hear something splashing frantically through the water behind it, as if trying to keep up, squealing pitifully.