's 2017 Horror Write-off:

The Boxes: Stomach Bug

Submitted by Sam Miller

Fluorescent lights flickering. Light blue, then dark blue, then light once again. I awake, sitting on one of those padded and needlessly clean beds in little town clinics. A single dull lightbulb like a staring eye hangs overhead, swinging to and fro on its thin string of a wire. Looking down, my stomach is distended and fat under my medical gown, and I feel a terrible squirming sensation from within, followed by a voice.

"Oh you woke up!" the voice comes from my belly, speaking in a thick New York accent. I feel many spindly things move about inside of me, legs pushing at my skin and making it bulge. "I was waiting for you to wake up, yaknow!"

My head spins with nausea as I feel something very large wriggle in my innards, "Um... what?"

"Come on, come on, get up!" A stabbing pain comes from the back of my belly, forcing me to my feet. "Sorry bout that kid, but we really have gotta get going. Got places to be!"

"I-I'm sorry, but what is happening? Why are you in my stomach?" I poke at my fat distended belly, the skin taut from what is inside of the slimy offal within.

"Well, you went to the doctor for a stomach bug right?"

"I mean... I was having some stomach aches but I don't remember going to the doctor?"

I hear a soft clacking emanating from my massive belly, stifled by my flesh and skin, "Hehe looks like somebody has some memory problems too, eh?"

Walking out of the small clinic room, I enter a hallway, so long in either direction that the lone lamp hanging overhead does not light the furthest reaches. I move down the hall, my walk slow and somewhat painful due to the weight inside of me. I feel wriggling and sloshing from within, my fluids pushed around by the thing within. While walking, I attempt to ascertain the shape of the thing inside of me, feeling at least seven long spindly legs, feeling hard spines and soft tendrils waving about and tickling the lining of my gut. A sharp pain shoots through my belly, urging me on.

"Do you really have to keep doing that?"

"No, not really, would ya like me to stop?"

"Yes please..."

I reach a great big window to the outside of the clinic, my hands holding up my bulging belly, and I look outside to see beyond. Blackness. Roiling clouds far above, slightly tinged blue, whether that is their true color or due to the glass I do not know. Shapes flying about in the winds outside of the clinic. Something tickles the back of my throat and I feel a soft little tendril crawl its way out of my mouth, looking out the window with me before I feel a terrible sensation as the thing inside of me jumps and wiggles about, legs clawing at my innards but not doing anything more than an uncomforting pain. I bend over from the sensation, vomiting a little bit onto the floor below. There are many small white spheres in my puke, standing out from the sickeningly green backdrop, vibrant on the stark white tile.

"Sorry bout that kid... Say, would you wanna talk bout anything?"

"Uhh... What are you exactly?"

"Didn't I tell you? I'm a stomach bug, you gotta go find a doctor to get rid of me but they are all on break outside."

I gaze out the window again, looking into the inky blackness and the shapes flying about in the roiling clouds, confused sweat beading up on my brow. I poke my belly and feel something very hard within.

"I uhh I don't really remember going to the doctor, but I guess if I have a stomach bug I should try to get rid of it."

"That's the spirit kid!" comes the scuttling voice from within my skin.

A low and slow reverberating pain crawls through my flesh and through my skin, feeling like there is vomit inside of me that is blocked by some fat thing, presumably my stomach bug I gotta get rid of. I walk away from the window and wander through the halls of the hospital. Isolated fluorescent lights hidden from one another by a void of darkness, the hard tile beneath my feet and the guiding pricks of spindly limbs the only things telling me where I am until I reach another pocket of light. I continue talking to the stomach bug.

"So uhh... What's it like being inside of me?" I blush, embarrassed by asking such a question.

"Hehe don't get all flustered, kid. It's nice n'warm in here! Lovely place, lovely place, really is, but I bet you wouldn't want somethin'inside of you again huh?"

My eyes dart around nervously, my mind swirling in confusion as to how the stomach bug found out about that, but I find it too awkward to bring up any further. I turn a corner, sweaty, tired, and confused, and see something clinging to the ceiling there. It is long and lanky-limbed, with a head tapering to a flat snout like a duck bill, and clad in a long white robe like a coat. It scuttles down the wall and stands on its long hind limbs, looming over me. I feel stabbing pain in my spine and intestines.

"Run, kid! This ain't the kind of doctor that'll help ya, this is one of those Quacks! They do nothin'but spout alternative medicine that does nothin'but hurt you!" the stomach bug says clatteringly as I feel more pain in my innards.

The quack speaks, "Squonk! Take this powder, it's a cleanse, it'll cleanse! Squeak!! Take it, take it!!" It holds out its spindly fingers, its paw filled with little white pebbles, its goose-like bill filled with teeth that look the same. "It will remove all crawling, wiggling, fat things, parasitic molecules, from your precious body! Quack!"

I feel a pain so sharp it brings my feet to motion, I feel cracking in my legs and see bulging shapes beneath the skin of my thighs. I flee the Quack, running in the opposite direction, only to run into a second one of the lanky things.

"Glack! Drinking a cup full of ink and water will clean your gizzard! Glunk!!" the Quack screams.

"Run, run! The Quacks won't help ya, they just lie to ya! You gotta find yaself one of the Caws, one of those doctors! The ones that're on break!" My legs move faster than I thought they ever could, spindly limbs crawling within my tight flesh.

My breath heavy, crawling squonking things on my tail, I run down hall upon hall, deeper and deeper into the clinic, only to come ultimately back to one of the great big windows. I feel the stomach bug toss and turn and crawl and wiggle within me, as I glance around frantically to see none of the false Quack doctors. I look out the window and see one of the birds, so much closer now than they were before, for I am higher up in the building of the clinic.

"Take off your gown!"


The stomach bug replies, "Take off your gown!" I feel a small but sharp pain in my stomach.

"Okay okay, jeeze, alright." I slide my gown off my body, revealing my distended belly, bulging disgustingly with the chitinous legs inside of me as I stare out of the window at the giant flying black birds, cawing in the windy clouds.

Many of them fly closer and closer to the window as I stand there, awkwardly silent in the dim light. One of them flies so close so as to see its staring yellow eye, piercing me to the core in surprise.

One of the cawing birds flies up to the window, a heavy thud shaking the wall and causing me to almost fall over as its beak breaks through the glass window, a great black beak piercing into the hall, open wide to reveal the pale flesh of the inner mouth. A sharp stabbing pain crawls down my spine and down my thighs, as bulging shapes move about below my skin. Slimy pale tendrils crawl up my throat, revealing themselves out of my lazy open mouth. Sweat beads on my forehead. My legs move forward without my ordering them to, slowly walking into the wet pale mouth of the cawing bird. I step onto the soft flesh inside of the long clamshell of the beak, and I hear the voice of the stomach bug one last time.

"Hey, no hard feelings, eh kid? I just gotta get my kids to a good home, ya know how it is"

The beak snaps shut.