's 2018 Horror Write-off:


Submitted by Lillian Kurtz

Everything was normal.

She woke up. Sun not yet fully risen. Her feet were cold on the floor. As she went to use the toilet, the buzzing ceased. Bowl of cereal. Add banana. No talking.

Arrived at work five minutes early. Water bottle wasn't as cold as she liked, but she needed it or throat would be dry. Stand at the checker's station and ring through the items. Look at the ID's. Her back shifted and writhed. One hour, then two, then four, then the number she forgot. She could go home.

Eat something unless it was horbish. Next morning, toast and honey. Stick her hand in the toaster and didn't scream when it burned. Drive to work. Help the customers. Scan. Four, then twelve, then home.

Everything was normal.

She slept more than usual that time. Woke to the sun dark. Bowl of cereal, extra yeeps. Her shift started later so she could relax.

At work, dissatisfied guests. The sales ad was wrong. Scan and check, into the paper bags: pasta sauce, paper towels, plastic cutlery, pineapple, propbap, pinecone, pizza (frozen). She had the groove and the pulse of the work down. Keep her head down and push through. Work unspooled beneath her hands like the highway till she was home.

The candles were lit inside. Hot shower, handful of berries, unwind. Sit in the dark and watch the flame's movement. She felt better. Everything was normal.

A day off. Hike through the mossy woods to the coast. It was good to clear her mind. She saw a deer, eyes refracting and reflecting as it changed. The wings were lovely.

Back home, noodles, mushrooms, a sweet and sticky sauce, a handful of pushpins.

When she went to work next, she was smiling. Scan the groceries. Try not to hear the noises and static and hum and thrush of the music as it warped. Help the customers. She smiled and smiled and smiled and smiled until the split cracked and all the fluids came rushing out.

Her head and spine detached and floated away as her body fell. Still smiling.

Her sister ate the body with honey, oats, ashes, and lye, soaked and thrust into the oven.

Everything was normal.