's 2018 Horror Write-off:

The Offspring

Submitted by Caswell Jude (email)

James wasn’t ready to procreate yet. He really wasn’t. He wasn’t even halfway to getting his business degree, and his job at the movie theater didn’t pay very well. Everybody else his age was going to school and partying and working at their shitty jobs, but from the moment James’ fingers began to split, he realized he couldn’t do that any longer.

He first noticed it in the bathroom mirror while shaving one day. He was exhausted after a long night out, so he barely caught it, but there: his fingers were getting thicker. James set his electric razor down on the marbled surface of the vanity and looked closer at one of the offending digits. With a frown, he noticed that a new fingertip was starting to grow, jutting out from his knuckle and resting slightly above the original so that a sliver of nail poked out from between the two. He groaned and dragged his hands down his face, moaning even louder when he realized he’d smeared shaving cream all over.

The next day, two extra hands were growing out of James’ wrists. The first day, he’d been able to go to class, but now that the process was showing, he opted to stay home. Some people go out in public during the reproduction process, but James had always found it somewhat distasteful. Besides, it would be hard to write things down with two floppy hands on top of his original ones. Instead, he emailed his professor about the situation and sat down with a second cup of coffee in front of his laptop, content to watch Netflix for the rest of the day.

By the end of the week, James’ housemates were electing to stay out of his way. He couldn’t see them wholly from behind the head that flopped forward off of his neck, but they no longer greeted him when he came into the room. He understood; it was a natural process, but a gross one, like defecation. It was always a little awkward being in the same room as somebody in the midst of the reproduction process. He just wished he could be over with it sooner, but then there was all the paperwork…

It was two weeks before James’ offspring completely separated from him. It had started speaking to him about two days prior, mostly making demands about its existence. “Do I have a name?” it asks as it sits on James’ lap, now only connected to him by its tailbone.

“I don’t know. I didn’t think of any,” James admits. Actually, it’s mostly incomprehensible, given that there’s hair in his mouth, but the message gets through.

“Can I name myself?” the offspring asks.

James nods in response, forcing the offspring to nod as well.

“Okay, then. I think I want to be called Adam.”

James sighs in relief as he feels the last bit of him separate from his offspring’s tailbone. “Get off,” he says with a squirm, ad the offspring- Adam, he supposes- slips awkwardly out from beneath the oversized shirt that James has taken to wearing. James regards his double with a mildly interested gaze. “You know what comes next, right?”

Adam rolls his eyes. “Now we have to go to the Department of Records and get me a separation certificate.”

“No, actually, now you have to get dressed.” James glances downward contemptuously, and Adam covers his crotch with both hands. “My closet is over there.”

“I know where your closet is,” Adam huffs, and strides to it across the room, closing the door behind him. In a few minutes, he steps out, now clad in a blue polo shirt and khakis. “How do I look?” he asks.

James shrugs. “Passable,” he says. “Now then, shall we go?”