In The Name Of Science

Head-Squid_small

“Alright, Detective Dickhole, what do you have for me today?”

Pathologist Leonard Kessler’s voice echoed through the cold room. The acoustically prone surfaces usually kept his spoken words to a minimum, but he never missed the opportunity to insult his big brother.

Darren Kessler shivered, folding his arms tighter against his chest. “I still don’t know how you work in here.”

“You get used to it, just like Dad’s cooking.”

“I’m still trying to digest his meatloaf from last Easter and still trying to get warm in here.”

“The trick is to stop tying, just accept it.” Leonard said.

“Screw that. I’ll wait for evolution to give us internal thermostats. Anyway, I pulled some strings to get this case for you,” Darren said, smiling. “I know you like working on the weird ones.”

“Lay it on me!”

“The body,” Darren said, reading from the file folder and pointing to the freshly wheeled-in corpse, “is a 36-year-old Caucasian male, 182 lbs., 5’ 11”. Dr. Patrick Mahoney, a Marine Biologist. He was found dead in his laboratory nearly seven hours ago. The man’s financial backer, Charles Grawner, discovered the body after Mahoney was a no-show for a status meeting. No immediate indications of foul play—the lab was locked from the inside. Mahoney had just returned from a research jaunt through the Pacific.

“Suicide?”

“Don’t think so. Too messy and bizarre for self-inflicted damage—wait till you see him; strange. Here’s a copy of the file.”

Darren handed him a file folder of crime scene photos and documents. “Run a full report on him. Call me when you have something.”

“Yes, Sir.” Leonard tossed his brother a mock salute.

***

Detective Kessler sipped the runny tar his co-workers called coffee while sifting through evidence bags in his office. One, marked Bodily Possessions, held a cell phone, ID badge, wallet, and a small portable computer drive. He plugged the USB drive into his laptop while mumbling to himself, “Please, no kiddie porn.”

Sorting through the extensive list of folders and files, he scanned the recent documents. Heading the list was a mpeg video titled ‘URGENT – Watch NOW’. Darren double-clicked the file.

An unshaven man with ruffled hair stared at the camera. His eyes, clearly visible behind small, wire-framed glasses, were red, puffy, and underlined by dark baggage.

As the video began, the man rubbed his face and took a deep breath.

“April 14th, 2013. 10:39pm. My name is Dr. Patrick T. Mahoney. I’m a marine biologist working under an unlisted grant from Grawner Bio-Chem, Inc. through a NOAA privatized research arm, Marine Research Discoveries Division.

“We were researching the waters above the Mariana Trench, dropping probes when a Mitsukurina owstoni (Goblin shark) floated to the surface, deceased. To learn more about the pink Mitsukurina and what happened to it, we hauled it aboard for analysis.

“The shark’s characteristic protruding jaw was dislodged and broken. This particular specimen had abnormally long teeth which was quite odd and seemed the most likely the cause of death… but we were wrong.

“Upon dissection, I discovered foreign tissue residing inside the cartilaginous skull. This tissue was in fact an endoparasitoic creature—still thriving after its host’s death. It was like nothing I’d ever seen before.

“Two crew members of Māori descent had been very uneasy with its presence on the boat. They referred to it as ‘Wheke Pōtae’, which roughly translates to ‘Head Squid’. An old fable passed down from their tribe elders claimed it was crafty and evil, not to be trifled with or risk bringing death upon the whole village.”

The doctor paused, his eyes shifting back and forth restlessly as if ratcheting his brain toward a decision. After a loud exhale, Dr. Mahoney returned his gaze to the screen and new distress had carved deeper lines on his face, advancing his perceived age.

“Do not misunderstand what you are watching here,” he said. “At this moment, I am of sound mind and body. My actions are taken willingly. What I am doing, and what you are about to witness, is in the name of science. Please learn from this, I beg you; heed my warnings and study my experience, or it will all be in vain.

“In the days between docking and now, I’ve studied the specimen to learn more about the endoparasite. You can find all the documentation on the data drive with this video, including a hypothetical case study of the organism’s method of reproduction.

“But now… theories be damned, I am the case study.”

Raising a hand, Dr. Mahoney showed a puncture wound on the webbing between his thumb and forefinger. Swelling had ballooned the curve of his hand from a concave pink to a greenish convex mound with blue lightning-veins racing down his arm and out of the camera frame.

“It must sense other living beings’ proximity through electrical impulse sensitivity. It projected a reproduction-capable proboscis and injected an embryo of sorts under the dermal layer. I clearly underestimated its capabilities.”

The doctor exhaled a deep, quivering breath.

“I felt it… crawling up my arm, along my jugular, and squeezing into my skull. That was 7 hours ago. Since then, I’ve experienced heightened sensitivity in my jaw and teeth and increased cranial pressure.

“The organism stimulates unprecedented growth in the host’s teeth. After close inspection, I’ve identified a siphon appendage wrapped around the nerve within each tooth’s inner cavity, which extends to a tiny hole in the outer enamel. I believe this is used to increase pressure within the skull in an attempt to replicate the pressure levels of its native ocean environment. The teeth must gr—”

The biologist winced, crying out and clutching his head.

“I think it’s feeding.”

He reached up and stopped the recording.

The screen flashed. The Doctor was now very pale with dried blood around his nostrils and ears. His lips, suffering multiple points of laceration, were split and pushed back in a skull’s grin. The lower jaw jutted out and down in what would have been an open-mouthed posture, but the view was obstructed by teeth—an enamel cage overlapping from a massive under-bite. His harsh breaths hissed through the dental wall, whistling and slapping against the continual production of crimson-tinged drool.

Dr. Mahoney held up a small dry-erase board with a poorly scrawled message stating, “I can no longer speak clearly. I cannot move my jaw, the pain is incredible.”

He lowered the board and wrote a new message. His body was quivering and tears flowed freely as he held up message after message.

“With growing teeth and chewed brain, I’m not sure…

“…how much time I have left, how much more I can take….

“…I feel teeth growing, forcing jaw open further.”

Before displaying the next part of his message he jolted forward and howled as if an invisible hammer struck him in the back of the head. The tortured sound was muffled behind his overlapping wall of teeth. It barely sounded human. He recovered in his chair but his breathing quickened.

Between the man’s hissing breaths, the detective could hear the multifaceted squeal of enamel pushing against enamel.

Mahoney finished the written words and held up the board.

“my experiences and spec It’s moving around, eating again.”

Blood dribbled from his nose. He started writing more but never finished. His rasped, violent breathing stopped cold. The doctor’s eyes widened. He stared into the camera with unwavering intensity for so long that Detective Kessler wondered if the video had paused. Then, the man’s subtle tremors, tight convulsions of the head, became noticeable.

Dr. Mahoney screamed again, but this time he didn’t stop.

Kessler lowered the hand covering his mouth and leaned closer to the computer screen, riveted to the horror unfolding before him.

The doctor pounded fists against his temples and clawed at his scalp. It looked as if he’d gone insane—sanity eroding right in front of the camera.

The man’s right eye twitched and turned in the socket, completely unhinged from the synchrony with his other, which held firm in its gaze at the camera. A moment later, it disappeared, sucked back into his skull with a splash of blood and aqueous fluid, leaving a grotesque void behind.

Despite the screaming, Kessler heard the loud pop of Dr. Mahoney’s jaw finally giving way under the strain. It flopped open, swaying like a bear trap with a broken spring. A pink cocktail of blood and cranial fluids poured from his nose. Choking, the doctor’s shrieks drowned in a long, agonizing gurgle before he collapsed onto the desk.

Darren sat as still as the dead man on the video.

In his eleven years as a homicide detective, he’d never seen anything like that before. He fumbled for his cell phone and dialed.

“Leo, you’re not gonna believe what I just saw.”

“This thing is amazing,” Leonard said, ignoring his brother. “It completely devoured Dr. Mahoney’s brain and grew large enough to crack open the skull.”

“Yeah, it kills the host… not very good for longevity, huh.”

“Darren, I think it’s still alive.”

“Shit! Get away from it, right now!” the detective said, jumping out of his chair. “I’m coming down. Don’t do anything ‘till I get there.”

***

The detective burst into the autopsy room, shouting. “I told you to get back, goddamn it.”

Leonard sat on a stool with his back to the door, leaning over Mahoney’s body.

Darren rushed over. “It’s not safe, Leo. I told you to—”

His brother was shaking. Still holding the phone in his right hand, he cradled the left.

“It happened so fast.” Leonard said in a hollow, reedy voice.

Darren saw the tell-tale wound on his brother’s wrist and knew exactly what had happened. He pulled Leonard away from the table, ranting, “No. No. No.”

Leonard flexed his fingers and winced. “Man it hurts. I felt the toxin spreading all the way up to my head.”

“Fuck!” Darren paced, pausing occasionally to kick over a tray of tools or punch the cooler doors. “Fuck. Fuck. Fuck!”

“Hey, we should call 911 or poison control.”

“It’s not a toxin.” Darren scolded him. “There’s no antidote… no way to survive, only the suffering of an agonizing death.”

“What?”

Darren drew his Glock 17 and fired five rounds into the occupied cavity of Dr. Mahoney’s skull.

“Whoa, we still could’ve—”

Darren pivoted to point the gun at his brother.

“What the fuck, man?”

“It’s the only way to save you.” He said with tears dripping from his chin.

“What?”

“I love you, Leo.”

“Wait, Darren! Don’t…”

Responding to the initial report of gunfire in the morgue, the uniformed officers were halfway down the hall when the last two shots rang out.

~ Tyr Kieran

© Copyright 2013 Tyr Kieran. All Rights Reserved.


Heed the Tale Weaver: Celebrate the one-year anniversary of the Damned. Through May 7, 2013, upon each new post, a comment you will leave. A package of ghoulish goodies tainted with an offering from every member of the Damned awaits one fated winner – glorious books, personalized stories and eternal suffering at your feet. Now Damn yourself, make your mark below! But remember insolent ones, you must leave a comment, a “like” will not earn you a chance at our collection of depravity. Do not make the Damned hunt you down.


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About Tyr Kieran

Tyr Kieran /Tie-er Keer-awn/ is a horror author from the greater Philadelphia Area. He writes vivid tales of darkness for the enjoyment of all the normal (messed up) people out there, just like him. Tyr conducts his Interactive Fiction Projects on his website and social media profiles twice a week with freshly written segments to an ongoing novel. Learn more about it here: http://www.tyrkieran.com/blog/interactive-fiction/.

62 responses to “In The Name Of Science”

  1. Craig McGray says :

    Tyr is a master with his descriptive style. Yet another ‘Damned’ good story.

    Like

    • Tyr Kieran says :

      Thanks, Craig! I’m surrounded by talented authors out here, yourself included, on the inter-webs, some of their skill was bound to rub off onto me at some point…

      Like

  2. moondustwriter says :

    Damn Tyr
    Shades of Jekyll/ Hyde
    my question – can you really kill it?

    I hear the hunt master getting ready for the Damned stalk…

    Like

  3. Daemonwulf says :

    Ahhh, only a brother’s love… *gruesome grin* One again Tyr, you have crafted a wonderfully entertaining tale that grabs you at the beginning and doesn’t let go until the last word. I very much enjoyed this, as I do all of your work. Great read!

    Like

  4. Thomas Brown says :

    A gripping story, Tyr! I loved the investigative spin, and was as curious to find out what was going on as your detective. The parasite is truly revolting. Nothing is quite as frightening as inevitability. Except brain-squids.

    Like

    • Tyr Kieran says :

      Yes, inevitability can be quite horrifying, more so than the unknown… that’s one aspect I wanted to play with in this tale–pulling horror from the unknown but ultimately showing how much worse knowing can be. Thanks, Thomas!

      Like

  5. Karen Soutar says :

    Wow, fantastic read. Would love to know where the idea came from? Is there a ‘real’ Maori legend relating to this thing? Brilliant gruesome blow-by-blow description of what happens to your head once the creature gets inside…

    Like

    • Tyr Kieran says :

      Thank you very much, Karen, for reading and for your kind words! I hope I’m not disappointing you here, but the answer is no, the Maori have no such legend. Everything in the story germinated from a seed of ‘fear of something foreign growing inside you’. I selected the Maori because of their proximity to the Marina Trench, which houses many insane wonders and more we have yet to discover. Let’s hope they never find Head-Squids down there!

      Like

  6. zkullis says :

    “The man’s right eye twitched and turned in the socket, completely unhinged from the synchrony with his other, which held firm in its gaze at the camera. A moment later, it disappeared, sucked back into his skull with a splash of blood and aqueous fluid, leaving a grotesque void behind.” = hell yeah

    Curse you and the other Damned! You all cram substance and grit into such a small amount of space that it leaves me exhilarated and pissed off all at once. I want more. I reach the end and scream at my screen because the story ends.

    Great story Tyr

    Like

    • Tyr Kieran says :

      Taking the liberty of speaking for all members of the Damned here, I’d like to apologize to Zack’s screen for one year of verbal, and most likely, physical abuse. The occurrences have been reported and we can get you placed into the relocation program, if you wish.

      Zack, I’ll take your dissatisfaction and high blood pressure as a compliment. Thank you! I get yelled at by smarter people to compose shorter posts, so your desire for more each Tuesday may go unfulfilled until the next week’s post. BUT, after all, the POTD is in the misery business and business is good, eh?

      Like

  7. Nina D'Arcangela says :

    Tyr, great story!! I luvs me some sea creature tale! This little ditty ran like a Saturday afternoon special through my head as I read it. Yup, I can still see the re-runs playing. This is an excellent story, you mixed the camaraderie between the brothers, their professional relationship, and this monstrous happening together flawlessly. Bravo! What’s playing next Saturday?? I hope it involves more teeth. Gruesome + Awesome = Head-Squids! (all In The Name Of Science, of course…) ;}

    Like

    • Tyr Kieran says :

      Thank you, Nina! Re-run royalties would be nice, ha ha.
      There’s a lot of themes in this tale that I wanted to give voice, one of them being that every human has a seed of heroism, the ability to accept sacrifice for the greater good and how it’s contiguous to others–from the scientist to the detective. I had a lot of fun developing and crafting this story and I’m very pleased that it transfers on to the reader!

      Like

      • Nina D'Arcangela says :

        Intellectually, I fully appreciate the effort it takes to keep ‘facts’ going, and emotions ridding high – and you did a superb job of that. But the little kid in me was hugging a pillow going ‘what is it? what is it? what is it?’ the whole time! Much like Joe, I love a good old fashioned monster tale and I can’t get the Head-Squid out of my brain… You have corrupted me, and now I wanna dissect stuff!

        In all honesty, you really did a stellar job stepping out of the box on this one! 🙂

        Like

  8. Joseph Pinto says :

    Aaah Tyr…you have delivered on one of my all time faves: the telling of the “creature feature.” The only thing better while reading “In the Name of Science” would’ve been eating some popcorn as I did so 🙂

    This was so much fun to read…you did a great job putting everything together, right down to your research on the Mariana Trench (which, by the way, is where the Old Great Ones reside, I’m sure of it). Kudo’s, man! And not only that, but you have succeeded into making my cherished Italian dish of sauteed calamari even more kick-ass than it normally is!!!

    Great job, Tyr! You should be proud!!!

    Like

    • Tyr Kieran says :

      I’ve been itching to do a creature feature for some time and it was fun watching the tale’s pieces fall into place. The Trench is such a cool and mysterious place, a million stories could be inspired by it’s wonders and unknowns.

      I don’t have the courage to mess with Lovecraft’s perfection… or anger the Old Ones, so I leave that subject alone, you know, like the 1st rule of Fight Club.

      I love calamari as well, though I fear it will be looking for revenge against me now.

      Thanks, Joe!!!

      Like

  9. Sandra Stephens says :

    Great tale. Worthy of Tales From the Crypt of Fangoria. Old school, perfectly executed.

    Like

  10. jaimiengle says :

    What a great story. I couldn’t stop reading it. Very suspenseful. I was hoping his brother would live, but I didn’t see that ending coming. Is that lore based in truth?

    Like

    • Tyr Kieran says :

      Jaimie, I am very pleased that you enjoyed the tale! The end was a bit of a surprise to me as well, I wasn’t sure how it would end when I started writing. The lore in my story is completely fabricated, but there is much yet to be discovered in the dark depths of the Mariana Trench. Thanks for reading!

      Like

  11. Maggie Mae says :

    Whew….my heart beat quick on that one. What a ride. Great work here!!

    Like

    • Tyr Kieran says :

      “Pen Of The Damned, helping readers test their blood pressure limits since 2012!”

      I’m glad you enjoyed the ride, Maggie! Thanks for reading!

      Like

  12. arkarum says :

    I really enjoyed this. Not much in the world creepier than pain in the teeth. I think it makes everybody cringe. Very neat and well-written!!

    Like

    • Tyr Kieran says :

      Actually, it the was the torture concept of growing teeth that spawned this story! Can you imagine something alive and squirming inside your teeth? Damn! I’m happy you liked the story! Thanks, Craig!

      Like

  13. lindseybethgoddard says :

    Awesome! And so sad!

    Like

  14. Sophia Duncan says :

    Awsome twist alas killing his brother may not have killed the organisum. Great descriptive story an had my imagination working overtime. Thank you Tyr your storys are always amazing 🙂

    Like

    • Tyr Kieran says :

      Thank you, Sophia, you are very kind! I am thrilled that you enjoy work!

      You are correct, we don’t know if the pathologist’s head-squid was killed or not, for that matter, we don’t know if the 5 shots will kill the biologist’s squid… Hmmmm.

      Thanks for reading!!!

      Like

  15. Nephylim (@SevenPointStar) says :

    That was awesome, one of the best short horrors I’ve read in a long time. I particularly enjoyed the last part. I hope the detective didn’t kill himself because, if the monster lives on after the death of its host, it’s still alive inside Leo, just waiting for the next unsuspecting host who would have no idea what was going on. Theoretically it could become an epidemic.Shame the life cycle of the infected is so short.

    Like

    • Tyr Kieran says :

      Nephylim, you are too kind, thank you! We may never know where the last two bullets landed. And you are correct in surmising that it could be the start of an epidemic when the cops unwittingly step into danger. Expecting the Zombie Apocalypse to end the human race? Nope. Try the Head-Squid Plague!

      Like

  16. Bryan Jacobson says :

    I was surprised how much I liked this!

    Like

  17. Alex Chase says :

    Out of all of the stories that you’ve written and I’ve read, this has been my favorite. Riveting would be putting it mildly! I’d love to see a movie adaptation, or full novel, or both of this. Give it some thought, eh?

    Like

    • Tyr Kieran says :

      A movie adaptation would be fun! I’d love to watch the Dr. Mahoney’s ordeal on the big screen! Alas, a movie is out of my realm of creation, but a novel is possible. I’ll keep it in mind.

      I love scientific horror too. I truly enjoy layering tiny pieces of fact into a tale of fantasy until the horrors become all too plausible. It’s not always achievable, but when it comes together it’s very gratifying.
      Thank again, Alex!!!

      Like

  18. jonolsonauthor says :

    It was a fantastic read and while a movie would be great to see I’d rather see the novel first! Again, well done and keep them coming!

    Like

  19. blazemcrob says :

    Great story, Tyr! I love the mixing of horror and mystery/detective work. Perry Mason this is not. The big guy would have had a difficult time with this case, which I shall call, “The Case Of The Talented Tyr.”

    Blaze

    Like

    • Tyr Kieran says :

      Mason, in his own right, was a badass and to have created a case that would leave him speechless (or headless) is quite the compliment! Thank you, Blaze!!!

      Like

  20. Wanderer says :

    This was brilliant. Even though I knew what might be coming, the writing kept it shocking and disturbing. Excellent work.

    Like

    • Tyr Kieran says :

      Thank you, Wanderer! One of my main goals in writing this piece was to make the Doctor’s fate disturbing and, hopefully, memorable. Thanks for reading!!!

      Like

  21. A Window Into The Dark says :

    Oh I like, I like! Great, fast paced story. And how much was I wishing he would just call his brother and tell him to burn the body before he touched it!! But well, that would have made for a rather tame ending I guess. Will be reblogging this one. Really enjoyed 🙂

    Like

    • Tyr Kieran says :

      Yes, Kill it! Kill it with fire!!!
      (We don’t know for sure if bullets will get the job done…)

      I’m very happy you enjoyed the tale! Thanks for reading and sharing!

      Like

  22. A Window Into The Dark says :

    Reblogged this on A Window Into The Dark and commented:
    A little bit of crime and horror mixed in together….my very favourite kind

    Like

  23. L.M. Murphy says :

    Holy hell on horseback, Tyr. Nicely done. That’s one nasty little parasite. Makes me wish I didn’t live next to the local pretty-to-look-at-but-don’t-swim-in-it pond… if I were wearing a hat, I’d take it off to you. Brilliantly gory!

    Like

    • Tyr Kieran says :

      “Holy hell on horseback”, ha ha, love it. Thanks! Yes, be cautious in all deep, dark bodies of water, you never know what’s down there. Thank you for reading and for the conjectural tip of the hat!

      Like

  24. L.M. Murphy says :

    Reblogged this on Murphy's Pub and commented:
    Grisly, mind-bending horror from the Damned.. Murphy likey. 😀

    Like

  25. Jim Knowes says :

    Thoroughly enjoyed this. Thank you

    Like

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