Are You Okay?
The knocking on the front door was heavy and relentless, like the pounding in Jim Argyle’s head. His mouth was dry with lips on the verge of cracking as he pushed himself off the floor. Jim rubbed his forehead trying to remember how he ended up on the kitchen floor in the first place.
“Come on, Jim, open up!” a voice yelled from the front door.
His tongue itched.
He noticed the small kitchen table and two chairs were overturned. Dishes were strewn, some broken, throughout the room and the fridge was wide open with its contents spilled out across the floor. The back door was slightly ajar.
What the fuck happened?
The front doorknob rattled as the pounding continued.
“Are you in there, Jim? Open the door!”
Jim stood up and staggered towards the front entrance smacking his lips, trying to moisten them. He fumbled with the latch until it unlocked and the door pulled open.
Tom Chesterfield was standing on the front porch, and his jaw dropped slightly when he saw Jim.
“Jesus,” Tom said. “What happened to you? Are you okay?”
The last thing Jim wanted to do was to try and give his brother-in-law an explanation.
“Yeah… just a little hung over.”
“A little hung over? I’ve been trying to get a hold of you for three days. Every time I called, you didn’t answer.”
Jim glanced over to where his phone sat, wondering why he wouldn’t have answered, then turned back to Tom. “I’m alright.”
“I told you.” His tongue still itched.
“No, that’s bullshit. The last time we talked you claimed that something happened in your backyard.”
Jim frowned, trying to recollect the events of the last three days.
Tom placed a hand on his shoulder. “Don’t you remember?”
Jim shrugged but offered no further explanation, wishing his sister’s husband would leave him alone. Tom looked over Jim’s shoulder into the house, saw the overturned furniture then walked past him.
Reluctantly, Jim followed.
Squatting down, Tom picked up a milk carton and placed it back in the fridge. He glanced at the furniture, the broken dishes, then looked at Jim who lowered his head and let his shoulders sag.
“I don’t remember a thing about the last three days. The last thing I vaguely recall doing was talking to you on the phone.”
The itch on his tongue grew worse.
“So why’d you try to pass it off as being hung over?”
“It feels like a hangover. My head is aching like a son of a bitch and I’m parched. Toss in the memory loss and it sounds like one.” Jim bent down and flipped the table back onto its feet. “I do appreciate you looking in on me, though.”
Tom offered a slight smile but when he looked out the small kitchen window into the backyard, it disappeared from his face.
“What happened to your lawn?” Tom asked leaning forward for a better look.
Jim’s tongue began to twitch, making speaking difficult. “I do appreciate this, Tom, but as you can see I’m fine. You can leave now.”
“There’s a large patch of lawn torn up or something.”
Wishing Tom would go away, Jim began rocking on his feet as his tongue flapped uncontrollably inside his mouth.
“What happened out there?”
Tom slipped through the open backdoor.
As Jim stood alone in the kitchen, a ripple of calm washed through his body and his tongue stopped moving. He rubbed the back of his head, near the base of his skull then followed his brother-in-law outside, no longer feeling in control of his own body.
Tom was standing a few feet away from the house looking down at a large hole that had opened up in the ground.
“Do you think it could be an old mine shaft that they failed to fill in properly?”
Jim replied with words and a voice that were not his own. “No, Tom, that’s not what it is.” His recollection of the previous three days now clear in his mind. “The ground caved in with a slight shudder the other day while we were speaking on the phone.”
Tom pulled his eyes from the sinkhole and gave Jim a wary look. “I thought you didn’t remember?”
Jim continued almost mechanically, “There’s a colony of small, parasitic creatures living down there that have been around for a long time. For decades they remain below until it’s time to reproduce. That’s when they venture up to the surface to find hosts. One of them made its way up through the sinkhole, entering the house as I was getting ready to go out.” He could see vivid images of the worm-like shape wriggling quickly across the kitchen floor and up the front of his body, going for his mouth. “I struggled with it to no avail.”
“What the hell are you talking about?”
With a quick swipe of his hand, Jim gripped the back of Tom’s head and brought it to his, locking lips. Within seconds, Jim’s tongue secreted a toxin that relaxed Tom’s jaw, keeping his mouth open. Jim began to heave, his mouth pressed against Tom’s until he regurgitated a thin eyeless worm with small hooks on the end of its tail. Using his own tongue, he guided it until it was in Tom’s mouth where it quickly found its way into the back of the other man’s throat.
When the deed was done, Jim pulled his tongue out and released his grip. Tom slumped to the ground gagging.
“What… did… you…?” Tom gasped.
“It’s how they breed,” Jim said. “It’ll grow quickly and take control of your body. Within three days it will have reached adult size and will then lay its eggs. Once they hatch, the young will feed on you, gaining what nourishment they need. At maturation, they will exit your body and travel to their underground home while I serve as the carrier to find more hosts.”
Tom struggled to speak but quickly fell unconscious.
“It’s not so bad,” Jim said. “They allow us to carry on with our lives as long as we don’t put them at risk. If we do something they don’t want us to do, they simply take control and don’t allow it.”
As if to reinforce his words, a tear formed, but before it could trickle down his cheek, it was absorbed back into his eye.
~ Jon Olson
© Copyright 2016 Jon Olson. All Rights Reserved