The Worms Crawl In

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Status: Finished  |  Genre: Flash Fiction  |  House: Review Chain

The dog is missing, but Dean doesn't want to help his daughter find it.

 

"Dad, Missy's missing."

 

Glancing from the computer, Dean sees his daughter’s pinched face peaking through the doorway. 

 

“Check the shed,” he mumbles, scratching his beard.

 

"I already did." Her thin voice shakes, triggering his guilt switch. Lord help me, he groans internally.

 

 

Searching for Missy means he’ll have to descend to the ground floor--an undertaking he rarely does. And if the dog had ventured to the basement… He shudders with revulsion. He never, ever went to the basement. Far too close to Them.

 

“Dad?”

 

His daughter blinks doleful eyes. Rising to his seldom-used feet, he sets his jaw. With his wife at the market, it was time to be Dad.  “Let’s go look.”

 

Together they descend the stairs, each step more intense than the last. Hundreds of Them are out there, trenching miniature mines through the boggy dirt.

 

His ability to sense Them started as a cheery eight-year-old on a fishing trip with Dad. The sun had shone radiantly, a radical disparity to what fate had in store. For when his father had cut the seal on the carton of live worms, a wriggling spasm shivered through his middle. He could sense Them--the writhing and the moisture and the eyelessness. When Dad lobbed the first victim into the lake, Dean felt the cool of the water. And when the trout’s cavernous mouth opened…. 

 

He shudders, tripping on the final step.

 

His wife and family accept his aversion to dirt as an endearing quirk; he’s never shared his stigma with anyone. 

 

Why couldn't it be gold or something useful, he bemoans--again. Why worms?

 

“Dad?” she asks again. She’s used to his distractedness. 

 

“Did you check the basement?” 

 

She nods, brown ponytail dancing. “And the garage. I think she must’ve gone outside.”

 

Missy was old--very old. She wasn’t prone to straying. Better outside than downstairs though.

 

Dean holds the front door and they pass through just as a confetti of dried leaves skitter along the walk. The heavy clouds are moments from delivering a litter of raindrops. Winter looms, and soon the worms will burrow so deeply he’ll almost forget the constant creeping.

 

“Missy!” his daughter yells.

 

“Missy!” he echoes. But the tawny dog doesn’t come.

 

And then he senses... teeming, swarming, a ravenous throng under the hedge. A hand covers his mouth as if to ward off nausea.

 

His daughter saunters down the walk, a pink leash trailing from her hand. She’s looking next to a rose bush and under a truck. But Dean knows Missy’s not there.

 

“Come back!” Dean calls to his daughter. “Mom can help you look when she gets back.”  He isn’t going near the hedge.

 

A forlorn pout shaping her lips, she traipses back, but stops at the hedge. 

 

“Dad, look. Something’s in there.” 

 

“No don’t--”

 

She pushes the leaves aside. Flies scatter.

 

The corpse is bloated and stiff, rigid legs protruding out awkwardly. Milky blue eyes stare. A sickly-sour scent accosts Dean’s nostrils and his gut churns and lurches. A mixture of a rancid acid and cereal fills his mouth; the girl’s eyes fill with tears. 

 

 


Submitted: July 19, 2020

© Copyright 2020 XCulletto. All rights reserved.

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Add Your Comments:

Comments

Marvin Thomas Cox-Flynn

A delightfully dark read as Flash Fiction well done ...

Sun, July 19th, 2020 2:51pm

Author
Reply

Thank you.

Sun, July 19th, 2020 10:26am

C. S. Spence

Tense and interesting. I could see this as a longer piece, it makes me wonder about the characters, and especially Dean's ability. Great work!

Wed, July 22nd, 2020 1:54am

Author
Reply

Thank you!

Mon, July 27th, 2020 9:13pm

Paul Jagar

Good one! Especially liked how you described how he discovered his ability during the fishing trip and the ending.

Fri, July 31st, 2020 2:12pm

Author
Reply

Thanks!

Fri, July 31st, 2020 12:44pm

Spyguy

How blessedly descriptive you write, my sweet friend! Your journalism parallels perfection! This piece has a strong ring of truth, & realism that I just can’t place my finger on, but I’m, as always, impressed with your descriptions!

Mon, August 3rd, 2020 8:28am

Author
Reply

Thank you!

Sun, August 9th, 2020 11:08am

Archia

This just makes me squirm so much. I could just imagine this constant feeling of worms crawling around and being afraid of them. I loved how it kept building up and giving more information about his fear to really all come together in the end with his discovery. Overall, creepy, but great.

Fri, August 14th, 2020 12:39pm

Mark A George

Enjoyed your story. I liked how you took his aversion to worms and built a suspenseful tale in such a short time-frame.

Tue, October 13th, 2020 1:49am

Author
Reply

Thank you!

Mon, October 12th, 2020 9:20pm

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