Friday, August 13, 2010

The Man in White

He walks down the highway. Cars swerve past, honking. His spotless white suit flaps in the wind. He shifts his grip on his brown suitcase, smiles slightly and adjusts his wide-brimmed hat. The gentleman turns, facing the oncoming traffic, and begins to grow, rapidly increasing in mass. Drivers slam on their brakes, cursing loudly as he towers above.
“Remain calm. You will be assisted momentarily. Please remain in your vehicles until my staff has a chance to help you.”
He opens the suitcase. Corpses rain down before the stopped cars. Screams erupt as the dead stand and begin shambling forward.

Creative Commons License
The Man in White by Tena Kolakowski is licensed under a Creative Commons Attribution-NonCommercial-NoDerivs 3.0 United States License.

This was my first attempt at a "Drabble" type story- one of exactly 100 words. Thoughts?

Wednesday, July 21, 2010

My Review of Ancestor, by Scott Sigler

Warning: this review *may* contain profanity. Sorry, Mom.

Ancestor: A Novel

Ancestor: A Novel
I love this book. I cannot stress enough how incredibly plausible this storyline is when you get down to the science of it. Sigler has created a thriller that grips you deep in the primal gut and won't let you go. It's hard to put the book down. The characters are real, either as hateable people you are happy to see die, or likeable people you want to save. There is romance and love without being sappy or corny, and, true to Sigler's MO, there is lots and lots of violence. I seemed to remember Magnus as being more of a self-cutting psychopath, but that may have been something that changed between the original podcast novel and this version. If you have even an inkling of interest in biology, evolution, or horrifying possibilities, you must read this book.

Oh, and that black and white animal laying on the ground behind those rocks? It sure as fuck ain't no cow. 

Sunday, May 2, 2010

Stuff and More Stuff

Wow, I wrote 1800 words tonight on The Novel, bringing it to almost 6000 total! I am pretty darn proud of myself. My method has so far been to just sort of write what wants to be written and I will piece it together later. I have a (loose) time line that's got some huge gaps in it, but that's all been since I started the first little piecemeal part. I still have several pages of handwritten notes that I could type up, but I am really just keeping those in mind as part of my end goal for this whole thing. I am interested to see where it all goes. So far I haven't had to reign in anything or make any huge changes from my original plan. The whole idea of writing a 75,000 word novel is pretty daunting, though. I feel like I can do it but at the same time I'm afraid that I will fall short, or that I'll tell the whole story in 20,000 words or something, and I want this to be a real novel, not just another long short story. I've got to create some kind of journey of sorts for my characters, but I'm not really sure how to do that yet. It's definitely a learning experience for me! I need to stop writing for tonight, since my domestic chores have fallen by the wayside and I have to get up at the asscrack of dawn tomorrow. Balancing writing with family and work sucks, but that is also a learning experience.

I was going to review a book tonight, but it's going to have to wait until tomorrow. I am one sleepy lady with chores to do, and the husband will be home from work in an hour. I had planned to be in bed about an hour ago. Ah well.

For what it's worth, I have completely given up on TAW for now. Sad but true. I simply don't have it in me to do it right now, let alone 12 weeks of it. Maybe this summer I'll be able to devote more attention to it and actually get something out of it. For the moment, though, I just can't put in the necessary effort.

Friday, April 30, 2010

This Writing Thing is Addictive

Notice that I did NOT say "addicting" because that is not a word. Anyone who uses that word deserves to have their brain pulled out through their nose and then be strangled with said brain.

Also, more work on the Novel tonight! Yay!! I only did 700ish words, but hey, that's still decent and almost 3 pages. I am making progress on the research front as well, though I think I need to talk to some nurses before I am able to develop one of the characters too much. If you happen to be a nurse, and don't mind me asking questions, can you leave a comment here with your info? Or tweet me @simplytena. Thanks! Same goes if you have any favorite mythology books that you'd recommend that deal with trickster and/or creator gods.

I think I need to quit playing Farmville. I was reading a recent post by a "real" author (see the Lakeshore link to the right) and realized that like him, the "need" to write is diminished when I play lots of computer games. I want the writing addiction, and I need to nurture that rather than worry about feeding some stupid computer dog or harvesting some not-real crops. Hm. Yeah. That also goes along with the philosophy in this house that once a game isn't fun anymore, then you should quit playing it.

Sunday, April 25, 2010

Writing: Just DO It.

I worked on The Novel tonight!! I added 1000 words, and in my humble opinion they are even worthwhile words that contribute positively to the storyline. YAY! I really just need to sit and make myself write. I can always type it up later, the important thing is the writing. It's easy when I just do it, really. Even with a headache. I am feeling rather proud of myself now, actually.

Friday, April 23, 2010

Falling off the Wagon in a BIG Way

Yeah...TAW has totally gone by the wayside. I started (in my head) week 1 about 2 weeks ago, and then the shit hit the fan. I am in a position at work where I may not actually have a job in a couple months so finding a new position has been my priority. That plus my existing full time job plus being a wife and a mother? Holy hell, I don't know how to do this. I am really trying to make myself write but it's just not happened. Someone please hit me with a "get your act together" stick. If you happen to have access to that nifty time-doubling hourglass from Harry Potter that would be awesome too.

Monday, April 12, 2010

The Artist's Way-Day 1

I did my morning pages tonight! Whee! So I guess that makes them evening pages. It was really quite nice. I don't think it hurts anything for me to do them in the evening, since I'm sure not getting up earlier than I already have to in order to do them in the morning. This was my first day of doing them. I'm going to keep myself honest and make myself report here if I ever *don't* do them over the next 12 weeks. Eek. That's a long time. Hm. Also, wine makes writing 3 pages of non-stuff more relaxing.

Wednesday, March 31, 2010

The Artist's Way

I now own The Artist's Way. I also own a snazzy (free!) new notebook with a pen! (Sometimes, working a job in research has it's perks. In this case, product shows.) One of these days I'll get settle myself in and actually start this thing. I'm only 3 or 4 weeks behind the ISBW schedule...

Thursday, March 25, 2010

Motivation = Lacking

I want to have the energy to work on my writing, but I know I have to just make myself do it. If I make myself write, though, I'm afraid it's going to come out forced and it won't be fun. I know that if I just do it I'll get into it, but that initial motivation is really hard. Blah.I need to set daily goals for myself. Maybe that will help. It's hard when the toddler is sick and the house is a mess, but I just need to suck it up and write.

Friday, March 19, 2010

Note to self: get this book.

Thursday, March 18, 2010

1 down, 5 to go!

I just trimmed my first Podcastle contest entry down to 495 words. Go me!

Also, in case anyone actually reads this, I am taking down my entered story from here until I either get knocked out or accepted during the aforementioned contest. I will put it back up, possibly both versions of it, when that time comes.

Will I Enter? Oh, Yes. I Will.

Escape Artists is having another flash contest! Yay! I missed the boat on entering last time, but I think I can hash out/cut down a few stories for these. Each author may submit up to 2 stories per category, for a total of 6 stories. They must be under 500 words each.

Details can be found by clicking below.

Have I mentioned YAY?! Stories get voted on, critiqued, and a lucky few get bought! The contest starts April 1, so I guess I should get cracking!

Wednesday, March 17, 2010

My First Rejection

Oh well. Pseudopod did provide some helpful feedback, and I will try somewhere else! The biggest step was submitting it at all, so while I'm a little bummed (and who isn't after a rejection?) it's not a big deal. Keep on keepin' on.

Tuesday, March 16, 2010

Check out the New Promo Video for Underwood and Flinch, by Mike Bennett

I can hardly wait until April when the story resumes!

Niles the Hero, written a long, long time ago.

Niles looked up from his breakfast of blackened salmon and gazed out the entrance to his cave. It was a nice cave, as caves go, with more than a dozen caverns and a lovely view of the valley below with an especially clear view of the village nestled within the valley. The villagers were panicking again, simply because some king from far away had kidnapped their beloved princess for the seventeenth time. Niles sighed, puffing a cloud of black smoke from his nostrils. Once he’d finished his meal, he rose and ambled over to the rather large mirror on the wall. He carefully picked his teeth with a delicately sharpened claw and pondered what to do that day, and whether he should polish his scales again, which would be the third time that week. With a snort that flung soot all over the mirror, the dragon shook his head and decided that he was sick of being bored, and that he wouldn’t polish his scales.

Once more he gazed across the valley. Shouts and other irritating noises wafted up to his ears.

“That’s it!” he roared, annoyed. He would rescue the stupid princess and put an end to this horrid racket. He tidied the dirt pile he slept on, generally cleaned up a bit, and gave his ruby scales a quick buffing for appearances sake. At last, he was ready to go. As he flew over the town everyone scurried about, terrified, and just generally panicked some more. Niles rolled his eyes. “Idiots,” he grumbled.
After an hour or so of flying, a beautiful, lamenting ballad belted by a sweet voice drifted up from a castle and pierced his eardrums. He covered his ears and began his descent. Landing on the roof above the room the singing came from, he braced himself and blindly reached into the room below. The singing had stopped at last, only to be replaced by a series of even more piercing shrieks and screams that echoed in poor Niles’ head. At last, after being whacked with chairs, kicked, poked with various and assorted objects, and generally berated, his scaly claw found the princess and dragged her out the window. His large obsidian eyes beheld the most beautiful girl he’d ever seen. As he began to state his mission, all speech on his part ended with an abrupt roar or startled pain.

“You bit me!” He hollered.

“Put me down!” The princess screeched, after disgustedly wiping her mouth on her sleeve, as she wriggled defiantly.

Shocked, Niles looked at her. “Don’t you want to be rescued?”

“Yes, but…” She began to cry. A small trickle of mucus slithered out of her dainty nose. “A dragon was not my ideal hero. You are too big and smelly. You’re awful. Now leave.”

“Hmph. Well, I am taking you home whether you like it or not.” With that, he threw her on his back between his wings and took off. The following hour or so it took to get back to the village was the worst he could recall. The spoiled young woman on his back lifted his scales and poked him with hairpins, she pinched his wings, and she kicked, screamed and thrashed about as much as she could without falling off more than once (it cost Niles the remainder of his patience when he had to dive to catch her). At last Niles arrived back at his cave to get something for his headache. Meanwhile, the princess continued to scream and be as obnoxious as one could be. Immediately after he’d taken some aspirin, Niles made a very important life-or-death decision. He grinned toothily to himself and hummed a little dragon tune to drown out the villagers and the incessant cacophony the princess insisted upon making.

That night, Niles the Ruby Dragon sat down to a fine meal of roast donkey, with pickled cats for garnish, and a delicately toasted princess à la mode for dessert.

The moral of this story is this: Heroes are entitled to do what they will with whomever they rescue, even if that includes eating them for dessert. 

Creative Commons License
Niles the Hero by Tena Kolakowski is licensed under a Creative Commons Attribution-Noncommercial-No Derivative Works 3.0 United States License.

Monday, March 15, 2010

Oh Boy

In the name of research, I joined Twitter. I have no idea what the hell I am supposed to do with it, but there you go. I'm a little overwhelmed. Hopefully it will be useful, and provide me with some background for the great work of fiction I'm endeavoring to create.

Sunday, March 14, 2010

Current Projects

I have a few things going on right now. I am *going to* start doing The Artist's Way. I am in the process of revising and editing my dozen or so short stories in preparation for submitting them, though I don't know where yet. That's the next step. I am also writing a novel! I am too impatient to wait for NaNoWriMo, though I may do that when the time comes, just not for this story. My goal is somewhere between 75,000 and 100,000 words, with my progress tracked on the sidebar.

Monday, March 8, 2010

Books I've Read and Listened To of Late

Enjoy! There are no spoilers, so read away!

I thoroughly enjoyed Outlander, I think that series could potentially replace the Earth's Children (Clan of the Cave Bear) series for my "need to read addictive books with lots and lots of sex in them" needs. Wow. I mean, I love me some Ayla and Jondalar but Claire and Jamie are much more fascinating to me. Perhaps it's the fact that they are only a few hundred years from the present, as opposed to several thousand. Seriously, though. Outlander. Well worth the read, lots of sex, some seriously heavy duty fucked-up-edness going on, but wonderfully written. The basic premise is that Claire is an English woman on a second honeymoon with her husband (whom she barely knows, due to the interruption of WWII) after the end of WWII. They're in Scotland, and she gets sucked through a rock to 200 years in the past. I highly, highly recommend this book. Added bonus? The author (Diana Gabaldon) is a scientist. What's not to love?

Pride and Prejudice and Zombies. Amusing, but by the end I thought it was pretty stupid. It has inspired me to want to read the original Pride and Prejudice, though. I did enjoy the description of a man's junk as his "most English parts." Oy. I mean, if you really like zombies, and/or Jane Austin, you can read it, but it's really pretty childish. My copy has long since gone to someone else via PaperbackSwap.

The Heaven series, by Mur Lafferty. These are all podcast novels, available both in iTunes and for free! You can't beat free, really. Let's see, there's Heaven, Hell, Earth, Wasteland, and War. The basic premise is that Kate and Daniel have died, they journey through heaven, hell, and everywhere in between and at some point become gods. It touches on many, many different religions and mythologies. I absolutely love Mur Lafferty, and this podcast series is no exception to her usual awesomeness. Heaven is also to be released in print, about which I have to say I'm pretty excited. Ooh, and in writing this, I have literally just discovered that you can listen to many episodes of her stuff on her website,! Sweet.

Another podcast novel I've been listening to is Underwood and Flinch, by Mike Bennett. It's currently on hiatus, until April, but I recommend listening from the beginning (subscribe in iTunes and you can get all the episodes). If you start now, you probably won't even have a break between parts 1 and 2. I will warn that this does fall in the horror genre, and there is a fair amount of gore. Most of Mike Bennett's stuff is pretty weird, but thoroughly enjoyable. All of his content is available for free as podcasts. As far as I know, none of it's in print at the moment.


Oh, Scott Sigler. If you like serious violence and gore in your hardcore horror sci-fi, you will love Scott Sigler (or, as he is known among his junkies, the FDO). He has also made all of his content available for free as podcasts, plus several of his books are in print. C got me Infected for my birthday.  I re-read it (I'd "read" it as an audiobook about a year ago or so) a few weeks ago, and I have to say Sigler has a knack for making my guts twist into a terror knot. More for the violence than anything else. I was happy to skip one particular part of the book while I was reading it, because it was really just too violent for me to handle. Not all of his books are this violent. I really, really loved Ancestor (which is apparently not being made into a movie, sadness. Thanks for correcting me though, Scott Sigler! I am all like excited now that an actual real author/famous person commented on my blog! Eee!) and also Nocturnal. I can't decide which of those two is my favorite. I will warn you, they are violent, but they are not the same intensity of violence as that particular scene in Infected (really, I can't give it away without a spoiler). Ancestor absolutely chilled me to the bone. Alas, I have gone on a bit of a tangent. Infected is about some crazy infectious (duh) spores from outer space that make people do crazy things like butcher their whole families. One man, Perry Dawsey, fights them as only he can, and cuts pieces of himself out to stop the infection. That's really all I can give away. If you like horror and sci-fi, you'll have to read it yourself. (Just a happy little something, the Scott Sigler commented on this post in my personal blog. *Nerdgasm*!)

A Reliable Wife was okay. I was hoping for some fabulous sex scenes, but they really turned out to be pretty darn creepy. The book is a quick read, and an entertaining foray into the mind of a woman who has never known love. It follows her through a redemption of sorts in her misleading answer to a personal ad for a "realiable wife" and how she actually ends up fulfilling (or not, depending on your viewpoint) that role. It's worth reading, but I don't think I'll ever read it again. We read it for book club this month.

Sunday, February 14, 2010

"Numb" submitted to Pseudopod 2/12/2010


It had been a frustrating day. The gray weather certainly didn't help my mood, the anniversary of Scott's death notwithstanding. I sent off edited documents, but my supervisor would inevitably pop by a few minutes later with a falsely cheerful comment about how things didn't seem up to my usual standard, or how some client called and she needed me to get six hundred other things done by the end of the week. My so-called friends went out to lunch and then got coffee without telling me, and by the end of the day I'd had enough. I left without saying a word and without looking back.

Drizzling rain gently soaked through my unfortunately non-waterproof jacket, my clothes and my skin as I walked down the street. I didn't know where I was going, I just wanted to go. Scott died a year ago today. We hadn't been married that long, but it didn't hurt any less now than it did before. I still loved him. I still missed him. I still couldn't sleep at night without him. I absently spun the platinum band on my ring finger. I couldn't bring myself to take it off yet. The ache inside seemed amplified and closer to the surface as the droplets gathered on my face. It wasn't fair, he shouldn't have been taken from me so soon. I just wanted to stop hurting, just to be numb for a few hours. When I did fall asleep, even in my dreams I ached for Scott, and I woke up crying most mornings. I was soon as thoroughly damp as it was possible to be, given that I was out walking aimlessly in the rain. At least it wasn't terribly cold. The sidewalk detoured slightly from the road through a small park. I followed the pavement through a grove of tall trees, breathing the deep, earthy scent of soil, grass and moss. The trail veered off to the left, and I continued along it mechanically, not really paying any attention. The greyness of the evening had a dulling effect on my senses, even seeming to swallow my footsteps. The grove of trees seemed much larger than I remembered from previous visits, but I wasn't really paying attention to my surroundings beyond where my feet fell. For the first time in far too long the burning ache inside me lessened slightly. The drizzle tapered off to become a thick, heavy mist only slightly less wet than the rain had been. I wiped a sopping clump of hair from my face. The trees above and around me continued to thicken as I walked onward.

The sidewalk gradually became less solid beneath my feet. There were buckles and cracks woven throughout the once-smooth pavement. Decay had crept in and nibbled away at it in places. Further along there were lumps of concrete scattered and broken among errant tree roots. Fallen leaves and detritus carpeted the ground with a slick covering that muffled my footsteps. I was vaguely aware of hearing my own breath drawn in and out, in and out. The now massive trunks around me creaked softly, feebly, as though simply existing was a strain. I kept walking.

My feet soon slipped on the now mucky trail as I left the last remnants of concrete behind. My hair curled damply against my face, dripping occasionally in the heavy mist. The rancid and sickly sweet odor of rot rose from the freshly-trod path beneath my feet, permeating the haze in my head. I remembered camping with Scott one fall, when we came across the partially-eaten carcass of a rabbit. The trees were thinning now, though some reached across my path. A few retained scattered stubborn leaves that clung to dying branches of mildewed gray-brown. The wood provided little resistance to my efforts to break a limb that crossed my trail. The sharp *CRACK* echoed in the silence around me, making me jump. I became aware of a chill in the air. I thought I heard a raven caw in the deeper woods behind me, but it may have been a reverberation of the branch being broken off. I carried the branch with me, just to have something in my lonely palms other than the memory of a warm hand. My shoes sank into the soft surface of the earth, intensifying the putrid smell that wafted up to me. Ambient noises teased the edges of my hearing, but only as long as I kept walking. If I stopped to analyze them they ceased, and the only sound I would hear came from my own breathing. A sudden pang broke through the dull absence of pain that had come over me and I blinked back tears, pressing onward before I was cocooned in the ache for Scott all over again.

The branch grew heavy in my grasp, so I switched it to my right hand. The texture made me shiver; soft and clammy to the touch, but firm inside, like a very long, dead finger. It had blackened my left palm and fingers where I'd been holding the stick. Disgusted, I rubbed the slick filth from my hand onto my jeans. The trail had widened, there were no trees any more, but it was no lighter than it had been when I was in the woods. My palm itched and I rubbed in on my jeans again as I navigated the irregular ground. A slight crackle behind me caught my attention and I whirled around.

I could see nothing but the same landscape of dull, gloomy gray-brown with hints of rotten black-green. The thick mist still hung heavily around me, obscuring all but one or two of the closest trees in the direction I had come. Silence pounded in my ears and my breath plumed out in front of me. I felt the increased iciness of the air. My fingers were cold, stiff, and damp, not unlike the branch I held. I tightened my grip, turned around, and resumed walking. Memories of my Scott crept into the cracks in my attempt to keep my mind blank. The ocean cottage where we'd honeymooned. His sunburned feet. The way he'd made love to me. The way he teased me when I ran away from the tiny fish in the surf. Tears burned and choked me and I walked faster.

Ahead of me the path forked and I kept to the left. The trail rapidly narrowed, gaining a resemblance to a game trail. My breathing seemed strangely amplified in my ears as though the omnipresent mist muffled any other sounds there may have been. I shifted the stick into my left hand once more as it had grown heavy in my right. I rubbed my palm against my damp jeans, trying to satisfy the itch. The cold dampness of the gray-brown-green rotting world kept my mind flat and dull, numb, and kept my automatic brain from derailing to memories. Thoughtless and steady I carried on.

Something to my right interrupted the monotony and caught my eye. I glanced absently in it's direction and continued walking. The image niggled and writhed in my mind as I walked. I realized what the thing had been and my feet stopped moving. Part of a thoroughly decomposed arm in a stagnant puddle. The bone was visible poking out of what had once been a sleeve of some indeterminate color and fabric. The smallness of the limb bothered me and I recalled the names we'd picked for our future children. My breath caught in my throat, and I started walking again, ignoring the prickling feeling at the back of my neck. I could not turn back. There were too many memories behind me.

What may have been an hour or maybe only a few minutes later I noticed that the ground seemed to feel softer, more cushiony, under my feet, though it looked the same. In spite of the pace I'd kept I was not fatigued, aside from the unnaturally heavy pull of the stick I still carried with me. My hands made imprints in the thin of the branch, which, if anything, seemed to be growing thicker as time went on. It certainly wasn't getting smaller, in any case. I muttered out loud to myself that it was crazy, it's just a stick, it isn't growing. My quiet voice surrounded me. The path through this unworldly landscape had gradually faded to nonexistence. I kept walking in what I guessed to be the same direction. The detritus absorbed my footsteps. My breath was unreasonably loud in the icy gray air, punctuated by sounds I dimly detected at the periphery of my hearing. Nothing ever revealed itself within the narrow scope of this muffled world. I gripped my branch and tried not to think about gathering firewood with Scott when we'd gone to the lake to try out our new boat.

My left arm felt heavy and thick, as though filled with sand. I stretched, massaged it with my right hand, but I may as well have done nothing for all the difference I felt. My palm slid around on the stick, as though there were a layer of mildew between my hand and the clammy skin-bark of the limb, and I noticed a tingly burning sensation deep in my palm. I dropped the stick on the ground at my and rubbed my hands together, trying to dispel the uncomfortable burning. The sensation eased but was replaced by an icy numbness. My right hand felt like it had bits of doughy muck dried onto the skin, so I rubbed it on my jeans. Some of the fabric brushed off with the muck, though I didn't realize that until I felt the chill on the skin of my thigh. I tried to warm my hands by putting them in my pockets, but my palm snagged on the edge of the fabric. I looked to see what my hand had caught on and I stumbled to a stop. Something was very wrong. My hand was too...thin, like a notebook that's had half the pages ripped out. My palm-oh God.The flesh was gone. Not entirely, enough remained that a vague pattern obscured most of the bones. Tendons flashed unnaturally, iridescently bright in the dull light. Blood seeped in a slow rivulet down my wrist and into my sleeve. My heart pounded, causing my shirt to vibrate over my slight breasts. Horrified, I felt my throat closing and realized that I felt no pain. I glanced around desperately, hoping to see anything that I could use to bandage my hand, but my eyes only fell on the stick I'd dropped some yards behind me.

The once skeletal limb had something on it. Something odd. I looked closer. My ruined flesh adorned the branch, gray-pink against the gray-green rot. The branch was plump, no longer skeletal but swollen like a bloated river-borne corpse. Scott's body after it had been brought to shore. A shiver ran down my spine. A maggot wriggled, corpulent and white, over the skin that my palm had lost to the corpse-branch. I shuddered and felt the hairs at the back of my neck prickling. More maggots were now swarming out of the broken end of the branch, covering the rotting skin-bark with a revolting mass of white, making it look more like a swollen, handless arm than a branch from a dying tree.

Something in my head snapped. A strangled sound of terror escaped my throat as I kicked the branch away. I was shaking as I started running, in a direction that I hoped would lead me home in spite of the thick atmosphere that hid any identifying features of the bleak landscape. I soon tripped over what I at first took to be a rotting log. I caught myself on my hands and pulled myself up, desperately ignoring the pain in my right hand and the numb grinding sensation in my left. I noticed that the jeans I was wearing now had holes in the knees from my fall, in addition to the holes along the sides where I'd been wiping my hands. Looking back, I realized it didn't look quite right for a log. Limbs, swollen like the strange carnivorous branch I had discarded, twisted around a body. A human body. The blackened corpse had strands of hair clumped around a rotting, fungal skull. The stench I had noticed earlier once again reached my nose, rotting vegetation mixed with the odor of putrefying flesh.

Bile rose into my mouth, spilling from my stunned lips in a yellow-brown sludge and dribbling onto my shirt. I fell to my knees as my stomach spasmed. Heaves overtook me, painfully and frustratingly dry. Tears blurred my vision as I crawled desperately away from the corpse, still retching.

A noise penetrated the sounds of my own gasping and gagging, shocking me into silence. My knees felt wet, warm, and tingly, as my hand had, but I could not move. A strange, wet crunching came from behind me. Very slowly, I turned my head. My breaths were so shallow I could no longer hear them over my pounding heart. There, perhaps ten feet from me, over the rotting thing that had once been a person, something utterly unnameable was crouched. The color was evidently that of the mist, though it seemed also to blend in with the sodden ground. It was visible more as a distortion of the surrounding environment than as an actual physical thing, save the eyes and the teeth. The eyes glowed an unearthly color; the teeth gleamed like tiny, jagged knives in the dull gray light. Hoping that it would prefer the decomposing corpse to the fresh meal I would make, I began to run.

The soles of my shoes felt thinner, as if the ground itself had been eating them away while I traveled, but I could not stop. I ran in the direction I thought the forest should be. I ran through the burning, tingling pain in my feet after my shoes and socks were indeed worn away. I ran as numbness set in, just as it had in my hand. I ran until there was not enough left of my feet to run, and then I crawled, dragging the tingling stumps of my feet behind me. I knew that the thing would find me sooner or later but I desperately hoped to make it home to my own world before then. I tried not to remember if the corpse had still had hands and feet. My hands tingled and burned with every movement I made to drag myself further. My left hand continued to disintegrate. My wedding band grated on bone.

By the time my knees had been eaten away, the ground had become less spongy. I pulled myself on my forearms and pushed with the nubs of my thighs, my torso dragging on the ground in my grotesque army crawl. I could feel the warm, burning, tingly sensation setting in along my stomach. I knew I wouldn't make it, but I could not give in. I caught a glimpse of a tree here and there ahead of me and pulled myself forward with more determination. A sharp tug stopped me and I made the mistake of looking down. I could see my own intestines tangled together, caught on a root. Blood smeared my entrails and the ground beneath me. Groping forward, I had to keep going. My right wrist scraped against a chunk of concrete. My heart leaped in false hope. Nearly there. I felt so weak. I no longer entertained any hope of survival, merely a hope of being found so that my mother would not always wonder if I was still alive somewhere. I lifted my torso to go over the root, then convulsed and heaved suddenly as my stomach was pulled from my ruined abdomen. I looked behind me and saw the bloody trail I'd left, pieces of my body scattered on the carnivorous ground. I shuddered, gagging, and turned back to keep crawling. I tried not to dwell on the absence of pain.

Perhaps ten or fifteen feet ahead of me, the thing waited patiently. The eyes were eerily still orbs in the gray mist. I could not see the teeth, but I didn't need to. I pushed my femurs into the ground, trying desperately to propel myself away from it, but the root was embedded too deeply inside me. As if it had grown into me while I hesitated. I could feel my brain clouding, my sight growing dark as blood loss and shock overcame adrenaline. My last attempt at speech died on my lips as the unnameable began to feed. As I mercifully lost consciousness, I hoped I'd see Scott again.

Creative Commons License
Numb by Tena Kolakowski is licensed under a Creative Commons Attribution-Noncommercial-No Derivative Works 3.0 United States License.