She’d just read in the paper that Manchester, New Hampshire residents were experiencing strange phenomenon, but she never thought anything could happen to her. Wasn’t that always the way?
She gave her short, dirty-blond hair a shake and glanced in the mirror one last time. It was time to go to work.
She curled her pajamas against her body and moved toward her bedroom, where the clothes hamper was kept.
She froze in her tracks. Just above her bed was a small, pearl-colored orb. It seemed to acknowledge her entrance with a quick bob downward. Then, suddenly, it dove under the fluffy, purple and white-splashed comforter.
She wasn’t sure what to do. Why hadn’t she made the bed? What the hell was that thing anyway? Was she seeing things?
She kept her gaze on the spot where it had disappeared. She was afraid to look away. She dropped her pajamas just behind her, and then she shuffled forward, hands shaking.
She reached out ever so slowly to lift the comforter. There it was. It was settled on the top sheet, wiggling slightly as though it was a bird nesting. What in the name of God?
She wasn’t sure what prompted her to touch it. It was a strange urge; a feeling of meant to be.
She seized it in her hand. She had a fraction of a second to feel the moist texture of the peculiar object before it caved to the pressure of her grip. There was a low pop, and then it burst like a bite of cherry tomato. Something gooey squirted her cleavage and slimed a trail deeper, towards the front clasp on her bra.
Her hand was smothered in opaque ooze. She waved her hand wildly in an attempt to shake away the slime. It wasn’t working.
Her brown eyes were bugged wide as she scanned the room for more of the anomalies. One was enough!
She needed to wash off the gook. Despite what had just happened, her mind raced with anxiety over the fact that she would be late for work.
She rushed to the bathroom to scrub her hands under the faucet. Hot water and plenty of soap would do the job. She doused a washcloth and pulled her shirt down to rub at the goo between her breasts.
She felt a sense of relief when she was rid of the foreign gook. She was still trying to comprehend what had taken place when she realized her palm was blazing red with a rash. As she looked on, the odd rash quickly spread to her wrist!
She was baffled. Worse – she was terrified. Screw work! She needed to get to the hospital. Whatever that thing was – it was definitely toxic upon contact.
She could feel it burning between her breasts, scorching a path toward her belly. By the time she found her keys, she was in agony.
By the time she angled into the driver’s seat of her boxy Element, she was beyond pain. Everything faded to black.
The newscaster adjusted the pile of papers in front of her and clasped her manicured hands together solemnly. She gulped nervously and gazed around the sparsely occupied newsroom. Just yesterday, it was alive with the bustle of reporters, cameramen, and researchers. Now, even the CEO was listed as deceased.
“You’re on in five…four…three…two…” the director trailed off and pointed in Megan’s direction.
“Good evening, America,” Megan Waters said, forcing a smile. “There have been city-wide reports of people missing and inexplicable deaths due to toxic orbs floating in our atmosphere. Experts say that the disappearances are one and the same as the influx of deaths in the state.
“Eyewitnesses to victims’ initial contact with an orb report an explosion of a gooey substance, which causes an immediate rash. Minutes after the onset of the rash…” Megan gulped again, trying to push the mental image of her co-anchor’s recent death out of her memory. She excused herself and continued, “Minutes afterwards, the rash spreads and bubbles the skin. Its acidic nature burns through layers of skin in seconds, and then gorges on the skeletal remains.
“Should you come into contact with one of these orbs, avoid touching it at all costs. Experts are still speculating on the origin of the orbs at this time.”
Something landed on the stack of papers in front of Megan. Without thinking, she stretched out a hand to wipe at it. Something wet squirted her chin and neck. She realized too late that one of the orbs had just burst all over her. She gave the director a panicked look; she was a deer caught in the headlights.
“Go to a commercial!” the director commanded gruffly. His heart was suddenly in a vice. He couldn’t bring himself to watch Megan deteriorate right in front of him. He’d just watched her co-anchor dissolve before his very eyes yesterday.
Not Megan. He’d never known anyone to carry a torch for a girl as long as he’d carried his for Megan Waters. He’d known her since kindergarten. He’d loved her since then, too. He’d let her glue his fingers together on the very first day.
He pivoted on his right heel and ran face-first into a floating orb. It spewed across his cheeks and eyes.
It spread. It burned. It was happening so quickly.
His last thoughts were of Megan. He wished they were still in kindergarten. He’d let her glue anything she wanted to glue.
“Sir?” the cameraman said behind him.
He dropped to his knees. No way was he going to turn around. He was still dead-set against watching Megan die. “That’s a cut,” he managed to murmur before his lips bubbled and then melted away.
“But, Sir,” the cameraman objected.
There was a scream. Then everything faded to black.
Copyright 2009 ~ Sheila Roy