Serial Saturday: Road Trip, Part 15

JT was only distantly aware of feeling the back of her head striking the asphalt. The pain from that, the flash of light in her vision, was overwhelmed by a numbness that made it hard to feel anything but something cold crawling over her skin. She tried to move, but wasn’t even sure if her limbs were responding as the numbness grew. She couldn’t feel the parking lot she was lying on, couldn’t feel her own arms. She realized that she was rolling slowly to one side as her view of a streetlight overhead was replaced by the sight of Israel lying on the ground next to her. He was thrashing weakly himself, and covered with something that looked either a black blanket, or hundreds of snakes or insects crawling across him. They, or it, was working its way across him, wriggling under his shirt to make it jump and twitch.

The sight made her want to scream, but as she opened her mouth she felt something slide into it, making her mouth and throat go numb. A moment later Israel’s struggling form disappeared as blackness oozed into her eyes.

Something was scratching at her mind; she could feel it pinching and squeezing, and again thought she’d be screaming if she could. For all she knew, she was. For all she knew, she was moving, her limbs dragging her to wherever something else wanted her to go. She couldn’t feel or see anything, except for the sensation of something still crawling across her skin, eyes and mouth, something that felt like it traveled on thousands of legs. She wished she hadn’t seen the obscenity crawling over Israel, because it let her envision what was happening to her, with what part of her mind was left to her. That part was closed off, but wasn’t getting any smaller. Whatever had clamped onto her mind was going to let her experience the whole thing, until she went completely insane.

How long would that be? How long had it been happening already? Seconds? Weeks?

There was a hissing noise, that seemed to drive straight into her brain, echoing in her skull. It sounded like the legs and wings of thousands of insects whispering together, but deafeningly loud. Then the sound changed, pulled back somehow until it seemed as though it was just blasting into her ear instead of actually being inside her head. She twitched, and found that her limbs obeyed her, and that she could actually tell that they were. That made her surge up, to a seated position she thought, a motion that somehow made it feel like her skin was being pulled off. The pain was welcome, anything better than the feeling of something oozing into her mind, and she continued to fight against the drag of the thing on her, and the blindness and choking feeling.

The crawling sensation was still there, a horrible, disgusting feeling, but it was less intense on her left side and lower back. She fought to drag her arm around, still blind and just barely able to feel anything, and flailed at her side. She only knew that her hand had touched Aya’Ilana when the hissing increased in volume and the hand itself suddenly seemed to come alive with an excruciating prickling. She dragged the tomahawk out of its sheath, groping higher on it until she could feel the blade, and slapped it against her head. She had an idea she’d hit the flat against herself harder than she’d intended, and she’d probably cut her hand in the process, but at least she hadn’t sunk the blade into her own forehead.

The numbness and crawling on her face subsided, and a moment later she could see, although nothing but blurry lights through stinging eyes. Another second later she felt a slackness in her throat , which started up a coughing fit. She fought to hold the tomahawk against herself, sliding the flat down on to her body as she retched. Then she was lurching to her knees, seeing the vague shape of what could have been a moving blanket or thousands of crawling insects dropping off her onto the pavement. He numb legs gave out almost as soon as she’d gained her feet and she fell again, just managing to push herself away from the writhing thing at her feet.

It was all one thing, she saw, blinking; the thing that had been writhing into her was the same thing that was still crawling atop Israel, who was flat on the ground and moving weakly. The thing had stopped hissing, and looked to be consolidating on him now. It had mostly covered him, but still hadn’t reached his lower legs. So it hadn’t been going on for more than a few seconds. That seemed impossible. As she watched, Israel’s random movement suddenly became more purposeful, if clumsy. One arm thrashed violently, and his head came off the pavement with a painful jerk. Seeing it made JT want to throw up and flee, not necessarily in that order.

She came forward on her knees, sliding the tomahawk back into its sheath after three tries, then reached back to draw Chikadra, the knife. One of Israel’s arms batted at her as she neared, and she shoved it aside with her left, almost falling again. She let the tip of the black blade land on Israel’s chest and drew it slowly down toward his stomach, not pushing, just letting it slide.

The hissing noise began again, and the thing on Israel split apart and pulled away from him. More of it oozed from under his shirt, and, as the knife went lower, his jeans. JT felt her gorge rise again, but continued dragging the blade along him, now moving up toward his head. The thing was coming apart from the mere contact with the blade, bits of it falling inert to the pavement. His arm, still covered in the stuff, came up again, but it was weaker this time and she batted it aside easily.

“Hold still,” she muttered although she was pretty sure he couldn’t hear her. As the blade approached his neck she shifted it, pushing the hilt against the thing and Israel’s face. It was nearly as effective as the blade, and she watched with horror as the thing oozed out of Israel’s eyes and throat, just as it had from her a few moments earlier. Israel jackknifed up as he coughed, and she was glad she’d reversed the knife as his forehead smacked against it.

He was thrashing now, and she pulled away from him to turn her attention to what was left of the thing now pulling off him completely and trying to slide away. She stabbed down with the knife, and dragged it along a chunk of the thing that was still writing, watching it split apart wherever the blade touched it.

The hissing had stopped now, and the whole thing appeared to have lost cohesion. Even the parts she wasn’t attacking were dying now, slumping into what looked like a coating of slime on the asphalt. She made a few more slashes at parts that were still wriggling, then leaned over to puke.

She pushed herself away from the dead thing and puke on her hands and butt until her back was to the Pontiac. She drew one sleeve across her mouth, then tucked the knife down at her side and reached out to help drag Israel to a seated position. She sat, breathing raggedly and listening to Israel wheezing beside her for a few moments.

A door slammed, off in the distance, and a moment later someone walked past, toward his car, JT supposed. He glanced over at the two ragged, strange-looking people sitting next to their car and a puddle of puke and shook his head as he walked by.

Copyright © 2011 SM Williams

~ by smwilliams on July 16, 2011.