It seemed like a good time for a shower. My laundry basket was still overturned. I lifted it up a few inches and stuffed all the clothes I was wearing under there. I made my way into the bathroom—
Molly barked. She was staring at the door and I heard a car pull up. I heard Creedence, and a look through the curtains revealed John’s old Cadillac. Thank Christ.
Footsteps on the porch. I yelled, “Don’t open the door yet, I’m naked. Give me one minute.”
The door opened behind me.
I turned and was face-to-face with Franky Burgess.
Franky opened his mouth. A thin stream of liquid squirted out as a greeting. I had the thought to throw up an arm to shield my face from whatever it was, but before the muscles could twitch into action there was a bang and a blueish flash. I felt the floor hit me in the back. I stared at the ceiling, ears ringing, vaguely realizing that the stuff Franky spat had combusted in midair with enough force to knock me on my ass.
I blinked, dazed. Franky stepped over me. He was carrying what looked like several red-and-white grocery bags in each arm. He went into the bedroom. From the floor I saw the Cadillac outside my open front door and had time to make the conscious decision to race out there and drive naked across America, before I felt the forearm close around my neck.
Franky, now with the strength of several Frankys, yanked me to my feet and marched me toward the bedroom.
Molly barked. She bounded toward us, past us, out the door, into the yard, into the distance, barking the whole way. She was not going to get help.
I could see into the bedroom now but couldn’t make sense of what was there. There were four huge, white, bleeding dead birds on my bed.
I was trying to puzzle through the situation. Were these birds for me? Like a gift, or an offering? They were laid out and dripping blood on my sheets, like some Aztec sacrifice on an altar.
I said, “Uh, thank you for the turkeys, Franky. Is your name still Franky?”
Franky’s voice was muffled, like he was talking around a mouthful of food. He held me in place, both of us watching the bed intently for … what? Franky’s arm—the broken one—felt weird. Something long and dry snaking around my torso. I didn’t look down.
Movement on my bed. The sheet was rippling, like somebody had poked their fingers up from under the mattress and was wiggling them. Several somebodies. Dozens of fingers.
I heard fabric rip. A slit formed in the sheet and a tiny version of one of those spiders, no more than two inches long, crawled out. It went right for the nearest turkey. It was quickly joined by another. And another. Within seconds my bed was writhing with dozens of the spider larvae, like maggots on a slab of meat.
With every ounce of strength and adrenaline and terror I could muster, I twisted out of Franky’s grasp and spun toward the door. I made it into the living room before Franky tackled me. I twisted around and from a position flat on my back, punched him in the face as hard as I could. It felt like I broke my hand. He shrugged it off and pinned my arms, his legs straddling my chest. I looked right into his eyes, and saw the gaping stare of a terrified young man. He was hissing something at me, a whisper from deep in the throat. He leaned his face down close to mine. I couldn’t make out his words, they were just choking sounds like an old man on a respirator. He leaned closer. I could smell his breath.
“They are everywhere,” he hissed. “Do you understand me? They are everywhere.”
“Franky! Can you hear me? Get off me!”
Then, I saw it. When Franky opened his mouth, I was looking at the spider. Its tongue, where Franky’s tongue used to be, behind his teeth. It had simply taken over the lower half of his skull. I pictured the way its leg was able to glue itself to my shoulder and shuddered. The spider was a part of Franky now. Maybe the spider was Franky at this point.
Running footsteps, on the porch. Franky and I both looked and saw John hurl himself through the front door.
I screamed, “JOHN! IT’S A BREEDER!”
John didn’t stop. He hurdled the coffee table while screaming, “YOUR KEY! I NEED YOUR SHED KEY!”
Shed key? What was he doing? Borrowing my lawnmower?
“Listen,” Franky hissed, focusing back on me. I realized he was trying to talk through his parasite, and struggling to do it. “They’re everywhere. It could be anyone. Do you get it? Anyone.”
Franky screamed. A long, segmented thing came out from his mouth, out from the parasite hiding within. It looked like a black earthworm, but longer, with a little spike on the end like on a scorpion’s tail. I was expecting the thing to come down and sting me or something. Instead it curled up toward Franky’s own eye. Franky screamed again. The worm thing plunged into his eyeball.
I heard a small engine rev to life, from outside the house. I had the crazy thought that I’d see John racing around the house with my lawnmower, screaming, “Thanks for letting me borrow this!” before throwing it in his car and driving off.
Blood dripped down on me from Franky’s punctured eye. His hands found their way to my face and throat, clawing at me mindlessly. Fingers trying to pry open my mouth.
The engine sound was in the house now. Deafening. A shadow fell over us.
Something in his hands, something loud.
The engine sound revved to a mechanical scream, then bogged down as if with effort. There was a sound like carrots in a blender. Wetness rained down on me.
The blurred metal teeth of a chainsaw ripped through Franky’s neck. John worked the machine down, rocking it back and forth as it tore through spine and muscle and tendons, his hands streaked with red. Franky’s head fell free from his shoulders, his wet hair bonking me in the face.
The rest of his body held itself above me for a few seconds, then pounded down on me with dead weight that knocked the air from my lungs.
The saw shut off and I could hear John yelling questions at me. His hand appeared on Franky’s shoulder and together we rolled the corpse off me. I sprang to my feet, looked down at my body in disgust. I looked like an infant somebody had inexplicably taken to all-you-can-eat rib night.
John said, “You, uh, all right?”
I sprinted to the bedroom door and slammed it shut. I struggled to catch my breath and said, “My bedroom! It’s infested with baby versions of those spider things, they’re all over my bed, eating turkey. My bed, John! They were in my bed! Larvae! This whole time! We’ve got to do something!”
“Did they … eat your clothes?”
“Listen. The army has quarantined the hospital but it’s not doing any good because the spiders are out. They’re here. Here, John! What are we going to do? If we let just one of those things out into the world…”
“Okay first of all we—wait, where’s the head?”
We both looked down at Franky’s headless corpse, now laying in the living room on a spreading pool of blood. There was no head. What the—
Franky’s head was making a run for it.
The spider’s legs were protruding from the severed neck, and they were scurrying the head through the open front door. I ran, following the crawling head out onto the porch. I stomped on the head with my bare foot, pinning it to the welcome mat. I started to yell to John to get the chainsaw when the asshole head bit my foot.
I yanked the foot free of Franky’s teeth, then reared back with my other foot and kicked the head so hard I felt like I broke four toes. The head sailed ten feet through the air until it bounced off the windshield of Detective Lance Falconer’s Porsche, which had chosen that moment to pull into the driveway.
The head left a pink smear on his windshield, then rolled off his hood and back at my feet. I grabbed it in both hands, teeth facing away from me so it couldn’t bite my dick off. A hugely confused Falconer emerged from the car to the sight of me standing naked in my driveway, covered in blood and covering my crotch with a severed head.
I’m David Wong and I’m here with a special message about AMPHETAMINES.
“PUT IT DOWN!”
Falconer’s gun was out.
I said, “One minute.”
I ran back inside, made it to the bedroom, opened the door, threw the head inside and slammed the door shut again. My brief glimpse of the room revealed the hatchlings had made it halfway across the floor. I ran into the bathroom, grabbed two towels and stuffed them under the door. That wouldn’t hold long …
“ASSHOLE! PUT. YOUR. HANDS. UP. NOW.”
Falconer had come inside, gun still trained on me.
I said, “Okay. Calm down. There’s good news and bad news. The good news is we found Franky. The bad news is we got bigger problems.”
“Wait,” interjected John, from behind the detective. “You’re Lance Falconer!”
“Shut up or I will shoot you in the face.”
“That was driving me nuts all night. You’re the detective who caught the Father’s Day killer, right? Didn’t you throw him out of a helicopter?”
Falconer didn’t answer. John said to me, “He’s famous. I saw this whole thing about him on A&E—”
“Shut the fuck up. Did you kill Franky?”
John said, “It was self-defense. And he stole my car, he drove it here and I had to walk all the way from the police station. Got here just in time, he was raping Dave when I walked in.”
“SHUT UP. Both of you. You’re coming with me.” To me he said, “Put some pants on.”
“Fuck you. This is my house. I make the rules. You take your clothes off. John, get the Twister mat.”
Falconer asked, “Are you high?”
“What’s in the room? Why are you sealing it up?”
John, thinking quickly, said, “Infection. Franky had it. It’s the reason they quarantined the hospital. It’s—it’s like a virus that—”
“Stop. You’re lying.”
To me, he said, “What’s in the room?”