• Dzama


It was pitch-black but Marjorie continued moving forward, stepping carefully on the wet rock floor of the tunnel. She could feel Bennie’s fur against her bare leg, and heard the little dog sniffing away. A figure loomed ahead that she could barely make out. As she got closer she identified a head and shoulders. When she was a couple of yards away she could make out some definition- it looked like a statue of some kind, the bearded face grinning and glinting like plastic. But then she heard its rough, labored breathing. She couldn’t feel the dog at her heels anymore. “Bennie?” she whispered, barely breathing the name. “Bennie?” Then the figure moved with a mechanical jerk, blocking her path. She pulled a Swiss army knife from her pocket and opened the tiny blade, holding it out in front of her. She stood there, holding the knife out, listening to the thing’s ragged breathing, trying to make out what she was looking at.

There was a swish and she felt warm blood run down her arm- she’d been cut by something. She stumbled back, biting her lip. The figure lurched towards her and in the darkness she saw the glint of a blade of some kind. She knelt and felt around for a rock. She heard another swish and rolled back, this time avoiding the blade. The figure continued to advance. Marjorie’s hand found a large rock and she raised it up and threw it with all her might. The figure crumpled when the rock hit and fell to the stony floor with a crackling sound.

Marjorie stood over the deflating figure with its weird, plastic face that grinned in the dark. It writhed and crackled. Then a hand shot out and grabbed her ankle, feeling like rough plastic, cutting into her flesh. She tried to run but it pulled her off her feet and she crashed down face-first on the slimy rock slab. Just then she heard Bennie panting and she called out to him.

Soon he was gnawing at the plastic wrist, cutting through it with his tiny teeth. The dented plastic face snapped at the dog with sharp, plastic teeth but Bennie’s jaws remained clamped on the wrist until he’d bitten through and Marjorie could make a run for it. She took off down the tunnel, hearing Bennie barking and squealing behind her.

When she made it to the surface the plastic hand was still attached to her ankle and she had to pry the fingers apart to get it off. It left a deep gash and blood leaked down into her tennis shoe. She leaned against a boulder and rested in the quarry, inspecting the curious plastic hand. It was white and sticky with blood.

Then she called Bennie’s name over and over, shouting back into the tunnel. Before long the light started to fail and she turned away and set out for the highway, crying quietly to herself.

When she made it to the crest of the hill she felt something wet on her ankle- it was Bennie licking her wound. He was a little ball of dried blood himself but very cheerful and the two survivors headed down towards the highway, getting ready to thumb a ride back to civilization. The plastic hand suddenly twitched but she held it firmly. “You’d like to grab my ankle again, wouldn’t you,” she said. She laughed, holding the bloody squirming hand away from her. She decided to bring it back with her to St. Louis. There she’d put it into a terrarium– just to see what would happen.

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