[OtherNick] An Uneasy Prologue

The record skipped, hissed, then shattered into dust.

Nick reflexively leapt out of his chair, away from the sudden, distinct pop of the turntable. This was a fortunate maneuver since the floor beneath the chair crumbled almost immediately after. The floorboards groaned with new weight, and he froze, staring at the sudden hole in his apartment.

He felt a tickle on his scalp. Running his fingers through his hair, they came back smeared. More dust. It crunched between his teeth now but had no taste. Nick looked up and saw the cracks forming. He could hear the hole in his floor growing larger. Backing away, he slowly picked up speed. Once he'd cleared the door, he burst into a panicked sprint, nearly taking a spill when the stair's railing evaporated beneath his hand. A small dusty cloud traveled along the rail like a lit fuse.

Down one flight, then the next, the individual stairs collapsing behind him. One of his shoes had disappeared in the chaos. Only one floor up now, he dove off the landing, aiming for a patch of grass. With one misjudged step he careened headfirst into the mortar, but instead of dying, he burrowed through it instantly in an explosion of that tasteless, grey-brown dust. It was in his eyes now, his teeth, his lungs.

Nick hit the ground sideways, and his hip blazed with pain. Eyes squinting and caked with the dust, he climbed to his feet and searched for help.

He was not entirely sure what would qualify as help in this situation.

A lone steering wheel rested in a pile of dust where his car was once parked. Nearby, a tree fell over majestically, disintegrating from the bottom up. He ran through the low-lying cloud left in its wake.

It wasn't until the concrete gave way beneath him that he realized part of his leg was missing. No blood. No pain. Just dust. He kicked the limb, and another few inches of it sprung off in a mist.

He wondered if part of his brainstem had gone, too, as he laid staring at the corroded face of the moon. He'd lost some motor function, to be sure, and probably some part of the survival instinct somewhere. The fight-or-flight bit.

The sympathetic nervous system, he remembered, as he suddenly lost depth perception. That's what it's called.

Black. Whether it was some portion of his brain that controlled eyesight that had been snuffed out, or the eyes themselves, or even just the rest of the world, it didn't matter. The part of his brain that tried to diagnose the most likely problem was gone, or at least that part's connections to the rest of the brain.

Which part of my brain am I in? he wondered briefly, in three different sections at once.

A fourth section disappeared, not with a pop but a flash.

Nick opened his eyes and sat up. It was dark outside. The clock read six.

Concerned, he climbed out of bed to investigate the noise. He'd taken two steps towards the window when it burst open, ears of corn breaking through, bouncing and recoiling as if spring-loaded. He looked down and realized one stalk had impaled him, through the gut.

Or is that two stalks?

He realized it was growing out of him. It'd split now, and there were three more projecting from his torso. His stomach burned. His eyes itched. The room, only dimly lit, vibrated with life. Nick gave up.

© 2011 John Dowda via MyOWs.com. All rights reserved, except where noted otherwise.

No comments: