A tickling on my arm woke me from sleep. I brushed then scratched at my arm where the itch was before rolling over and going back to sleep.
The next night the tickling happened again. I rubbed my arm and noticed how cold my skin was so I pulled the duvet closer around me. Dozing off, I thought I’d solved the problem.
The third night the same feeling on my arm happened. Half awake, I looked at my arm in the darkness, nothing stood out and yet it felt like something was there. I turned on the lamp and inspected my arm. All the hairs were standing up but there was nothing else. I went back to bed.
I was expecting the sensation that night. I lay awake and felt for the first time the actual movement of a spider walking along my arm. I turned on the lap quickly without moving that arm and I looked hard, inspecting my skin. There was no spider or bug on me or the bed…. I didn’t go back to sleep.
Night five. I kept the lamp on and dozed fitfully. Once again the hairs rose on my arm and I felt the spider walking there. I slapped my arm hard all the way down, hoping to kill whatever it was. Then I got up and washed my arm, scrubbing it almost raw. Back in bed, lamp still on, I slept well.
It didn’t end. Each night, the spider walked across my skin. Sometimes I lay awake waiting for it and other times, I woke up feeling it there. I went to see doctors, I got treatments, I brought new bedding, I washed before I slept, I tried everything I could but the spider didn’t go away.
Now, I feel it all the time. The spider is always there, walking up and down my arm.
The bridge out of the city was grid locked and car horns were blaring maddly. People’s voices rose in shouting and panic, somewhere a baby was crying and there was a dog walking past the cars looking for food.
Izzy’s hands tightened on the steering wheel and she tried not to join in the choir of horns. She glanced to the passenger seat and saw her month old son asleep there. He would be hungry soon and she would have to try and breastfeed him against the steering wheel.
A loud, constant clicking drew her attention to the right. The wide stretch of river was filled with all kinds of boats and on both side banks overcrowded with buildings blocked out a dark sky. Rain was falling in a soft patter, making a nice sound on the roof of the car.
Izzy searched for the source of the noise, knowing it couldn’t be far away. Then she saw it; one of the monsters was coming out from behind a building and entering the river.
It was the height of a skyscraper, had a bulbous dark brown and black body, with many legs each as long as a football field. It looked like a giant flea.
A nearby building exploded; metal and glass raining down on the monster and the boats below. People screamed, abandoning their cars, choosing to run instead.
Izzy got out, ran around and took her son in his car seat out, then grabbed the nearest bags. The rest of the luggage would have to be left behind. She joined the sea of people and tried to get off the bridge.
The monster let out a bellow, destroyed another building and charged forward, destroying all in its path.
Ben looked at the bent tree branch and saw the bodies hanging there. Sacks covered their heads and long dress hung on skeleton frames. Only the feet and hands stuck out and they were little more than skin covered bone.
The wind twisted the frayed ropes that went around the necks and upwards to wrap around the bent branch. The bodies spun eerily.
The boy prayed that they had no faces.
‘Go away,’ Ben whispered, ‘it’s not real.’
Shutting his eyes, Ben took a deep breath then looked once more. The hanging bodies was still there, twisting on ropes which let out painfully creaks.
Someone called him and Ben turned sharply away. His friends were waiting for him to play. Ben ran off to join them but other things lingered in the woods, waiting to be seen.
I could see more then normal. Some said, I had an eye for detail, I called it I wrong wiring in my brain. When Father built me and brought my organs back to life, I wasn’t whole. And now, I see the truths and lies of the world.
I had to know what he was doing, it was like a addiction. I thought about him all the time since he’d left me. How was he doing? Was he eating okay? Did he have a new girlfriend yet?
I always tried to squish that thought down. Of course, he hadn’t moved on yet. He promised to always love me. How could there be anyone else?
From the bushes outside his parents’ house, I watched him sitting a table eating whilst his mother talk to him just out of view. I couldn’t hear what they were saying.
The bruises on his face were fading. He looked happier, he was smiling and nodding.
When was the last time he had smiled at me like that?
I balled my hands into fists, dried blood still in the lines and soil buried under my nails Anger filled me, burning in my chest like an immortal fire. I wanted him back. I needed him back! How could I live without him, my one true love?
I got out of the garden and went to the front door. I rang the bell.
Putting my hands behind my back, I fixed a smile on my lips and waited.
He answered the door.
His face turned white, his eyes growing large and his mouth trying to form words.
‘I’ve missed you, honey,’ I spoke in a breathy voice.
The underground world had been closed for so long because it hadn’t been needed. Some sections had been turned into tour routes for those interested in history and ghost hunting. It was never thought that the space would ever be required again.
Then the outbreak happened. It was pushed off as a simple disease before levelling up to a world sweeping plague. Millions of people died but they didn’t stay in their graves.
The government repaired, improved and kitted out the underground cities, factories and farms once more. People moved in, coming not just from the country above but from others as well. Builders had to construct new sections and everyone had to pull together to survive.
The world above become ravaged by war and death, disease ran wild and people returned from the other side, their bodies reanimated, their hearts and brains nonfunctional.
Anybody who died in the underground world was thrown out the steel doors and just left there. Burials, prayers and rites no longer had a place and the families could only hope their loved ones stayed dead.