Davis S. Atkinson


Robbie shakily stood to his feet. His eyes opened wide as they would go, then shrunk again as he shook his head. His Charlie Owl, naugahyde, hung from his hand. He focused on the couch, two chairs, and the hassock that sat in the room. Slowly, his gaze transferred to the walnut cross on the wall. Then to the amber glass lamp hanging by a chain from the ceiling, a cord wound through the chain to an outlet near the floor. The light in the room began to fade.

As the light faded, Robbie looked harder at the amber glass. The bulb inside still shone, but the actual illumination grew weaker and weaker as if the power was running out. It dimmed from the edges of the room in, like black paint seeping into a paper towel. When it finally finished, the room was nearly dark.

He trembled. For a moment he continued to stare. Then he tore his gaze away, his head wobbling lazily from side to side and his body swaying like a rag doll strangled in someone’s fist. Charlie Owl dropped from his hand. As if cotter pins were pulled from his knees, Robbie sunk to the floor. Finally, he managed to raise his eyes to look at the green statue of a little praying man sitting against a wall in the next room.

The floor in between started to melt and flow, churning like stirring oatmeal with black syrup streaks running throughout. The menacing liquids around him circled and closed in to form a grey-brown tunnel not much higher than his head. Dripping ooze descended behind him and in front, sealing the tunnel shut at both sides.

Low whimpers pushed their way out of Robbie’s mouth. His lungs heaved as he tried to wail. Air rushed out of the toddler. No sound came, just a raspy gust of wind. A painful ticking in his chest, his throat tightening, scraped raw like drowning. Robbie collapsed, exhausted.

Suddenly, it was gone.

Wearily, Robbie raised his head. The room was back in order. The couches and chairs were where they should be. Walnut cross again on the wall. The green statue in the next room as it had been before. Normal light emanated from amber glass near the ceiling. Charlie Owl lay next to him.

Robbie breathed fast, gulping. Instead of standing he rolled over onto his back. His breathing became shallower and more rapid, uncontrolled, unable to get air. He shook, reaching out for his Charlie Owl.

Molasses black ooze, smelling of the lawn mower in the garage, bulged from spreading cracks in the plaster ceiling. It dripped, running down the walls, darkening the plaster like mold. The ooze collected in sticky pools on the floor. Slowly, it enveloped the couch, the chairs, and then the hassock, appearing to devour them. It flowed over to where Robbie lay on the floor immobile, pouring itself over him. Soon, only his face showed above the thick muck.

It gelled into a moving semi-solid mass over him as liquid drops splashed down onto Robbie’s face. Some washed into his mouth, gagging him with its oily bitterness. The taste like cold mushed canned kidney beans. He tried to spit, but it wormed its way down his throat and into his stomach. He would vomit.

Tendrils extended out of the surface of the mass, stretching eagerly toward Robbie like maggots seeking spoiled food. Robbie coughed in panic as they advanced, his mouth still filled and blocked.

He writhed and thrashed wildly, trying to get free. The sludge sucked him down like quicksand. It closed in, getting darker.

The tendrils reached him, wrapping around Robbie.  Then they pulled him loose from the mass. His limp body came free with a long slurping noise.  A large tendril wormed its way in front of him. Grayish pus poured out from a slit and a bulbous, white eyeball pushed out. Robbie screeched and tried to squirm away, but the tendrils held him tight. The eyeball blinked and stared.

Robbie’s mommy’s voice spoke from near the eyeball: “Look at him, Jim. I’m telling you, this isn’t normal. He’s not even looking at us.”

“Where do people even get epinephrine shots?” Robbie’s daddy’s voice responded.




David S. Atkinson is the author of Apocalypse All the Time (forthcoming 2017), Not Quite so Stories, The Garden of Good and Evil Pancakes (2015 National Indie Excellence Awards finalist in humor), and Bones Buried in the Dirt (2014 Next Generation Indie Book Awards finalist, First Novel <80K). His writing appears in Bartleby Snopes, Literary Orphans, Atticus Review, and others. His writing website is http://davidsatkinsonwriting.com/.