Tuesday, June 18th, very early morning
Peter opened his eyes beneath a sky of stars. Trees nearby blocked some of the view. Water lapped somewhere close by while crickets provided the majority of the noise to be heard. Wait, distant sirens.
Everything came to him in a rush.
The explosion with its blinding light. But he could see.
Something hit him in the back and threw him off the bridge.
He was falling towards the water.
He remembered waking up briefly in the water, drowning. He was alive, so something had happened. He must have washed up somewhere.
He was not in any pain, although everything felt…off in a way he did not have words for. He had no awareness of hands or feet, fingers or toes. He tried to raise one to see. One formed from the jellyfish-like blob of his body. Crude fingers formed, bright yellow and too round, puffy or swollen.
Jellyfish-like blob. Yellow.
What the…? He was a blob. He had no sense of having hands or feet…because he didn’t until he focused on them. When he closed his eyes he could still see, through his…eyelids was the wrong word for the translucent membrane that formed to cover his eyes.
He tried to scream, but he had no throat and no vocal cords. He was a yellow mass reminiscent of melting Jello, a formless blob. In his mind he screamed hysterically.
He had no idea how long his abortive screams continued. He found himself flailing arms that came into existence for him to flail. They withdrew back into him as soon as he stopped noticing them.
He could see all around him. His eyes simply repositioned themselves in whatever direction he wanted to see. A small, more rational part of his mind agreed he had, indeed, somehow become an amorphous blob. The remaining vast majority of his mind insisted he was insane.
He had to get home to Angie. She would find a way to make sense of it. Or snap him out of whatever unfathomable hallucination it was. This was why he never did drugs. They made you see purple elephants, or made you think you could fly. Or turned you into a yellow gooey blob.
He oozed his way across the ground; such was what happened when he focused on moving somewhere. It was slow. He tried to remember what it felt like to have legs. In finding the memory, the feeling of it, after an eternity, he took a humanoid shape. Ah, that was better.
He could hold the shape. He could walk. He moved his hands and fingers. The shape wasn’t perfect. There were no details, just a basic form. Nobody would mistake him for a person. The yellowness would play a part in that, of course. He was a young child’s clay project, but less solid and more jiggly. He moved to a tree and touched it with his hand. He could feel the pressure of it, but not the texture. The tree was solid. That was all his hand could confirm.
How could he explain this to her? “Honey, I’m alive. But there was some kind of accident. What? No I’m not hurt. I’m just…changed. I don’t know…. I’m a yellow blob now?”
Now he was definitely going to lose his job. How could he go to work like this? Just put some clothes on and pretend nothing had happened? He couldn’t even talk!
That was by far the more pressing concern. He couldn’t explain himself to Angela if he couldn’t talk. Just write it on paper? He could text her!
He paused a moment at that; the phone had been in his pants pockets. He no longer had pockets, or pants. The phone was probably ruined when he fell in the river. But a bomb or something had gone off in the city. Would insurance cover the phone? Was terrorism or acts of god or whatever had happened part of some exclusion?
He tried to laugh at the absurdity of worrying about insurance when he was some kind of yellow snot monster. He could be a helpful warning story for children. “Don’t pick your nose, Tommy, or you might run into the Doombooger.”
He worked at trying to speak as he “walked,” shambling along clumsily, a slime zombie on the loose. It was late at night, and he saw almost no traffic about. A few emergency vehicles, but that was it. No taxis bringing bar patrons home. No cars on the streets. Nobody walking to and fro. Helicopters did cross the sky on occasion, sometimes in groups.
Large parts of the skyline were dark. He could make out buildings were there, just not lit. Again he wondered what had happened. Had everyone turned into blob-things? That had to be it. Radiation, maybe. Or the radiation would make everyone hallucinate. What would other people be seeing?
Another distant police siren. Police blobs? That seemed unlikely. Maybe it wasn’t everyone, then. He shook his head and kept walking. He was able to make a frustrated humming sound. It was a start.
Nobody would recognize him! He didn’t have his wallet. Crap. That meant he’d have to call all the credit cards, get his driver’s license replaced. Would they make him get a new picture taken? He supposed they would have to, since he didn’t exactly look like the old picture anymore.
What if nobody believed he was him? What would he do, live on the streets, puddling about at intersections until he oozed up during red lights with a cardboard sign? ‘I’m a blob, anything helps’?
“Hi, I’m Blobbert; you can call me Blob,” he said once he figured out how to form sounds. He still had his sense of humor, at least.
The walk home seemed to take forever, but he finally reached it while it was still night, although the glow of pre-dawn menaced. The little two-bedroom ranch house was mostly dark, but the orange glow of the salt lamp in the living room showed in the window. The neighborhood had power; his house had power. The motion-activated light at the front door popped on diligently.
Habitually he patted his pockets–or where pockets would have been–for his keys. Keys also lost in the river with his phone and his wallet. Great. Because he needed this night to get more complicated. Oh, joy. Damn. He was supposed to get the key duplicated months ago. They still did not have a spare.
Admit to having cheated–not deliberately, but a stupid mistake. Explain he had probably lost his job. Try to come up with some way to explain he had survived the bombing or whatever just to end up lemon Jello with eyes. And then apologize for also having forgotten to get a spare key made when he’d said he would months ago. But she loved him. She’d understand. She’d hug him–not too tightly, please god–and together they’d find a way to work it all out. They had a good marriage, they could get through this.
He stared hard at the door, the last obstacle between him and his home. He looked about, anxious to confirm his neighbors were all asleep. He could just see Carol across the street calling nine-one-one. “There’s some creepy-ass yellow blob monster on the front stoop across the street. You better come arrest…it. Maybe bring some buckets or something.”
His whole stupid body jiggled when he laughed. While some porch lights lit other front doors, windows were all dark. Nobody saw how ridiculous he looked when he laughed. He let his head lean forward in shame. His neck was, of course, more flexible but also not attached in any one place. He repositioned his head and neck back at the top of his body.
He still needed a way into the house. Doors and windows were all closed. He stared at the brick surrounding the door as he cataloged all the ways he couldn’t get inside. Solid brick running the length of the front stoop. Brick interrupted by nothing but the door…
…and the mail slot. Now he had it! It was so simple; he was so stupid. How did he not think of it before? He had seen movies with stretchy superheros. If they could reach through some narrow slot to unlock a door then he could too.
He raised the outer flap with a finger. It took some concentration to keep his skin–outer membrane?–solid enough to push it. And then his hand was through. He reached through with more and more of him, fumbling for the door knob.
Of course the knob was at the far end of the door. He brought more of himself through to reach farther, fumbling blind. His stupidity struck him again, and he slapped his forehead with his other arm. The sound was just wrong. He made a mental note to never do that again and he moved his eyes.
His eyes could be anywhere, even the palm of the hand reaching for the doorknob. There was a way to give someone nightmares. “Hi,” he could say with the world’s creepiest wave. Pressing his eye against the doorknob was an unsettling idea, so he created a head to put them on. Now he could see. The angle was awkward, so he pulled more of himself through.
He unlocked the door and opened it, taking a moment to stand in the doorway appreciating his accomplishment. Any swelling pride was squished by the realization he had been standing completely inside the house when he opened the door. “Idiot.”
Now, crossing his living room, he was glad she had said no to a dog. A dog would have made getting in without alerting her much harder. Plus there was the licking part. He had no idea what would happen with that. He preferred not knowing. He left the lights out, relying on the salt lamp they called a nightlight, which was enough to navigate by. The bedroom door was open, as usual.
He watched her, reluctant to wake her. The city had been through…whatever had happened. Who knew what she had been through. Had she stared at the TV or her Facebook feed for constant updates on the story? Had she worried about him? Of course she had! He hadn’t come home, he hadn’t called. But he had a pretty valid excuse; she couldn’t get mad at him. She’d just be happy he was alive. He was alive–just kinda gross looking and way more squishy. He still had to explain what had happened. Not that he could, but he’d find some way to tell her, to assure her he was okay.
“Ange?” he called out, reluctant to speak too loudly. He didn’t want to startle her, but he also didn’t want to get close enough to gently shake her awake.
His voice was deeper than it was before, but she’d still know it. He called again, a little louder. He called again, from the foot of the bed, as close as he dared get.
“Is that you?” she asked at long last. As if it would be anyone else. Duh. She reached for the light.
“Don’t turn the light on yet.” The longer the light stayed off the more time he had to figure out some way to make the impossible somehow make sense. She turned it on anyway.
Her scream ripped his heart, rending it with savage and unrelenting claws.
“No, don’t scream,” he pleaded. “It’s me. I can explain.”
She backed away, sitting up against the wall where the headboard he had talked her out of buying would have been. She yanked the sheet up to her chin. Her screams ripped at him each time. She fumbled at her nightstand, possibly for some kind of weapon.
“Please, honey. You’re going to wake the neighbors.”
It was her phone her fingers finally found.
He had to get her to stop screaming. He moved forward and covered her mouth. “Shush. Ange, it’s me. It’s okay. I can explain.” How, he wasn’t sure. He couldn’t think with the screaming. Once she was calm and quiet things would be alright.
Screams turned into choking. His hand was expanding, enveloping her face, covering her nose and spreading. He did not understand. He just wanted gentle pressure over her mouth, that was all. Just enough to make it quieter. Maybe she was having trouble hearing him over the screams. If she would just listen, let him explain for once.
It wasn’t only that his hand was spreading, he realized. It was extending down her throat, out of his control, completely engulfing her head now as more and more of him moved into his hand. He could not stop it. He stared at it, willing it to be some other shape, any other shape, but the focus just brought more of him to that point.
She struggled and spasmed. His own screams were lost as his whole body took part in completely encasing her.
Next: Lela Jordan, Action Star