Subcutaneous Magazine Fall 2016 - Page 53

slippage from between the pale legs. She pulled away, horrified at herself, terrified that somebody had seen her. It hadn’t worked the same this time. She’d gone too far, and the revulsion she’d fought for so long had finally overwhelmed her completely. Her hands shook and her vision blurred. She finished her work quickly and staggered out of the parlor. Her cheeks burned and she felt like she would faint. She staggered home like a zombie, wondering if she’d broken herself permanently, tipped herself over the precipice into the yawning abyss of insanity. She started to see with shameful clarity just how low she’d come over the previous weeks. She was terribly aware of the swelling mass that rested just over her epiglottis, stretching the flesh to breaking point. She vomited twice before she got to her house and once all combined and calcified in filth. Looking at it now, she had no idea if she would be able to remove it without surgery, but she was too ashamed to call for help. She reached back into her gaping maw with her tweezers and prodded the lump. Sharp jolts of pain shot through her neck almost to her collarbone and she thought again of splinters. How far had this thing spread through the meat of her jaw and neck? She prodded again, but dropped the tweezers into the sink as pain overwhelmed her. She dropped to her knees and pressed her hands against her neck. From the outside, she could feel with her hands what she’d been afraid she felt through the pain inside: movement. The nugget was changing, unfolding. She felt something long and jagged pulling out from between muscle and skin. The whole malignant conglomerate chunk was breaking loose and pressing forward over her tongue. It was much larger than she could have imagined, stretch- more in her kitchen sink. There was a terrible itch and pain radiating through her mouth and neck. Back home, back in the mirror, she opened her mouth and stared into the void. Her throat was almost entirely closed over, and black tendrils caked with creamy clots of paste were stretching out over her tongue and the roof of her mouth. She realized that there were swollen strands stretching across her neck that made her think of splinters. The core of the nugget was almost as big as her fist, and she could see it stretching into the depths of her like a tail. Alice thought of the horrible things it was composed of and almost retched again. Spider remains, pus, blood, grease, spit and now the piss and semen of a corpse. More than that, it was a physical manifestation of all of Carrie’s shame, guilt and revulsion, ing her jaw until the corners of her lips split and started to bleed. Carrie kneeled over the sink, raising herself until she could see her reflection. All at once the mass broke loose and tumbled into the sink with a splash of blood, pus and vomit. Carrie’s fluids and the white paste that slicked the surface of the thing were not enough to hide its nature. It was alive. It was as long as her forearm, and almost as thick. The writhing thing looked like an impossibly large grub, but with long, black, finger-like legs trailing from from one end. The other end, which she guessed to be the head, had an opening that ran vertically down the underside and was lined with yellow hooked teeth. Wriggling tendrils hung from the opening like worms. It had no eyes but she could tell it was looking at her. Carrie stepped back, then opened