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Some Severe Situations #1: “Something in the Water?”

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There the bastard was. Just lying there. Dead. Ronnie had never been a believer in monsters, not in the slightest, and this disregard for the supernatural was just the thing that made him quite calm when he finally encountered one. A monster. At least that’s what this bastard appeared to be. And there it was, bleeding out, all over the goddamn brand-new carpet Ronnie had just installed earlier that week. He laid the carpet himself, sloppily, but it saved him a few bucks. He also skimped by not having the carpet scotch-guarded. Ronnie was a cleanly man—aside from the occasional beer spill or dropped potato chip–so there wasn’t any need for an “elaborate rug.” All he needed was the basic model. After all, why protect something he knew damn well he wasn’t going to damage?

But who the hell ever could have imagined something like this?

There was an ass-load of blood. It just kept coming, right from the bastard’s head. Ronnie had hit it pretty hard with the iron. It was a stroke of odd luck that he’d been spending his night ironing the curtains–the curtains he bought on sale—and ONLY because they were on sale–right there in the living room when “the thing”—the thing unlike anything he had ever seen before–came crashing through the window of his rural Texas bungalow.

Much good the curtains would do him now. They were purchased to complement the new carpet. Whatever that meant exactly. It’s just what the lady at the Big Lots told him. And Ronnie figured he’d better listen to her since she belonged to the gender he hoped to impress by adding these new aesthetic elements to his currently ailing bachelor pad. So, for the sake of future romance, Ronnie bought the curtains. But now there wasn’t any goddamn window left to cover with them. And when he struck the thing, sending a stream of blood from its head onto the curtains, there went the chances of them ever matching the rug again…except by their comparable red stains.

Ronnie was no longer a hopeful bachelor. He was now just a man who, in forty-eight seconds, went from being the proud curator of a newly—and affordably—styled living room to the cleaning crew of an absolute bloody mess. Two-hundred-seventy-nine dollars out the window, almost literally. This is what he got for trying to better his living space. He’d never get laid now. And where in the hell was he gonna get the money to fund this home improvement project a second time? Truth be told, that wasn’t the first question on Ronnie’s mind. In particular, there were two others that were considerably more pressing: What in the fuck was the thing he just killed? And where in the fuck did it come from?

One thing was for certain: the bastard wasn’t a zombie. Ronnie had seen enough of those things on TV shows lately to know that wasn’t what he was dealing with. Zombies either ran or they walked. As far as Ronnie could tell, this son of a bitch didn’t do either. It had the standard two arms and legs, but it came through the glass all balled up, as if it had leapt, as if it moved around by galloping or pouncing from place to place.

And Zombies moan. This didn’t moan. It screamed…almost like it was in pain.

Zombies tried to bite you. This thing just grabbed Ronnie. Maybe it was about to bite him? It was hard to say. The whole goddamned cockamamie incident happened so fast. One minute, Ronnie was ironing. And ten seconds later, the crash. Then he was in the Bastard’s grasp. And before the shock over or realization of what was happening could fully set in, survival instinct took hold. So Ronnie struck it with the iron. Surprising now to think the sucker wasn’t holding him firmly enough that he couldn’t get that one, good blow off to its head.

So maybe it was a zombie? Zombies are weak. No. Not a chance. Zombies are decomposing. And previously human. And this thing was neither. What the hell human ever balled itself up and rolled through a window? And its flesh…it was naked, a skeleton sheathed in nothing more than its own disgusting skin…disgusting, but not decomposing. The bastard, from top to bottom, was riddled with small tumors and pustules. Thousands. Lumps, bumps, mounds, warts. Bubbled flesh interrupted only by more bubbled flesh. If there was a hideous growth, this thing had it.

Him. That was interesting. Ronnie identified it as a man. There wasn’t any hard evidence to support this theory. There was merely a small extension coming from the crotch. When Ronnie clocked the motherfucker, it fell backward, groin to the ceiling, showcasing what appeared to be a penis. But not a human penis. No way. So this was no zombie.

Ronnie wasn’t dealing with a werewolf either because, for the most part, the son of a bitch was hairless. For a while, Ronnie entertained the thought that the thing might have been a vampire in one of its mutated forms. He’d once read in one of those stupid horror movie magazines–and he read it ONLY because it was the sole piece of reading material in his buddy’s bathroom–that vampires can shape-shift. Maybe he caught this thing mid-shift? But he quickly dismissed the notion. It wasn’t a vampire because it had no intention of biting him. The more Ronnie thought about it, the more sure he became of that.   

Alien. The dead, lumpy piece of shit had to be an alien. That was the only explanation. Ronnie knew monsters didn’t exist. And he wasn’t one to recognize the possibility of life on other planets. But there was at least some potential for that being true. And a lot of potential for it to be exciting. A dead alien! This would get Ronnie in the papers for sure. Maybe even on the news. Hell, even without any media exposure, he knew just where in his house he’d display the head, for all future female visitors to see. This was his golden ticket. Ronald J. Burgess–janitor, homeowner, reinvigorated bachelor–had a trophy that would get him laid tenfold the amount those matching curtains and carpet ever would have.

Ronnie peered down at the lifeless body, contemplating just what tool he’d need to get its ugly head off. The neck didn’t look to be much of a problem. In fact, the neck looked to be about the same size as Ronnie’s. A faint chuckle slipped from his mustached upper lip. Amused, he wondered what tool he’d need, were the strange circumstance ever to arise, to take his own head off. Ronnie knew that, with a bit of sharpening, the cast iron garden hoe he had in the yard would do the trick, for either of their heads. It was odd to think he had anything in common with this alien, even if it was how similarly vulnerable both of their throats would be when up against the old gardening tool. But the two were similar in that sense. Well, that and in the fact that they were both men. Ronnie snickered again. He pictured himself, lying dead on the living room floor in the alien’s house–or whatever the hell those things lived in, on wherever the hell those things were from. Ronnie’s fantasy had him gushing blood, all over the alien’s new space carpet, ruining its chances of scoring any extra-terrestrial ass that week.

Suddenly, Ronnie felt a bit of a bond with his grotesque attacker. It was a vague bond, but a bond nonetheless. He stared at the carcass, almost recognizing a human quality in it, almost forgetting about the “hell of a headache” it had caused him. The lump of a body looked pitiful. Was Ronnie actually feeling sympathy for this son of a bitch bastard? How could he? And why should he? Just because he killed it? He was only defending himself. This was the time for anger and pride, not sympathy. But still, there sympathy was, rearing a head more ugly than the one on the deformed fucker on the floor. He refocused and set his thoughts on one thing and one thing only: that alien struck first. It was the offender. It was trying to kill him.

Or was it?

All it did was grab Ronnie. But you don’t grab someone unless you mean them harm. But don’t people sometimes grab people when they’re in a panic? If they need help? Things that need help don’t look like that or come busting through windows. But it only looks like that because it’s an alien. And maybe that’s how aliens make an entrance on other planets.  

The contradicting thoughts wrestled one another, making Ronnie’s head swim. He was overwhelmed and didn’t feel well. And for the first time that night, the thought of getting laid wasn’t even in the furthest corner of his mind. He flopped down onto the couch, which was ironic since it was the couch he planned on closing many a sexual deal on. Ronnie sat there, trying to refocus. It was trying to kill him. He was sure of it. To Hell with the bastard.

But then why did it scream at him the way it did? Not fiercely, but painfully. Ronnie remembered his grandmother, when she was still alive, in that musty bedroom of the very house he still lived in, moaning…moaning in an alarming, but pained manner. Moaning as a result of her hurting, her insides dying. Had he been a bit younger during her last days, so he might not have recognized the reasons for the horrid noises she made. Or for her constant crying. Right there at the end, she constantly cried. Just like the tumor-covered bastard did when Ronnie struck it. It cried as it went down. And it sounded…

No. This was ridiculous. Ronnie knew his brain was lashing out at him, not acting right due to the stress of the events that had transpired. There was no way that alien sounded human. It was an alien, for Christ’s sake. Nothing could be more opposite of a human than a “full-on alien.” Ronnie found comfort in that phrasing. Full-on alien: as in one hundred percent—as in the furthest thing from, and in no way whatsoever, human.

There was no such thing as a partial alien. But, before tonight, Ronnie would’ve staked his half-acre of land, home, and outhouse that there was no such thing as an alien period. So maybe a half-breed was possible? That would explain the way it looked at him when it held him. Held? No, grabbed. It grabbed him. But why did it look at him like it needed something? And why then did it cling to his arms as it fell, not trying to pull him down, but…

Fuck this. If the goddamned bastard wanted companionship or sympathy or whatever the fuck other need its mutant heart beckoned for, then why the hell did scratch his arm? The scratch happened during the fall, but still. It was a mean one, too—deep and bloody. And it wouldn’t stop throbbing. And burning. Ronnie’s left arm felt like he dipped it into his morning coffee. But he was thankful for it; a painful reminder of what side he was on. And a wound to tend to would take his concentration off of any potential regrets. He collected himself and made a plan: he’d fetch his medical kit, the one in the rusty metal box under the kitchen sink. And after Ronnie had doused his laceration with alcohol and got it good and gauzed up, it’d be straight to the yard to grab the garden hoe. That’s the spirit. Up and at ‘em.

Ronnie woke up on the floor. How many hours had passed? And why was his entire body soaked? And why did his entire body feel like a “cocksuckin’ brush fire?” He had to get the clothes off. Immediately. They were soaked from sweat and making him feel like he was wrapped in hot tin. He had to get on his feet. And not fall the hell over this time. Ronnie was thrilled to find that not only was he able to stand, he was able to leap, which he did, right onto his feet. His new balance gave him a strange strength, which came in handy when he went to rip his shirt open. It came apart like a wet Kleenex. The cooling relief made feel like he dove headfirst into a Slushie machine on a hundred-ten-degree day. It was glorious. But all that glory was quickly doused by utter panic when Ronnie saw what was underneath his J.C. Penney cotton plaid flannel.

Tumors. Pustules. The works. There they were, all over his torso, just part of him now. But despite the discovery of his newfound growths—or the projectile vomit the site of them caused—Ronnie’s sole focus was on getting his pants off. It was like he was up to his waist in a deep fryer. Thank God he didn’t wear underwear. Another blazing layer of clothing on his crotch would be unbearable. As the pants descended, Ronnie saw that his legs looked just like his chest. And their newfound bumpiness made it particularly difficult to get the Wrangler relaxed fit jeans all the way down them. Ronnie, with another surprising burst of strength, ripped the denim from around his swollen ankles and caught a good glimpse of his arms, which he hadn’t noticed in the mad rush. As bad as the other parts looked, the left arm looked worse, right where the fucker had scratched him. That old rusty first aid kit wasn’t gonna fix this. Ronnie needed help. But how was he gonna get it? Most people, including him, didn’t even have phones out here. The only remedy was to get to a neighbor’s house. Fast.

The pain shot through Ronnie’s stomach and doubled him over. He tried to stand upright, but it made him scream, like his grandmother used to. It was just plain easier to stay in this hunched position. Ronnie knew if he wanted to move, he’d have to crawl…or gallop, which he found himself quite able to do. So he galloped, right to the empty window frame, cutting his feet on the shards of glass. He pounced through to the outside and rushed off toward an illuminated porch the distance.

A neighbor would help him.

You can find out more about Joe DeRosa, including his live dates and his book CHEAT, at his official website HERE. You can also hear Joe on his podcast, WE’LL SEE YOU IN HELL, on the FANGORIA Podcast Network. Check back next month for the second edition of Some Severe Situations!

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Joe DeRosa
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