You had thought the internet was bad all week, but now, it was broken.
Early coffee and computer. Looking at the dark window to think.
You stopped working and closed the laptop to see better through dark glass.
You saw something black shimmer and ooze in starlight, or glass reflected.
Where were neighbor’s cars you’d normally see heading to work at this time?
The dog whined and her ears pricked up. She looked at the window and growled low.
Can you see a sound? The roosters didn’t crow from two houses away.
Did you see the darkness? It moved. Was that a thing? Do you want to know?
What was beyond the window in the black October morning? Don’t look.
Was it getting cold and was that rising stench just your wild imagination?
Something slopped against the outside wall. You’d smelled dog pee beside you.
You didn’t scold her. Not now. Not for this. You wouldn’t send her out there.
What was out there beyond the window in the dark? Could it wait for sunrise?
And what is that bad smell? Did the septic tank back up? Is that the smell?
Your son tapped you and made a loud farting sound. You jumped and yelped.
It’s the beast with a thousand butt holes! Your son was behind you laughing.
He’d been doing this on recent mornings, and this time, he got you good.
You turned to tickle him, but you didn’t like not seeing the window.
He covered his nose. “Dad it smells.” Then, the dog growled and jumped up.
Your son’s face went white, and the dog lunged toward the window baring her teeth.
At the top of the window, the slight blue of the sky showed the black thing.
Thick black sludge sucked against the window and tendrils reached under the pane.
The dog bit one and yelped. She jumped and snarled a whimper, drooling blood.
But another tendril wrapped around her waist dragging her back yipping.
Smoke rose from the dog’s coat and the tendril was sinking in, oozing black.
She snapped at each new tendril grabbing her. You looked at the dish drainer.
Boy was crying, and wife came out yelling for the dog to shut her trap.
She saw the dog and the thing and pushed past you. She grabbed the dog. Pulled.
You went to the drainer, grabbed her, and grabbed a knife. But your son!
He was with his mother. The tendrils reached out. And the window shattered.
The thing fell through the window on the dog. Your wife screamed and fell back.
She dropped the dog, and it twitched a little under the black dripping thing.
Your wife’s face and arms were burned, and she was clawing hard at the floor.
The thing grabbed her enveloping here legs. Its tendrils reached around her.
One wrapped around her neck cutting off her scream. And they were on your son.
On his leg and arm and your arm. You jumped on your wife. Knocked your son away.
He hit the table knocking it back and the laptop onto the floor.
He was safe for now, but the thing was on your wife, and you were on it.
“Get back,” you yelled at your son. “Get away.” But he wouldn’t move. He peed.
You watched the stain darken his pants. You yelled again. He wouldn’t move.
The thing was burning you, and you slashed at it with the kitchen knife.
The tendrils cut off and reformed, but they moved back. You could hurt the thing.
You cut the tendril off your wife’s neck, but it was already too late.
You slashed out at the thing wildly. It backed off and bunched against the wall.
The thing slopped over the sill and into the rising light of morning.
The thing smoked and convulsed. It reached wildly until tendrils found a crack,
And it oozed under the house into the crawlspace. You could finally stop.
Not much was left of your wife. And the dog, a scatter of blood and teeth.
You heard the thing rattle pipes and bump the floor, getting stronger again.
Your left hand was gone, and one leg didn’t work. But you got on your feet.
Your son was bleeding and still hadn’t moved a muscle. You grabbed him.
He fought you. He lashed out. Screamed. Your leg buckled. You leaned on the wall.
Bumped chairs. Inched along the wall. Keys in the bedroom. You had to walk fast.
The floorboards shook and cracked with each hit. It would break through soon. “Walk,” you said.
You limped over to him. You could limp some more without the weight, you thought.
You put your son on his feet. “Walk,” you said. He moved a step. You bumped him.
“Walk, goddamn it!” He cried and somehow his tears brought him back to himself.
You were moving faster. But a loud ‘Crack’ rang out from just down the hall.
A large tendril came out from a hole in the bathroom floor reaching out.
The tendril reached into the hall, recoiled at the light, and reached again.
You put yourself between it and your son. He froze seeing the thing. “Walk!”
The tendril burned through your shirt and into your back. “Walk, son. Walk. Do it!”
You made it into the bedroom and found the keys. The floor banged again.
The thing followed your footsteps banging hard, but the bathroom was empty.
You and your son made it to the front door. But then, the thing went quiet.
Out on the planks of the front deck, tendrils darted from cracks up and back.
You handed your son the keys and said, “The car. Run.” He ran this time. Fast.
The thing followed under the deck reaching at him here and there. Reaching.
But the tendrils burned in direct sunlight and recoiled. Your son was safe.
Limping, you were only halfway across the deck, and the thing was back.
The thing was reaching out and licking, burning your legs with its tendrils.
It was eating you bit by bit. Drip by drip. But you kept limping on
Fighting the pain out to the stairs the edge of sunlight and safety.
The thing slammed the deck. Broke a large hole that threw splinters into the air.
Several large tendrils grabbed your good leg, yanked it down, and your face hit the stairs.
You felt fresh blood drip from your face, but also the warmth of sun on your back.
It pulled hard, and you slid a few inches back up the stairs to the shade.
It was dragging you down. Out of the sun. Under the deck. To eat you.
You grabbed a step with your good hand and wedged the stump between two rail posts.
Your fingers slipped some, but the sunlight inched toward the thing. You must hold on.
You were fighting pain fighting not to pass out until you heard a snap.
The pain was intense, but you slid free. Pulled yourself safe into sunlight.
The thing still reached for you but burned its tendrils and pulled them back to shade.
Your good leg was gone, but you clawed and dragged yourself made your bad leg push.
The thing bumped and shook the deck but would not come out into direct sunlight.
Your son was crying but he opened the car door for you. He helped you.
He tried, but you got yourself up with your bad leg and into the seat.
He turned the key for you, and you did not complain about him in the front.
He had earned his place of high honor in the front seat. The little man.
In pain, you drove as best as you could, but you were on and off the road.
You had lost so much blood and still bleeding. You hoped you could make it
Out to the main road so someone could find your son if you died. You might.
You vision blurred, and you were driving on instinct until a horn honked.
You swerved into the sound. There was a crash and your son hit the windshield.
The other driver was cussing you until he saw through the window.
He had your son and was on the phone with 911 when you let go.