“Sinister Sextet: Six Supernatural Stories”
Three excerpts from “Sores.”
Her hair was difficult to describe, because while it looked like she might have had a bizarre matching cap on, for whatever reason, she seemed to have pulled her hair through some of the holes in it.
Then I saw one of the pom-poms on the top of her head burst. A diluted, syrupy fluid spewed out of it like cherry brandy liqueur popping out of a gigantic squashed bon-bon, except the color of the liquid was greenish. There were blackish chunks of something mixed in with the running sore, too.
Her arms, face, and head were covered with giant pustules. These were what I was seeing. Not a sweater with dirty pom-poms crocheted into them at all. The growths were grayish white in color, and big. Probably each of them were as long and as large as the last knuckle on my pinky finger.
The -for lack of a better word- pox, also explained the looseness of the blouse. It was probably concealing more pustules, as were her dark blue slacks. Looking at it again, I could see some dark green blotches on her blouse here and there. Cleverly, it seemed the woman had used the blouse’s natural coloring to try and conceal the burst sores.
“Stay back,” I warned.
She muttered something unintelligible and then swore. When she did, greenish goo spurted out of her mouth, and I quickly understood that the infection she had was internal as well as external.
I was worried about her proximity to me even though she was still twenty-five feet away. If she sneezed or coughed -hell, even breathed- and droplets came my way, and if whatever she had was transmissible, I was screwed.
“If you look out your back window, now” he said, “you’ll see other fires. I don’t know if other people are burning bodies, or if some houses caught fire, or if they’re just cooking food, but the smoke is too much for people making campfires or cooking fires in my opinion. I don’t hear no sirens. Now would be the time to get rid of the one behind your house. It’ll be trickier though, because I’d have to make sure the fire wouldn’t spread. The grass is dry. But you’ve got a spigot back there don’t you? I could take my hose and hook it up and wet the grass around it and take care of it for you.”
“That would be mighty kind,” I said.
Russell looked relieved and worried at the same time.
“Now you know,” he said, “that I got close to that other body, and I’m going to need to get close to this one. You still want that rifle? I was thinking of leaving it somewhere where you could get to it before I burned the other body last night, but I couldn’t take the risk. If someone got to me and Lynne Mae before we talked you wouldn’t know where it was, and if someone got to the rifle before we told you about it, you wouldn’t get it anyway. I’ve been in contact with Lynne Mae all this time, of course, and so now I suppose the both she and I might be contagious.”
Now it was upon us. Now, it was cutting through the final barrier. The trees were being torn out and flung into the air with the ease of a frenzied man pulling out handfuls of grass.
It was excruciatingly loud now, pandemonium ripping at our ear drums.
Had we thought we’d heard trees crashing down outside? We had no idea. That was just the small stuff. Bushes, branches. Limbs. Saplings and small trees. Petty debris.
Now the trees began to crash down. Whole trees. Trees which had grown tall and robust in these low mountains for over two hundred years smashed down outside with gargantuan crunches.
Russell’s house was to the left of ours as you faced the street. There was another house to our right. It was at the very end of the cul-de-sac between our house and the one that had been lopped in half by the telephone pole.
We heard a tree come down on top of it and pulverize it. Boards from the wreckage flew into the side of our house.