By BD Scott
“That’s quite the scratch you have there, “Kevin observed, receiving the monthly report from Len. “Put some Neosporin on it, and a bandage or something.”
“Yeah, I will. When I get home.”
“No, man, now. You’re bleedin’ like you need stitches or something. If you keep drippin’ all over your desk, you know this place will go nuts and management will lock this place down. Remember Susan and her skin breakout? They thought she had rabies or something. Here, jeez, put pressure on it, cover it with this.”
“Thanks bro, I don’t even feel pain. Whoa, hey. Now I do. Easy, easy Kevin, easy.”
“How in the hell did you manage this? We work in office cubicles for chrissakes!”
“I woke up scratching last night. It stopped. Nothing showed on my arms. Then, a few minutes ago, I just scratched hard and didn’t look down.”
“Dude, here. Hold this. I’ll get the first aid kit. Shit, man!”
A few minutes later, Kevin had Len all patched up. Soon afterwards, they spent the evening at the local watering hole where they laughed it off. The night wore on into the early hours of morning.
“Time to get outta here, Len. That semi-annual conference starts tomorrow, ya know.
“Conference? Thanks for telling me. Tiffany might tag along, right babe?”
Tiffany winked slowly and eyed Kevin with a seductive stare.
“Ok. Tame it down you two. I’m callin’ a cab. Kinda obvious where you two are goin.”
A few laughs were exchanged before Len found himself in the back of a cab that smelled like scotch-soaked women’s panties.
Len pulled his shirt over his mouth just to keep from vomiting. He believed the cab stench would just about kill him had they driven another ten feet. Len called out to the driver to stop the trek home. He scrambled out, threw a twenty at the driver, ignored the change due and ran several feet toward his front door, gasping.
Desperate to get away from that smell, Len went straight to take a shower, rinsing his offensive experience down the drain.
After washing up, Len examined his arm and bandage, leaving it in place. Afterwards he collapsed directly into bedded slumber.
Len’s alarm went off at exactly 6:45AM. The conference location was an hour out of the way, He immediately got dressed while racing the clock, questioning its accuracy. Len quickly hopped in his Toyota Corolla, buckled himself in and checked the rear-view mirror.
His house-keeper walked by his car window in the driveway with a look of concern, knocking on the window.
“I’m alright, I’m alright,” Len gestured by holding up a hand, “just late for work. Late for work.”
Composing himself, Len backed out and drove off.
“To the highway,” Len mumbled to the wheel.
Half-way into his journey, he could have sworn someone poured liquid down his legs.
The black designer jeans he had on were thrown on in a massive hurry. He forgot to side-view himself in the mirror for a quick check at the fit.
Eh, pants are pants. Why do my legs feel wet?
Len pulled his red Toyota Corolla over to the curb. The sun rose, casting morning light and roadside shadows.
He managed to park close to a tree where there was shade.
He got out and hunkered down within the shadowed side of his car and slid his pants down just a little.
“I’m, I’m bleeding? What the?”
Thinking quickly, he pulled his pants up again. The black color would absorb the blood.
“How? Why am I bleeding?”
His face contorted into a look of shock.
He carefully sat back down into the driver side, debating a visit to the ER or heading to the conference.
Len knew that if he waited, the blood would dry; scabs would form and pull free when removing the pants. The pain would be incredible
Len sat in his driver’s seat, wondering what to do next.
Just before the key hit the ignition, the itching started.
Not on his legs.
Len lifted his shirt and tried to rub it away.
That’s what mom said to do for an itch, when she was alive.
What is happening to me, Ma?
Again, he argued with himself about going to the conference. All managers were required to attend. They had ways to prove everyone’s attendance, Calling in and listening in didn’t count.
But the itching.
It intensified along his legs, feet, and toes.
He moved his legs left to right against the seat to scratch and it seemed to help.
He started the car.
It’s decision time.
Throwing his car into drive, he somehow drove away carefully.
Thankfully, the road was clear at this early hour. Living on the outskirts of town had its advantages, except when he needed medical help, which crossed his mind more and more with each passing second.
Pulling in, he got out and ran to the front door, banging on it. His housekeeper did not answer.
C’mon, I know you’re here! Quit eating my food and watching my TV.
The itching now started on his back. The kind that forces a person contort a arm and hand to reach impossible angles and scratch.
In that precise second of reaching that irritated spot on his back, the door opened.
“Mr. Len. Mr. Len, I am sorry, I started your laundry, da machine noise.”
“Ok, get out of my way!”
Len dashed to the bathroom, locking himself in. He found a wall edge and rubbed himself on it. He took a breath and tore his clothes off, desperate to discover the extent of his bloodied plight.
Long lines of erratic scratches displayed themselves along both legs, taking on odd patterns which seemed to smile up at him.
“Son of a …”
He grabbed a few washcloths, wetted each one while making small grunts.
He slowly padded and mopped each bloody trail.
“Shit! Those are deep. How the hell?”
He leant his bare bottom against the counter of the sink, gazing and carefully cleaning these unbelievable self-inflicted wounds.
I did this?
No other explanation was possible. He lived alone. He did not tolerate inside pets of any kind. No one had broken in and robbed his place. He didn’t sit on anything sharp.
Interrupting his critical mind, he turned around to see his belly in the mirror. It presented a mysterious reddened, almost pinkish hue, obviously irritated.
Allergies! Damn, I’m allergic? But to what? Anna. Anna?”
“Yes, Mr. Len?”
She always called him that for some cultural reason. He never bothered to ask why. Somehow, her brand of respect felt good, so there wasn’t any reason to correct her. But now, her words fell to the ground like shattered glass.
“Yes, Mr. Len. Right away, Mr. Len.”
A few short moments passed and a furious knock on the door startled his moment of intense concentration, thinking about what could be causing this allergy, and why he scratched so hard. He held the wash cloths against the deepest scratches and somehow opened the door slightly to receive the medicine. He immediately closed the door.
“Are you alright, Mr. Len?”
“I think so. I’ll be out in a few minutes, am having a rough start this morning, is all.”
“Okay, I’ll be close in case you call.”
“Thank you, Anna.”
Len closed the door and popped open the Benadryl, taking the recommended dose.
A quiet moment filled the air after Len heard Anna’s footsteps stop into the far room.
He proceeded to clean himself up, hot water running in the washbasin.
In the steamed up mirror behind him, a hideous shape crept up and stretched out its hungry claws.
It laughed with its razor sharp claws full of dreadful purpose.
Len didn’t detect a thing.
Until he screamed his last.
A soft growl hinted satisfaction and subsided.
Anna heard Len’s scream and quickly picked up the phone.
During the ringing on the phone, a shadow passed by Anna, ignorant of her presence.
Anna smiled and impatiently readied herself for her call to be answered.
“Mama, it’s Anna, your secret spell worked! The house is mine! Come, come, live with me! I will be cleaning it all up for you. Pack your bags! ”
Bill D. Bistak, Author, Producer of Bestshorthorrorstories.com & Founder of Friedrich Imagines, Ltd. a media production company