The Man Who Sold Sugar Cubes
by Ásgrímur Hartmannsson
Table of Contents|
parts: 1, 2, 3
He got a call from the dealer when he was on his way back home a couple days later. Apparently that stuff sold like hot-cakes. That wasn’t a problem. He took time to manufacture doses for an hour each day, and he had bowls of it in the fridge.
He brought as much to the dealer as he thought the dealer could pay for, about 100 pieces.
“Can’t you bring more?” asked the dealer when he arrived for the third time.
“How many do you think you can sell?”
“Two, maybe three hundred units. Maybe more, as word gets out. This is the good stuff, man.”
“I’ll see about it,” said Dave. “Same place, same time.”
He’d already made 600K from this. He wondered if anyone’d notice if he started raking in such massive amounts? What could he use this for? He’d already bought a car for 200K, and he did pay up some of his mortgage the other day, and he’d been out for a steak dinner.
He figured he could buy a new TV, some new furniture, other stuff. 600K was already more than twice as much as his monthly salary after taxes. People would notice if he suddenly had 1200K extra to spend.
He put one of his cubes in coffee and drank it. He figured he’d find some way to work this out. Things were getting better, he’d noticed. He barely felt the writhing tendrils anymore. He just knew they were there. Boring their way up his torso. They were in his guts, he could feel them. Intellectually, he knew they were slowly approaching some really important organs, but it didn’t register with him on a conscious level. He’d read about parasites. They rarely if ever killed their host.
He gathered more cubes for his next delivery. If the parasite killed him, he’d not need to worry about people finding out about his extra income. He smiled to himself. He barely recalled a day when the notion of being infected with a large, life-altering parasite would have actually worried him.
But, worrisome or not, the thing was causing him some difficulty in moving. He had to resort to getting a walking stick when his lower right leg stopped moving as it should, and became rather limp. That didn’t effect his performance at work though, but getting from his apartment and into his car got a bit difficult.
His pelvic joints were also getting rather stiff, which made getting into the car harder every day. He wondered whether he should ditch his current ride in favour of something taller, like a Honda CRV, but put that on hold a bit longer.
What genuinely worried him now was seeing a doctor. He did not much savor the idea of his little pet being discovered, now that it was making his life all serene and beautiful.
* * *
Every morning he would feel the tendrils writhing inside, farther up every day, get up, have some coffee laced with worm-gunk, feel better, have his bacon and eggs or whatnot, get his cane, hobble to the car, drive to work...
At work he was on autopilot. As if his mind split, and one part dealt with answering the phone, talking to customers, poking at the keyboard; the other half thought about those pesky roots that were spreading, writhing, poking and oozing acid all over his insides. He was lucky that people don’t expect deep interactions; they might have noticed something.
Time for delivery, he got the bowl of sugarcubes from the fridge, and poured them all into a couple of paper cups he’d gotten from the nearest Subway. He put the lids on, put them in a bag, and took them to his car.
Driving to the agreed-upon point was always easy. Dave just had to remember to adhere to the speed limit, the only thing that mattered, lest he risk being stopped by the police on their eternal funds-gathering mission.
The usual place was the mall parking lot. Middle floor. The dealer was waiting for him as usual. Dave stopped his car on three parking spaces, and waited. The dealer walked casually to him, reaching into his pocket.
A car appeared trough the entryway. A dark grey BMW. The dealer paused. The BMW closed in on them. The dealer stopped dead in his tracks. The BMW came to a halt a car length or so behind, and a couple of men emerged from it: one from the front passenger seat, the other from the rear.
“You!” the other said and pointed at the dealer.
The dealer turned around and fled. Dave took this as his cue to get out of there, and he put it in gear and floored it. The car actually burned some rubber as it took off, but not in the straightest line, and the BMW took off after him.
Dave was headed for the exit, but the BMW got in his way. He turned anyway, and ground against some sheet metal. The BMW was at least 100 kilograms heavier than Dave’s Skoda; he couldn’t push it away, but he wasn’t giving up. They weren’t going very fast when they passed the exit and hit the wall beside it.
Dave shifted into reverse and floored the accelerator again. He was quicker at it than the BMW driver and was about to celebrate his limited victory when he backed into one of the pillars holding up the car park. Then the engine stopped.
He looked behind, and saw the pillar. Got it straight on with his left rear taillight. He looked to his left, and saw the dealer on the ground, being kicked by the other two men.
He turned the engine on, and got a bit away from the pillar before the BMW smashed into him. That guy had figured it best to just back directly into him. The air bags blew right in his face as his car was thrown back, but it missed the pillar.
He had to restart the engine. The car spun around and hit the outer wall of the car-park. The BMW passed him, stopped, then parked right in front of his car. No matter. He turned as he could, floored the gas pedal again, and got the BMW in the rear door, pushing it away, leaving paint on its rear wing as he did.
And he exited out the entry way. There was not much traffic, so that wasn’t much of a chance. Now he was on the top of the car park in front of the mall. He could see a few cars at the other end of it, but they didn’t matter. He tried the entryway nearest him, which was a ramp up from the ground floor. He collided with the side of it, losing much of his speed, but ground his way down. He had the car in second gear as he got out of the parklng garage.
He figured his best chance lay in hiding somewhere. The tunnel looked like the stealthier option, and he took it. He was in it when the BMW appeared in the rear-wiew mirror.
That is no good, he thought and had a change of mind. Through the tunnel he went. Then he made a sharp U-turn, and got on the freeway against traffic. There he sped up, and headed over the hill, with no idea where he was going.
He could see the BMW in his rear-wiew as it went on the freeway, as it took off after him, as it closed in...
His foot firmly on the floor, he got on the top of the crest. There he ran a red light and skipped over to the right side of the road, so as not to annoy anyone who might be coming his way at this hour. There were a couple of oncoming vehicles, he noted as he switched lanes.
He barely missed the concrete edge in the transition, and got the foot off the gas just enough to put the car in fifth gear. Then it was on again, and the car happily tried to reach 140 on the way down the hill.
The BMW caught up with him as they reached the next intersection, and banged into him. Dave would have had something to say about that, but the hood on his car just popped open and obscured his view. Glass rained all over him. He fumbled, tried to keep the car going straight. The BMW got up to his side and rammed his car in the right rear passenger door.
That was that. With no driving experience, Dave didn’t have any idea how to handle that one. His car skidded to the side, was caught completely in the BMW’s grille, which then accelerated, and his car flipped over. The BMW actually hit it on the roof as it came over, pushing it aside, and it came down on the roof again, and slid on it until it hit the edge of the road and finally stopped. Things moving at over 90 km/h just don’t stop at all that quickly.
Where are those fund-gathering missionaries now? Dave asked himself, laying inside his wreck. He wondered how he got there, but then remembered he’d not bothered to fasten his seatbelt. He started to crawl out of the car. A man stood over him. Dave sighed.
The man dragged Dave to his car, unceremoniously throwing him into the trunk. Which he then proceeded to try to close, which again proved impossible. So he pulled Dave out of the trunk again, and threw him into the back seat, with equal, if not greater lack of ceremony.
He drove Dave to a port between two industrial buildings, workshops of some sort and garages. There was all sorts of metal wreckage around: chains, beams, half-finished or half torn apart fish-industry apparatus and at least four identifiable automobiles in the process of being dismantled for parts.
The man pulled Dave from the car and dragged him along the ground to a place where they were slightly less visible from the road. His friends were already there, they’d arrived in the dealer’s car.
“Now we’re going to have a talk!” said the man.
Dave didn’t care. He was only aware of being there, but had no feelings about the matter one way or the other. His work writhed. And the man took notice of it. That, and the immense black smudge that had appeared on Dave’s trouser leg.
“Hey, what do we have there?”
“I think his leg is broken. That sort of looks like blood,” said one of the other guys.
“It looks black to me,” said the man, “and it smells funny.” He looked at his companions, “you wouldn’t believe the smell in the car on the way here.”
And he turned to Dave again, who lay there, carrying his torso on his upper arms.
“Let’s have a look at that, shall we?”
And he pulled Dave’s pants off. He was expecting something disgusting, but he was never really prepared for this. He actually jumped back a couple paces and cursed. So did his companions, though they were further away.
Dave’s thigh was leaking all right. The worm was sticking out. So were the tendrils, through a multitude of holes that they had dissolved into Dave’s skin.
More holes than tendrils, and some were sticking out a length, some holes were empty, some had a tendril or two, or three sticking out a millimeter or so for a second or half. There were rips and tears in the flesh as well, from which issued a multitude of writhing tendrils that looked a lot like seaweed.
The skin had turned a pale white, where it was not smudged in black gunk, but seemed to turn black rather sharply at the foot, but it was impossible to tell because of the sock and shoe Dave had on.
“What is that?!” asked the man, half discusted and half scared.
“How should know?”
“It’s an alien! It must be an alien!”
“What the... what do we do?”
“Yeah. Fire. Burn it with fire.”
Dave watched as the men began looking around the multiple garages for fuel. He himself could hardly move. He made an effort, but did not make it far before the men returned, armed with some flammable liquid.
He got splashed with turpentine, with acetone and gasoline. He spat it out. The worm too, spat some, much to the men’s horror. And they threw matches at Dave. They threw matches at him until he was completely engulfed in flame.
Before Dave blacked out he thought, Maybe I should have kept that doctor’s appointment...
Copyright © 2016 by Asgrimur Hartmannsson