I come across a man puking black tar, thick grease pouring from his mouth and dripping down his body, his roiling stomach and tubes plugged up and burning from inside out, his hot fever spreading and planting red flowers in skin like a raging rash that coats, and clings, and covers from head to toe.
A frail gray woman passes us—scaly, dazed eyes stinking of willful ignorance as she crawls across the sunbaked road away from the scene.
The scene doesn't end. The man, his fierce skull lined in deep trenches, brows wrung together, breath heavy and hot, staggers from lamppost to lamppost—scarce few stepping stones strewn across a wasteland of pure evil, sickly tar pouring down his shoes, clinging to street and weighing him down like concrete blocks. But he keeps trying to go. Somewhere. Escape somewhere, anywhere.
But he stops now, and his wailing groan breaks from chapped lips and splits the air with a cry bitter as cinnamon.
— What's wrong, what's wrong?
— I can't tell you, but it's trapped, and it's trapped inside, and its ripping me apart from the inside.
— Why can't you tell me?
— If I tell you, it'll get stronger, claws digging deeper, scratching harder.
The Lamppost Man pushes his tongue out and starts pawing at it, wildly desperate eyes full of tears. — Burrninnng... But he scratches and draws blood, and the blood runs down and drips with mad tears of rancor into a sick phlegm. His breathing rises rapidly, chest heaving and hunched by the lamppost, begging it to stop, stop...
But it won't stop, and his stomach bulges and pulsates and contracts, and on the face of his stomach, little nubs and long smooth white ripples skirt across the flesh like an angry sea. His tears, his blood, the stormy rain... He's wheezing for air grasping desperately at throat and rubbing his scratching, his mauling and mangling, his head, his face, coughing—choking up—breaaaathe breaaaathe. Urgent intensity of thick lines through forehead eyes, hollowed and gaping to the pink.
The Lamppost Man needs help, but the black tar vomits out, spills down, grips shoes. And with the sun baking through us, it spills and flows thick and rancid through the deathly stinking street as sleepy villagers and insolent farmhands jump back in horror at the tar that grasps at feet and snakes round legs and darts up their bodies and jumps into their mouths and plunges down and grips their tongues and takes over. takes over. takes over. it takes over.
And stuffs lungs full of cruel toxic fluids, why, and fills bellies with destructive acids that corrode stomach lining, burn, and pain, and sadness wrapping, plunging, digging into skin like forever thorns. They try to rip the thorns out and blood, black blood, spurts from a million different places and runs, forever runs from the vast tank of bubbling raw hate which feeds itself and grows on nothing and burns and bubbles from every edifice running down streets, gutters, collecting in thick pools at the bottom of each hill and steaming in the noonday air, into suffocating clouds of toxic gas that spread over the sky with sinister undulations, congeals into a dense solid that falls like a heavy block into the frantic masses where children scream. Scream with vicious unsatisfied greed, thumping on the windows of toy stores with locked doors. Hysteric housewives tear each other's faces off over supermarket specials and pull each other's perms into tangled spaghetti. Builders run into the streets wielding bricks aloft, chapped rosy cheeks hanging half out of straggling trousers, stained shirts sticky and tight against their sunburnt skin. Livestock let escape in the absentmindedness of pent-up rage, cluck and peck and fuck up sidewalk displays, dump ass on road signs, lay eggs in the middle of the street and cause cyclists to slip and crash into open manholes, flap and jump in white feathery distress, squawking violently till their voices turn hoarse and squeaky, get run over by passing trucks and leak out crude, gray juices into sun-cracked ground.
Exhausted, the man staggers off a few steps then collapses by the side of the road with a dull splash into pools of brown, spitting his few final bubbles of gaseous hate.
And that was the end of the Lamppost Man.
But I still don't know why.
ED NOBODY is an up and coming writer from Ireland who wants to write daring, engaging stories not restricted by traditional genre conventions. He has published short stories in Schlock Magazine, Altered Reality, Close to the Bone, Piker Press, and MENSA. He has written a novella and full novel both currently under consideration. @EdIsNobody on Twitter.