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PREVIEW: Jack in the Box

September 13, 2018

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Monday, March 27, 2017

In the flickering lamplight of the deserted streets, Jessica hustled along, jacket pulled tight against her lithe frame. She’d worked the late shift, again, and her parents were asleep and unable to pick her up. So now she was forced to walk to the only bus stop open, nearly a mile away, through deserted factories and forgotten roads. Every few alleyways she’d see a trashcan fire with a few people huddled around it for warmth. A couple waved at her, to which she waved back; this wasn’t her first time coming along this route.

 

Stopping for a moment to catch her breath, she stared down an alley that cut across the section between two abandoned factories, leading directly to the bus stop on the other side. One of the homeless people had warned her away from that alley.

 

“Nuthin’ but trouble!” He’d slurred when she delivered a bag of cheeseburgers to he and his friends. “Had a friend that went down there and saw that strangest thing, a huge shadow that crawled along the walls. He barely made it out alive.”

 

Staring down the alley, a stray newspaper blowing past, she wondered about the validity of the old bums words. After all, they were all boozehounds, some dipping their toes deeper into the available drugs: maybe they didn’t know what they were talking about. The path around the buildings was a long one, and this was the last alleyway that allowed for passage to the other side.

 

Walking up close to it, she leaned into the alley, looking up the walls and around the darkened pathway for any sign of danger. A grate sat half sunken into the cement some thirty feet in, with four dumpsters set throughout the alley. It was strangely bereft of garbage, with the smooth cement ground clean, almost as if it had been mopped recently.

 

“Strange,” Jessica said to herself. Clutching her jacket around herself to fight against the biting cold, she decided to risk it, as she was already running late. Stepping into the alley, she held her breath for some inevitable axe to fall.

 

When nothing occurred, she let out a sigh of relief, chastising herself for believing the rumors of drunken hobos, before making her way down the alleyway. The soft clacking of her heels on the pavement echoed throughout the path, bouncing off the high walls of the abandoned factories and sounding from all around. Pulling her purse up higher, Jessica stopped when she heard the strangest sound… a slight bubbling of water, almost as if a brook was somewhere nearby. Looking around, she didn’t see anything, but still the bubbling noise grew louder and louder as the seconds passed.

 

Choosing to press on and ignore the strange sound, she passed by the first dumpster, looking behind it to make sure nothing was lying in wait. All she found was air and brick wall, though the sound of something fluid was still echoing throughout the alleyway. Stopping to look around, her eyes widened as she caught sight of the source.

 

Pressing up through the grate not ten feet from her was a mound of green jelly, pulsating and growing ever larger by the second. Two large orbs rose to the surface of the mound, spinning to reveal vertical slits for eyes. The mound rose, forming a cavernous maw as it let out a low, wet groan.

 

“Jesus!” Jessica cried, falling back on as he attempted to back away.

 

The creature was fully risen from the sewer grate, flecks of foodstuff sizzling on its surface as it deftly slid along the concrete towards Jessica’s prone form. Quickly realizing the danger she was in, she forced herself up, kicking off her heels in order to run better.

 

But it was too late. As she made it to her feet the ooze slammed into her legs, burning acidically through her leggings and into her soft flesh, causing her to let out a hoarse scream. Rising up behind her, a pseudopod wrapped around her upper body and pulled her backwards, allowing her to splash into the mound of green jelly with a resounding splat, the slime quickly moving to cover every inch of her, eating its way through her jacket and jeans, her shirt and underwear, before melting away her very skin from her bones. Bloody muscle tissue slid free from the bones as the slime lifted it from Jessica’s skeletal structure, leaving her a bloody skeleton that, even after being a whole human moments prior, floated within the jelly slowly being eaten away by the unholy ooze that had crept its way up from the sewer, growing in size as it slowly digested Jessica until nothing remained but a smear on the cement. 

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