Chloe stood with broom in hand, intent on ridding her kitchen of the dust, hair, and dried leaves that sat in the corners. She swept a pile of trash into the dustpan. Something rattled against the plastic. She assumed it was a pebble and emptied the contents into the trashcan. A dark object in the floor caught her eye. She almost didn’t see it at first because it was black, blending in with the baseboard. It didn’t look like a pebble.
The woman stared at the object. It was about the size of a watermelon seed. Its shiny black surface reminded her of one as well. How did that get there? she wondered as she picked it up. It was hard and diamond-shaped. Neon green striations marked its dark surface. Burrs on the outer edge of the seed poked her fingers.
“I guess I tracked it in,” she said aloud. “What kind of plant comes from this, though?” She turned the thing over in her palm. It moved on its own.
“What the hell?”
The seed rocked back and forth. Chloe tried to drop it, but it stuck to her. She shook her hand violently, but the object didn’t budge. It pierced her skin. A small amount of blood trickled out, but the seed blocked the flow. She tried to pull it out with her other hand, but she couldn’t get a good grip on the thing sinking into her flesh. She ran to a drawer and pulled out a knife. She jabbed the point under the black object and tried to pop it out. The seed burrowed deeper into her hand.
“Oh God, what do I do?” she cried. Dark green streaks shot forth from the hole in her hand, creeping down her fingers and up her arm. She knew that she had to get the seed out.
Chloe ran to her bathroom and opened the cabinet under the sink. She pushed aside extra rolls of toilet paper and cans of hairspray and found a bottle of peroxide. She saw a large green strip crawling up her arm, hiding beneath her shirtsleeve. The rest of her skin had turned light green. She twisted off the white bottle cap and poured the liquid over the wound. Instead of being white, the foam that boiled from her hand was dark green.
The woman breathed heavier, on the edge of panic. Her skin burned and itched. Leaves grew from the green streaks and burst out of her arm. Vines? she wondered. She ripped a leaf out. Thick dark green liquid oozed from the hole. More leaves erupted from her flesh.
A chunk of blonde hair fell into the sink. Another, larger chunk followed. Chloe looked into the mirror. The vines grew up her neck, across her face, and up to her exposed scalp.
She tried to scream, but the viscous fluid that came out of her arm now flowed from her mouth. It dripped onto her shirt, sizzling as it hit the cloth.
Her head hurt, like someone hit her repeatedly with a sledgehammer. The constant pain shifted around in her skull. Something was crawling around in there. She was sure of it.
A mental image of the nearby hospital flashed in her mind. Chloe was in too much pain to think in words. She staggered from her bathroom, through her apartment, and out the door.
She stumbled down the stairs, tripping over the last three. She pulled herself up and wandered down the sidewalk. The cool autumn air did nothing to relieve her burning skin. Her headache grew worse. She found a couple and moaned at them, unable to form words.
The man and woman turned. “Oh my God! What’s wrong with her?” the woman shrieked.
“I don’t know,” the man said, stepping in front of his companion. “Ma’am, are you okay?”
“Seed,” Chloe managed to groan.
Chloe’s headache intensified into the worst pain she’d ever felt. Tears ran down her cheeks. Something burst from her head, sending chunks of brain and skull fragments toward the couple. As she fell to the ground, there was a sound like a puff of air. Hundreds of little black seeds flew in all directions. The couple screamed, and the world went dark.
© Kristina R. Mosley
Kristina Mosley lives in Kensett, Arkansas. Her writing tends to be fueled by carbs and paranoia. Her work has been featured in numerous publications, including Flashes in the Dark, Hogglepot, Luna Station Quarterly, Evolutionary Blueprint, and Scifaikuest. She blogs occasionally at kristinarmosley.blogspot.com, and tweets too often at twitter.com/elstupacabra.