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Think again. When Grey Matter Press challenged us to terrify in exactly 200 words, 53 writers responded with gut-wrenching (and gut-splattering!) enthusiasm. I’m happy to say I walked away as a runner-up, and couldn’t be prouder. Here’s “What Kind of Dead” for your reading pleasure. Oh, and where do I get these ideas? Thank Amirah Turner, who provided the inspiration for this piece.

What Kind of Dead

He whimpered as chunks of his own flesh, moist and dripping, disappeared into the creature’s maw.

Screams were no longer an option—they belonged to the past, to a yesterday in which everything had made sense.

They had warned him, hadn’t they? Possibly dangerous. Unpredictable. No guarantees. He’d agreed, thought he understood.

He’d understood nothing.

A soft, purring rip as it stripped more of him away, watching with detached interest as he convulsed in agony, no cushion between him and excruciating pain. The thing meant to devour him, of that he was certain. He would die here, on this alien soil, the message of peace and friendship lost forever. But worse than the sharp teeth, the grinning idiot glee with which the monster ate him, was his loss of faith in an ordered, rational universe–equilibrium overturned.

Strings of saliva flew as it shook his so recently attached appendage. Not long now.

Darkness descended as that hideous mouth came, closing over his head.

Crunch.

***

“What the–ugh.” Jeff grimaced, wiping the sole of his bare foot in the grass. “Dexter!” he shouted. No answer. “Stupid dog,” he muttered, “what kind of dead thing did you bring home this time?”

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