link to part 3
Caretaker (Part 4-Conclusion)“He knows,” Polly said to Ma and Pa Street Bum. “But I have the name of his source. I’ll bring her here tonight.”
To Everett, Polly said gently, “We’ll need to make you one of us. Don’t worry; I’ll always take care of you and Grandmother Dodge. I’ll be your caretaker.”
The big woman in the oversized poncho reached a dirty hand under her leopard skin folds and drew out a wriggling slug-worm. The worm-thing oozed iridescent pools of slime across the woman’s arms as she held it like a newborn baby. It continually coiled and uncoiled much like a giant grub upon first exposure to light.
Everett, his slate-blue eyes wide and slightly vacant, seemed mesmerized by the sight of an actual Sluggard. His mouth opened and closed like a giant fish, but only faint clicking noises issued from his tight throat.
The large woman cooed unfamiliar lyrics to her squirming bundle before setting it tenderly beside a stunned-looking Everett.
As the Sluggard inched toward him, much like a giant oozing maggot, Everett seemed to come back to life momentarily. He scrabbled backwards like a crab until his body hit the unmovable concrete wall. His shrill screams became muffled and died out altogether as the Sluggard wrapped his struggling body into bulging iridescent folds of slime.
The following week, if anyone in the big city noticed, but unfortunately few ever did, a bent man in threadbare clothing helped an ancient crone hobble down the concrete steps to the subway tunnels below. The man’s face seemed altogether too young to be perched on such a bent and beaten old body. His arresting slate-blue eyes peering warily from rheumy sockets curiously matched those of his companion as the pair shuffled slowly through the crowded subway terminal.
If anyone had paused in their busy, bustling day to listen: they may have heard the old woman whining piteously to her companion. “I’m so hungry, Everett.”
“I know, I know,” her unkempt comrade replied. “The caretaker will be here soon. Then we will eat.”
Caretaker was first published in Knightmares Electronic Magazine in 1997.
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