V I S I T O R S -- DownStream – Part 4
Link to part 3
Along the shore line, in the over bright moonlight, salmon-colored slugs slithered up on the rocks. Red fins and spines bristled from the creatures' chins and backs. Lumps of webbed flesh, some sharply clawed, dangled limply beneath raw orange gills.
There are too many. Must be at least two dozen, I'll never be able to stop them all.
"What do you want?" Alice screamed and pushed herself backwards, crab-like, with bare feet.
The closest creature paused and raised a snakelike snout into the moonlight. With terror beyond reasoning, Alice saw Frank Long's face above the bristled chin. "We want you, babe," the Frank-slug hissed. "This joint could use a smart chick like you."
Another slug slithered from between the leaves by Alice's left foot. Inky black eyes gazed sadly from the wart-freckled face of little Melanie Thomas. "We need you, Miss Carson. Please come with us," the childlike voice rasped at her.
A slimy circle formed quickly around Alice. Her frightened eyes moved from one ghastly creature to another as more than two dozen slick pink tadpoles closed the circle.
With mounting apprehension, Alice also recognized the faces of the other members of the Thomas family and Duncan's friend, Jimmy Gordon--complete with deformed nose. Most of the creatures were faceless blobs, however, with bright red eyes and pursed pink, rubbery lips.
They don't have to kill us, just to steal our lives!
This was the last thought to spring into Alice's tortured mind before the first numbing sting of a bristle edged appendage sank into her skin. Unable to cope with the cold sliminess that crawled over her flesh consuming her body with sucking pink mouths and sharp claw-like flippers, her mind closed in on itself--refusing to be absorbed.
Alice woke with a start, the pain of her hideous nightmare still gouging new wounds. As she leaped from her desk and ran to the window to look out at the river, her reading glasses smashed to the floor. Fully expecting to see her back yard swarming with snail-like creatures from some Black Lagoon, Alice's breathing slowed considerably at the sight of the peacefully gurgling and blessedly empty Rove River.
How incredibly real the dream was!
What an overactive and completely deranged imagination I have.
Relieved to be awake and to discover that the entire experience had been but another bogus nightmare, Alice stooped and collected the broken shards of her reading glasses with trembling fingers.
The trembling of her hands eased a little as she collected the scattered drawings of her students and stuffed them back into her briefcase.
If she hadn't broken her glasses, Alice might have noticed the subtle changes in each drawing she had just collected.
And since her glasses still were not repaired when the essays and their accompanying drawings were issued back to her students Monday morning, she never did catch the mutations cleverly inserted in each childish drawing.
Residents of the town may never know if any of the students receiving these individual art works happened to notice the tiny engraving next to the circled mark in each upper right-hand corner. The engraved caricature resembled a bright pink bookworm wearing overly large glasses. If any of the students did notice the mark, would they wonder at all why the worm in question closely resembled their teacher, Miss Alice Carson?
Would any family proudly displaying their children's latest creation on refrigerators all over town guess that the town elementary school had a new visitor?
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