"Little Toys"

Hunter took a handful of salt in his hand and looked down. The crystalline spit that the slug was leaving in its wake steamed over the hot sidewalk. Hunter had worked hard most of the morning to keep the mucus-colored slug from fleeing the growing heat of the cement for the cool of the grass. He sliced at the slug with the sharp edges of a sheet of paper and poked at it with the sharp end of a number two pencil.

But now, it was the finale. The denouement for the slug. He grinned as he held his fist over the slug. “Say your prayers,” he quoted from something he’d heard once on TV, and he unleashed the white powder from his hand. The salt sizzled as it fell. Bubbles of ooze and gore burst from the slug’s flesh. In an excruciatingly few moments, the slug was liquefied into a phlegmy mush.

Hunter scrunched his nose, but he smiled. There was little else in his world that could be this cool.

“Hunter! Lunch!”

“Coming, Mom!” he yelled back, watching the shudders of his prey. Then he jumped to his feet and ran home.

In the afternoon, Hunter took his BB gun and ran into the forest, looking for another diversion–perhaps this time a lizard or a frog. As he walked, he heard skittering behind him, but when he looked he saw nothing.

“Who’s there?” he asked, but all he heard was chittering in response, a sound like pincers clacketing against each other in rhythm. It was something like a language, but none that Hunter could understand.

Hunter tried to run back home, but he found himself lost. The trees kept changing shapes in front of him. He covered his nose at an awful stench that stung his nostrils and made his eye leak like sieves.

When the sharp violet shapes came, he dropped his BB gun. But his eyes could no longer make anything out but a wash of colors. He felt the sharp pokes of needles against and through his chest and belly, and he felt something of his spill onto his feet. He tried to sob, but the stench was overwhelming now. When he coughed, what came out was slimy and made his sore itch and burn. Hunter tried to cry out for Mom, but not a word escaped his throat. None ever would again.

“Lunchtime, Kavork!” clacketed his mother, her pincers twiddling against her large black nose like a moustache.

“Coming, Mom!” Kavork clacketed back, and he jumped up from the red and foamy mess he’d left behind to run home.