CADDIS INITIATIVE PHASE ONE: INFECTION EXCERPT
Toni shook me awake and was hissing my name.
“Sh!” He pointed behind me. A red light was illuminating the area. I could make out tree branches and could see weird black thread-like worms crawling all over them. They were in the truck bed too.
I turned to look and stared.
Up in the tree, on the branch directly beside me, was an usually large box jellyfish, the size of a huge beach ball. Inside it there was a sack of silver fluid that was pulsing in time with the red bioluminescent lights that raced up and down its bell.
It shouldn’t be able to survive on land, let alone crawl around. It should’ve deflated and died as it dried out.
And yet there it was.
But that wasn’t the strangest part.
The oddest thing about it, was that it had legs. Sea anemone tentacles, for legs. They were as thick as my thighs, and very pliable. It had them wrapped around the tree branches as it searched the area with a single tentacle that had eyes in two columns on either side of it.
The eyes looked like ones you’d find on an octopus or a squid, with little metallic flecks in the pupils.
Toni waved at me to come over to his side of the truck bed. I started to clumsily crawl over to him, and it spotted me.
Two of its legs whipped out and grabbed onto my arms and dragged me towards it. The legs stung me. I screamed. It burned, horribly. Felt like someone put a blowtorch directly onto my flesh. Where it made direct contact, my skin turned bright red and blistered.
The harder it squeezed, the more I felt its needles shove through my coveralls, into my skin, and inject it with venom. I swear I could almost see the nematocysts shoot out of its epidermis and into me.
“Becca!” Toni grabbed my arms tried to pull me away but it was too strong. It grabbed him with several of its free legs and I could see his skin near the contact areas turn bright magenta as he screamed in agony.
I was gasping for air. It hurt so much it was hard to breathe. I remembered Kiki told me once about a tiny little thimble-sized jellyfish down in Australia with a sting so bad, that the pain alone killed people. I imagined that this is what they felt when stung by it.
Toni managed to punch the large jellyfish hard enough to make it let go of him, and he tackled me and ripped me out of its legs. He had tentacle-shaped welts across his face and neck and arms, and they were covered in large blisters.
“Come on,” he said and shoved me towards the edge of the truck bed. He climbed over and grabbed my hand and pulled me out with a strength I didn’t know he had. We started climbing down the tree, and the weird jellyfish got onto the truck and I heard it smash the windows and start ripping things out of it.
“That’s not normal,” Toni said. “This isn’t right. This just isn’t fucking right. This has to be some sort of alien invasion or something,” he muttered as he steered me from branch to branch.
I wasn’t thinking at that point, just trying not to fall to my death. But I was so weak, it was getting really hard to hold on.
“Just a little further, come on Bam Bam, you can do it.”
I nodded. We were both gasping for air. The jellyfish venom was racing through our bloodstreams and it hurt. So fucking bad. My whole body burned. I couldn’t imagine what Toni felt like. He was stung more than I was.
“Come on, not much further.”
He kept prodding me along. If it weren’t for his voice, I would’ve clung to a branch and stayed there until my lungs or heart gave out.
When we got close enough to the ground, he jumped down and helped me off a branch.
I couldn’t stand, so he set me down against a tree and slumped down next to me.
“Thank you,” I slurred.
He nodded. He was gasping roughly. It didn’t sound good.
He pointed up. “See how high? We made it down. We did it.”
He smiled and tears rolled down his swollen cheeks. “I saved you.”
“You did.” I put a hand on his shoulder. “Thanks.”
CADDIS INITIATIVE PHASE ONE: INFECTION COMING SOON!