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Free Flash Fiction:

Swaddled and in a Basket

By: Jae El Foster

March 10, 2019

Even though the three days of heavy storms had kept her at home where she could work, Twiggy sat in front of her computer, staring at the cursor, wishing the words would pour from her fingertips and onto the screen. The last three years had been a tornado ride for her. Her first novel had topped the bestseller charts for four weeks, paving the way for two more books within the next year that hit the same milestone and even surpassed it.

Now, under contractual deadline, she’d spent the last eight months or so deadlocked with writer’s block.

Through henpecking, bland dialogue, and unhinged chapter attempts, she’d managed to complete a third of the worst draft she’d ever claimed. Now, with forty-eight hours before she had to beg for an extension, she found her brain fried and her story idea fizzling.

“I need an adventure,” she said, pushing her keyboard away and standing to stretch. “I need inspiration. Most of all, I need a drink.”

In the kitchen, she corked a fresh bottle of merlot and poured a tall glass. She drank the first half quickly, feeling her worries begin to wash away. She refilled her glass and carried it, along with the bottle, back to her desk, where she stared at her manuscript and then flipped it the bird.

“I’m never going to be able to finish this,” she said, but even if she couldn’t finish the book, she surely finished her glass of wine and poured another. Five glasses later, her bottle was empty and she was drunk to the point of exhaustion. Even then, she looked bitterly at what she’d written and at the empty white document space that followed it.

Standing once more, she returned to the kitchen for a snack before bed. The sound of a knock on her front door drew her attention and she cursed under her breath.

“It’s three in the morning,” she grumbled and stumbled her way to the door. “Who’s there?” she asked in a tired, bitter tone. When no one responded, she repeated her question. “Tell me who’s there or I’ll call building security!”

Again, there was no response. She was frustrated now and, although she wanted to make good on her threat to phone security, she didn’t want the guard to know how drunk she was. Everyone within this apartment building had an image to protect – even Twiggy. So, instead, she peered through the peephole, seeing no one standing in the hall outside.

Yet, as she stepped away, there was another knock. This time, she unlocked and opened with door with such quick force that she almost stumbled back from it.

At first glance, she saw no one. Then, looking to the ground, she saw a baby, swaddled and in a basket.

“Are you kidding me?” she asked, looking down at the baby with curious eyes and a detesting attitude. “I hate children…”

The baby looked up at her and made an ugly face. Shaking her head in disbelief, Twiggy bend down and lifted the child up by the basket and carried it into the apartment, kicking the door shut behind her. She put the basket, along with the baby, atop the kitchen table. Then, no longer dumb-drunk but needing another drink to calm her nerves, she corked another bottle of wine and drank down the first glass like it was nothing. Then, starting on the second, she glanced at the child and sneered before returning to the living room and her manuscript.

“I should call the police,” she told herself, sitting down and staring at her work in progress. “I’ll just carry the little runt down to the office in the morning and let them deal with it.”

She heard a thump from behind her, but she ignored it. She had to write, and if the baby fell off the table, that was the baby’s fault, she decided. The more she thought about the baby, the more distracted from her miserable book she became, and she finally stood, turning to retrieve the basket-baby and take it to the hallway where she found it.

The basket was still atop the table, but when she looked into it, the baby was gone.

“What the…?” she thought aloud, and looking all around the table and on the ground below it, she sought for the baby.

Yet, the child was nowhere in the kitchen. It was, she thought, too small to have crawled or walked away. It couldn’t have been more than a month or so old. Yet, when she turned around toward the living room, she saw it sitting in the threshold, looking at her.

“Troublemaker,” she grunted and walked to the baby, picking it up to give it a good talking to. Holding it before her, she said, “I’ve had just about enough of you. It’s time to put you back where I found you.”

Twiggy looked at the baby as it opened its mouth, as if to speak. Then, her eyes widened as what looked like a black slug began to extend from it, crawling out toward her. The thing was long and slimy, with bumps and ridges all along, and as it extended out to her, it seemed to pulsate.

Twiggy opened her mouth to scream and pulled her hands from the baby to let it drop to the ground. Yet, as her mouth opened wide, the black slug-like creature darted into her mouth and began to slide down her throat. As the baby dropped down to the ground, no longer mobile or even human-appearing, the creature pulled out fully from it, submerging itself into Twiggy.

She tried to fight it off – to pull it out – but the wine had made her weak and had made her reflexes delayed and sloppy. Before she knew it, it was inside of her, spreading through her like a plague or a virus.

Within a moment, it had reached not only her gut but had ventured up to her brain as well, encompassing it and attaching itself to it until it had full control over Twiggy. Finally, having found a proper host, Twiggy and the creature that had overcome her left the apartment and continued out into the rainy city where the invasion would continue.

End

Copyright Jae El Foster, 2019