Beau Johnson has been published before, usually on the darker side of town. Besides Nikki and Paulo and Jack’s tattoo episode, he enjoys Lost almost as much as Breaking Bad.
BRAND NEW WORLD
First there was sound; after sound, light.
And it hadn’t realized it could not hear until it did; that as the machine continued to dig it came to know what the sound of digging was. Breathing too, as well as grunts from hefting. Words—mention of a septic tank and new irrigation flows; that this was the spot; this, no other.
It was being un-earthed. After all this time, free.
The men continued to work. The creature continuing to probe. It took in the language of the species it would soon devour, taking their thoughts for its own. Humans are what they called themselves, each contributing to their dominance upon the sphere. A world-breaker it would be called when the people of this planet came to name it; a beast from beyond the stars. They would be correct, of course, as this is what the creature was—what it had been born to do. Planet to planet it would survive, thrusting a piece of its engorged self into orbit once all forms of life had been entered and depleted. The world drained, it would drift. Drifting, it would seek. Seeking, it would find.
The digging ceased, the voices the men produced becoming less and less. Alone, it surged upwards. Struggling, it sought; pushed onwards and moved, parts of its compressed body tearing against the jagged rock as it filled into the cracks the men’s machinery brought forth. Up, it sensed the air, smelling as a human would. Through, it slid over the top of the rise, its gelatinous body cold and black against the cool night air. It was small now, a fraction of what it was meant to be. It needed to feed, its hunger awake. It understood this now—that it needed to eat. As this is what it was called on this world; that sustenance was required.
It rolled onwards, its body a translucent gel, suddenly pulsating from dark to light as it sensed the dog. Off the dirt, through the grass, it moved with purpose, with speed, studying the structure to which it approached. Made of wood, it was small, bordered by mostly black trim. Inside, along with the pups it had spawned, lay the beginning of the end. Soft, each offspring sucked at the teat, and if the creature sensing them had had a mouth it believed it would smile.
Sensing it, the Doberman growled low in its throat and began to rise. The creature pressed on. Fast, it ejected a part of itself, striking the animal in the soft of its neck. Tethered, the creature drank, ate. Then forward, forward, attention now to the voices the mother could no longer protect. There were six in all, each a deflated husk by time it was done. Sated, the creature grew and slept beneath the skins of its meal. Dreaming, it lay in the glow escaping from the windows of the larger house. There was food in there as well, each one bigger than a pup.