Trish Wilson

The September Selected Writer is Trish Wilson

Feel free to email Trish at: trishcwilson@comcast.net


by Trish Wilson

Eleven-year-old Rick Franklin saw the thing. It was shaped like a puddle of spilled oil, and had disguised itself as the wallpaper in the hallway outside his kid sister’s room. Becky, who was only eight, had been sick with pneumonia for over a week, and was confined to her bed.

At first, Rick thought it was a water stain on the wall.

Then it moved.

It shimmered, oozing around the threshold of his sister’s door and creeping inside to slither onto her bed.

He broke out in cold sweat as he watched. It took on the pattern of the bold paisley bed comforter, but it had trouble forming the color red. He watched in horror it crawled onto Becky’s face. She turned to get away from it, but it forced her head forward and began to suffocate her.

Rick was terrified, but this was his sister! He rushed into her room and grabbed one of her gymnastics trophies. Holding it above his head, he rushed the thing, wailing all the while. He thrust the trophy upon it, and just missed hitting his sister.

Contact! The creature let out a shriek, then slid down the bed and headed for the open window where it exited into the yard. Rick stood there at his sister’s bed, panting from shock and adrenaline.

Forcing himself to calm down, he inspected his sister closely but saw no sign of damage except for the sweat plastering her hair to her forehead. But he knew this wasn’t over.

Because this was not the first time he had seen the monster.


Yesterday, it sat on a living room table, with its upper half folded around its body to look like a lampshade and its lower half entwined to form the body of the lamp. His mother hadn’t noticed it, which was just as well since it was in a sense out of sight, out of mind.

Rick wasn’t sure what he was looking at when he first saw it. There wasn’t supposed to be a lamp on that table.

And then it moved. It unfolded its body and slid down the table to blend in with the tan plush carpet. He gasped in shock, but didn’t realize it might be something to fear. After all, he was a boy who played with all sorts of creatures in his back yard, from frogs to snails. It took a lot to gross him out.

So he followed it, keeping his distance in case it jumped at him. But it didn’t. Instead, it crept down the hallway, slinking along the wall into Becky’s room.

What was it? Where did it come from? Rick had no idea. Maybe it came from the sewers or it was a result of smog in the nearby city. He knew that kids in the neighborhood were getting sick. Was this thing why? And why did it single out his home? Why couldn't it attack old man Reynolds next door? The unpleasant old coot growled at Rick and his friends to keep their basketball out of his yard. He had no family and no friends. The old man wouldn’t be missed.

The creature slithered onto Becky’s bed. It did not make a sound until it covered his sister’s face. Then, it slurped.

That was when Rick understood the menace—the evilness—of the thing. Screaming, he rushed into his sister’s room, and the creature fled out the window.

He checked Becky’s face and it didn’t leave any kind of residue that he could see. She smelled of damp earth. Her skin was hot to the touch since she had a fever. She gasped until her blue face turned pink, and then struggled for breath as she slept. She never woke up during or after the attacks. It was as if the creature had drugged her.

Telling his mom was out. She was already stressed from being a single parent. Who’d believe in a blob that sucked the life out of kids? Not the cops. He knew he’d have to take the thing on himself.


And now Rick lurked in the back yard, waiting for it to return. Since it left through Becky’s window once again, he assumed it might try to enter the house through the same window, which he had since latched shut.

He sat in an Adirondack chair, sipping his mother’s sweet iced tea and stared at the thick forest behind his house. The tea sank in his stomach like a depth charge.

He fingered the butcher knife in his hand. He had taken it from the kitchen drawer. Dressed in tan and brown to blend in with the wooden chair, he was thinking that the creature wasn’t the only being that could disguise its appearance.

The crisp scent of freshly mown grass floated in the air. Maybe if he saw it moving on the ground, he could run it over with the lawn mower. Would that be enough to kill it?

He waited nearly an hour before it reappeared, slinking past tree roots onto the lawn. His heart jumped in fear at the sight of it. It had grown to nearly five feet around. In the space of a second it had changed color from bark brown to grass green.

Sweat rose on his brow and his lip trembled in fear, but he had to do what he had to do. He slowly leaned forward, ready to rush it as it approached him. When it was within three feet, he bound out of his chair and launched onto it, stabbing it through to the soil with the knife.

It let out a shrill shriek and split in two. But then it just slimed apart and kept moving. Rick was horrified to see it suddenly reconnect with itself, as if it had never been touched with a knife or anything else.

It headed for the house.

Rick tried to pull the knife out of the ground, but it held fast. By the time he was able to free it, he turned to run after the creature, but couldn’t catch up with it before it slid up the side of the house, taking on the color and form of the bricks on the wall. When it reached the window to Becky’s room, it stopped momentarily since it couldn’t get past the latched windows.

Then it crawled up the wall onto the roof. Rick ran to the side of the house to fetch the ladder, which he struggled to carry. With some difficulty because he wouldn’t let go of the knife, he hoisted the ladder onto the side of the house and then carefully climbed upwards. When he reached the roof, he could see only shingles.

Where was it? He whirled around and looked behind him, expecting it to emerge and engulf him. In a panic, goosebumps rose on his skin.  He knew it was there…somewhere on the roof, blending in with the shingles. It couldn’t sit still for long. Eventually, it had to move. And then he’d know where it was.

One of the chimneys shimmered and then melted in front of him. He had never seen anything like that before. The shock started him so much he forgot to act. Before he could stab it, it slid down the other side of the house—the one that led to the living room.

His mother wasn’t far away in the kitchen. Would it attack her?

He stepped down the ladder as quickly as he could and then headed for the house. As he raced into the kitchen, he nearly collided with his mother.

“Rick, no running in the house. What are you doing with my knife? Hand it over,” she said.

“Mom, are you okay?” Rick asked.

“Of course I’m okay. Why wouldn’t I be? Now, give me the knife.”

He did as she ordered.

“There’s dirt on it! Did you dig with it?” She didn't give him time to answer. “Your shoes are dirty, too. Take them off. You know not to track dirt through the house. You don’t live in a barn.”  She sat the knife in the sink and then stirred spaghetti in a pot. “Lunch is soon. Don’t dawdle.” She paused. “I just checked on Becky.”

“How is she?” Rick asked.

His mother sighed, her mouth downturned into a concerned frown. “I’m worried. She’s not getting any better. I have an appointment tomorrow for the doctor to draw blood and do another examination.”

He had to tell her. He had to somehow get her to believe him. “Mom, there’s something in this house and it’s after Becky.”

“What are you going on about?” his mother asked.

“I know this is going to sound crazy, but it’s a thing. It changes form. I’ve seen it in her room. It sits on Becky’s head and makes her sick.”

“Have you been watching scary movies again? You know how I feel about that.”

Frustrated, he stomped his foot. “I’m not kidding, Mom. I gotta stop this thing before it hurts her again.” But she wouldn’t listen to him. There was no point in continuing to explain.

The kitchen door opened and Rick’s best friend Steve walked in. “How's Becky?”

“Not well,” she sighed. “I'm very worried about her. You boys go about your business, but be down here in twenty minutes for lunch. You’re invited of course, Steve.”

The boys headed for Rick’s room, where they could talk in private. The two friends had no secrets with each other.

“It’s in the house somewhere,” Rick said.

“How are we going to catch it?” Steve said. “We can’t see it unless it moves. Did you tell your mom about it yet?”

“I tried my best. She doesn’t believe me. Listen, I have a paper bag. If I can catch it, maybe we can kill it. Follow me.”

With the sack in hand, Rick tiptoed to his sister’s room, Steve following. And there it was, sliding towards Becky’s face. He held open the sack, ran to the bed, and then dove on top of Becky as he pulled the sack over the creature. It felt slick to the touch.

Instead of capturing it, it backed out of the sack and headed quickly out of the room. Steve ran into the hallway. Torn between following the thing and tending to his sister, Rick stepped off her bed and straightened out the comforter he had ruffled up.

Becky opened her eyes. “How you feeling?” he asked. “Have you noticed anything… unusual?”

“Unusual how?”

“Anything odd.”

“Aside of you and Steve, no. But really…there’s this strange smell sometimes. Like wet dirt. Maybe it’s coming from outside.”

He smelled the same wet dirt scent when he got close to the creature. Maybe that was a way to track it. She never awakened when it attacked. Maybe it wouldn’t come back, now that Becky was awake.

He tucked his sister into her comforter and then walked out the door. Steve stood in the hallway, looking up and down the walls. Unsure of where to go next, Rick went to his room followed by Steve. The two boys froze in place, terrified of what they couldn’t see.

Where was it hiding? Fearful of bumping into it while it sat motionless, Rick scanned the walls and furniture.

His heart raced with dread. Nothing looked strange or out of place.

He picked up a hockey stick and smacked it on his bed. Nothing moved. Steve grabbed a baseball bat and bumped the overhead light with it. Rick took a step back, fearing the creature would fall from the light and land on him but it didn’t. The lamp swung but did not change form much to Rick’s relief. He tapped his chair, which remained still. He stomped on the carpet. Satisfied the thing was not in his room, Rick sat at his desk in front of his computer.

“It’s getting bigger,” Steve said. "It camouflages itself.”

“Yeah, that’s why we haven’t caught it yet,” Rick said, “but we will.”

“What if we can’t catch it?"

The same thought lurked in the back of Rick's mind but he didn’t want to think too hard about it. What if he couldn't defeat it? What would it do to Becky? To him next?

“We have to catch it. We have no choice,” Rick said. “I wonder if it's poisonous. I think it numbs Becky so she doesn’t wake up. She got sick right before I saw it in the house for the first time.”

“How do we stop it?”

“I don't know,” Rick said. “Lots of animals disguise themselves so predators can’t see them, but this creature isn’t hiding from predators. It is a predator.”

“It would be freaky if it was an alien,” Steve said. Rick ignored that.

Why was the creature in the neighborhood in the first place? It seemed to be an eating machine, busy sucking the life out of kids and growing bigger. Maybe it chose kids, especially very young kids like Becky, because they were smaller and couldn't fight back. An adult would give it a run for its money. Why did it have to have a purpose at all? It was a predator. It needed none which made its presence scariest of all. It attacked because it could.

“Rick! Steve! Lunch!” his mother called.

“Be down in a minute!” Rick yelled.

He walked into the hallway and inspected the wall. He swallowed hard but his mouth had dried due to terror. He feared touching the wall lest he disturb the creature if it were there. What if he put his hand right on it? What would it feel like? Would it jump him?

They went downstairs. “You boys enjoy your lunch. If you want me, I'll be in the yard,” his mother said, then left the kitchen and walked outside with a glass of sweet iced tea.

They ate in silence for a few moments. Rick listened for any strange sounds coming from the second floor but he heard nothing unusual. He looked from the couch to the lamps to the TV hanging on the wall in the living room. Everything was where it belonged.

“What are you thinking?” Steve asked.

“That thing won’t leave Becky alone.”

“Has it come after you?”

“No,” Rick said.

“Why not?”

“I don't know.”

Steve shoved forkfuls of pasta into his mouth and chewed. Steve swallowed and then rose to put his plate and utensils into the dishwasher. Rick followed him and put the leftover pasta into the saucepan. After depositing his dishes in the dishwasher, the boys went back upstairs.

Steve went to Rick’s room, but Rick walked to Becky’s door and listened. He heard nothing.

He slowly opened it and looked in on his sister. She lay on her side facing the door. He walked up to her and looked at her more closely. Her face was a healthy pink and her breathing wasn’t as labored as it had been, but her hair was caked to her head with sweat. He placed a palm on her forehead. She felt a little too warm. At least she no longer smelled like damp earth.

His heart lurched at the sight of his sick kid sister. He was supposed to protect her and he knew he was failing. Why hadn’t the creature come after him, especially since he was wise to it? It could have attacked him any time, but for some reason it chose not to. Maybe it was because he wasn’t as small and weak as Becky. He could fight it off. He had to talk to Steve about it. There had to be something they could do to corner the thing and capture it. And kill it.

He walked to his room and saw Steve sitting in front of his computer.

“Becky seems fine. I didn’t want to wake her. I wish I knew why it hasn’t attacked me. It’s big. It could.” Rick shivered. “It’s too cold in here. You want a sweater?” He turned the heat up on the thermostat and headed for his closet.

He opened the closet door and pulled the cord to the overhead light. It was a walk-in closet where he kept his clothes, shoes, and games. He shoved some jeans aside to get to a thick navy blue sweater.

Then Rick turned around to face his room again.

Steve stood, his face blue, tongue blackened and hanging out, and his eyes rolled up into his head. Steve seemed to be shimmering in the sunlight. His blank expression hid no emotion.

Rick was so shocked that he froze in place. Suddenly Steve’s arm snaked out and grabbed Rick. Rick struggled against him but Steve wrestled him to his bed. Steve’s hand felt cold and slick.

And then he felt the hand let go. The mask of Steve’s face caved in and his shoulders sagged. Steve crumpled on the bed, and the creature suddenly materialized, no longer looking like Steve. It made a soft exhale as it took on the color of the tan carpet and then the blue floral wallpaper and then Rick caught his own face in the mirror, seeming to dissolve, right before he lost consciousness.

“You boys okay up here? Why were you screaming?" Rick’s mother rushed into the bedroom as the thing that looked like Rick turned on her. In the moment before it engulfed her, she saw her son’s body lying on the bed, crumpled next to Steve’s body.

The creature shimmered at it moved, looking all the while like Rick until it changed into her form. It slithered out of Rick’s room and down the hallway, leaving a trail of slime in its wake. When Becky awakened to see the thing that looked like her mother hovering over her, arms outstretched towards her face, she had enough time for one gasp before it covered her like a blanket.

In the quiet of the house, the thing waited on Becky’s bed. There was only one thing left to do.

Wait for Dad to get home.

Trish Wilson (also known as E. A Black) has enjoyed telling scary stories to a captive audience since she was a child. She grew up in Baltimore, the home of Edgar Allan Poe who has inspired her to write. Due to her love for horror and dark fiction, she joined Broad Universe, a networking group for women who write speculative fiction.

Her short stories have appeared in Zippered Flesh 2, Zippered Flesh 3, Teeming Terrors, Midnight Movie Creature Feature 2, Wicked Tales: The Journal of the New England Horror Writers Vol. 3, Heart of Farkness, and more. She won a Best Short Story mention on The Solstice List@ 2017: The Best of Horror for “Invisible”, which appears in Zippered Flesh 3.

In addition to horror, she writes erotica and romance as Elizabeth Black. Friend her on Facebook and follow her on Twitter, where she posts as Elizabeth Black.

She lives on the Massachusetts coast in Lovecraft country. The beaches often call to her, but she has yet to run into Cthulhu.

Check out her web site HERE