Uncollected Stories 2003 by Stephen King

Vicki’s hand went to my arm “No, Danny. Please, don’t. l know that there’s something terrible going on here. Drive away from it!”

The scream sounded again, this time fainter, and I made up my mind. I grabbed the flashlight. Vicki saw my intention. “All right, I’m coming with you.”

“Uh-uh,” I said. “You stay here. I’ve got a feeling that there’s something…loose out there. You stay here.”

She unwillingly sat back. I shut the door and ran back to the lab. I didn’t pause, but went back into the garage. The flashlight illuminated the dark hole where the wall had slid away to reveal the staircase. My blood pounding thickly in my temples, I ventured down into it. I counted the steps, shining the flashlight at the featureless walls, at the impenetrable darkness below.

“Twenty, twenty-one, twenty-two, twenty-three – ”

At thirty, the stairway suddenly became a short passage. I started cautiously along it, wishing that I had a revolver, or even a knife to make me feel a little less naked and vulnerable.

Suddenly a scream, terrible and thick with fear soon sounded in the darkness ahead of me. It was the sound of terror, the sound of a man confronted with something out of the deepest pits of horror. I broke into a run. As I ran I realized that the draft was blowing coldly against my face. I reasoned that the tunnel must come out in the outdoors. I stumbled over something. It was Rankin, lying in a pool of his own blood, his eyes staring in glazed horror at the ceiling. The back of his head was bashed in. Ahead of me I heard a pistol shot, a curse, and another scream. I ran on and almost fell on my face as I stumbled over more stairs. I climbed and saw stairs framed vaguely in an opening screened with underbrush above me. I pushed it aside and came upon a startling tableau: a tall figure silhouetted against the sky that could only be Weinbaum, a revolver hanging in his hand, looking down at the shadowed ground. Even the starlight was blotted out as the hanging clouds that had parted briefly, closed together again. He heard me and wheeled quickly, his eyes glazing like red lanterns in the dark.

“Oh, it’s you, Gerad.”

“Rankin’s dead,” I told him.


“I know,” he said, “you could have prevented it if you had come a little quicker.”

“Now just hold on,” I said, becoming angry. “I hurried ”

I was cut off by a sound that has hounded me through nightmares ever since, a hideous mewing sound, like that of some gigantic rat in pain. I saw calculation, fear, and finally decision flicker across Weinbaum’s face in a matter of seconds. I fell back in terror.

“What is it?” I choked.

He casually shone the light down into the pit, for all his affected casualness, I noticed that his eyes were averted by something. The thing mewed again and I felt another spasm of fear. I craned to see what horror lay in that pit, the horror that made even Weinbaum scream in abject terror. And just before I saw, a horrible wall of terror rose and fell from the vague outline of the house. Weinbaum jerked his flashlight from the pit and shone it in my face.

“Who was that? Whom did you bring up here?”

But I had my own flashlight trained as I ran through the passage way, Weinbaum close behind. I had recognized the scream. I had heard it before, when a frightened girl almost ran into my car as she fled her maniac of a guardian.


Chapter Seven

I heard Weinbaum gasp as we entered the lab. The place was swimming in the green, liquid. The other two cases were broken! I didn’t pause, but ran past the shattered, empty cases and out the door. Weinbaum did not follow me. The car was empty, the door on the passengers side open. I shone my light over the ground. Here and there were footprints of a girl wearing high heels, a girl who had to be Vicki. The rest of the tracks were blotted out by a monstrous something I hesitate to call it a track. It was more as if something huge had dragged itself into the woods. Its hugeness was testified, too, as I noticed the broken saplings and crushed underbrush. I ran back into the lab where Weinbaum was sitting, face pale and drawn, regarding the three shattered empty tanks.

The revolver was on the table and I grabbed it and made for the door.

“Where do you think you’re going with that?” he demanded, rising.

“Out to hunt for Vicki,” I snarled. “And if she’s hurt or – ” I didn’t finish.

I hurried out into the velvet darkness of the night. Gun in hand, flashlight in the other, I plunged into the woods, following the trail blazed by something that I didn’t want to think about. The vital question 24

that burned in my mind was whether it had Vicki or was still trailing her. If it had her…

My question was answered by a piercing scream not too far away from me. Faster now, I ran and suddenly burst into a clearing. Perhaps it is because I want to forget, or perhaps it is only because the night was dark and beginning to become foggy, but I can only remember how Vicki caught sight of my flashlight, ran to me, buried her head against my shoulder and sobbed. A huge shadow moved toward me, mewing horribly, driving me almost mad with terror. Stumblingly, we fled from the horror in the dark, back toward the comforting lights of the lab, away from the unseen terror that lurked in the dark. My fear-crazed brain was putting two and two together and coming up with five. The three cases had contained three somethings from the darkest pits of a twisted mind. One had broken loose. Rankin and Weinbaum had been after it. It had killed Rankin, but Weinbaum had trapped it in the concealed pit. The second one was floundering in the woods now and I suddenly remembered that whatever-it-was, was huge and that it had a hard time lifting itself along. Then I realized that it had trapped Vicki in a gully. It had started down easy enough! But getting up? I was almost positive that it couldn’t. Two were out of commission. But where was the third? My question was answered very suddenly but a scream from the lab.


Chapter Eight

We ran up to the lab door and threw it open. It was empty. The screams and the terrible mewing sounds came from the garage. I ran through, and ever since have been glad that Vicki stayed in the lab and was spared the sight that had wakened me from a thousand awful nightmares. The lab was darkened and all that I could make out was a huge shadow moving sluggishly. And the screams! Screams of terror, the screams of a man faced with a monster from the pits of hell. It mewed horribly and seemed to pant in delight.

My hand moved around for a light switch. There, I found it! Light flooded the room, illuminating a tableau of horror that was the result of the grave thing I had performed, I and the dead uncle. A huge, white maggot twisted on the garage floor, holding Weinbaum with long suckers, raising him towards its dripping, pink mouth from which horrid mewing sounds came. Veins, red and pulsating, showed under its slimy flesh and millions of squirming tiny maggots – in the blood vessels, in the skin, even forming a huge eye that stared out at me. A huge maggot, 25

made up of hundreds of millions of maggots, the feasters on the dead flesh that Weinbaum had used so freely. In a half-world of terror I fired the revolver again and again. It mewed and twitched. Weinbaum screamed something as he was dragged inexorably toward the waiting mouth. Incredibly, I made it out over the hideous sound that the creature was making.

“Fire it! In the name of heaven, fire it!”

Then I saw the sticky pools of green liquid which had trickled over the floor from the laboratory. I fumbled for my lighter, got it and frantically thumbed it. Suddenly I remembered that I had forgotten to put a flint in.

I reached for matches, got one and fired the others. I threw the pack just as Weinbaum screamed his last. I saw his body through the translucent skin of the creature, still twitching as thousands of maggots leeched onto it. Retching, I threw the now flaring matches into the green ooze. It was flammable, just as I had thought. It burst into bright flames. The creature was twisted into a horrid ball of pulsing, putrid flesh. I turned and stumbled out to where Vicki stood, shaking and whitefaced.

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Categories: Stephen King