Back From Whence You Came

Prompt Day #160: Your character is troubled by something sticky that he gets on his hands. Make it stickier and stickier.


Back From Whence You Came


The thing he found on the beach was dead. He poked at it with his foot. It didn’t move. It had a vaguely humanoid shape but had definitely come out of the ocean. He saw the gills and it had webbed hands. Its back half looked much more fish like. Its mouth opened in a surprised O. If he had needed to describe it to anyone he would have said it looked like an alien version of a mermaid.

There was no one to tell about it though. Mark had rented the sea side cottage in the off season specifically for the isolation and privacy. He was going to write his novel and he needed the silence, the waves and cool autumn breeze serving as his white noise. He walked the beach twice a day, once in the morning after coffee, letting his mind wake up and then again after dinner, to put it back to sleep. It was morning now and there was this thing. He bent down and tentatively touched it with one finger. It was gelatinous and his finger pushed right through and into its skin. He pulled it out with disgust. But then, unable to help himself, he laid his entire palm onto it. Cold, clammy and sticky. He wished he had his phone, he would have taken a picture, but it was on the charger back at the house. He wiped his hand on his pants and headed back. Maybe during his fifteen hundred word break, he’d jog back down for a pic.

Mark went straight to the sink to wash his hands. The right one was still sticky from touching that creature. It had stuck to the doorknob and his pants when he tried yet again to wipe it off. Scrubbing his two hands together with the bar of soap did little to help, in fact, as he dried them on the hand-towel, he was dismayed to find now both hands were sticky. He tried to look on line for a good remedy for sticky hands but only managed to leave residue on the keyboard. He certainly couldn’t work on the novel like this. Even his fingers were sticking to each other.

He tried to make a sandwich but the bread package stuck to his fingers and tore. Then the piece of bread did too. By the time he was done the sandwich lie there in a shredded up heap, inedible. He looked at his hands and tried to pull his fingers apart, strings of flesh colored cables hung between them, refusing to break. He spent the afternoon spraying every chemical he could find in the garage but all he managed to do was rip some skin off his fingertips.

He sat down on his lazy boy and closed his eyes. The annoyance that had plagued his morning had exhausted him and he needed a nap. When he awoke, his forearms stuck to the chair. It was actually painful to try to pull them off. Some of his flesh had stretched and now hung like an old woman’s flabby upper arm. Now, he couldn’t lean on anything, couldn’t touch anything without sticking to it. His fingers were now permanently stuck together. He could do little with his mitten-flesh hands.

He decided to head back down to the beach, check out the dead thing he’d found. The thing that had left him with this infernal goo all over his arms and hands. It wasn’t there though. But he was there and he wanted to take a swim. He managed to get his pants off—they were elastic wasted, but he ended up ripping off the shirt. Buttons were nearly impossible.

The water was perfect and in the ocean, he didn’t feel sticky. Nothing stuck to him. He felt free again. He swam until dark, until he had practically forgotten about his problem. The sand that stuck to his feet like a pair of socks reminded him immediately that he was not free at all.

He could not sleep, he tossed and turned, tangling himself up in blankets that stuck to every part of his body. In the morning, the blankets had to be peeled and torn off of him. Stepping down off the bed, he fell immediately to the floor, his arms outstretched, he noted the webbing that had appeared overnight between his fingers. But what was worse, his thighs were now stuck together. He waddled his way to the bathroom only to realize he no longer had the appropriate equipment. Urine ran down his lower half via a small duct that opened midway down his now single thigh.

He was so sticky, he couldn’t stand it. Anything he touched or even brushed up against had to be scraped off like barnacles. All he wanted to do was get back to the water, get rid of the feeling that even the atmosphere itself was stuck to his skin, smothering him.

He managed to crawl back into the water, and he felt like he could breathe. In fact, he was aware that oxygen was diffusing through his skin, he could stay under water forever. He kicked his back legs which he found was no longer legs but a long back fin. He inhaled through a million tiny skin pores and when he exhaled he felt water flowing out of his neck. He forgot about the novel, forgot about the seaside cottage waiting for him. He swam, he was home now. He looked around with his new eyes. He saw others like him and large looming creatures that seemed vaguely familiar—like creatures in dioramas at the museum of natural history. Ancient creatures that existed long before one dared to take a step onto dry land.

He had devolved, and now that he had, he couldn’t imagine why he would ever want to go back. His transformation complete, he swished his tail and swam deeper into the abyss.