It had been raining for days, fat drops splashing into ever-growing puddles. The news called it a new record, and some televangelist claimed it was the end of the world. In return, my father cursed under his breath and drank cup after cup of homemade moonshine. Sometimes, often, he and my mother would fight for hours over the ruined harvest, over the mortgage, over everything. In times like that I ran outside, despite the downpour, and I walked around our flooded farm, heading nowhere.
It was on such a day, wandering down the main road, now reduced to a puddle-covered strip of cracked asphalt, that my feet carried me towards the forest. It was just a small patch of trees and undergrowth stretching along the street, but to me it had always been The Forest. However, that day it barely deserved the name; it looked abandoned, twisted trees barely standing in the muddy water, their roots like sunken bones. Nothing stirred in the cool air: no birds, not even crows, no animal moved through the bushes. The thought that this maybe was the end of days indeed came to mind.
I was ready to turn back when suddenly something caught my eye. On one of the trees, a narrow strip of white mold was slowly pulsating with a life of its own. Curious, I stopped, watching the patches of white fuzz raise and lower like a tiny, parasitic heart. The shape slowly uncoiled, raising its head. In front of me was a snake — or rather, the shape of a snake completely covered in a strange, pale rot. One patch was even growing over the poor creature’s eyes, covering them with a strange blindfold of molding matter. It looked sick, dying because of some strange disease, but then, it opened its eyes: dark, empty sockets overgrown with the same fine fuzz that covered its skin. It wasn’t sick; it was already dead and rotting.
Suddenly, the snake launched itself towards me. I barely had time to cover my face before its rotting, bloated corpse splattered on my raincoat. When I lowered my arm I could see large patches of mold quickly spreading on the coat’s material, seeking my flesh.
Disgusted, I threw the raincoat off and dashed down the road, towards the farm. As I ran, I could see other snakes uncoiling from the trees beside me, crawling from hidden nests. They were all covered in the same white fuzz. But it wasn’t only snakes; there were birds, their eyes little puffs of mold, a mangled cat, and maybe a dog or a wolf reduced to a rot-covered shell. They were all crawling out of the woods, seeking me with their empty eyes. I ran faster than I had ever run before, my heart beating wildly.
I reached the farm and slammed the door shut, panting. Across the room my dad stirred behind his table, pushing a bottle aside. He looked up at me and smiled, his dead eyes covered with fine, white mold.
Alex Moisi is a Romanian-born college student, living in Illinois and ignoring real life issues like angry friends and failing classes in favor of post-apocalyptic scenarios and disturbing “What if?”s. His work can be found in Residential Aliens, Bewildering Stories, the Desolate Places anthology published by Hardley Rille books and Strange Worlds of Lunacy published by Cyberwizard Publications as well as on his website, www.dracken.co.nr.