Welcome to Feed Your Monster's weekly ezine instalment. This week we're dishing up a fiendish tale from Steve Carr.
Steve Carr, who lives in Richmond, Va., began his writing career as a military journalist and has had over a 140 short stories published internationally in print and online magazines, literary journals and anthologies. A collection of his short stories was published by Clarendon House Books. He was a 2017 Pushcart Prize nominee. He is on Facebook https://www.facebook.com/profile.php?id=100012966314127 and Twitter @carrsteven960.
By Steve Carr
Jennifer scooped damp clothes out of the dryer and dropped them in a plastic laundry basket. She kicked the dryer with the side of her foot and slammed the door closed. Just as she opened the laundry room door that led out to the back yard, Ben Higgins showed up on the back steps. He was carrying a toolbox and had a leather tool belt around the broad girth of his waist.
“So, you're having trouble with the dryer again?” he said.
Jennifer tilted the basket so that he could see what was in it. “Yes, it's stopped drying the clothes. That piece of junk is always breaking down.”
Ben scratched the stubble on his cheek. “It's practically brand new. This is the third service call I've made on it and I haven't found anything that needs fixing.”
“It doesn't work. That's what needs to be fixed,” she said.
“I'll take another look at it,” he said.
She came down the stairs and as she passed him, she said, “The one thing that does work is that it eats socks.”
“Don't they all?” he said as he went up the stairs and into the house.
Jennifer hung the clothes on a line that stretched across the yard. Lady, her black and white border collie, ran circles around her and jumped up and down trying to grab the clothes hanging from the line.
“Stop it, Lady,” Jennifer said, admonishing the dog. “I can't play with you now.”
Lady retreated to a patch of bare earth where she had dug a hole and laid down, watching Jennifer.
Before going back in the house, Jennifer turned on the outside faucet and splashed cold water on her face and filled Lady's water dish. Carrying the empty basket, she opened the door and entered the laundry room. Ben wasn't there, but his toolbox and tool belt were on the floor in front of the dryer. The dryer door was open.
Jennifer placed the basket by the door and went into the kitchen. Whispers, her large long haired black cat was sitting on the table chewing on a piece of bacon left there from breakfast.
“Down, Whispers,” she said, urging the cat off of the table.
She threw the remainder of the bacon into the trash as Whispers sauntered out to the laundry room.
The remainder of the afternoon Jennifer worked in the den on the manuscript for her romance novel.
Rob came through the front door, followed by Lady. He placed his briefcase on the stand next to the door, and then called out, “Jen, I'm home.”
She came out of the den and gave him a kiss on the cheek. “How was work?”
“Boring, as usual,” he said. “Ben Higgins' truck is in the driveway. Problems with the dryer again?”
Jen brushed a long strand of hair back from her face. “Yes, it completely stopped drying. Ben was here but I have no idea where he went.”
“I think we need to find a different repairman,” Rob said.
“Probably so,” she said. “I'll get dinner started.”
“I need to take a shower,” he said. “The air conditioning in the office wasn't working.”
She went into the kitchen, followed by Lady, as Rob headed to their bedroom.
In the kitchen, Lady laid down on his rug, and watched as Jennifer chopped vegetables and put water in a pot and then placed it on the stove.
Jennifer looked at Lady and said, “Where's Whispers?”
Lady wagged her tail.
Jennifer went to the doorway of the laundry room, looked around, and then called for the cat.
“I hope Whispers didn't get out again,” she said to Lady as she came back into the kitchen.
At the dining room table, Rob put a forkful of broccoli in his mouth, chewed and swallowed. “I looked in Ben's truck. His cellphone was in the front seat. I don't know who else to call.”
“He'll show up eventually,” Jennifer said.
The sound of Lady barking loudly in the laundry room reverberated throughout the house. Then there was a sharp, abrupt yelp, and then silence.
“That damned dog,” Rob said. “I better go see what's she's gotten into now.”
He got up from the table and went to the laundry room.
Jennifer finished her meal and poured herself a glass of wine. “Rob, is everything okay?” she yelled out. After a moment and getting no answer, she yelled it again.
She took a sip of wine, and then got up from the table. She went to the laundry room. At first she couldn't believe what she was seeing. Rob's left leg was sticking out of the dryer and slowly being pulled in.
Screaming, Jennifer rushed to the dryer and grabbed Rob's ankle. She pulled on his leg and then looked in the dryer.
An immense ball of gray, undulating, pulsating, lint was swallowing her husband. Inch by inch it was consuming the remainder of Rob's body.
“You're eating my husband,” Jennifer screamed at the lint.
The lint ball suddenly became still, and then spit out Rob's leg and lurched out of the dryer.
Jennifer fell back as it slowly rolled toward her.
The ball attached itself to Jennifer's foot and began to chew on her shoe.
She beat it off with her fists and ran into the kitchen. It followed her.
She opened the utility drawer and took out a box of matches. Lighting one after another she threw them at the lint. It dodged each one.
“You're not going to eat my family and get away with it,” Jennifer screamed. She lit a match and plunged it into the lint and jumped back. The ball burst into flames and quickly turned to ash.
Jennifer went into the laundry room and picked up Rob's leg and lovingly held it close to her chest.
I'll have to remember this moment for my next novel, she thought.
Thanks for reading. Grab a toothpick, then go check out the dessert cart by digging into some of our other monstrous stories.
*Lint © Steve Carr