- The Jagged Edgeby jim vecchio
This work has reached the exceptional level
monsters return!
The Jagged Edge by jim vecchio
Horror Writing Contest contest entry

I never thought it could end like this. The creature’s mandibles cut towards me, like sharp scissors on thin paper, while its two bulging eyes tore into the jagged edge of my soul. Do I even have minutes left?

Funny how, when you know the end is coming, your mind freezes in slow motion and every little detail becomes so clear and played out.

I was part of the scientific team studying effects of radiation on desert flora and fauna when Hurricane Michael hit so unexpectedly. It veered off its plotted course, proving The Lord had more knowledge than his oh-so-confident creation.

Michael was a strong Category Four Storm when it hit our installation.

He did whatever damage he could while we hovered safely in our bunkers.

When we were able to come onto dry ground again, we were in for a surprise. The ground wasn’t dry.

A few hundred feet from the installation was a new lake, which we surveyed and found was six miles long, five miles wide, and, following depth measurement, we learned was as deep as sixty feet in some spots, though we suspected there were areas that were much deeper. The townspeople of the closest town, Domicilio, dubbed our new neighbor, “El lago que no estar ahí debería”, meaning “The Lake That Shouldn’t Be Here.”

We were all talking about this new phenomenon when Doc Rodgers called Rice, Hodges, and me into his office.

Before we could breathe a word, Doc issued a stern warning. “This meeting is top secret. Only the four of us presently are informed, and we will continue, as long as I deem, on a need-to-know basis.

He laid out a crumpled old issue of Life Magazine dated October 17, 1955.

“I want all of you to study this article.”

Following a pause, he said, “Seventy years ago, there was a once-dry lakebed that suddenly re-appeared following torrential rain and an earthquake. Eggs that had been dormant for countless years hatched and an abundant supply of fresh-water shrimp suddenly appeared.

“I heard about that,” said Hodges. “They made a movie out of it. Only, in the movie radioactivity leaked into the lake and giant prehistoric mollusks appeared. The radioactivity not only caused the mollusks to grow into gigantic proportions, but to protrude huge, flesh-tearing mandibles!”

“Yeh! I remember!” I shouted. “I saw it years ago! What was it…”The…The Monster…?”

The Monster That Challenged The World!” interrupted Doc.

“Yeah! Yeah, that’s it!”

“Well,” said Doc, “The movie was a cover-up. It really happened. Not to cause undue panic, they authorized a cheap movie production, and no one gave it a second thought. It was forgotten, with the coming attractions!”

“You’re joshin’us!” laughed Rice.

“Gentlemen, Doctor Jess Rodgers worked with the teams both in eventually destroying the monsters and in damage control with the movie production. This Doctor Rodgers was my granddad!”

I remembered a bit more. “In the movie, the monsters and the eggs were destroyed. What’s that got to do with us, here?”

Doctor Rodgers continued, “They…They didn’t get all of the eggs. You see, some big shot figured one day some fancy scientist might just want to research these creatures, so they saved two eggs, and buried them hundreds of feet below ground in a more hostile environment where life-bringing water and nourishment would not be available.”

It then dawned on me. “They buried them here, right? And when Michael roared through, the ground below shifted…”

Doc completed my statement. “The sandy cover was replaced by a life-granting sea. And, just to add a little more tension to the matter, the hurricane caused a slight, warming radioactive leak into the water, providing a perfect recipe for the revival of the species.”

The monster’s mandibles hacked at me, gashing my right arm. I wished I had brought long a spear gun, anything to use in my defense.  Once the monster has me in its grasp, I would be as drained as…

“Drained of all blood and fluids. Absolutely shriveled!” That’s what the Doc said when we found the first victim. He was a hard-luck Mexican just seeking home and shelter. Some wetbacker probably tossed him into the middle of the desert before the storm. We found his body floating on top just following the lake’s appearance. His corpse was dripping in slime.

Doc filled us in back in the lab. “This species is known as Euglandia. Because of its predatory nature, we refer to it as The Cannibal Snail. These creatures suck snails and small mollusks right out of their shells, just like the life blood and fluid were sucked from the victim. Its appetite is voracious, gentlemen. They use slime, as we found on the victim, to track prey and seek potential mates.”

Doc, Rice, Hodges, and I set out in a small craft lent to us by the Coast Guard. We searched for signs of the creature. It wasn’t long before we discovered a slime trail in the lake. We followed it when suddenly a terrifyingly huge mollusk head rose out of the water. It lunged forward, grabbing Rice with its mandibles. He was instantly drained of all fluid before our eyes.

Dropping him into the ocean, like a deflated football, the creature came for us again. It reached for Doc. As the head approached, Doc grabbed a nearby kit, pulled out a scalpel, and repeatedly jammed it into one of the creature’s enormous eyes.

The creature let out a roar like a thundering locomotive and sank back into the sea.

“Rice had a wife. Two young children,” was all I could say.

Back in the lab, we plotted the situation.

“Simple explosives should be able to do the trick,” said Hodges.

“Yes,” replied Doc, “Providing (a) we get all of the creatures and (b) this time, they stay buried forever!”

Then Doc’s face turned pale. “We need some eyes underwater. We need to know where exactly these creatures are, and if there are any recent, unhatched eggs.”

Thus, the three of us ventured out once more. We followed the course of the lake till we found the dissolving remains of a slime trail. Hodges and I, ready in our scuba gear, dived downward. Doc stood ready in the boat with an ample supply of explosives.

We encountered a heavy layer of marine growth. That was where we made our mistake. Hodges took one side, I, the other. Had I stayed with Hodges, well, he might have had a chance.

When I swam by the edge of my layer, I waited for Hodges to come out the other.

The only thing that came out was a pair of air tanks hanging from a deflated suit.

I was about to paddle myself upward when the thing came at me. Hodges must have whetted its appetite. The only place to go was a small opening in a cluster of rock that had risen during the hurricane’s assault.

As my thoughts of the past come to their end, I find my hopes for the future whizzing by. My hopes for a promotion. My hopes to meet a good woman, one I could trust and love, my hopes of being a father…

The creature began sapping life from me, then the water reverberated, as from an intense explosion. My guess is that another creature surfaced, and Doc blew it and himself up with the explosives.

My final thoughts are to God. This is not the fault of the creature. It is the crime of Man. Man who played with something he couldn’t understand or handle. It was radioactivity, the result of atomic experimentation.

As long as man plays with fire, he is certain to get burnt.

We stand on the jagged edge of a frightening future.

Our job is not done, and who will know of our sacrifice?


Author Notes


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