This was my homage to Cthulhu Mythos and Saturday morning horror movies from my childhood. It was originally published in Fantastic Femme Fiction (now defunct) and I am sharing it with you this fine Saturday – because it is a perfect day for B Horror movies. Enjoy
Millie Kruza and her friends were good girls. They were usually home on time, did their homework and chores, and while they giggled and flirted with boys, none of them had yet taken the plunge and gone on a date. It was very unusual then, on the night of the bright Harvest Moon, that Millie came in from her foray to the movies with her friends – nearly an hour late. Her father had already gone to bed, but her mother was worried and sat in the living room waiting.
Millie came in somewhat dazed and disheveled, and her mother fussed over her, checking her over for bruises or worse, but finding nothing – ushered her daughter to bed with the promise that “we’ll be talking about this in the morning.”
In the morning, Mrs. Kruza made breakfast as usual. Her husband came down, ate, and went to work. But not a peep was heard from Millie’s room. Mrs. Kruza called up that breakfast was getting cold. No answer.
Worried and starting to be a bit angry, too, Mrs. Kruza stomped up the stairs to give Millie plenty of warning that she was coming, and opened Millie’s bedroom door with a loud and impatient “Get up sleepy head. It’s time for our talk about last night – your Dad’s gone to work.”
Millie was in the same position on the bed that her mom had left her in last night, tucked in but now eyes open and cloudy.
“Millie? You need to get up now, honey.” Mrs. Kruza’s tone had changed to pure concern edging on panic. She sat on the bed next to her daughter and moved to shake her by the shoulders to try to wake her but her hands felt something soft and silky like cobwebs and peering closely now, she saw that Millie was covered in a fine transparent webbing.
She’d never seen anything like this before on a person. She went downstairs to the parlor where the phone was, and thought a moment…then she called Millie’s friend Cassie’s mother.
Cassie’s mom, Judy, answered the phone, “Yes, Cassie came in late, and was in a state. No she hasn’t come out of her room yet for breakfast. Yes, first time she’s ever been late coming home, her Dad yelled for 20 minutes, but it seemed like she didn’t hear a word. Sure I’ll go check.”
A minute or two went by, and Cassie’s Mom was back on the phone – “Good Lord, Sissy, she’s laying there with her eyes open, but some kind of threads or something all over her!”
The two women, dialed Mary Sue’s mother, after all that’s why they had a party line… Mary Sue’s mother worked nightshift at the local nursing home, so the two women knew they were likely to be waking her. They let the phone ring and ring. Finally Sherry answered “H’lo. I guess she’s in bed, why? Okay, I’ll go check.”
The two women could hear the scream in the background, they waited. A breathless Sherry came back on the phone “What the hell? She’s in her clothes, on the floor and covered in some sort of spider web.”
“What should we do?” Sissy asked.
“We should call Doc Stevens!” Sherry nearly shouted. And since they were on the line, they waited while Sherry dialed the Doc.
By the time Doc Stevens got to the Kruza house, the women had determined that all the teenagers, boy and girl, who were out the night before, were in the same state thanks to the party line.
Doc Stevens took a look at Millie, whose webbing was now nearly opaque, and shook his head.
“Where I can feel a pulse, it is erratic, like she’s terrified. But she’s stiff as a board, and that web stuff is sticky. I don’t know what to tell you Sissy. Mary Sue is the same way, and I’ve got to go look at Cassie next, and then seems like the entire High School… if they were out last night. It’ll be awhile before I have any idea what to tell you. Just keep her where she is and get on the phone to find me if something changes.”
By the time Mr. Kruza came home, the whole town was talking about what had happened. He had heard some of it at work at the plant. He came in and asked Sissy what was “really going on”? She just grabbed his hand and walked him upstairs to his daughter’s bedroom where now there was a huge Millie shaped cocoon on the bed.
“Did Doc try to cut it away? That stuff!”
“Yes, and it, well it re-seals itself and if you keep trying, it…” she pointed to the knife handle on the floor, which he recognized as his best and sharpest filet knife…the blade was corroded and nearly melted away.
Doc Stevens had called an old army buddy who now worked for a private research lab nearby, and asked if he had ever heard of such a thing and also for advice on who to contact for help, because he was way out of his depth. The army buddy, a Dr. West, told him he’d handle everything, not to worry.
The next day, private ambulances arrived at the various homes of teenagers who were cocooned. They made many assurances that the scientists at the Price Laboratory would do everything in their power to “cure” the children.
A couple of days went by, and Doc Stevens was inundated with parents calling to find out the status of their child. He was pretty patient allowing the lab some time to do their tests and whatever else, but by Friday he’d had it and he called up Dr. West to see how things were going.
“Fine, fine…the kids will be ready to go home soon.” he said reassuringly.
And they were. After a full week cocooned, each teen emerged from their cocoon fully awake, in better physical condition than they went in, and completely cleared of acne, mono, and one girl’s pregnancy had disappeared entirely. In fact, they were now all perfect specimens.
Dr. West beamed proudly at them. “We’ll call your parents to come pick you up.”
Most of the parents were just relieved and happy to have their kids back. Only a few parents noticed differences, but they were good differences – like getting up on time and doing chores and homework and not getting into trouble.
Even the local sheriff noticed that the kid related crimes had dropped off. There was no graffiti, no car egging or toilet papering trees, not even any smooching on Lover’s Lane. The only crime they had to try and solve was the father of the girl whose pregnancy disappeared – he turned up dead in the local creek, neck broken and all the bones in both his hands crushed.
As the December full moon approached, and the town was putting up holiday lights and displays, the teens who had been cocooned started congregating and the parents were actually happy to see them socializing again.
Millie, Cassie and Mary Sue asked their parents to come to a Christmas Pageant that the school was putting on – it would be outside in the stadium at night and the full moon would be out. It would be so pretty. The other teens begged and cajoled their parents to come to the pageant, too. Even Doc Stevens was invited and the sheriff. Mary Sue suggested to her mom that the old folks at the nursing home might like to come – and Sherry suggested it at work, and everyone thought it was a keen idea!
On the night of the pageant, Dr. West and his workers from Price Laboratory were there, setting up an elaborate machine which was on the back of flatbed truck. They had moved it out of the local movie theater to use in the stadium. It had all sorts of strange symbols and markings on it, and the town folk were delighted thinking it was some sort of light show to do with the pageant.
The teens were assembling on the field. The whole town big and small, young and old, were in the stadium waiting for the pageant to begin with a big “Cold Moon” full in the sky. After a moment of complete silence, the teens began to chant.
At first it sounded like disjointed gargling. Then for some reason, everyone felt glued to their seats, as the machine came on and an odd bluish light, like the light filtered down through deep water or the northern lights in ribbons in the sky, was undulating in the center of the field. Then small spheres of light broke apart from the ribbons and floated into the crowds in the stadium. Some people struggled against the orbs while others simply absorbed the lights as they were bombarded by them.
No one but Dr. West remembered what happened next. When every last human in the bleachers had absorbed the inoculum of light, they rose as one and shuffled in an orderly fashion out of the stadium and to their respective homes.
After a few days, his private ambulances went out and collected the cocooning population, while the teens assisted him.
When everyone had been placed in the labs for observation and care, Dr. West went back to his office. There he sat smiling at his degree from the Miskatonic University which hung on the wall, and waited for the spawn of Yog-Sothoth to finish their metamorphosis.