Shuddersome Shorts

Tales of Eerie Terror


A quick little charmer, this time, Faithful Fiends.  A sinister little shocker sure to have you all squirming in your Buster Browns.  Call this one...


Bumper Crop


By Karl W. Heffelfinger
About the author

DAN TILLER SHUFFLED THROUGH THE DOORWAY and collapsed into his soft-cushioned recliner. He yanked at his laces with a panicked flurry of tugs, hurrying to remove his shoes.

"Oh my damn feet!" he wailed to his wife, as he massaged and rubbed and cursed his extremities.

She waggled her head despondently, as she did every time Dan complained. "I wish you would see a doctor," she said, for the umpteenth time.

"Yeah, yeah," her husband growled, shrugging off her suggestion as he always did. "Gimme that Epsom Salts and the basin anyways."

Amid groans and sighs, he pulled off his socks and plunged his feet into the soak. Ah, sweet relief. The warm water imbued his gnarled and purple-veined extremities with bliss and washed away the aching torment that was his continual bane during the day.
The corns were, at first, small bothersome things that Dan attributed to ill-fitting shoes, but his attempt to alleviate the pain with bigger shoes only brought an increasing growth of the eruptions. As if they were held in dormancy by the tighter leather grip.

For months, Dan soaked and rubbed and complained. He tried cold water soaks; hot water soaks; salts and sodas, to no avail. Each evening brought the return of his agony.

He went without the soaks for a few days, seeking solace with creams and unguents, but a deep-seated necessity, a gnawing need, returned him to the liquid environs.

Saturday, Dan resolved to see a podiatrist. As was his luck, he had to park three blocks from the office and each hobbling step he took along the hot sidewalk, was unendurable torture. The shops and the people he passed were a nondescript blur through the fog of his pain. He stopped frequently to rub his feet and, even through the leather, the massages were heavenly. At one rest stop, Dan leaned against the display window of a drug store. His attention was attracted to a sun-faded placard decrying the horrors of a wrinkled, dry epidermis and offering the cure-all balm that would ensure an everlasting youthful appearance.

This might be the elixir he was seeking, Dan thought as he walked into the shop, and a lot cheaper than the doctor.

He drove home a little too fast in his anxiety to try his treasure, and pulled into his driveway with screeching brakes. He walked into his house, whistling, clutching the little brown sack like a child with a bag of licorice. He called to his wife and received no reply. He shrugged, assuming she was gone for the afternoon. He opened two jars of the mudpack and prepared a poultice by mixing the contents with the warm water in his beloved basin. He tore away his shoes and socks and, trembling with anticipation, he eased his feet into the muck.

A benign smile spread across his face, his eyes dulled with contentment, as the soothing ooze enveloped his throbbing feet. The tingling warmth of the mud spread from his toes, up his legs and into his body, drowning him in relaxing waves of comfort. He sank into the deepest sleep he'd had in months...

It seemed only minutes later when he opened his eyes but Dan realized that he had been sleeping for hours. His wife was in the kitchen; he could hear the rattle of pans, and the long shadows of twilight were spreading across the floor. He stood to stretch out the kinks he had acquired slouching in the recliner then tried to take a step toward the kitchen.

He remembered the basin. He attempted to wiggle his toes in the mud, to recapture the oozing swell of pleasure once more. He discovered that he couldn't move his digits. He tried to pull his feet from the mud, but somehow he was trapped. He bent over and scraped some of the goo from his ankles, then scooped out handfuls of the mud from the basin until he uncovered his feet.

Instead of the smooth, pink flesh devoid of corns he expected, he saw that the eruptions had grown even more. They had burst through his flesh and gushed outward, entwining and pulsating, filling the basin with ghastly white tendrils.

Dan Tiller had taken root.  

The End.

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Bumper Crop is copyright by Karl W. Heffelfinger. It may not be copied or used for any commercial purpose except for short excerpts used for reviews. (Obviously, you can copy it or print it out if you want to read it!)