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The Prodding Stick

The Prodding Stick
Chinemerem Ikwuanusi

A tumorous slab of rotting wood was dubbed ‘the prodding stick’ by a group of rowdy, yet harmless children. Unlike many sticks, it had the great honour of having an array of prodded objects to its name, all of which had different consistencies.

Jelly, one of the shared owners of the stick, could vouch that the piece of rot had had a good run in the prodding game, albeit a short one.

It was a sultry summer’s day, which stirred the masses on the streets in a mess of sweat and agitation. The forest nearby was particularly quiet on days like these—the trees trapped the heat and stenches of the wilderness beneath their thick foliage.

Today was different, however. The smell was denser and fouler and the forest was in upheaval—creatures screeching in indignation at being jammed with a filthy stick. The children were more unruly than usual, as if intoxicated by the heat of the sun and the fumes of fresh decay, eager to flee from the cloud of palpable stench.

On the way out of the forest, they stumbled upon a rotting carcass, riddled with flies and doused with green filtered light. The children were thrown into a fit of giggles, heaves and vomiting. The flesh was rancid and bloodied, too disfigured to distinguish. It might have once been a deer.

“Prod it,” Jelly demanded to no one in particular. She had only gagged once.

Everyone turned towards Dessy, the one currently holding the stick, smirking and expectant.

Dessy was the smallest and newest on the troop, and yet seemed to have taken control of the others upon his arrival. He threw the stick at Milo, who was just across from him, without any warning—knowing he would not argue. Dessy turned to the corpse with eyes of maggots, a small smile playing on his lips. Milo knew what he had to do.

The group formed a circle around the heap and Milo, taking caution to keep their distance and covering their noses with their hands or arms.

Milo got a close up view of the stick submerging into the infested flesh, all the while a victim to the repulsive attack of hot decay on his nose. He stifled a gag as he felt the stick sink in so easily before meeting a thick and gooey substance that took hold of the stick and refused to yield. Milo pulled but the prodding stick was firmly stuck in place and pulling harder only caused the mouldy wood to run rough against his palms.

The carcass was moving. Something inside was pushing against the remaining skin, trying to burst free from the cage, like hands beneath a table cloth.

The corpse gave birth to a deformed creature, bursting from the stomach, ripping through flesh—sending chunks of rotten meat and bugs flying in all directions. Its face was melting and its eye sockets were hollow.


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