Attack of the crawling h.., p.1
Attack of the Crawling Hand, p.1Nicole Prestin
Attack of the Crawling Hand
by Nicole Prestin
Copyright 2014 Nicole Prestin
Tales of Truck Stop Terror Short Story Series:
Attack of the Crawling Hand
Invasion of the Slime People
I Married a Leech Man!
Curse of the Ninja Ring
In the three years Gracie worked third shift at the Pink Panther Truck Stop she’d seen some mighty strange things. Some might have thought that a disembodied hand inching its way down the cracked Formica countertop would have been the weirdest, and it was, but not by much.
After all, the truck stop was the only place open all night outside of Jonesville on a lonely stretch of old highway twelve. She’d seen drunks stumble through the door after the only bar in town closed for the night, clutching each other’s orange hunting vests, swearing they’d just seen a UFO cruise over main street. There was that weirdo trucker with the wandering eye who rolled in from time to time on a wicked looking jet black Peterbuilt that loomed in the parking lot like it was just waiting to mow someone down. And then there was that one time the fog got so thick it left people dripping with glowing green slime. Now that had been a real bitch to clean up.
So she wasn’t as perturbed as she might have been otherwise. Neither was Roy, the short order cook who frowned on the other side of the pass-through window. He wiped his hands on a towel and squinted at the scrabbling fingers crowned by a gleaming silver ring.
“Hey, that’s Travis Johnson’s hand!”
“No way,” Gracie declared as only other people in the diner -- a pair of chain smoking students from the fancy schmancy college down the road -- caught sight of the dirty fingernails leaving smears across her counter. They froze like coons caught in the dumpster before bolting out the door and leaving their smokes and textbooks behind. Gracie sighed in envy as they jumped in their Honda and pulled out of the parking lot. She wasn’t scared; she just knew the next few minutes were going to be tiresome.
“Don’t you recognize the ring? He was flashing it around trying to impress you with it the last time he was in here.”
“Oh god, you’re right.”
Gracie grimaced, partially because she caught a whiff of rotted flesh, but mostly from the memory of the last time she’d seen Travis. He’d come in, just a couple weeks before, wearing his long black trench coat and carrying those stupid nunchucks he always whipped around. He’d showed everyone in the diner the ring he’d just bought on eBay, and Gracie had rolled her eyes when he wasn’t looking. The next day Travis and the rest of the second shift fireworks factory workers had been blown apart in an accident. From what she’d heard, they hadn’t been able to find all the body parts.
“What do you think it wants?” Roy asked.
Gracie took a step back as the hand scrabbled closer. The harsh fluorescent lights glared off the silver ring with the Japanese symbol etched on the front.
She pulled the half-full pot of coffee from the burner just in case she needed a weapon. “Well he was pretty mad at you for making fun of his ring. Maybe he wants some payback.”
“Yeah?” Roy’s bushy brows shot towards the ceiling as his lips curled up on one side. He looked square at the hand on the counter and raised his voice in challenge. “As far as I’m concerned, he had it coming. That ring is freaking stupid. It could say ‘jackass’ in Japanese and that dingleberry wouldn’t have known.”
Travis’s hand stopped lurching down the counter. It started to tremble the same way Travis used to shake in anger every time his ninja skills were questioned. Then the wrist flopped down on the counter with a squishy plop. The palm reared up as the hand made the sign that Travis used to claim was a ninja death touch, but was probably just ripped off from Spiderman comics.
Something glinted between the ring finger and middle finger. Gracie drawled a warning as she took another step back. “I don’t think that pissing it off is a good idea, Roy.”
Roy snorted. “What the hell can it do to us? Come on, ninja hand. Show us what you’ve got.”
There was a sick sucking of metal being pulled from dead flesh and then a flash of silver flying through the air. Gracie didn’t realize that it was a throwing star until she saw it sticking out of Roy’s cheek. Blood globbed down Roy’s face as he swore up a blue streak.
With an agility Travis had never had when he was alive, the hand hunkered down on the tips of its cracked nails and sprang into the air. It curled into a fist as it sailed towards Roy’s face, following the path of the throwing star. Gracie didn’t have time to think, she just acted on instinct, hurling the coffee pot with the strength that had made her softball fast pitch so feared.
The coffee pot hit the fist square on. Glass shattered, scalding coffee sprayed out in every direction, and the hand hit the linoleum with a wet thump. It lay there for a few seconds, reeling as though it was punch drunk, while Gracie scooped up a pair of empty mugs from under the counter. The hand whipped its fingers from side to side like it was shaking off the hurt and then scuttled through a puddle of coffee and broken glass to dodge Gracie’s second and third throw. It disappeared under a table while Gracie reloaded with more ceramic ammunition.
Roy looked like he wanted to lunge through the pass-through window, but it was too high and he had to settle for going around the long way. He burst through the swinging double doors with a butcher knife in one hand and a stained hand towel pressed against his cheek in the other.
“Where is that little turd?” he bellowed, as his gaze darted around the room. He had that half excited, half pissed look that he got right before he was about to start a brawl at the local roadhouse.
“I don’t know. It went that way,” she said, pointing towards a row of booths against the far wall.
Roy stomped off after it, while Gracie hopped up on the counter to see if she could get a better view. Besides, she didn’t like being with easy reach on the ground, especially with her short skirt and bare legs; the thought of that dead flesh wrapping around her ankle made a shudder run up her spine.
A couple of minutes of silence passed where the only sound was Roy’s occasional pained grunt and the squeak of Gracie’s sneakers scuffing the countertop. They were so busy looking for Travis’s hand that they nearly jumped out of their skins when the tarnished bells attached to the front door jingled.
A guy with a grubby ball cap and a stained t-shirt stepped through the door, took one look at the Gracie and Roy and began to slowly back out. “Whoa. I don’t want any trouble now --”
The rest of his sentence ended in a girly scream. Gracie followed his gaze to where Roy was hopping around like his jeans were on fire. “Get it off me!”
The butcher knife clattered to the floor. Roy batted at the hand crawling up the back of his leg with his own beefy mitts. But the hand was more quick and nimble than Roy and before Gracie could drop her coffee mugs and hop down off of the bar to help him, Travis’s fingers were wrapped around Roy’s windpipe.
Roy staggered around like he was drunk, clutching at the fleshy stump with both of his hands as he tried to yank the fingers from his neck. Gracie picked up the butcher knife off the floor, turned to the guy in the doorway and shouted for him to help, but he was long gone. All she saw was a flash of headlights pulling out of the drive to the sound of squealing of tires.
By the time she’d turned back, Roy had lurched back into the kitchen, his face already starting to turn red as he gurgled both in rage and lack of air. Letting go of the hand around his neck, Roy curled his hand into a fist, and landed a couple of blows to the back of Travis’s knuckles, but all he accomplished was to hurt himself and piss it off more.
“Hold still,” she snapped.
Roy’s eyes bulged as his crimson face started to tinge a sickly purple. Gracie grimaced, gritted her teeth, and started to cut away at Travis’s index finger. Black sludge splattered over the blade and as the flesh came apart, she barely held down her last meal. When she hit bone, she started to saw, but realized that it was going to take her too long to cut through the bone, let alone the other three fingers and a thumb.
Gracie tossed the knife aside and looked around for another weapon, finally settling on the metal spatula. She wedged the greasy utensil up between Travis’s hand and Roy’s neck and pushed on it as hard as she could. The hand detached with a pop as the makeshift lever sent it sailing across the room where it hit the metal wall next to the walk-in freezer.
This time Gracie didn’t hesitate, she just charged across the room, jerked the door open and punted it into the freezer. She slammed the giant metal door shut and leaned against it, panting.
Roy slumped against the counter, rubbing his throat. “Gimmie a minute,” he wheezed, “and I’ll go in there and kick its ass.”
“You’re an idiot! That thing just about killed you.”
“Listen, Gracie. I’m no coward, and I’m not gonna let no uppity hand get the better of me.”
Gracie couldn’t stop the facepalm. “Fine. You want to get yourself killed go right ahead, but I’m not going to save your sorry ass next time.”
Roy glared at her, the way only a man could when he’d been saved by a woman half his size, and pulled himself straight. She could see the purple handprint bruise already starting to form on his neck. Roy took a couple of steps toward the cooler, and Gracie moved out of the way, ready to make good on her threat to abandon him, when a loud thump came from the inside.
She turned around to see a dent jutting out of the cooler door in the shape of a fist. It even had an imprint of the ninja ring. There was another thump and then another, each followed by dents in the door.
Roy hesitated. He gingerly touched the hole the throwing star had made in his cheek. “Maybe I’ll just wait and catch my breath, before I go back in there.”
Gracie rolled her eyes, walked through the swinging kitchen doors, and started to clean up the mess.
Attack of the Crawling Hand by Nicole Prestin / Actions & Adventure / Horror / Science Fiction have rating 4.5 out of 5 / Based on18 votes