El Gusano Verde

By Miracle Austin

Can a monster control what he is or just his prey?

When he wanted something, he went after it, no matter what or who it could hurt. Someone else’s possession could easily become his.

Regardless of all his extracurricular activities outside or inside our relationship, I always took him back, forgave him—too many times. He could tell me any lie, and I believed it.

I never wanted any of the plastic surgeries he recommended. He claimed how much sexier I would look for him, so I caved in. He never stayed with me for any of the procedures. A neighbor was kind enough to drive me home after each hospital visit. He refused to touch me, until I looked perfect to him. If there was something he didn’t like about the surgeon’s work, then he would schedule me another appointment with a different doctor.

My parents and old friends in Texas begged me to return home on several occasions. Yet, he convinced me to stay with him every time in New Hampshire. He told me that he couldn’t survive without me, would be miserable, and probably off himself by jumping off Piscataqua River Bridge. So, I stayed with him and abandoned my family. He allowed me to call my mom and dad on their birthdays and holidays, if he was in a good mood.

Whenever he thought I was gaining weight, he would do the grocery shopping. He always locked the food pantry and froze my credit cards, along with my bank account, until he was satisfied with the number on the scale.

Seven months ago, I suffered a miscarriage. My physician shared my labs results and told me that high concentrations of diclofenac had been found in my blood. I knew what he’d done—he switched out my iron pills. My hate for him was finally confirmed. I wanted to leave him, but I knew that was forbidden.

Honestly, I figured nothing would ever happen to him. He was untouchable for years. However, it’s true what they say. You can have it good for a long time, until you no longer do—and that worked in my favor.

Playing spin the bottle that night changed Eddie’s life forever

One hour before the party, I placed a paper bag on top of the bathroom counter while he was shaving. He glanced at it. I hopped up and sat next to him, swinging my bare legs back and forth. I tucked my hand inside the waist of his towel and pulled him in between my legs.

Grabbing his blade, I finished shaving him. He bent down and pressed his wet mouth onto my caramel lips. He started massaging my lower back and ran his hands down my thighs.

“Slow down, cowboy, aren’t you interested in what’s inside the bag?” I asked, glancing over to where the bag was sitting.

“I would rather concentrate on what’s right in front of me,” he whispered, both of his hands hugging my hips.

“You might want to take a little peek inside the bag first,” I replied and pried his hands off.

“Let me check out what you have over there,” he said, stepping back from me. He rinsed his face and grabbed a towel to dry off. Then, he opened the bag wide and retrieved two foil-wrapped gifts with white bows. “Wow, Kat!” he said. “My birthday isn’t until next Friday.” He grinned.

“Yeah, I know. I came across them the other day at this little, hidden shop called Codona’s Den of Secrets, when I was driving home one evening.”

“Sounds kinky,” he winked, sliding his tongue across his bottom lip.

 “C’mon, Eddie, be serious for ten seconds,” I begged.

“Okay, please continue.”

“The shopkeeper told me that they were her last ones in stock and extremely unique. So, I couldn’t resist. She promised me that you deserved them, after I told her all about you.”

“Really? What did you tell her?” he asked with his eyes glued on mine.

I jumped off the counter and said, “Oh the usual. How much you love me… Go ahead, unwrap them.”

We entered the bedroom. I lit two, raspberry-scented candles on my dresser and commanded Alexa to play my favorite playlist—I Am by Mary J. Blige, started playing. I grabbed his hand and guided him to sit down on the floor on top of the Persian multi-colored rug. 

Facing each other, he unwrapped the gifts.

“I didn’t expect these two things, Kat. I haven’t played spin the bottle, since college. Our version was cheap—a broken chalk board with challenges scribbled on it. Plus, there was no full tequila bottle,” he said, holding up the flat box and bottle above his head.

“This tequila is very rare,” I replied, unfolding the game board—triangular divisions with bolded phrases written inside each slot.

“I’ve had plenty of tequila drinks. I’m sure this is no different,” he said.

“This one is like no other, according to what the shop lady told me. If your spin lands on the bottle on the board, then the person who drinks from the bottle and consumes the worm will be given an extraordinary gift,” I explained, as I placed the bottle in the middle of the board on its belly.

“Really, Kat? I’ve heard crazy stories like that before. I’ve eaten my share of worms, and I’ve never experienced any special Marvel or DC supernatural abilities. That old lady doesn’t know what she’s talking about. Let’s get dressed, we’re going to be late,” he said, tapping his Rolex with his index finger.

I stretched out my arm to block him from getting up. “Just one quick game. You know we won’t be the only ones running behind—we never are.”

Eddie remained where he was. “Alright, just one. He extended his legs opposite of mine.”

I spun the bottle first, and it landed on the truth or dare option.

“Truth,” I blurted out.

“Are you sure?” he asked. “I could ask you something that you may not want to tell me.” He stared at me.

“Yes, I’m good with you asking me whatever.” I rolled up my denim sleeves over my arms.

“Alright…how many guys have you slept with since we’ve been together?”

I paused for less than a minute.

“None, only you, my love,” I said, leaning over to run my hand down his smooth face and sliding it down to his chest. “Your turn.”

He gripped my wrist, pressing his nails into my flesh, with his hand and threw it back into my face.

“Ouch!” I screamed out.

“I already knew that answer, but I wanted to hear it from your mouth, because you know that you belong to me, Kat.”

Bending over the board, Eddie spun the bottle, and it went around several times before it also stopped on the truth or dare challenge.

“Dare,” he said without any hesitation.

“Hmm… you didn’t want to choose truth like me?” I asked, narrowing my amber eyes towards him, and blowing my curly bangs up.

“Nope, I’ll stick with my dare.”

“Your choice, right?”

“Yes. Dare me to do something,” Eddie insisted.

“Are you sure?”

“You already know—I’m not afraid of anything.”

“Okay, if you’re sure.”

“I am. Let me have it!” he yelled and laughed, pulling his legs up and crossing them.

“Let me think… I dare you to drink and eat the worm inside the bottle.”

“Hey, that’s really two dares.”

“Well, if you’re too afraid to take my dare on, then you’ll automatically default to the other option, truth…”

“Listen, I’m not afraid of your little dares. I’ve done a lot worse.” He smiled.

“I’m sure you have.” I looked down and back up at him.

He stared down at the bottle and watched the green maggot-like worm float up and down in its liquid home. Then, he sat it upright. He was analyzing the worm, and it was a good thing he was doing so.

Although I’ve never eaten one, I’ve seen a few worms, but this worm looked different, compared to others I’ve seen. Its puffy, segmented body seemed to cast off a bright, lime bioluminescence. A twirly, red antenna was centered between its mandibles.

When he tapped on the glass, the liquid seemed to glow, as well.

“Hey, are you seeing this, Kat?” he asked.

Scooting closer to him, I said, “Yes, the lady told me that it may do that.”

“I’m not sure if I should drink this, and I’m definitely not eating this thing,” he gulped. “It could make me sick or something.”

“Eddie, don’t tell me you’re afraid of a little worm bathing in some alcohol, but hey, if you are, then I totally understand. Hand the bottle over to me,” I demanded with my hand stretched out. “Come on now, give it to me… I’ll do it.”

He shoved my hand away and said, “Whatever. I got this!” He started unscrewing the metal cap off the bottle and kept his eyes on the worm. He placed his nose near the opening and took in a deep whiff. The alcohol aroma pierced his nose and eyes, making them water. He sniffed and wiped his eyes with the back of his hand.

I watched him without blinking.

Wrapping his lips around the bottle, he tilted his head back to take a sip. “Hmm, tastes like sweet, crushed blueberries doused with sugar and a little lime juice. Not bad.” He continued to drink it all, until the worm disappeared from the bottle into his mouth.

“So, how was it?” I asked.

“Tangy, cold, and gooey. The worm slipped right down my throat before I could chew it up. I’ve always loved to chew the worms, to savor their taste. Like I thought, no x-ray vision. Oh, well… Let’s get ready.”

We both started getting dressed.

“Make sure you wear the black dress tonight,” he demanded with his cold eyes piercing through me.

“Hold on, I brought a new dress,” I said as I pulled out a plum, ruffle backless dress with a plunging neckline out of my closet. “Isn’t it beautiful?”

“Absolutely not! If I wanted to take a hooker for all my friends to gawk at to the party and pass her around later, then I would stop off at Enright Park and pick one up.” He turned his back away from me and flipped his hand into the air. “Hurry up! You don’t want to upset me tonight, Kat,” he hissed, balling up his right fist.

Tears filled my eyes. I placed it back on the rack with my quivering hand and chose the black one that resembled nun attire.

Fifteen minutes past, and I was in the bathroom brushing blush onto my cheeks. I watched him in the mirror and saw Eddie sitting in the chair. He was bent down about to tie up his shoes.

“Damn it!” he yelped.

I dropped my brush on the floor and stepped out. I asked, “What’s the matter?”

“My body feels funny, like cactus, thorn bullets are shooting inside of me. My hands feel numb.” He rubbed them together and flexed out his hands. “Kat, something’s wrong, I can’t read the numbers on my watch. There’s loud ringing in my ears, and my legs feel like Jell-O. Now, I can’t feel my hands, fingers, or toes.”

Eddie’s eyes closed, and he collapsed on the floor. He rolled over onto his back.

When he opened his eyes and turned his head to the side, my golden heels were facing him. “Kat, my vision feels like it’s returning.”

I knelt next to him and rubbed both sides of his face with my hands.

“Oh, poor Eddie doesn’t feel well.”

“What did you give me?” He stuttered out in broken words.

Picking up the empty bottle, I dangled it in front of his face.

“You’re about to get everything coming to you, Eddie Luciano,” I said, pointing at the bottle. “I’ve known about your disloyalty for a long time and never said a word. Plus, you’ve been so cruel to me, since we’ve been together. I was searching for the perfect solution for you. Finding that little shop was it! I knew you would take the bait so easy.”

Frowning at me, he screamed out, “What the hell did you give me!”

“Just a little gift that you can never give away.”

“What are you talking about?”

“That little worm you ate is going to change you. You’ll never cheat on me, or hurt anyone else again!”

His body began to shake, then his eyes rolled back.

“What’s happening to me?” he begged in a shivering tone.

“Let me help you out. That little worm you consumed is called El Gusano Verde, The Green Worm—it’s an assassin. They were specially designed for monsters like you—cheaters and heartbreakers. The curly antennae are called proboscis. They impaled one or more of your inner organs and injected a lethal venom inside you.”

“I promise you, Kat, if I make it out of this, I’m going to kill you…” he said as foamy, bloody saliva flowed out the sides of his mouth.

 “Stop talking, Eddie, you’re not going to do anything to me. It’s paralyzing you. Soon, it’ll liquefy all your organs and slurp up its dinner. After that, it’ll hike up your gastro tract, throat passage, and then crawl out of your mouth.”

His body started twitching and his eyes rolled back again. He clenched his fists. A pale, greenish tone covered his face.

In a deep, gargled voice, Eddie spoke his final words, “You won’t get away with this…”

“Yes, I will. The club always gets away with it. According to Mrs. Codona, the shop owner, your demise will be ruled a strange, allergic reaction with little to no explanation to why your insides dissolved. The evidence is going with me.”

I carefully placed the wiggly, full El Gusano Verde in its padded case and slid it inside my purse to return back to Mrs. Codona to gift to a new member.

 “By the way, Eddie, you remember Mrs. Codona, right? Prue’s mom—she told me about you two, and how the police located Prue’s car in another state, but never found her. It’s been over five years, now. I know I would’ve been your next victim, but not after tonight.”

He glared at me, until his eyes froze.

 “Don’t worry about the party. I’ll let your friends know that you didn’t feel well and needed to stay in. Karma is alive and well.” Blowing out the candles and exiting the scene in the plum dress I chose for me, I locked the door behind me, and descended the stairs. Goodbye, Eddie, I whispered to myself, as I sung, I Am,into the night air as snowflakes began to fall.

Miracle Austin is a Texan gal who works in the medical social work arena by day and in the writer’s world at night, including weekends, as a YA/NA author. Doll is her debut YA supernatural, coming-of-age novel with diverse themes intertwined; it won second place in the Young Adult category in the 2016 Purple Dragonfly Awards. She loves horror, collecting T-shirts, Stranger Things, Wednesday, Marvel & DC, sparkles, unicorns, 80s music, and daydreaming up stories.

Watch out for Miracle Austin in the upcoming 150+ Black Women in Horror, a comprehensive guide to some of the most powerful voices on the scene. Click here for a free download of the current version, then come back in March for the newest book updated with dozens of new entries!


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