LUCY

Tim Tucker

Sven trudged through the narrow sewers and drainage pipes with purpose. More of a mole than a man, Sven wore a heavy overcoat over his stooped body and gas mask to keep out the stench of the underground. His thick boots plodded through all kinds of debris that perfused the sewage and through fragmented, almost insectoid eyes he stalked past bloated rats that seemed to feed on anything in their path and the strange luminescence of mushrooms which crawled up the sides of the glistening bricks. This was his home, and as he navigated the serpentine tunnels with uncanny precision he thought he could hear a faint giggle from somewhere. Somewhere close.

Sven stopped dead in his tracks.

The murky sewage gently lapped against his boots and the incessant drip drip drip of runoff sent queer resonations through the passageways. Yes, that's all it is, just the water. He rounded the final bend to his alcove and quickly went about releasing the locks from the heavy steel door. Once inside Sven ripped off his gas mask, the dank air of his abode cool upon his flushed and sweaty face. He reached into the breast pocket of his coat and pulled out a small wad of tissue. With shaky fingers he carefully unfolded the wad and stared at the object inside.

The eye stared back. It was a fresh specimen, the electric neon iris sparkling like frigid diamond dust against the dark and listless pupil. Sharp conjunctiva snaked across the white of the eye like angry etch marks, ending at the back where a thin nub of the optic cord still clung to its surface.

Sven slipped off his glove and delicately ran the organ in his grimy fingers. It was soft, almost jelly like to the touch but there was something else. A faint pulse of heat seemed to emanate from the sleek surface of the eye, which was impossible because it was dead. She was dead.

Still, a subtle throb undulated from the orb, the iris growing brighter. Fire and ice radiated between his fingers and Sven found himself fondly recalling how he had come to possessing his newest specimen.

He had seen her near the surface. She was one of the Flower Bearers, a girl no older than sixteen dressed in a ragged shawl and carrying a wicker basket. She was beautiful, a veritable jewel amongst the desolate filth the city had become. When they first locked eyes neither of them moved, then her apprehension melted into a warm smile that practically begged Sven to take her. She reached into her basket and pulled out a blue rose, its petals a reflection of her crystal eyes. With a trembling hand he reached out towards her, she was so small, so delicate -

- and clasped her by the wrist, her smile disappearing as confusion clouded her eyes. He threw her to the ground and he was on top of her, all of his weight pressing into her squirming body. He stared into those eyes, those cold, dazzling eyes, and Sven knew right then that he had to have just a small piece of her, a token to forever immortalize her beauty. When he forced his thumb and index finger into her orbital cavity she screamed loud enough to shatter her own vocal cords, her last breaths escaping her throat in a strangled rasp like the keening of some dying animal.

After Sven had taken his prize he had left her body for the scavengers. While she had been young and nubile, her corpse still ripe for all manner of harvesting, he had all he ever wanted already. He held his trophy in front of him, like a jeweler admiring a precious stone. This will make a fine addition to my collection, he thought in awe.

Along the walls from floor to ceiling, row after row of jars containing preserved specimens floated in formaldehyde, ethanol, and methanol fluids. All types of body parts from arms, legs, fingers, and toes to lungs, hearts, livers, and brains drifted languidly in their suspended animation, and though he loved all of his precious children with equal affection, it was the eye that consumed his mind, cold yet burning in the bottomless dredge that had become his thoughts.

Sven placed the eye inside of an empty vat of chemicals and watched it bob and dance in the liquid. The eye stared back, and through the murky solution seemed to glow various shades of blue, azures and indigos refracting off of the solid glass. The pulse Sven thought he had felt when he had inspected the eye now filled the chamber, a hollow, almost pervasive buzzing like a swarm of far away bees getting closer and closer, and suddenly the dozens upon dozens of jars began to first gurgle then boil with angry bubbles. A jolt of brilliant blue light, like an electric charge, flashed from the crystal orb and from their submerged wombs every finger pointed, every organ turned, and every specimen focused upon the eye.

Sven slowly backed away from the enchanted eye as the dilated pupil regarded him with bleak intensity. The sizzling fluids became a cacophony that frothed over and finally each and every single last jar exploded, showering him in glass shards and preserver fluids. The specimens spilled out onto the floor in mangled heaps, his entire life's work ruined, but the eye remained suspended in mid air by some unseen force. It floated back and fourth but never lost focus on Sven. The eye emitted another radiant pulse of light that made the expunged specimens convulse and twitch, and then as if compelled by some unholy magnetism they began to crawl towards each other in a manic scurry.

Arms and legs, tongues and spines, brains and torsos all slithered against each other, a roiling, grotesque mass that swelled and grew as each new appendage merged with one another.

On legs that felt far too distant Sven backed away as the creature of one thousand corpses lurched forward like some monstrous arachnid, filling up the chamber as it continued to thrive beyond all imagination. The eye hovered above the abomination and slowly descended into the center of the festering, undulating horde. She was one thousand flailing arms, violently lashing the air before her. She was one thousand voices, each one a chorus of indefinite bloodlust. She was one thousand horrors, each one more terrifying the last.

She was all greatness and power, a hideous beauty like no other.

"It's alive..." Sven breathed.

Like an avalanche of flesh the creature barreled down on her helpless prey and enveloped him in her icy embrace. Sven sank into an inexorably cold fire, the midnight blue flames adhering to every fold and crevice, every concavity and convexity of his body, and although he knew that he was drowning inside of a nightmarish creation, Sven had never felt more at peace. He was to be the first specimen of an unfathomably ancient and divine plan, a plan to connect him, truly connect him, with all of his children.

Sven sank deeper and deeper through the rending and gnashing bones until he and the creature were one.

THE END