A Story by Jim Parson

Radiation poisoning is an ugly way to die...


            Radiation poisoning is an ugly way to die.  Ulcerated flesh, blistering, festering, oozing pustules secreting putrid yellowish slime before the layers peel away like a rattlesnake shedding its skin.  Bloody vomit caking on your chin, too weak to raise your hand to wipe it off.  Hair pulling out in clumps, leaving gaping patches of gore on your scalp.

            Oh yeah, I’m hot.  In more ways than one.

            It’s my own fault.  I don’t know s**t about any damn cat, but curiosity has certainly done me in.  Now all I can do is wait to die.  And maybe take a few of these b******s with me.


            The evening was shaping up to be cool and clear after the heat and humidity of the day.  Iowa was like that; if you don’t like the weather, stick around for twenty minutes and it’ll change.  It looked like it was going to be a nice night to sit out on the front porch and have a beer or six.

The first stars were beginning to show and I was on beer number three when I first saw it.  It wasn’t all that different from any shooting star; I think I even made a wish on it.  I don’t recall that wish but I’m pretty certain it had something to do with Salma Hayek naked.  All my wishes did.  Only it wasn’t a shooting star.  I guess that means my wish won’t come true now.

            Here’s some useless information for you.  Shooting stars are nothing more than meteors burning up as they enter the Earth’s atmosphere.  We see them flash when they hit the outer layer and by the time their train fades away a few seconds later, they’ve burned up.  They can travel as fast as forty-five miles per second, so if you are watching it for three seconds, it means that little bugger may have traveled a hundred thirty-five miles while you watched.  The weird thing is, when a meteor hits our atmosphere, at its point of entry, it’s only 75 miles away from the surface, which means if it was coming straight at Earth and made a beeline for you, it would hit you in two seconds.  On the other hand, if it entered above Europe, it would take a couple of minutes to hit, oh, let’s say some farm on the Garrison blacktop outside Dysart, Iowa, just as an example.  How do I know this?  I was eleven years old when Apollo 11 landed on the moon, and like every kid in 1969, I wanted to be an astronaut.  I learned everything there was to know about space.  I can’t remember what I had for breakfast this morning, but I remember that s**t.

            I’m guessing it entered our atmosphere above Spain, because after I made my wish on it, it took at least another minute for it to hit my cornfield.  I watched from my front porch swing as it changed from a tiny bright speck with a tail to a glowing ball in the sky, hurtling directly at me.  Although it passed at least a good city block over my head, I was sure it would take off the second story of my house.  Its sound was deafening and it passed over my head like a gunshot, followed instantly by the rumble and trembling of the ground as it struck earth on the other side of the house in my back forty.  The porch shook, knocking over the two empties and causing the third one I dropped when the meteor roared over my head to spin like a top.  The windows rattled briefly and I heard the crash of something smashing on the floor inside the house.

            I raced down the steps and around the corner of the house, following the course the rock was on when it passed overhead.  I could see a strange glow in the distance, a lot further than I thought it was.  It was well beyond my forty acres and cast a faint glow on the tree trunks in the wood behind the cornfield.  I passed through the field and as I entered the trees, I could see smoke curling through the glow and smelled an acidic, burnt metal odor that scorched my nose hair.  I’d been meaning to pluck those anyway.

            The glimmer that set the trees to glowing burned red and orange, but the acrid smoke appeared green as it wafted between the trunks.  It occurred to me maybe I shouldn’t be breathing that s**t, but it was a very fleeting thought as curiosity got the better of me.  A deep gully cut through the floor of the wood, maybe six feet wide and gradually growing deeper as it moved away from me.  It looked to be about forty feet long and came to an abrupt halt at the foot of an oak tree.  The glow was coming from the far end of the trough, caused by the burning roots of the oak that stopped the meteorite’s forward progress.  I followed the channel, covering my mouth and nose with my shirttail as the bitter stench grew more choking.  At the end, the trough was maybe eight feet deep.  I got my first good look at it.  It was no meteorite.

The first thing I thought was, S**t!  I just became a stereotype.  One more backwards-a*s country f**k seeing aliens in the middle of a cornfield in Iowa.  Oh, and guess what?  Yup, he had beer on his breath.

My second thought was to run.  And I would, as soon as I had a look at this thing.  It was an oblong silver cylinder about twelve feet long and about four feet across, kind of like a cigar tube, or to those of us with a bit more of an imagination, a giant d***o.  I don’t want to see the snapper it would fit, though.  Its cone-shaped tip, half buried in the dirt and roots at the base of the oak tree, was cracked and bleeding that greenish smoke.  There was a faint hum of vibrating metal emanating from its surface.  Starting about a foot below the fissure in the hull (is that what it was…the hull?) was the outline of a hatch, an elliptical shape about six feet long following the curve of the tube.

            I was moving closer to get a better look when the thing exploded, or at least seemed to.  The blast lifted me from my feet and hurtled me a good fifteen feet, just missing a large oak that would have broken much more than my fall had I struck it.  The hatch slammed into the tree and fell to the ground a mere two feet from my head.  Its back side was covered in switches and gadgets and electronic s**t that made no sense to me.  Circuits were definitely fried and smoke wisped through and around its components.  The green smoke was billowing from the hole in the ground, burning bitter in my lungs and throat.  The flesh of my arms and face felt irritated and inflamed.

Did you ever get acid from a double A battery on your finger and then lick it?  No, you probably never did.  But that’s what it felt like…like my entire body licked battery acid.  And that s**t itched.

            I gave my body a quick damage check in the faint glow of the smoldering roots.  Nothing seemed to be broken or bleeding too severely.  I attempted to rise to my feet, but a wave of dizziness hit me and I dropped to my knees.  Suddenly nauseous, I added my dinner and a couple of beers to the floor of twigs and oak leaves, the bile and smoke mixture burning my throat.  Disoriented and lightheaded, I looked around to place the source of the smoke to get my bearings and then crept toward it on all fours.  The edge of the trough grew nearer and I found myself crawling on my belly toward its lip.

            Something dark and hideous slapped the ground inches in front of my face, churning dirt up into my eyes.  It scared the s**t out of me and I recoiled, pulling back from the chasm.  I frantically attempted to rub the dirt from my eyes so I could see whatever it was that was about to impale me or disembowel me or swallow me whole or whatever the f**k that thing was about to do to me.  I cleared one eye well enough to get a fuzzy vision through the watery blur of my tears and stared in wonder.

            It was a hand.  Actually, more of a claw, a massive claw big enough to swallow my entire head.  At the end of each of its four long, scaly digits was a thick, hooked talon at least three inches long.  The back of its hand and what I could see of its forearm were covered in scales and bubbled as if boiling in water, with wisps of smoke smelling of burning hair and tissue rising from its crusty flesh.

            I didn’t s**t my pants but I don’t know why not.  That came later.

            A second claw pounded the ground in front of me, so close one of its talons took a scrape of flesh from my cheek.  The stench from its bubbling, gurgling flesh caused me to retch the rest of my dinner.  There was no mistaking the deep red color in the steaming puddle…I was bleeding internally.  The claws dug into the earth in front of me, seeking better purchase, and something began to pull itself out of the hole.  Something huge.

            I didn’t wait around to find out what.  I turned and ran toward the house.  My dash across the forty-acre cornfield set a new land speed record, in spite of my dizziness and nausea.  I took the porch steps two at a time and burst through the screen door, knocking it from one hinge in my haste.  Passing by the mirror in the entryway, I caught a quick glimpse of my face, covered in bright red splotches, blood caked around my mouth and nose.  I looked at my bare arms and watched the skin blistering right before my eyes.  My head was pounding and dizziness overcame me again, causing me to stumble against the wall.  I managed to stay on my feet and moved up the hallway to the closet.  Every inch of exposed skin was itching terribly now.  I dug my fingernails into my scalp and gave a frenzied scratch, only to come away with a handful of hair and ribbons of bloody flesh.  But I had no time to worry about that right then.

I pulled the twelve-gauge from the hall closet and grabbed the box of shells, knocking it from the top shelf and scattering shells in all directions.  I snatched several of them up off the floor and shoved two into the double barrels of the shotgun.  I shoved two more into my pants pocket.  I returned to the front door, flipped the switch for the porch light, and stepped outside.  Propping the shotgun against my shoulder, I walked down the steps and headed toward the back of the house.

Something was moving through the cornfield.  Something very big and lumbering and deliberate.  The moon had risen three-quarters full and by its light, I could see the path of broken stalks this thing left in its wake.  It was almost to the end; it would break through into the yard within seconds.  I took a few steps closer to the cornfield and heard the gravel crunch beneath my feet as I stepped onto the drive circling the house.  I braced the shotgun tight against my shoulder and waited for this smelly m**********r to step into the clear.

A stabbing pain shot through my head, knocking me to the ground and driving every other thought from my mind.  The shotgun fell to the drive beside me and I rubbed hard at my temples, trying to relieve the pounding.  The pain abated slightly but the dizziness and nausea remained.  My hands came away full of clotted hair and scalp.  I was already on my knees, so when the vertigo struck, I didn’t have far to fall.  Left disoriented and weak and uncertain what I was doing lying in the gravel, I looked around to try to get my bearings.

Oh, f**k!

            It was at least seven and a half feet tall, mostly humanoid, and broader through the shoulders than any man I ever saw.  How it fit in that d***o, I’ll never know.  It was obviously wounded, half walking (if that’s what you could call it), half crawling, one arm hanging limp at its side and dragging a leg behind it.  Hanging from its oversized head was some really strange s**t…looked like eyeballs on stems to me, although it was hard to tell with only the moon for light.  There had to be six or eight of them, writhing and wriggling about its face, reminding me of Medusa’s snakes.  I didn’t think I wanted to see them any more clearly.  Running from its bulbous forehead over the top of its skull and down the back of its head to the start of its spine was a ridge of short spikes, like some kind of insane mohawk.  There were what appeared to be tusks protruding from each side of a gaping hole in its face I assumed was its mouth.  Its scaly flesh was blistering and ulcerating, oozing yellow pus.  I guess it got the same dose of whatever it was I got.  It was without a doubt the ugliest thing I ever saw.  And it was practically on top of me.

            This birdshot wasn’t going to do s**t to this big b*****d.  Adrenaline coursed through my body, counteracting my disorientation and I grabbed up the shotgun.  There was only time for one shot before it would be all over me.  They say, in times of extreme duress, instincts take over for conscious thought.  I guess that must be what happened.  Without thinking, I shot out the knee of its one good leg using both barrels.

            The creature threw back its head, let out a blood-curdling howl and dropped heavily to the ground.  I watched it happen in slow motion as if seeing it on a movie screen.  My actions were not my own.  Before it hit the ground, I’d broken the shotgun open, ejected the spent shells, and was reaching into my pocket for two fresh ones.  In one fluid, flawless motion, I seated the shells in their chambers, clicked the gun closed and cocked both hammers.  I stepped up to this howling beast, shoved both barrels into the gaping hole giving off that banshee shriek and pulled both triggers, blowing out the top of its head and spreading gore all over the drive.

            The first seizure hit and I felt my bowels let go.  My body writhed and twisted in the gravel, the rocks tearing bits of my flesh from my exposed arms and cutting into the back of my head.  When it at last subsided, I was too weak to pull myself from the ground.  I couldn’t just lie there.  I had to make sure this thing was dead.  I wasn’t certain how I was going to check its pulse, but I had to make sure.  My head was pounding again and a sudden fit of nausea had me puking up more blood.  I lay flat on my back, looking up at the night sky.

I wasn’t at all surprised at what I saw there.


Blistering, boiling skin, oozing rancid poisonous slime from festering wounds.  Melting flesh sliding from muscle and tendon and falling from bone.  Puking and shitting blood, too weak to wipe it from your chin or a*s.  Hair tearing out in bloody tufts.

Tell the truth.  You know you want me.

I stumble back through the house to the hall closet and fall to my knees, scooping up the spilled shells.  I load all I can find into my pockets before making my way toward the kitchen.  If I could only remember where the kitchen is.  I find it, but now I’ve forgotten why I needed it in the first place.  There’s the refrigerator.  Well, since I’m here already…

            I shove the broken screen door aside and attempt to step out onto the front porch.  Tripping over the threshold, I almost fall but grab the doorjamb and steady myself.  I take a swig of the cold beer, which cools my throat but does nothing to ease the burning of my flesh.  I plop down on the porch swing and set the beer on the table next to it.  It takes all my remaining strength to pull the shotgun onto my lap.  I tip my head back and stare up at the sky, for perhaps the last time.


Look at all of them.  It’s like a meteor shower, dozens, maybe even hundreds of them lighting up the night sky.  It’s almost pretty.

            They’ll be here soon.

Radiation poisoning is an ugly way to die.  But there are uglier ways.  I’ve got fourteen shells left.  I’m probably only gonna need one.

Guess I’ll just sit here for a bit and see what happens.



Copyright © 2011 Lyle James Parson II

All Rights Reserved


© 2011 Jim Parson

My Review

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Featured Review

Too close to home with Japan's horror..
This is a wonderful creepy story - and Selma is a gorgeous lady -
I have read about the effects of radiation poisoning and you got it down pat.
Glad he has those fourteen shells - and saves one and is a good shot-
I enjoyed your story so much you are a good story teller.. writer.


Posted 13 Years Ago

1 of 1 people found this review constructive.


As usual WOW! You always have been such a great writer... The detailed descriptions pulled me completely in! I was actually seeing YOU in that cornfield... I have missed your stories!

Posted 11 Years Ago

My god, you sir are indeed talented. This was stunningly engrossing for (forgive me for saying this) a considerably cliche tale. The narrator is classically witty and very relatable. I adore the points of humor you inject into this story from beginning to end, it really helped paint this man for me. There were a few paragraphs that could have tighter grammar but we are all guilt of that, also, very rarely I caught some slips in the tense you were using.
The imagination behind the creature itself was excellently described and I didn't - at any point - have to re-read anything to get a better idea of what you meant. You reinvented something we've all seen and I attribute it solely to your wit and character. Very well done.

Posted 12 Years Ago

I absolutely loved this story. was a bit annoyed when my mobile phone disturbed me from my reading of it!!! Its a fantastically told story and its got everything - an actual point, great humour, excellent imagery. Really enjoyable. well done.

Posted 13 Years Ago

really great story .. well written
thanks for sharing
all the best

Posted 13 Years Ago

Oh my! This is perfect! A perfect blend of literature and knowledge! You got it all in one story. You never fail to amuse your readers Jim and you never fail to impress us :)

Posted 13 Years Ago

WOW. This had all the elements of a great story; gore, humor, aliens, and a seemingly peaceful evening that went horribly wrong. Some parts had me laughing, some parts had me cringing, and thanks to the useless information paragraph I actually learned something! Thank you for sharing, this story was amazing from start to finish.

Posted 13 Years Ago

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Very good.

Posted 13 Years Ago

I don't read stories like this, can't stand them .. want to chuck them in the waste bin and run the other way ... soooo why did I read the whole wretched mess of this .. don't know! Maybe it's because you know how to entertain .. did I really use that word? - maybe it's because you're a fine writer. Thank goodness I need only to read this once, my memory couldnt take it for a second time!

Posted 13 Years Ago

Sci fi.. I love it. Roswell at it's best. Very descriptive images w/ a lot of gore. The d***o part was comical.. Especially when the main character was trying to figure out how the alien got in there haha.

Posted 13 Years Ago

1 of 1 people found this review constructive.

I completely agree with everyone else. The way you wrote this story holds the reader to it with every word. A great way for me to start the day, and I can't wait to read more of your stories!

Posted 13 Years Ago

1 of 1 people found this review constructive.

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48 Reviews
Shelved in 10 Libraries
Added on April 1, 2011
Last Updated on April 4, 2011
Tags: horror, alien, gore, science fiction
Previous Versions


Jim Parson
Jim Parson

Los Angeles, CA

I have been a banker for the past 28 years, but my dream has always been to write. I thought maybe it was time to give it a try. I don't think I'm the greatest writer, but I think I can tell a prett.. more..

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