Wormhole Revisited

Author: William Gray

These bite marks on my forearm. Just below the crease of my elbow.

They’ve always been there, even as a child growing up on the colonies of Ganymede.

Their pattern is unique. All slim, clean lines with the exception of one wide, jagged rip exactly where the brachial artery carries oxygenated blood to my hand.

I’m not sure how long the wormhole tossed me about. My guess? Somewhere between a day and a millennium. The time was mostly darkness, with a periodic fitful nightmare, the same one every time.

Hot yellow teeth melting into my flesh.

#

The wormhole hiccuped me out near a planet that, so far, has been a pleasure to explore. Oxygen is plentiful. Sunlight peeks through a canopy of gigantic palm leaves high above. A cool, dry breeze weaves its way through the fabric of my expedition suit as I explore the new terrain.

I have not yet encountered any humanoid life forms. Numerous rodent-like species prey upon each other in a bid for survival, but they leave me alone. The insects are harmless. No reptilian forms. I have seen giant birds flying above, similar to depictions of Earth’s ancient Pterodactyls, but I am yet to see one up close.

With its extensive family of moons, eclipses on this planet are common. Partials happen almost daily. However, considering how dark it’s getting, today’s might be full totality.

As the eclipse resolves and light returns, the air feels heavy. I work harder to breathe, as if atmospheric oxygen levels are dropping.

A haggard old man approaches. His kyphotic spine is bent to a right angle. His beard is braided into individual strands which are woven into larger braids, hanging low, creating a curtain that hides his apparent nakedness. He ambulates with both hands on a gnarled wooden staff. As he gets closer, the heavy air turns salty.

He is in a hurry, as if he must accomplish something before what life he has left is spent. He winces and struggles forward, as if pushing past the excruciating pain of severe arthritis.

As he stands right in front of me, I start to wretch. It smells like someone pissed on a pile of rotten sardines.

He flashes a smile, a mouthful of brown-yellowed teeth. One in front is a single fang, thick and serrated. It spikes down over his lower lip, into his beard, embedding itself into the nest of braids.

He crouches down, takes a final breath, and somehow finds the energy to pounce on me like a tiger.

As he is a frail old man, I didn’t think I was in any danger. I did not anticipate this at all. I have no time to retrieve my weapon before his teeth sink into my neck.

The jagged hot incisor plunges into my carotid, boiling the blood coursing within.

#

These bite marks on my neck. Just above the clavicle, where tendons bind it to the top of my sternum.

They’ve always been there, even as a child growing up on the colonies of Ganymede.

Their pattern is unique. All slim, clean lines with the exception of one wide, jagged rip, exactly where the carotid artery carries oxygenated blood to my brain.

I’m not sure how long the wormhole jostled me about. My guess? A couple hundred minutes or a couple hundred centuries. The time was mostly darkness, with a periodic fitful nightmare, the same one every time.

Hot yellow teeth melting into my flesh.

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