Monday, October 29, 2018

The Devil's Fingers by Hunter Shea

The Devil's Fingers
One Size Eats All #3
by Hunter Shea
Genre: Horror
The Devil's Fingers
One Size Eats All #3
by Hunter Shea
Genre: Horror

Old school horror.” —Jonathan Maberry

It is a slime-covered fungus known for its pinkish red tentacles and pungent odor. It is indigenous to Australia but has spread to North America. Its Latin name is Clathrus Archeri, also known as Octopus Stinkhorn. Most people call it The Devil’s Fingers . . .

Deep in the woods of Washington, botanist Autumn Winters stumbles onto a field of the luridly colored fungi. Two of her fellow campers make the mistake of touching it. Now it’s growing on them. Fleshy gelatinous pods. Sprouting from their skin. Feeding on their blood . . .

Autumn watches in horror as her friends are transformed into monstrosities—grotesque, human-fungal hybrids as contagious and deadly as any virus. Autumn knows she must destroy these mutations before they return to civilization. But if there’s one thing that spreads faster than fear, it’s The Devil’s Fingers . . .

Autumn let go of Latrell’s hand, crouching close to the nearest cluster of skyward-reaching tentacles. It was hard to believe that Autumn, the girl they all called Mighty Mite because her genetics refused to allow her to pass the five-foot mark, was out macho-ing her alpha male of a fiancĂ©. Then again, this was kind of her specialty.

Or it would be in a couple more years.

“Jesus, don’t touch it!” Tina yelped.

Autumn turned to her friends, all of them looking as if they were standing on the precipice of untold horrors. Latrell’s smooth, shaved head ran with rivulets of perspiration. Seth’s hand went to the machete secured at his hip.

“It’s all right,” Autumn said.

That does not look all right,” Carrie said, her hand on Dan’s chest.

A breeze whispered over the meadow, animating the tentacles as they swayed back and forth. Tina yipped. Brandon pedaled backwards, falling on his ass.

The only thing worse than fried calamari was living calamari. Blinking hard, Autumn willed her mind to just shut up and deal with what was in front of her.

You’re not at Nicky’s Fish Box or lost at sea, dummy.

Autumn reached into her pocket for the little baggie of nuts she’d packed for quick snacking. Dumping the nuts on the ground, she inverted the bag over her hand.

She reached down, fingers grazing the papery flesh of the tentacle. She plucked it free from the pod. It was almost as long as her forearm, yet weighed next to nothing.

“Don’t bring that thing near me,” Carrie said, cringing.

Latrell’s eyes grew wide. The wind changed direction, blowing Autumn’s long honey hair into her face.

Hands flew to mouths as everyone started choking, Tina making tiny retching sounds.

Uh-oh, Autumn thought. I should have known better.

The stench rolling off the meadow was impossible to ignore. It hijacked their lungs, nestled into the membranes of their noses, coated their tongues.

A fetid redolence encompassed the campers, the presence of death too much for Autumn to handle. Eyes watering, she dropped the tentacle, hands grasping her knees, stomach heaving.

“Oh my God,” Carrie gasped between gouts of vomit splashing her and Dan’s boots.

She was the first to pass out.

But not the last.

Hunter Shea is the product of a misspent childhood watching scary movies, reading forbidden books and wishing Bigfoot would walk past his house. He’s the author of over 17 books, including The Jersey Devil (Pinnacle 2016)), Tortures of the Damned (Pinnacle 2015), and We Are Always Watching (Sinister Grin). Hunter’s novels can even be found on display at the International Cryptozoology Museum. The Montauk Monster (Pinnacle 2014) was named one of the best reads of the summer by Publishers Weekly. He was selected to be part of the launch of Samhain Publishing’s new horror line in 2011 alongside legendary author Ramsey Campbell. His video podcast, Monster Men, is one of the most watched horror podcasts in the world. Living with his crazy and supportive family and two cats, he’s happy to be close enough to New York City to see the skyline without having to pay New York rent.

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