Cosmic Pantry

Image from Pexels

Horror/humour flash fiction.

I open the pantry door. Rows of cans and bottles shake, rattling and clanking together. Behind me, the kitchen remains silent and still. Outside, there’s nothing. No building work to interrupt the dead suburban calm. The vibrations increase to a rumble all around me. The floor feels hollow, unsteady. I hold my palms flat to the walls for reassurance, but the shaking runs right through my arms. The cereal boxes wobble then fall, spilling their dry contents over the box of veg on the floor.

The shelves give way, wood splintering. I reach out to try to save them, but I can’t hold everything. The top shelf falls towards me, forcing me back and the few jars I’d saved smash at my feet, showering them in vinegar and oil. I raise my arms to protect my head as groceries roll and slide, crashing to the floor. Vegetable matter sprays across my jeans. A great sucking sound reverberates around the enclosed space as the back wall is ripped away and a howling wind pulls me in. I grab on to the doorframe, resisting the sucking force. My trainers squeak along the floor tiles, but I manage to hold on, my fingers white with the effort. Chipped paint works into the soft skin behind my nails.

The wind dies. The back wall is gone. Through the broken bricks, only a black sky remains and dim twin moons overhead. The flat ground stretches out, cracked parched dirt as far as I can see. A low growl starts up, crawling up my spine, vibrating in my chest. I spy it in the distance, huge, close to the ground and loping. Its shape is indistinct, only the spines along its back and its many legs, thick and muscular, are clear in the low moonlight. Its head lifts and its muzzle rises to sniff the air, revealing not a nose but tentacles. They undulate, as though feeling for scent and movement. I freeze, hold my breath, try to still my thoughts in case they should give me away. Too late. Its head turns towards me. Every hair on my arms stands on end and even though it must be too far away, I see the glint of the moon in its amber eyes. It lets out a howl which rips through the night and then it tears towards me. I force myself to move, force my arms, still locked in place clutching the doorframe, to action.

The wind whips up again, tugging at my clothes, freezing my flesh. My eyes sting as I claw my way back to the kitchen. Only a few inches, but it feels like miles. I cling to the towel rail and use it to pull myself free of the pantry. As I wrestle with the door, I catch a last glint of those hungry amber eyes, the writhing mass of tentacles reaching towards me.

I force my weight against the door, slam it shut and lean against it, not daring to move. My chest heaves as I struggle to catch my breath.

Leah walks past, flashing me a knowing look. “You forget to buy wine again?”