☰ Something Got Out ⋆ Jarce ArtThor


Keith thought the fire was only in his lungs, but when he came to, he saw that it was everywhere. Dense tendrils of smoke hung from the roof of the fuselage, undulating grey curtains rippled in the wind. 

His eyes burned. 

Tears streamed from them but did nothing to negate the sting. He tried to see deeper, but he couldn’t. He tried to breathe but he could only heave. Finding the release to his safety belt, he disentangled himself from the seat. 

He spilled into the narrow aisle, listlessly. A part of him wanted to languish there, go to sleep and die, but another part needed to find refuge from this hell. He choked on a brutal cough and glanced up. 

The warring flames caught the silhouette of the passenger seats before him, and they looked like looming tombstones. It would be his grave if he did not get out, and fast. 

The runway was so hot under the heels of his hands. But he endured it, and he crawled, and he writhed, convulsing on the suffocating soot. 

He found a crosswalk. 

The veil of smoke was almost like liquid as it moved thickly across his view. He squinted and at last he saw. There was an emergency escape hatch painted in red. 

With the last of his energy, he hobbled after it. 
He reached out. 
He grabbed the lever, and he pulled down hard. 
The heavy door flew open. Blessed oxygen rushed in. 

That exasperated the flames; he could hear the inferno rumbling in protest behind him. As he staggered out, he found an inflated slide  was jutting out from under the hatch to deposit him on the waiting tarmac. It sloped precariously from the ruined craft.

He went tumbling down it, but the ride was short. His battered body crashed into solid ground quite faster than he had anticipated. Laying there splayed out over the folded and flattened escape slide, he bestirred himself to shift onto his back. 

Agony welled up along his right hip and shoulder. He felt hot blood beading on his brow; his eye swollen, his jaw broken, and his nose smashed. 

What, in God’s name happened? 
He looked. 

The plane was in a heap against a web of twisted beams protruding from a smoldering edifice. In its final moment, it had made a nosedive plunge into the city. The wreckage had lost its wings, colliding through the broad windows of the lobby floor, all the while managing to miraculously keep him alive in the process. 

Manhattan was dead, utterly desolate of life. There were corpses everywhere. Her notorious skyline still raked the heavens, but plumes of smoke bled out from her various wounds all throughout the sprawling, gridded expanse of man made marvel. Something had gotten loose, washing across the globe faster than any speed human technology could possibly achieve. 

Before the news broke, most of the human population had already fallen prey to it. Keith was beginning to remember now. 

He had been fortunate enough to board the plane before the chaos ensued. When the emergency broadcast system blared on all of the television screens, raving about some super virus that was sweeping the nation, it was too late. The riot erupted without warning. 

It grew from a single altercation before the panic set in, and the riot exploded wildy out of control. The pilot made his decision and took the craft racing down a runway strip that was filling with enraged pedestrians. Keith could still hear the ululating screams, when the landing gear lurched violently over a luggage handler whom had somehow got it in his head that he could catch the fleeting aircraft by hand. 

A spray of crimson was all that would manage to stick; the rest of him reduced to a red skid mark that stretched until the wheels left the pavement. His fellow passengers would whimper and cry as the airliner gained altitude. 

A question of what they were going to do next might have gone around the cabin. But that would have died quickly once the boils started bubbling over their flesh, and all on board suddenly began retching up blood. 

It happened so swiftly. 

Keith had heard some hearsay on a research expedition that had gone terribly awry. There were trembling images still vivid in his mind, capturing a sickly thawing glacial continent, and a vast landscape polluted with dead penguins. 

He couldn’t recall all of the details as he tried to use his mangled legs to stand again. If his memory served him correct, it was something about a mysterious cave that had opened up in Antarctica—something about global warming, and fragments of information surrounding the rapid decline of ancient hoarfrost. 

Something got out—something very old. But it didn’t matter. All of the crying, and all of the whimpers had stopped. Keith faltered, and he collapsed. He tried to escape the island, but he failed. 

And where would he have gone? It was inexorable. He was certain of it now. As certain as he was that before long, the fire would devour the plane, and the building it had smashed into. As certain he was that he would not live to see how the blaze would ultimately dissolve. 

The boils were on his arm—festering, weeping. 

Keith writhed as the disease so rapidly burned through him. How it happened; how it all might end—none of that mattered to him anymore. 

He could only think of the pain. He could only feel the agony burgeoning inside his every single molecule. And when he tried to scream, all that came up was a fountain of red death, bursting from him like an eager geyser. 

And like a thief in the night, everything that the world has ever been was taken away.


As a traveling caricature artist, author Jeffrey Arce (a.k.a Jarce ArtThor) has witnessed some very strange things. From the opinions and liquid perceptions of fun-drunk carnival patrons he drew inspiration. 

A writer, an artist, and a dark thinker, he weaves a visceral web of twists, terror, and wonder. His tales are filled with dynamic environments, vividly portrayed, colorful characters with dangerous talents, and mind bending artwork to feast the eyes of his audience. 

A touch of comical mischief follows his every step as he journeys the unknown wilderness in search of another scary story to tell round the campfire. Join him in an adventure that spans across uncharted universes, swelling in his own imagination. Witness the cartoon fantasy, and nightmarish reverie that unravels behind the mind in front of an easel. Come visit my literary/artist blog, my own personal cauldron of mischief: The Work Of Jarce ArtThor.

Follow Jarce on Twitter: @JarceArtThor
Have a look at his blog here: The Work Of Jarce ArtThor

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My novel, Trigram, is in the works, but in the meantime, I'll probably be working on short stories such as the ones on Wicked Shorts. (Wink)

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