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Catfish

Catfish

That night, and the nights that followed, were some of the best of his life.

On Friday night, around six hours after the transformation, a handsome young lad of around nineteen years old was spotted by a group of girls inside the Emerald nightclub, standing by himself at the bar.

The most attractive of the group Katie, aged eighteen made the first move. She was experienced when it came to pulling on nights out and before long she was chatting to the boy, with a drink in her hand. First one vodka went down and then another and in the space of a few hours Katie found herself drunk in the back of a taxi with a lovely lad named Ryan Parfitt, who hadn’t had a single thing to drink all night.

Stage three was even better than Jack had imagined.

As soon as they arrived at Katie’s student accommodation, she stripped down to her underwear and instantly began helping Jack do the same.

The next ten minutes went by in a blur of euphoria; he hadn’t been in a situation like this for twenty two years but it was more than worth the wait. After they had both finished, Katie almost immediately passed out, giving Jack the window he needed to put Ryan’s clothes back on and return to his flat.

In the morning Jack woke up as his usual grubby self, which was confirmed by a long look in the mirror. However, on closer examination he noticed that only one of his eyes had returned to the dull blue colour he was used to. His left eye remained a striking shade of green which was unnerving, but by no means life – changing. Besides, he didn’t intend to spend much time as Jack Cramley anymore, so it wouldn’t matter.

A wiggle of the mouse brought the sleeping computer back to life. The twenty hour timer and the semi – naked woman had disappeared and the screen now once again just displayed the big wheel of lads.

Taking a deep breath, Jack prepared himself for a wave of pain…

Over the course of the next few nights, it was safe to say that Jack indulged himself.

On Sunday night he went to a small bar in the centre of town, this time masquerading as a trendy final year maths student. It wasn’t long before he had reeled in an attractive first year, impressing her with his maturity and sensitivity. Jack added his own touch to this one, spinning a yarn about how he was best friends with the girl who ran the drama club, after learning she was desperate to play the role of Juliet in the end of term show. By the time he got her to bed, she was willing to do whatever he wanted.

Monday night, saw Jack slip into a house party, under the guise of an aspiring seventeen year old footballer. There, he had got talking to a girl in the year below, who took great interest in Jack’s muscular physique. They made out in the hallway for hours, before they went upstairs and found a quiet room. It was by far Jack’s favourite encounter and one he would remember for the rest of his life.

Enjoy it while it lasts.

Jack opened his eyes on Thursday morning and headed straight for the computer. He had been spinning the wheel relentlessly for six days now and in that time he had grown three more nipples, two extra toes and another finger. The side effects were increasing in severity but Jack didn’t mind; it was nothing shoes and a glove wouldn’t cover up. He was thinking of taking a break soon anyway, an extra finger he could deal with, but experiencing such horrendous pain every day was growing more and more intolerable.

Maybe tomorrow he would have a day off.

But not today.

Conjurer.com was already loaded in when Jack booted up the computer; he could barely even remember a time where the monitor displayed something different. As he stared at the screen, Jack wondered for the first time if the boys on the Ferris wheel were real people, living their lives oblivious to the fact that they were the central components of a magic dating website. He didn’t care, but it was an interesting thought.

For the seventh time, Jack clicked the wheel. It didn’t move.

He clicked it again and then again but still nothing happened. Confused, he tried to exit the page, only to realize that the close tab icon had vanished.

Becoming annoyed, Jack tried switching off the entire computer and when that didn’t work, unplugging it all together, but the system somehow remained on, as if running off an invisible power source.

Furious now, he started slamming his fists onto the keyboard, in an attempt to beat the website into submission, only stopping when every key had been completely mangled. Jack then turned his attention to the monitor, which had been silently observing his temper tantrum, through the watchful eye of the wheel.

Wiping the blood from his knuckles, Jack threw a powerful, six finger punch at the monitor, sending it crashing off the desk and onto the floor. He then snatched hold of it in his bloody hands and gazed into its fractured screen.

The Ferris wheel began to spin.

Jack only had a second to be confused, before the wheel started to whirl faster than he had ever seen before. It felt as if something was fighting back, as the screen quickly became a hostile blur of indistinguishable human faces, so bright and colourful that Jack had to close his eyes for fear of going blind.

Then the jingle became audible, only this time it was embedded inside Jack’s head, burrowing its way into his brain like a deadly parasite. He clasped his hands over his ears, but his efforts to protect himself against the hellish noise were futile. As blood dripped from his lugholes, Jack dropped to his knees, knowing full well what was about to follow.

The pain started at the base of his spine and rapidly tore through his back, sending him rolling across the floor in the most dreadful agony he had ever experienced. Jack clawed like a dying animal at the grimy floorboards, snapping every single one of his fingernails as he let out a bloodcurdling scream that almost matched the volume of the piercing jingle. Inside of him, something was thrashing around, hacking against his inners like a blunt carving knife. It wanted to get out.

Suddenly, the noise of snapping bones rose high above Jack’s wails, as a muscular arm burst out of his back, giving him a scorpion – like tail made of human flesh. The arm flailed uncontrollably, slapping and clawing at his skin, like an out of control factory machine. Hot tears poured from Jack’s eyes but this was only the beginning.

Jack twisted and writhed around the room, as an army of body parts started to grow all over his body. Hands of all different shapes and sizes excruciatingly spouted from his shoulders and arms, quickly followed by a fleet of fingers and toes that took up residence around Jack’s meaty belly.

Hair grew rapidly over his face, taking no time at all to consume his mouth and nose, which muffled his screams into barely audible grunts. Jack pulled and pulled but only managed to free himself of a few clumps of hair, which was now suffocating him like a phantom noose. Eventually Jack gave up fighting as two more arms came ripping painfully through his sides, turning him into a creature that more accurately resembled a giant spider.

The last thing Jack Cramley saw before his eyes became teeth was the familiar outline of the semi – naked woman, lying atop the distorted sign up box for Conjurer.com. She smiled a sickening grin, before a speech bubble crept out of her mouth, displaying an all too familiar phrase.

Nobody’s perfect.

Jack tried to scream as the room went black.

About The Author

Sam Barrowcliffe

I am nineteen years old and will begin studying English Literature and Creative Writing at the University of Warwick in September. Since starting at Mouthing Off as Creative Writing Editor, I have written and published a number of short stories and can’t wait to share even more. My favourite genres are horror and science – fiction and I take great inspiration from the likes of Rod Serling, Charlie Kauffman, H.P Lovecraft, Christopher Nolan and Phillip K. Dick. In the future, I hope to follow my dream of becoming a professional screenwriter and novelist, following in the footsteps of my idols. I look forward to publishing even more fiendish tales and I hope people will continue to enjoy reading them, as much as I have writing them!

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