The Emporium Gazette
Issue 38 -- June 2002

Boring Sentience
by Bob Nailor

Mindless, the worm squirmed through the loose dirt, gorging on nutrients as it burrowed. It revelled in the musty flavor of decay as it pushed into the soft, moist, cool flesh.

The decomposing ear gave little resistance to the worm as it traveled inward through the pierced ear drum. Oblivious, the worm continued to consume the minerals and proteins, fulfilling one of its two natural reasons for existence.

* * * * *

An arm quickly encircled his neck, pinching the windpipe and threatening to suffocate him. Cold metal touched his ear, but James never realized how excruciating the pain of a ruptured ear drum could be as the ice pick rammed onward into the brain blinding him in white anguish. Losing his equilibrium, James toppled from his chair. Lying on his back James noticed his oldest and closest friend, Harold, towering over him.

James memorized Harold's face, twisted by a small, diabolical but quirky smile. Suddenly Harold loomed nearer and knelt nearby to lean closer to the good ear.

"You'll never know why," Harold whispered hoarsely. "And you'll never get revenge, at least, not this time, you bastard."

Harold started to stand up then suddenly stopped and raised his hand.

As if in slow motion from a "B" movie, James watched the hand turn, the diamonds in Harold's ring languidly sparkling in the light. The hand continued and James stared as it moved toward him. The back of Harold's hand hit his face, the stones of the ring ripping and scratching across his face under the pressure of the blow. James could taste Harold's skin as the hand passed over James' open mouth. The flavor of Harold's flesh seared his mind.

"My life may be short," James thought. "But I'll remember that taste for eternity."

Harold grabbed the ice pick causing a new intensity of pain deep within James' skull. James felt the pick being pulled from his head. Blood oozed from his ear, pumped in spurts by his heartbeat. He felt it flow with greater intensity as the metal device slipped from his ear. James' life ebbed with the ever expanding pool of deep red icor. Thoughts of revenge burned within his mind penetrating every cell.

* * * * *

The worm moved through the soft brain tissue, growing in size from the abundant food supply. As it fed it gained something new, a new purpose, a new reason for existing and mutated. The minute metal flakes became grappling hooks within its searching mouth. There was a sentience, vengeful, and it bored through the earth toward its goal. There was a goal: revenge.

* * * * *

"Oh, Daddy!" the small boy's voice exclaimed. "Look at this one." The lad reached down and pulled the night-crawler from it's hole. "Watch," he said to his father as he placed the worm over his ear. "It tickles."

The worm squirmed in the bright light, wriggling about the youngster's ear. It wanted to be back in the moist earth, but yet, the worm knew there was a reason to be in the sunlight.

"Here," the little boy said. "Try it." And placed the worm on his father's ear.

Still the worm writhed in the heat and sunlight.

"You're right," the man said. "It does tickle," and started to reach up to remove it. "Now, get inside. Your mother called." The diamond ring sparkled in the sunlight.

The worm inched its thick body over the ear and stretched in the air seeking a new destination. It pulled back over the ear's edge and found the channel leading into the ear.

"No, Daddy" the lad said. "Leave it to show mom." Then he hustled inside the house.

* * * * *

The taste was familiar. This was proper. The small metal hooks dug in and the worm inched into the ear canal propelling itself forward with an unrelenting drive. It felt the fingers trying to wrest it from its location and being pulled backwards.

* * * * *

Harold held the wriggling worm in the air. "This is how to do it properly, son."

The metal fish hook pierced the skin of the worm and it writhed in agony and silently shrieked at the memory of piercing steel.

Bob Nailor is author of "The Secret Voice," an Amish-Christian story, "Pangaea, Eden Lost," an adventure story, "Three Steps: The Journeys of Ayrold," a Celtic fantasy, and "2012: Timeline Apocalypse," an end-of-time tale. He is also included in several anthologies and collections. Check his website at

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