ShellShock Live - Free Download
Processors (CPU) that meet: ShellShock Live minimum system requirements. Local Franklin, TN Gym since 2020 led by Shellie Blanks Cimarosti, daughter of Tae Bo creator brings the best-specialized class workout of Cardio, HIIT, Strength & Kickboxing you can find on the fitness planet. If you would like to refer to this comment somewhere else in this project, copy and paste the following link. Fb credits hack 2020 https://zlatdetki.ru/forum/?download=2555. A few examples include finding curves, carnival toss, and.
My husband went spelunking, and he hasn't been the same since.
It started small; it took me a while to really get worried. But now I’m afraid for my life.
Let me back up a bit. Chris is a geologist, and the man – bless his heart – loves rocks more than anyone should. I’ve known him since we were five years old, and even then, he brought home stones from the riverbed all the time and had six pet rocks. When we were teenagers, his love led to him picking up several rock-related hobbies: hiking, rock climbing, hanging out in the “Gems and Minerals” exhibit at our local museum.
I never minded. It was kind of sweet, really, how passionate he was. And it’s not like I didn’t realize what I was signing up for. On our first date sophomore year of high school, he took me to his favorite climbing wall. Then we walked to a diner nearby and got milkshakes, where he excitedly told me all about stratification. But after he was done, he happily listened to me go off on tangents about the pieces I’d learned to play on my violin. So it balanced out.
It’s been nine years since then, and against all odds, his love for rocks has only grown in adulthood. He doesn’t even get his fill at work; on weekends, we go hiking up mountains or rappelling down cliffs. Or at least, we used to.
This all started about three weeks ago. Chris went spelunking with a few friends from work who are just as rock-obsessed. Some friend groups nerd out over sports teams or D&D; they do the same over old caves, especially untouched ones under the mountain. One of his friends, Jackson, had found it by accident a week before while hiking off-trail, and the second he told them about it, excited plans were being made to venture inside. The opportunity to be the firsts to explore an uncharted cave was too good to pass up, both as career geologists and as passionate enthusiasts.
They decided to go the very next weekend, of course. Chris invited me, but I had rehearsals for an upcoming concert, and besides, caves aren’t my thing. Rock climbing? Sure. Hiking? Hell yeah. But caves have always made me a little uneasy. To be honest, I think I felt anxious even then about him and his friends entering that completely unknown cave. Caves can be deadly even for people who know what they’re doing, after all, and this one was a complete question mark. No maps, no charts, nothing.
But he was so excited. I couldn’t voice my fears and rain on his parade. He kissed me goodbye early Saturday and promised to take plenty of photos. I rolled over sleepily and wished him luck.
The first sign that something had gone wrong was their early return. The trip was supposed to be the whole weekend; they’d be back Sunday, late. They’d brought sleeping bags and everything, so that they could even sleep in the cave Saturday night. But that didn’t happen. That evening, as I was laying on the couch watching Netflix to wind down before bed – the rehearsal had been a rough one – the front door slammed open. My heart almost jumped out of my chest, but it was only Chris. Dirty, disheveled, and missing a boot, but still my husband.
I was happy to see him, of course, but he’d been gone less than eighteen hours. I figured something must have happened. Maybe the cave had collapsed years or decades earlier and they couldn’t actually venture very far inside?
“You’re home early,” I said from the couch. “Everything okay?”
Chris said nothing. He didn’t even acknowledge my words with a grunt or a turn of the head. He walked right past me and up the stairs. I called after him and got no response. Okay, that was a little annoying, but mostly I was worried. If he was this zoned out, something worse than I’d thought must have happened. Maybe one of his friends had gotten injured.
I turned off the television and followed him to our bedroom, where he was already laying in bed on his side. I sat down beside him. “Honey? Please tell me what’s wrong. Can I help?”
I reached out to rub his back, and the second my hand touched him, he sat upright as if he’d been jolted awake. Before I could ask anything else, he leaned over and kissed me. And kept kissing me, intensely. I kissed him back a few times, but then firmly pushed him off. He immediately tried to come back and resume the makeout session, his hands reaching for my waist. I pushed that away too, and said, “Tell me what happened first.”
He met my eyes for the first time since arriving home. Something was off about them; I couldn’t put my finger on it. I hoped it was just my eyes playing tricks in the dark. “Nothing happened. Everything is okay.”
“Can I help?” I asked again.
“Yes,” he said, almost moaning. “I want you. I want you. I want you.” He came in for another kiss. I almost pushed him off again, but then his hands began to caress my back, and I melted against his touch. He was physically fine, and maybe acting a little weird, but nothing too insane. It was probably something that could wait until the morning. And we were actively trying for our first baby, with our strategy currently being, Just have sex every day and see if it works, so if he was here, and saying he was alright, surely getting intimate wouldn’t make things worse. Might even make him feel better and want to open up about why he was back early.
So I didn’t push him away that time. He fell asleep immediately after we were done, which was unusual – we usually cuddled and talked for a while first – but I didn’t mind too much, since he was clearly tired.
That was only the beginning, though.
The next morning, he was gone before I woke up, even though it was a Sunday. He’d left his phone on the nightstand, so I didn’t even have a way to contact him. I was a little pissed about that, but I had to go to rehearsals for most of the day anyway. When I got home, he was back, and before I could figure out where he’d been, he was on top of me again, kissing and fondling and moaning “I want you,” all over again.
It made me feel loved, and his enthusiasm the last few days made me believe he really wanted a baby as much as I did. He’d been the one of us to be a little more hesitant, a little less sure that we were ready, so the fact that he had now jumped on board with my efforts made me happy. It was almost enough to make me forget about his refusal to talk about the cave, or his avoidance of the subject of his whereabouts.
Throughout that week, he continued to be all over me. It was every night, and sometimes in the mornings too. But he’d always roll over or get up after, and I missed our cuddling and talking time. Still, though, if that was all, I could live with that.
It wasn’t, though. He started acting weirdly in other ways. I woke up several times in the middle of the night to find him staring at me with hunger in his eyes and a…creepy smile on his face. If he noticed I was awake, he never acknowledged it.
His clothes were odd, too; not the clothes themselves but their cleanliness. They always seemed to be caked in dirt and grime, and by the end of the day were more brown than whatever color they’d been originally. I knew it wasn’t from work, because he worked in a research lab. Chris usually did the laundry, and now he insisted on it. I think he didn’t want me to see whatever was on the clothes up close. I did, though, once: I snuck in and looked one evening when I got home early. They were so caked with dirt that they were stiff, and they smelled like rotting leaves. And I swear I saw a worm crawling through the armhole, but I wasn’t about to look closer.
I tried to confront him; really, I did. But he suddenly talked a lot less than he used to. Before the trip, he would talk my ear off at dinner about whatever rocks he’d been reading about or studying last, and now he said very little besides, “I want you.” If I asked him direct questions, he’d respond with short answers, but the passionate ramblings were nowhere to be seen.
And when I tried to bring up the clothes, he looked at me with his big, slightly-different eyes and said in the most menacing voice I’d ever heard him use, “They’re not important. Don’t bring them up again.”
I was worried, obviously. Was this what a nervous breakdown looked like? But he wouldn’t talk to me, so it was time to go to people who would: his friends.
I visited Jackson about ten days after the cave trip. When he answered the door, I had to fake a cough to hide my gasp of shock. Jackson looked awful: pale, disheveled, his hands wrapped in bandages, bags under his eyes that wouldn’t qualify as carry-on luggage. He didn’t seem all that surprised to see me, and he gestured for me to follow him into his apartment.
“This is about Chris, isn’t it?” he asked as we settled onto his couch, one of us one either side. Chris and I had spent many evenings here for movie nights and hangouts, and it felt…wrong to be here without him. “Is he okay?”
“I was hoping to ask you the same thing,” I said.
He sighed. “I wouldn’t know, since he hasn’t been at work since the cave.”
This was news to me. If he hadn’t been at work every weekday, where the hell had he been going for twelve hours at a time? And why? Wherever it was, was that where the dirt was coming from?
Jackson must have seen the shock on my face, because he looked at me, brow furrowed. “He…he did tell you what happened in the cave, didn’t he?” I shook my head, my heart pounding; Jackson cursed, then apologized, then explained: “We all promised we’d tell someone, someone we trusted. I told my sister. Because it was just so goddamn creepy. Even if they didn’t believe us, at least there’d be a trail. In case, you know, anything…happened to us.”
I was sitting on my hands now, trying desperately to resist the urge to chew on my nails (a bad habit I could never quite break) as my nerves worsened. At the very least, Chris had broken a promise to his friends, which was already vastly out of character. At the worst, well, I wasn’t sure, but it sure seemed like something terrible. “…What would happen to you afterwards? Why would you worry about that? You made it out,” I choked out, my voice laced with more fear than I’d hoped.
Jackson sighed and ran a bandaged hand through his hair, wincing as he did so. “I should probably start at the beginning, though we don’t know much, honestly.” He paused, took a deep breath, and began.
“When we got into the cave, everything went well for the first few hours. You know, we were talking, and laughing, and going deeper and deeper under the mountain. There was only one tunnel, so it was a clear path – way easier than any of us had been expecting. We just followed the bends and slopes without much trouble. But then the cave…changed.”
My heartbeat quickened. “What do you mean?”
“The tunnel got smaller, until we had to crawl. The only way forward was to squeeze through a crevice that was dripping some kind of black liquid. None of us had ever seen anything like it in any lab.” He sighed again. “We should have turned back. God, I wish we had. But the crevice was large enough for one person at a time to fit through, and we hadn’t had much of a challenge yet…so one by one, we squeezed through. Chris went first. I went last, because I stopped to get a sample of the black ooze.”
He took a shaky breath, and I wanted to encourage him, but what could I say? I stayed silent and placed my hand on his shoulder, which seemed to help. “When I made it through to the other side, the others had vanished. I mean, like, into thin air. There was nowhere for them to go: it was a small cavern, maybe ten feet across, and only one tunnel leading off it. But I crawled through only a minute or two after Chris, and all three of them were just…gone.”
“But you found them again?” I asked.
He closed his eyes briefly. “Kind of. I heard them calling out, from three different directions, and I called back. I started to walk down that tunnel. It was impossible to tell where all the voices were coming from. Then I heard screams, so I started running. I was just turning anywhere I could, trying to get wherever the screaming was…and soon I did.” He swallowed hard. “I came out into a bigger cavern. Evan was laying on the ground, crying and holding the side of his head and frantically insisting that something had crawled into his ear and was burrowing deeper into his brain. Keith was sitting a few feet away, bleeding from a massive wound in his side. ‘Something bit me,’ he said. ‘Something big and dark, and I swear it said it wanted me.’”
That made me uneasy. Didn’t that sound eerily like what Chris had been saying? But Jackson hadn’t even mentioned him yet. “Where was Chris?” I whispered, almost afraid to hear the answer.
“I don’t know, but he came jogging in a minute later. I asked him if he was alright, since the other two were in bad shape and I had no idea what might have happened to Chris – but he just nodded and said nothing. I figured maybe he was shellshocked, you know, because he was kind of staring off into space and his eyes looked funny.”
My heart almost stopped. “His eyes looked funny?”
“Yeah,” said Jackson. “I can’t really describe how, but they were wrong. Something was off. Besides that, he was okay. So we decided we needed to get out of there and go to the hospital ASAP for the other two guys. I wasn’t sure if they could make it through the crevice in their conditions, but it was the weirdest thing. As soon as we made the decision to leave, we just…made it out. Somehow we didn’t have to retrace our steps or go back through the oozing crack. We started walking, and the first tunnel we took led us straight out of the cave within an hour.”
“You found another entrance?” I asked.
He shook his head. “No, that’s the weird part. It took us out the same entrance we’d gone in. Even though there was only one tunnel down into the cave from there, and it should have taken several hours to retrace that route. It’s like the cave…rearranged itself.”
“What about Evan and Keith? Are they okay? Have they been at work?” The questions seemed to tumble out now; everything was so confusing, and I needed to know more. I needed to know how all of this connected, and how it had affected my husband.
“They’ve been at work,” Jackson said quietly. “The doctors saw nothing unusual on Evan’s MRIs. He seems fine now, and he’s slept with three different women in the last week, so I guess he’s recovered. Keith has been acting weird, and he disappears for hours at a time. He won’t let anyone see the wound on his side, especially doctors. I’m worried about him.” He looked up and met my eyes. “Chris too.”
“What about you?” I said, finally realizing that I should have asked how he was when I first arrived, considering how bad he looked. “Did you get to test that sample at the lab? Maybe you found out something helpful?”
Jackson was shaking his head before I’d even finished speaking. “No. The vial I’d collected the sample in broke when I squeezed through that crevice. It was in my pocket, and I felt the glass pierce through my thigh. The vial was empty by the time I was able to fish it out afterwards.” He paused and looked down at his bandaged hands. “And no, I’m not okay either. I’m going to show you what’s happening to me. Please don’t scream,” he said softly, cautiously, like he was talking to a skittish animal.
I nodded, swallowing back any protests, and he began to unwrap the bandages. When he was done, he held up his hands for me to see, and this time all the fake coughs in the world couldn’t hide my noise of shock and horror. I think I almost fainted. His hands were…well, they weren’t really his hands anymore. They consisted of a thick black liquid, almost like tar, that was constantly moving and swirling as if it were a river. They were still roughly in the shape of hands, but that’s where the similarities ended.
“My legs and arms too,” Jackson said. “It started at my thigh, where the vial cut me, and where the sample must have entered. It’s spreading, and it’s conscious. I can hear it whispering to me about making me its own. I don’t think I have long left until it takes over.” He looked up at me again, and his eyes shifted from their usual blue; suddenly they were filled with the same swirling black ooze. “It says it wants to spread, to multiply,” he whispered, in a voice that was almost his but not quite. “All the things in that cave want to extend their reach far beyond, to infect others, to reproduce.” He smiled a crooked grin at me, his eyes still terrifyingly dark, and it took every ounce of self-control not to scream. I slowly inched away and started to stand up, but he chuckled. “Don’t worry, I won’t do anything to you. You’ve already been claimed, after all. Someone else wants you.”
Jackson’s eyes flashed back to blue. “Go,” he said, this time in his normal voice, sounding strained. “You can’t help me. Go. I’m sorry.”
That was all I needed; his eyes were already being taken over by the wave of black again as I turned and bolted out his front door, panting, scared that he – or it, really – might pursue. But true to its word, I was left alone, and I made it to my car, still breathing like I’d just finished a race.
I don’t know how I long I sat there, trying to make sense of what Jackson had told me and what he had shown me. Although, whatever I had just left behind, I’m pretty sure it wasn’t Jackson anymore.
Which was terrifying, because what did that mean for Chris? Had something burrowed down inside of him, like whatever was in Evan’s brain? (I had no doubt that was real, since sleeping with women sounded exactly like Chris’s efforts with me). Had something replaced him entirely and only looked like my husband? Either way, the thing that had been living with me wasn’t Chris. I knew that now. And the most terrifying thing was what Jackson, or the thing that used to be Jackson, had said last: Something else wants you. Because that sounded exactly like Chris’s catchphrase these days: I want you, I want you. My blood ran cold when I thought of all the implications that could have, and what kind of something else Chris might be, and what he – it – wanted with me.
I went home eventually, because I had no choice. I think some part of me still hoped I could save him, too. But I avoided him as much as possible after that; any research about saving him would be done at a distance. He knew where I’d been. I didn’t tell him, but I could tell he knew, because he stopped trying to put on an act. He just stared at me all the time with the same creepy smile on his face, and he wouldn’t let me leave after that. I mean, at all. He locked down the house, and I haven’t left since. Nor have I had more than a few minutes without him watching me. I missed any chance I had to get away. You don’t have to tell me it was stupid to come back; trust me, I regret it.
I’d try to escape, but I don’t think I’d get very far. He knows more than he should, always. And I think it’s too late for me anyway, because last week, I missed my period.
Chris knew without me mentioning it, and he handed me a pregnancy test a day later. I don’t know how or when he got it. But he stood outside the bathroom door while I took it, and then sat on the edge of the bathtub while we waited for the result. I sat on the toilet, my heart beating so loud I was afraid he would hear it. I’d always thought finding out I was pregnant would be one of the most exciting moments of my life, and that Chris and I would celebrate it together. Instead, I was filled with fear at what the test might prove, and Chris’ smile as he watched me only made my skin crawl.
It only took a few minutes to confirm what both of us already expected. I promptly jumped to my feet and managed to lift the toilet lid just in time to throw up. Chris’ hand was on my back in an instant. “There, there,” he said as I continued to puke up my guts. There was no element of comfort to his voice.
I knew that whatever was coming, it wouldn’t be good. I’d known for a while, really, but now there was no denying it. My husband wasn’t my husband, and whatever was inside of me probably wasn’t a human child. And I was absolutely terrified.
As soon as I’d finished puking, he turned me around to face him. In that moment, still feeling nauseous, my heart thumping and my blood cold, I finally realized what had been wrong with his eyes all this time. They had always been a lovely shade of deep brown, and so it was hardly noticeable unless you were really looking: they had no pupils.
He stared at me with his pupil-less eyes, a deep hunger within them. “I told you I wanted you, and I meant it,” he whispered. “I want you, and I want what you can give me.” His awful grin grew even wider, if that was possible, until it seemed to take up his entire face. Except for those goddamn eyes. He reached down and placed a hand on my belly, and his next words were the most chilling of all.
“I can’t wait to see what we made together.”
submitted by gonavy27