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by David C. Kopaska-Merkel

Billy settled into the lounger and opened another beer. Darlene was gone. "We used to have fun Fridays," he muttered. "Where is that bitch anyway? No note, no nothin'…" He trailed off. He hadn't hit her any harder than usual this morning. It wasn't like she couldn't remember how he liked his eggs. She just made them runny to spite him. She should've done the shopping today and there was no food. "I work all day, and she does nothin'." She was definitely going to get it when she did come home.

Of course the TV was on the fritz too, and there wasn't anything to do but drink. He took a swig and made a face. It sure wasn't whiskey.

Behind him, beady eyes watched from the baseboard, where two adjacent pieces had not been properly nailed. Or perhaps the nails had worked loose as the house settled. No matter, little feet would put the small opening to good use. They'd accepted the saucer of milk and the bargain. Billy finished his beer and the observer froze while the man belched at great length, then reached down and drew another out of the bucket. He popped it open, and the sudden hiss coincided exactly with the fall of the net over his head.

"Gahhh!!" he screamed, and grabbed wildly at his face, for the net felt nasty, like coarse spider web. He reached for the arms of the recliner to lever himself to his feet and get away from the horrid stuff, but the arms weren't there. In fact, the recliner wasn't there either. He was sprawled on his back on the floor, foot resting on a huge, dewy metal cylinder, and the net covered his head and upper torso.

They jerked him to his feet and hustled him off to the baseboard. Belatedly, he recognized the giant cylinder. "My beer!" he wailed out of the darkness.

Inside the walls, Billy stumbled between his captors, who he somehow could not get a good look at, dodging real cobwebs and projecting nails. A giant cockroach regarded him silently, then scuttled off towards the now-deserted living room and the enticing scent of beer. They walked a long way, perhaps as far as the kitchen, and then Billy was shoved into an empty cat-food can. The lid was hammered down tightly. It was dark, but he heard movement, and smelled something musky.

"Darlene?" he quavered.


The end

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