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Scoleciphobia

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Worm

I always hated road trips. Well, that would actually be an understatement.

I absolutely HATED road trips.

The sound of the road seemed always just loud enough to make it impossible to carry on a conversation with my parents up front. That's how desperate I'd get for any kind of break from the monotony - I'd actually wish I could hear my parents.

And crammed in the back of a car seat with nothing to do for 2 hours. It was my idea of sadistic torture. There was anything in the world I would do to get out of the car and stretch my legs -- but my dad insisted that if we get there without any delays, we would get to our destination quicker. I was always desperate when my parents would bring news about how we were going to Virginia or Arizona.

Sometimes my Mom would try to make the trips a little less unbearable for both of us. She'd buy a stack of comic books or a couple new action figures, and hide them until the dreaded day would arrive. Naturally, I knew about them and would usually end up looking at them beforehand, completely sabotaging the attempt. I guess I've just always hated WAITING, really, that was all. Just long periods of boring and nothingness wasn't my idea of fun. Well, not for any of us, I suppose.

Well I'm going to tell you about one of these trips. The most mind-numbingly boring trip yet, from my home in New York to my Grandparents' house in Africa.

Yes, we drove to Africa, and I'd already read all the comics days earlier. We stopped at a couple of hotels for the night along the way, and I got to stretch my legs in school playgrounds if we happened to pass one when it was closed, but the majority of my time for days straight was spent seated, upright, seat belt on, enveloped in the unforgiving drone of tires on pavement.

I don't even know what state we were in when I saw the first billboard. It was weather-worn, paint peeling, almost covered by overgrown trees... It was something largely unremarkable except for the image it offered.

"Buck-E's Gas Station" was written on it in big red fonts.

There was nothing really interesting or out-of-the-ordinary about this, just a seemingly normal gas-station, right?

Well, a few miles ahead another one popped up. "Huh?"

I simply looked at it. This time, it read, "Only a few more miles and you'll have all the snacks you want!"

That had almost made an impression on Buck-E's for me. I had never really seen a gas station with "all the snacks you want." Since the sound of burning rubber sounded below us, I couldn't ask dad or mom anything about Buck-E's, which really peeved with me.

I had wanted to ask dad if he'd been to that gas station, but he was carrying a conversation with my mother, who nodded.

Then there was another sign.

"With 82 toilets your throne awaits!"

I almost giggled, but I strained to when there was a loud bump. Mom and dad didn't seem to notice it, though.

And out of natural curiosity, I looked back and screamed.

There was a dead man lying in the road. He was wearing a beaver costume that said, "Buck-E's." I screamed, as blood pooled the man's obviously broken body, I had screamed at mom and dad, but they didn't seem to hear me, even though I was screaming at the top of my lungs with all my might.

The dead beaver man disappeared out of sight, and another sign came into view.

"Want a pack of beef jerky? How about a pound!"

Obviously, the signs were getting more corny and cheesy. I said nothing, and again mom and dad didn't notice ANYTHING at all, they just kept their eyes on the road.

Then one more sign popped up, bigger and cleaner than the rest.

"ONE MORE MILE!"

I should have been excited, asking mom and dad if we could stop there, but I said nothing.

They acknowledged the sign was there, but they didn't seem to notice the billboard was covered from top-to-bottom with blood.

It was as if someone had crashed into it, but what made things seem more eerie is that an old busted car sat under the sign, vines overgrowing it and was looked like to be a human skeleton sitting in the driver's seat.

I screamed under my breath. I knew it would be a waste of freaking breath to tell mom and dad about this.

Then, sure enough, over the horizon, a huge mansion/grocery store appeared and mom and dad looked back at me for the first time in 30 minutes.

"Daemon, look, want to go there?"

I jumped up in the seat and said in a high-pitched, fast-tone voice, "Yes! Yes! Yes!"

"Well," Mom giggled, "I guess we're going."

We exited and drove into the mammoth parking lot, to see tons of rows of gas pumps.

"Wow," I marveled.

"Mmm..." said my dad. "Wait till we get inside!"

We got out of the car, and with bated breath, we walked in and it was like a shopping-center.

I couldn't explain the presence and feeling.. it was like nothing I've ever seen. It was cleaner and brighter than any grocery store. Oh my God. It was like a gas-station heaven.

You could order your own food, custom and fresh, they had a small deli and isles and isles of treats, snacks and ice-cold beverages.

"Wow..." I marveled, again.

Everything was going fine until I found a plastic bag of gummy worms.

Suddenly I had the feeling that the gummy worms were evil...

Okay, so, say what you want but that's just what I felt like. I could totally feel the bile rising in my stomach... it was almost as if I had Scoleciphobia.

Then, it could have just been my imagination... But I thought I saw one of them wiggle.

I shrieked, now almost everyone in the place staring at me, and I stumbled back into my mom's arms.

"MOM!"

I tried to get behind her, but she grabbed hold of my waist and picked me up.

"Daemon! Daemon! What's wrong?"

"THE GUMMY WORMS ARE ALIVE!!!"

I squirmed in her hands, so she put me down and looked at the plastic bag.

"These?" she said, slowly picking it off the shelf and showing me it.

"AAHH! YES! GET THAT AWAY FROM ME!"

I had suddenly realized my dad had came back, holding a BLT in his hands and licking his lips.

"What's wrong, Daemon? You look like you've seen a ghost."

"B-"

Mom, who looked very confused, showed my dad the plastic bag of gummy worms and explained the whole story. When she finished, dad looked at me, bewildered.

"So you're saying that these gummy-worms are alive?"

Gasping from fright, I managed to choke out, "Yes!" and I hid behind mom.

"Hold on." She grabbed me by the arm and pulled me around to dad.

"WHAT ARE YOU TRYING TO DO? SCARE ME!"

"Honey! Honey!" my mom started, looking at me seriously and taking a knee to where she was my height. "It was probably just your imagination."

She stood up, dusting her shirt and then she looked at dad.

"Let's go home."

She left the plastic bag of gummy-worms back on the shelf, beckoned us to the automatic-sliding doors and we left, everyone eyeing as we went out.

We got back in the car, except for dad, who pumped in some gas and then we left.

We continued driving for multiple hours, I think I even fell asleep once. Then a large building came into sight. I immediately recognized it as an airport.

"Well, we're half-way there everyone!"

Mom and dad both gave out cheers, and locked their eyes back on the road.

"Finally," I said. We were almost there. I could make it. I could do this.

But as we were heading into the airport, I felt an odd wiggling sensation on my hand.

I looked down, seeing a gummy-worm with a mouth full of razor-sharp teeth chewing on my flesh.

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