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The Blue

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Mushroom
The subway train stopped, momentarily sending every loose object on it jolting forward. I lost my place on the page I was reading, and listened, yet again, to the monotone male voice that came over the intercom at every, single stop:

“The Blue Largo Line has arrived at the Maple Street stop. Please wait to exit until the train has fully stopped, do not board the train until all bodies who want to exit have exited, thank you."

(The train patiently waited for stragglers to board the late-night summer train)

“The doors are closing, please step away from the yellow strip on the sidewalk while the train is in motion, thank you.”

(The electronic doors slid shut, closing the gap between me and the outside world, again.)

“Next stop Lower Heath, E.T.A. forty-five minutes.”

“God, that gets old after riding this thing for three years.” I looked up to watch the outdated electronic sign change its many circular, yellow-orange lights to the name of the next destination, only one more stop and I’ll be home, I thought to myself.

Before I could go back to reading my book, a man sitting a little ways down the aisle from me caught my eye. He had boarded at the last stop without my noticing. The man looked uncomfortable. He was very fidgety, not sitting still for more than a few seconds. It seemed to me that he literally had something in the seat of his pants. As my curiosity got the better of me, I silently watched the man from a distance and I pretended to read my book, which I had simultaneously lost interest in.

After a couple of minutes I noticed the man had started to perspire and scratch at his arms in a way that told me he was seeing something on them that probably wasn’t really there. His breathing became harsh and quick, and the look on his face told me he was starting to become frightened.

“Freakin’ tweaker.” I thought to myself, having seen all this crap before on my many nights on this subway train, my book became interesting again, and I ignored the man at the end of the aisle.

A sudden movement from down the aisle awoke me from the trance the boring pages and white noise of the train had put me into. I looked up to see the man had started clawing at his face more rigorously than he had his arms. His breathing had progressed from harsh to wheezy. I couldn’t tell for sure if he was having a hard time breathing or if he was just that scared. Then I noticed something that hadn’t been there the first time I noticed him. All over his arms were little bumps similar to over-sized mosquito bites. They reminded me of the hives I used to get as a kid when I had an allergic reaction. My throat swells up and hives break out on all over my face and body. It’s terrifying, and I always feel like my insides are going to explode.

“I wonder if he ate something he was allergic to.” I concluded that he might need an EpiPen®; I carried one on me at all times. I decided to help him, even though my brain was screaming at me that it was in my better judgment not to, it told me that he was some meth-head that would kill me if I tried talking to him with a syringe in hand. To his “tripping-out” eyes I probably wasn’t trying to save his life or help him, but rather I was a half-liquid gorilla that was coming at him with a knife trying to take it. Ignoring my sixth scent, I got up and approached the man cautiously, paying a small amount of heed to what my head was trying to tell me.

“Hey man, are you okay? You look like you ate something you’re allergic to. I’ve got an allergy too. Here, I have something that’ll help.” I held up the small syringe in front of him and his eyes darted to it as he scrambled to steal it from my hand.

“I ate the blue…” He wheezed as he shakily took the EpiPen’s® cap off and stuck it directly into his neck and squeezed the trigger, releasing the enzyme into his bloodstream, hoping for relief.

As soon as he pulled the trigger his eyes went wide and he screeched. If there had been anyone else in the car with us that night they probably would have flipped out at the sound, but I was pretty confident with what I was dealing with, I only jumped a bit, just an allergic reaction after all. Judging by the way he was reacting, it was probably the first serious one in his life. I quickly leaned down to help him remove the syringe from his neck.

“It’s just a bad reaction, let me get this out and we will get you to a hospital at the next stop.” I was trying to sound reassuring, but I knew after riding this train for three years that the next stop was still thirty minutes away. I hoped the man didn’t realize that, panicking would only make his condition worse.

“I ate the blue… No cure.” He responded and looked into my eyes. He was scraping his pupils around in the part of my mind where I kept secrets that no one would ever or should ever know about. Such as the time I went on a camping trip and me and a few friends found an alligator snapping turtle, which we proceeded to throw rocks at and stab until it died. I wasn’t fond of the memory, quite ashamed actually, but there was no taking it back, so I hid from his all-knowing gaze.

I looked away from him and looked toward the car in front of us for help to see if anyone in those cars could help, a doctor, hopefully, or nurse, hell anyone at all would be a blessing, but there was no one. Then a thought occurred to me:

“What’s 'The Blue'?” Jumping on the question like a dog on a piece of meat, I asked the man.

“What is 'The Blue'?”

“The blue… Don’t ever eat the blue, he told me not to. I didn’t even know, don’-” He stopped abruptly. My brain finished the sentence for him, though, it was quite obvious what he was going to say even given mine and his separate states of shock. What cut him short was the fact that an extreme sensation had hit him and he looked down at his outstretched arms and screeched again.

I hadn’t noticed it either, but the hives there had multiplied like rats and had gained in size. There wasn’t a spot on his arms or hands that hadn’t been raised at least a little. He lifted his shirt and lo and behold they were everywhere on his chest and abdomen as well. Still screeching he started to insanely claw at them.

“No! That’ll only make it worse.” I said and tried to grab for his arms but I was too disgusted at the thought of grabbing the wrong spot and having the pregnant hives pop in my hands.

He looked up at me, eyes watering, and that’s when I noticed even his face was now covered in hives, they were swelling over his every orifice. His nose had become a big bulbous blob; his eyes were almost fully sealed over, and his mouth was a small, dark, fleshy depth of a cavern.

“I’m gonna die…” He said and started to cough, it was a horrid noise.

I have heard people say that they were coughing up a lung and I’ve heard my thirty-year smoking veteran of a grandmother cough, but this man’s coughing fit surpasses any cough I’ve ever heard in severity. It was wet, but at the same time it was very dry, almost as though he had corn syrup filling his lungs and the walls of his throat were 60-grit sandpaper that scratched together when he forced air past them. When he pulled it away from his face there was blood all over his bulbous hand, and I saw it leaking from the rounded corners of his mouth. Yet, he still continued to claw at his body.

At that point my fear came to life, the hives started to burst, leaking pus and blood everywhere on his body, as well as making a mess wherever they spurted. One by one they swelled and popped like over-filled water balloons. He gasped in pain and continued clawing and coughing.

When his hand had become so bulbous that he no longer had any fingernails to scratch with he leaned back and moaned with what vocal chords he had left. I saw that blood was coming from everywhere on his face. Both of his nostrils, his mouth, his ears, and even the tears streaming from his eyes had changed to a diluted ruby color. Nevertheless, he started beating himself with his club-like hand trying to pop all of his sores like bubble-wrap hoping to rid himself of the god-awful pain.

Once he felt he had removed most of what covered his body he moved his bloody, pus-covered hands to his face. As he tore it apart piece by sore-covered piece, I felt myself become nauseous. I was finally realizing what I was watching. I turned and let my dinner hit the carpeted floor of the subway.

I got control of my stomach, and turned back to the still moaning man whose adulterated cries for help had become mere forced gasps for breath. What I saw next far surpassed everything that I had seen him do before.

The man was using his globular bloody fingers around his eyes, after he had managed to rid his face of most of the hives, he plunged his fingers deep into his eye sockets bringing out his punctured eyes on the end of them like the olives on giant toothpicks. I turned and heaved again hearing the man’s moans become a little louder and whinier as he realized what he had just done to himself.

He fell forward out of his seat and hit the ground of the subway, with just enough time for me to move out of his way. He tried to crawl toward me and I cowered away from his touch fearing my life. I hated myself for my cowardice in this man’s time of need, but I couldn’t help myself.

“I’m sorry.” I whispered without realizing no one was really listening, but myself.

I heard him gasp and choke more as his throat began to close. His body started to bloat, and he collapsed face first into my pool of vomit. He let one last breath of air escape his lungs before his internal organs imploded and careened out of his open mouth toward the opposite side of the train.

I heaved again and got as far as I could from the now lifeless body that lay before me. I started to sob, I couldn’t help it. I wasn’t sure if I was sobbing for the man who had just been betrayed by his own body, or if I was crying for myself for having to watch it all take place. I already guessed at the fact that nightmares would haunt me for a good time after this incident

After I finished crying I got my nerve up to call the police. They met with me at the next stop, my stop. They were immediately suspicious that I had played a part in the man’s brutal death, but I did my best to truthfully show them otherwise, after they questioned me, they had an officer escort me home so I could get some rest. They said they would contact me later that week to verify some things, but other than that they would take care of the rest, they closed off the scene stopped the train for the night and sent me home with a sheriff named Mark.

I was completely out-of-it during the entire drive to my apartment, as well as the walk up the steps to my abode. I unlocked it routinely, opened it and relocked every lock on the door, I have no idea why I locked all the locks, but I just did. Turning around and facing my dark palace of solitude I flicked on the lights and looked into the kitchen on my right. On the counter was a pan of mini blueberry muffins. Every single one of my friends and family members knew they were my favorite food! There was a folded note laying next to the pan, naturally, I picked it up and read it.

Dear Ben,

I felt the need to bring you some blueberry muffins today, I heard you really, really liked them, Hunter told me, When I dropped-by with some you weren’t here, so I just left them on the counter. Enjoy!

Yours truly, Sammy XOXO

“I’m sorry I missed you Sammy, I had a very… eventful night.” I made a mental note to go see her after work the next day so I didn’t have to ride the subway home again.

“It’s nice to have you around Sammy.” I made another mental note to find some way to return her affection.

I grabbed one of the mini-muffins and stuffed it into my mouth, I needed the comfort food and I didn’t really care how I looked eating it. I was alone anyways. The muffin was amazing, although cold from sitting out so long, they were still really, really good. I grabbed another.

“I wonder what her secret is.”

That’s when it hit me. How did Sam get in? I hadn’t given her a key. We had only been seeing each other for about three weeks. I didn’t know of anyone else who had a key to my apartment, my windows weren’t unlocked and even if they were I lived on the third floor. I hadn’t left the door unlocked either, I had just unlocked it myself.

I grabbed the note again as I swallowed the second muffin and reread it. I noticed I had missed something underneath her signature.

“Was that really there before?” I wondered aloud and read it.

(P. S. In case you were wondering, I added something different to the muffins to make them special just for you. It’s a mushroom sugar extract called Blue, everyone I know loves it, and they have no idea where it comes from! It makes things taste like heaven! See you tomorrow!”)

A thought echoed in the back of my mind from the man on the subway. “Don’t eat the blue…”

At first I panicked and felt my throat tighten,

…And I started to itch…

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