A NAUGHTY LITTLE WORM by Michael Frith

There it was again. The ghostly creaking of a floorboard piercing the night like a dagger thrust. Somebody, or something, had climbed the stairs and was outside the bedroom door.

Rawson, his rheumy eyes bulging in their deep-set sockets, clawed at the crumpled duvet with scrawny fingers as a stuttered prayer died on his trembling lips. Let it be a nightmare, he pleaded to the God he didn’t believe in as rusty hinges squealed.

“Darling,” an all-too-familiar voice cooed from the stuffy shadows, “I’ve come back for you as I promised. Have you missed me?”

Balling the duvet below his gaunt chin, Rawson shook his bony head as his pyjama bottoms soaked up the scalding torrent from his bladder. Never, in all his sixty-seven years, had his pulse thudded in his ears with such intensity.

“Aren’t you going to say hello, Henry?”

A dribble of saliva trickled from Rawson’s quivering mouth as he gulped like a landed fish. “N–No,” he stammered as his furred tongue wrapped itself around the snaggled stumps of his rotting teeth, “it’s n–not poss–possible. You c–can’t be here.”

“That’s not a very nice welcome, dear!” the voice hissed. “Not after all the trouble it’s taken to come back.” There was an angry rustle as the orange glow of a streetlight, straying inadvertently through a chink in the curtains, was eclipsed by a menacing figure. “I think we’ll have to do something about this new attitude of yours, don’t you, Henry?”

Wanting to slither from the matrimonial bed so he could cower beneath it, Rawson found his palsied limbs frozen into immobility. As his flaring nostrils filled with the cloying perfume his wife drenched herself in, he recalled her wedding vow that they would never be parted. 

“Open your mouth, Henry dearest.”

Whimpering as her heavy hand forced his trembling shoulder against the headboard, Rawson did as his beloved commanded. Not once in forty-one years of marriage had he disobeyed Marcia and he wasn’t about to start three days after her funeral. 

“That’s a good boy,” his wife purred with malevolent delight as she stroked the glistening crown of his wrinkled head. “Now pop out that useless thing you call a tongue.”

“P–Please, no,” Rawson stuttered.

“HENRY!”

With his armpits awash with acrid sweat, he complied. Knowing that no act of cruelty was beyond his wife, he shuddered as her meaty fingers clamped themselves about the offending organ. 

“This may prove a trifle uncomfortable, Henry,” she chirruped sadistically, “but it’ll only take a moment.”

Being tortured by red-hot pincers would have been preferable to having his wife’s razor-sharp nails digging into his flinching tongue. Screeching with malicious glee, she began to twist it as though wringing out a dishcloth. Then, as he screamed, flesh parted and blood spurted. 

“All over, husband dearest,” Marcia whispered mockingly as her icy lips kissed his puckered brow. Waggling his severed tongue in front of his squirming eyes, she simpered as he writhed. “Now what,” she sniggered as he gurgled helplessly, “shall we do with this naughty little worm?”

Giggling like a skittish schoolgirl, she licked the severed appendage as Rawson squirmed. Then, with the languid deliberation of a temptress, she enclosed it with pursed lips and sucked noisily. Tiring finally, she flicked the tip of his beaky nose with the bedraggled muscle and crammed the delicacy into her cavernous mouth.

“A little undercooked, dear,” she mumbled indistinctly as her powerful jaws chewed rhythmically, “but quite tasty.” Swallowing, she burped a thunderclap and snickered. “Oops, pardon. I don’t know what came over me there.”

With his mouth a fiery cauldron, Rawson was past caring about his wife’s indiscretions. Clutching at his heaving chest as a crushing weight forced the breath from his lungs, he panted inarticulately. 

“I must say, Henry, dear,” Marcia trilled as she tickled his chin, “you’re looking a little peaky.” Rolling the duvet aside, she tittered as she slung his jerking body over her broad shoulders. “Never mind, when you’re beside me in the grave you’ll feel much better.”

 

In a dilapidated chateau on the Normandy coast, a group of Waffen-SS soldiers force their prisoner, the brilliant Jewish physicist Professor Rosenbrücke, to conduct dangerous experiments into time travel...


Hoping to use Rosenbrücke’s temporal manipulator to loot the past of its treasures in order to fund the German war effort, Obergruppenführer Krebs is shocked and horrified when an initial test run brings back not gold and jewels out of the aeons, but a horde of marauding Vikings…

The Viking leader, Ingunn the Red, initially sees this as a raid like any other. But after some of her men are slaughtered and she is taken prisoner, she learns the truth. And now she has two objectives: to avenge herself upon Krebs and his SS, and to find some way to return her Vikings to the past from which they came.

And there’s a third group on the scene: Simone Chabeau and her French Resistance cell who have been given the task of rescuing Professor Rosenbrücke and his machine. How can they hope to storm Chateau Joiry and free Rosenbrücke? It all seems hopeless until they meet the Vikings…

 


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