Some days the sun is a cruel, vindictive bastard. It is fully aware that life is not possible without its existence, and, not altogether pleased with the burden of this responsibility, it often decides to make every living thing suffer mercilessly. At least that was the conclusion Bob had reached on this particular July afternoon. Record high temperatures had been the norm throughout the month, and today was no exception. As Bob sat, baking on the bus stop bench, he cursed himself for being so remarkably stupid.

For most of the week Bob had avoided leaving his air-conditioned apartment for any reason, surviving solely upon Popsicles and microwave popcorn. However, tomorrow was his sister Margaret's birthday, and as usual, he had avoided getting her anything until the very last minute. Rather than planning ahead and ordering a book or CD from the climate-controlled comfort of his computer chair weeks ago, he'd put it off. For this reason he now found himself waiting for the 2:15 bus to whisk him off to the outlet mall near the interstate.

He'd been sitting on the bench for only about five minutes, but it had felt like an eternity. Not a single cloud stood between him and the terrible heat of the midday sun. As he waited, the only thing that could even begin to take his mind off of the heat was a endless recounting of all the ways his idiocy had contributed to his current suffering. He was stupid for choosing public transportation over owning a vehicle. He was stupid for not getting this silly shopping out of the way weeks ago. He was stupid for convincing himself that he had to buy his sister a present. He was stupid for choosing to live in an town that wasn't covered in snow ten months out of the year. And right now he was incredibly stupid for thinking that the 2:15 bus would actually arrive at 2:15.

Bob paused in the midst of his internal flagellation to wipe the sweat from off his forehead. As he brushed his now damp palm upon the leg of his pants, it dawned on him that he was also stupid for not owning a single pair of shorts. He could feel the dripping perspiration soaking into his shirt and causing the moist fabric to cling unflatteringly to his rotund physique. He wasn't built for heat. He was built to take optimal advantage of overstuffed furniture. Not morbidly obese, but certainly possessing what could more readily be considered breasts than pecs.

As a man of girth, Bob had grown accustomed to his body's overproduction of sweat. But today, in this heat, it was beyond anything he could remember. Not only was the sweat pouring down his face, his arms and his back, he could feel it literally running out his ears. He never once recalled his ears sweating. This was just plain weird. Bob let out an annoyed sigh and raised his hand to clear the moisture from his ear canal. Gently wiggling his little finger just inside his ear, he felt a sharp pulse shoot through his head. Shocked, he jerked his hand back to see that there was now a pale grey strand of viscous material trailing from off of his fingertip back towards his ear.

Bob screamed and jumped to his feet. One end of this strange substance, having the general consistency of discarded chewing gum on hot asphalt, was firmly stuck to his little finger. The other end (presumably there was another end) originated from somewhere within his right ear. He stood still, eyes wide with shock and fear. As he stared at this strange sight, he could see the strand begin to stretch and droop down from his outstretched hand. Acting on sheer instinct, Bob frantically swung his wrist, wrapping the stringy, sticky material round and round his hand. The more he spun his wrist, the more rapidly it oozed out of him. It wouldn't stop. He began to shake slightly and felt his legs starting to grow numb.

Bob rapidly scanned the surrounding area for another person, someone who might know what to do, but saw no one. The street was clear of all traffic. He wanted desperately to run back to his apartment where he could call for help, but his legs refused to move. The numbness had risen to his waist. Turning his head to the left, his eye caught a glimpse of a grey blob slowly growing on his shoulder. It was now coming out of both ears. He clutched at the mass with his free hand and immediately felt it adhere to him. Webs formed between his fingers, and threads remained connected to his shirt as more still flowed from both sides of his head.

It was happening so fast that Bob hardly noticed a growing awareness outside of himself. While it seemed as if his body was progressively shutting down, Bob could almost perceive it from another point of view. All sound had ceased and his vision was fading rapidly, yet he was somehow still aware of everything surrounding him. He could no longer feel the sensation of sun on skin, though was acutely aware of oppressive heat in a way he'd never quite experienced anything before.

Now literally blind, in a frenzy Bob clawed simultaneously at both ears. He could feel his breath weaken, and the beat of his heart becoming erratic. The numbness had spread up his chest and was moving down the length of his arms. But he still could not escape the maddening heat. It surrounded and overwhelmed his entire being, overshadowing all but the most basic of thoughts. His arms moving jerkily, hands now full of this incomprehensible grey matter, Bob knew only that this, whatever it was, had come from within him, and he felt a powerful urge to put it back.

With all of his remaining will, he spread his jaws wide and thrust as much of the glutinous mound as he could into his gaping mouth. For the briefest of moments, Bob was conscious of the fine pebbly texture of his tongue and the smooth enamel that coated every nook and cranny of his molars. With cheeks bursting, Bob closed his mouth and swallowed hard. Thin, grey strands stretched from his lips as his arms fell limp to his sides. Eyes rolling back in his head, Bob's body slumped forward lifelessly and collapsed into the gutter. A sickening "crack" filled the air as his nose hit pavement. Bob's blood, grotesquely bright in the incessant sun, flowed no more when the 2:15 bus, arriving a scant 10 minutes behind schedule, creaked opened its doors above his prone body.


It was dark. He could sense no light whatsoever. It was dark and Bob was confined. All around him was moist and resilient. He hadn't known how long he'd blacked out, or what had happened to him. His recent memories were lost. All he was aware of was his present situation. He was in a dark, moist place and it still felt hot. Adding to the feeling of heat was a subtle, stinging sensation. Occasionally he felt everything around him jostle or spasm. It wasn't entirely unpleasant, just unexpected. Though unaware of anything beyond the elasticity of his enclosure, he somehow was experiencing motion. He himself, his whole world, was being moved.

With no sense of time, Bob had no idea how long it was that he had been moving. He only knew that now everything was still once again. Everything was still and perfectly quiet. The stinging, burning sensation remained all around him, but now he also felt something new. Something new and wonderful. He didn't care why, he didn't care how, he only cared that at last, after so dreadfully long, the heat was finally gone. Bob was actually beginning to feel cold.

Author's Note:

What can I say? I don't like it when it's hot.

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