Exploring Infestation as Art Through Organic Decay

Our lab partner begins their creative writing process through practiced bone divination, the ribs and other parts forming a latticework of scales resonating with each touch. I focus on exploring infestation as art through organic decay. The level, windblown prairie wrapped around us was actually that of the widest brim of the largest hat we’d ever seen; a giant’s Stetson. We spend a moment in quiet contemplation and awe. I loosen the straps of my travel lab and plop down onto the ground. Did we load everything up into data the stream already? I ask. Our lab partner nods. I look down at my feet, the water rushing over my boots then receding, joining the rest of the stream tracing an unsure path through the prairie (brim) alongside us. It snaps up--whips into the air--disappears with all the data we’ve gathered thus far. With the fading light, it’s useless traveling any further; this seems alright, no? Without waiting for a reply, I rumble through my travel lab amidst the various spore cultures and find a slug, then chew it, holding it in the pocket of my cheek and spitting it out on the dusty/sandy/mucky ground, watching it inflate. Take your shoes off this time, I say, then climb in. Our lab partner, still outside, is entranced by the colors cast from the bones upon the landscape, red bioluminescent flashes illuminating everything nearby--a pulsar made of blood. Just before dawn, I think, we awake. The slug had stopped moving. After a time, you grow accustomed to feeling them slide over the uneven, rocky terrain at night; it becomes noticeably missed when absent. I exit, find our lab partner with a chassis bolted around their waist, wearing the oversized-boots for odd jobs. They’re tinkering, with little luck. The boots are so large they’re crushing everything in their path. I watch as our lab partner stomps their boots in frustration hard down into the glop and there’s a small squeak. The slug is growing larger every second, become more and more immense; no longer a humble dwelling but a thing of terror. What’s happening? I ask. Our lab partner looks scared. Sometimes they malfunction, he says. Just salt it and let’s move on, I say. I can’t, our lab partner replies nervously, we’re out of Reduction Salt. What? I scream. He looks even more scared and also slightly sorry. The slug, which we’re both now backing away from, rivals the size of the mountainous hat top in the distance. We both begin to run. Finally, it reaches its limit and explodes with a deafening pop, showering bright green putrescent goo as far as the eye can see. I slip and fall immediately and watch out of our peripheral as our lab partner does the same. A pair of colossal fingers blot out the sun--the giant is doffing its hat--and we’re swept off the brim into a darkened, starless sky, the color of deep burgundy.