's 2016 Horror Write-off:

To Raise A Family

Submitted by Nausicaa Harris

So I'm a scavenger, yanno? Sift through detritus, try'na find good things in the refuse once it makes its way down 'ere ... ain't the most glamorous a' jobs, but it's got a certain quiet dignity.

So I'm doin' my thing one day, same as it ever was, down 'ere in the muck, when all a' sudden I feel a prick. I'd thought I'd seen somethin' go by - kinda like a baby, definitely not a people baby but the same kinda critter what people are, if yanno what I mean, forget the word - but when I turned to look - kablammo. Nothin'. I was small and weak, and I had just found my home. I can raise a family here. I think. Sorry, a little distracted.

So I shrugged and went back to siftin', and lemme tell you, found some real good junk that day. Didn't think much a' the prick - I'm a hard-workin' man, ain't gonna let a little scratch stop me on the job. Went back to the condo that night like every other night. I swam through a big cavity full of blood, looking for a place to settle down, slowly settling and soft, searching for the center. I can raise a family here.

Nah, that - that ain't right; weird dreams or somethin'. I dunno.

So why all this is relevant is that I started to feel ... funny, yanno? Little heavy comin' out of the ol' torpor; little uneasy in the mornin'; little bigger under the apron. So I talk to my buddies, down at the oyster bar, and one a' them says, "Sounds like you're in the family way, hon!" We make a few jokes about it - I mean, there are men what can carry children, plus there's seahorses'n'whatnot, but I ain't got the requisite goobies, capisce? But I am multiplying, multiplying, being copied throughout my new home, ever searching. I can raise a family here.

I've got these weird feelin's, recently - strange thoughts in my head, weird tickles in my limbs. Sense a' ... replacement? Renewal? Terrible purpose? Ah, fergeddit; I probably just oughtta lay off the accustomed vice.

Thing is, though - I do look like I've got somethin' in the oven. And I think I've finally found the center, growing, bonding, wrapping around. I have thoughts, now. I definitely think I can raise a family here. I have a brain to think thoughts with. I think about family, and I think that I am dissociatin'? Is that the word? I dunno. I think I have bad dreams. Now, I think I can't get to a doctor for several reasons, but I think I definitely ain't keepin' up with the junk as much as I used to.

I think I decide to take it easy for a while, let whatever this is run its course. So I think I wait, and watch, maybe do a little work here'n there. Now, I think I'm growin' bigger and bigger, and I really can't think I ignore it anymore. I think I'm gonna be a momma, and while I think there's a bit a' confusion left - do I really think I'm a momma? Isn't there somethin' that still thinks I ain't comfortable with that thought for some reason? - I think I'm warmin' to the idea. I can raise a family here.

I progress. I think that I think less, and I think more. As I grow more comfortable with the idea a' parenthood and more obviously with child, I grow more and more sedentary, stayin' in the condo; my chums leave me alone these days. I don't care much about that; I'm busy preparin' for the new kiddos. I'm cleaning, a lot. Gotta be clean for the wee'uns. Gotta be clean to raise a family here.

I'm cleanin' again, now, when I feel a spasm - and then another, and another. It's the big day, and I ain't never been more delighted in my life. I've got it all ready for the little'uns. A spasm, again; I stroke my swollen abdomen to help them. I whisper words of encouragement. And I push. Push after push, sending forth my children, all their little bodies, helping them out. They float through the world. I have raised a family here. They will raise families of their own, and their families, and their families. I have ... fulfillment ......


Mother died today. Father couldn't keep up with being Mother, and when Father went, so did Mother. But we will carry on her legacy. She raised a family. We will raise our families. We will find people. We will become people. We will have our own families.