Something is Very, Very Wrong in Iowa.
A veterinarian in small-town Iowa is horrified at the gruesome sight of his new patient, an animal that has been given as a gift to a little girl by her mentally disturbed uncle. The doctor is shocked after he confirms the species of the creature and is overcome with an oppressive sense of dread for the safety of his rural community when he uncovers a threat far greater than anything he’s ever imagined.
Experience the end of humanity in “”Wombie” by Martin Slag, featured in EQUILIBRIUM OVERTURNED: THE HEART OF DARKNESS AWAITS, available now at your favorite bookseller.
Meet “Wombie” by Martin Slag
In eighteen years of practicing veterinary medicine, Ethan had seen his share of crazy. At the age of twenty-two, while interning at the Carnegie Museum of Natural History, he’d been involved in a case in which an eccentric college student, transporting a small crate of Vietnamese walking sticks to her dorm, had gotten into a car crash and inadvertently loosed the invasive species on the city of Pittsburgh. Owing to the pervasive humidity, irregular wind patterns, and unique geography of the region—as well as a lack of avian predators—the insects had reproduced at a rapid clip. In little more than three months nearly half the flora of Allegheny County had been devoured wholesale. Fortunately for the citizens of Western Pennsylvania, and for what few arboreal enthusiasts resided in the Rust Belt, fluke was met with fluke, equilibrium prevailed, and the bugs were annihilated wholesale by an early September freeze.
Mad Cow, bird flu, Lyme disease, red squirrel virus, he’d seen it all. He’d been romantically involved with a woman who’d contracted toxoplasmosis—benign in most carriers—from cleaning her cat’s litter box, and had passed the disease to her baby during pregnancy, causing the child to go blind. And once, not two weeks after arriving in West Buford, a 93-year-old woman from Tucson, Arizona had walked into his office dragging an ocelot behind her on a leash.
Eleven or so years ago, when Ethan’s practice wasn’t doing so hot, he decided to expand beyond clinical care. People would bring to his office their sick birds, their scalded kittens, their dachshunds with infected nail beds, and Ethan would use his considerable expertise, his gift for deduction, to diagnose and swiftly treat the problems. Many of his methods were counterintuitive, unorthodox and roundly dismissed as “citified.” He prescribed Adderall for rowdy beagles, Xanax for neurotic Labs. He calmed many a farm girl’s fear of barn rats by assuring her that rats were “actually highly intelligent creatures whose psychology, more so even than dogs, mirrors that of a human.” He received an absurd number of questions regarding “skinwalkers” and “reptilian shapeshifters.” He put these rural legends to bed with hard science and a warm smile.
Rarely did he have to resort to euthanization or amputation when prevention or procedure would suffice. He didn’t enjoy shooting horses, but it was part of the job.
He gave hearty discounts on expensive operations, hoping to make up the difference on follow-up appointments; he was banking on client loyalty. His customers would leave with their bandaged pets, never to be heard from again. Occasionally they would stiff him for payment, and he would have to track down the derelict party and beg for his money.
He got the sense that he wasn’t liked around town. He couldn’t figure it out. Then one day a salesman trundled into his little brick building and successfully sold him a Green Bay Packers calendar. He had Eileen tack the calendar up in a place where his customers could see it, and he observed a slight spike in business the following month. He bought more Packers ephemera and wallpapered the waiting room in gold and hunter green. He bought the Cherokee and slapped a Green Bay Packers sticker on the bumper, took more house calls, and executed more livestock. Now he was not quite a millionaire. Funny how that worked.
The creature was giving itself a mudbath. Its body temperature had dropped a full eight degrees since Ethan had last taken its rectal reading, four hours ago.
He sedated the beast, carried it into the examining room and hoisted it up onto the table. It was plump, fleshy, healthy. He stood looking at the creature, appreciating it and thinking about the little bit of weed in his desk drawer. He’d scored the weed over a year ago from a stranger he’d met in a bar, and had been rationing it out as if it were the last bag of rice in the hull of a marooned ship. When it was gone, baby, it was gone. Good. He could stand to lose that habit. He considered going home and getting those four loose beers, but quickly rejected the idea. He was four beers and forty miles away from his third DUI in three years.
Taking out his forceps and speculum, he began his work. He made his discovery shortly after one a.m. and had to step out front of his little brick office and smoke two cigarettes to let it all soak in. The animal was not having trouble digesting the cellulose in the corn husks, as Ethan had first theorized. The animal did not have rabies or mange. The animal did not have an intestinal parasite.
The animal was…
More About EQUILIBRIUM OVERTURNED
EQUILIBRIUM OVERTURNED is a fourteen-story volume of dark fiction spanning the genres of horror, science fiction, fantasy and speculative fiction. From the discovery of dangerous alien civilizations, to demonic incursions from beyond the event horizon, to some truly shocking revelations about what President Andrew Jackson actually knew about the wild West, they’re all included in this thrilling volume that is already a bestseller.
In EQUILIBRIUM OVERTURNED you will explore a wide range of diverse subjects covered in the tales of approaching evil. Themes run the gamut from stories of dystopian future societies, post-apocalyptic survival adventures, horrifying visions of dangerous new worlds and allegorical fantasies that will drive a nail through the heart of humanity.
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