The Potato Chip Incident- J.A. Guynn

Bio: Living in the Houston, TX area, J.A. Guynn started writing in 2015. He writes sci-fi and fantasy with occasional trips into literary fiction. Currently, J.A. is unpublished but working on the Branded trilogy, an epic high fantasy story. Plans are to publish Book 1: Skald this year.

My eyes jumped, repeatedly, from the potato chip pinched between my thumb and index finger to the carnage now dominating the room. Red blood-spattered odd patterns on the wall, body parts of various sizes scattered about, and a disturbing amount of yellow-green ooze spread slowly from near the center of the room. I struggled to make sense of what happened.
It started simply. Craving a snack and knowing the vending machines had recently been restocked, I set out. After several wrong turns through the maze-like hallways, I found my prize… a bag of chips. Munching on the way back to my desk, I never suspected how bad it could be to open the wrong door.
More focused eating than watching my surroundings, I stepped through the door. Someone cleared their throat, startling me. I looked up to see four men in white coats, three with their backs to the door and one turned toward me; NASA credentials easily visible.
“You aren’t authorized for this area,” he barked.
About to apologize and back out of the room, I caught sight of what was behind him; three beings, each about one and a half meters tall, with dark green skin that glistened under the fluorescent lighting.
They were vaguely humanoid in shape except lacking obvious arms. I stood there, mouth open and potato chip in hand, as one of the beings moved toward me in an odd, sliding motion. As it passed the line of men I noticed it left a streak of clear viscous fluid on the floor.
I held out my hand. “Potato chip?”
A thin appendage darted from near the top of the creature’s head, wrapped around the salty snack, and yanked it from me. I grabbed another chip to demonstrate eating it. Flaps of skin on, what I assumed to be, the being’s neck started to vibrate. A noise somewhere between static and screaming filled the room.
I wasn’t ready for what came next.
Another appendage shot out, grabbed the bag from my hand, and whipped it toward the wall. Potato chips flew everywhere, several of them landing on the strange beings. The creatures joined in a shocking symphony as I noticed their skin discoloring everywhere a chip stuck to them.
“Everyone out! Alert the decon squad!” someone shouted, as we rushed toward the door.
I managed to make it out before something grabbed the back of my shirt. I looked back into the terrified eyes of the NASA researcher.
As he lost his grip on my shirt, his priority shifted from escaping to securing the room. The door slammed, muffling the shrill static-like scream now joined by the shrieks of people in mortal terror.
I ran, looking for a phone, or a weapon, or a person … anything that might help. After several turns down endless halls. I spotted a red phone, with no keypad, on the wall. Grabbing the handset, I ranted, “Help! They need help! I have no idea where I am, but they need help in there!”
Slumping to the floor, I breathed heavily while trying to grasp what was happening. It seemed like an eternity before a small squad of security officers appeared.
“What’s going on?” one of them asked.
I flinched before looking at him. “A room, nearby, I think. Four men… umm… researchers, with three other… things. There was a… a… a… umm… misunderstanding, I guess. One of the things freaked out. I think it killed everyone.”
Shrugging, I did my best to explain. “I don’t remember exactly. I took a wrong turn. I… I’m lost. All I wanted was some chips.” I looked at my hand, noticed I was still holding a potato chip, and giggled.
Someone slapped me. A pair of hands grabbed my shirt and hauled me off the floor. “This isn’t funny. Get it together. Retrace your steps.”
I nodded vigorously then shivered, adrenalin wearing off. Everything looked the same. Stark walls and flat white doors conspired against me, forcing me to guess where I’d been. I was about to give up but noticed an odor and headed toward it.
As I moved, the smell became more pronounced and offensive. The guards, noticing the stench, murmured behind me. I was too focused on finding the room to pay attention to what they said.
I noticed a closed door with the handle turned down. It had to be the right door. I pointed. “In there.”
The lead guard approached the door, baton in hand, and pushed. “Something’s blocking it.” He motioned for me to move back then pointed to two men, “You left side, you right. Everyone else, fan out behind me. If anything comes out, beat it down.”
Backing up a few steps, he charged and planted his boot near the door handle. It moved slightly and the odor became an almost physical presence. Continuing his forward motion, he bashed into the door. It opened wider. Whatever rested against it made slurping sound sliding across the floor.
The men with a clear view of the room immediately vomited.
The lead guard choked out “clear” before he threw up, stumbling back with his eyes clenched shut.
I took a deep breath and summoned the courage to approach the door, to see the aftermath.
I’ll go to my grave with two things etched in my brain. One, the sight of all that gore. The other is the first thought that entered my mind. “The incident report I will be forced to file will start with a very specifically worded warning against giving potato chips to unknown creatures.”

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