The anticipation was nearly unbearable. Dr. Raymond Shelton’s arms fought against the restraints against his will. His hands balled into angry fists and his fingernails dug into his palms.

He gritted his teeth and ignored the pain. Soon, he hoped, it would be all over and the threat would be at an end.

His mind-control experiment had been successful. The worms that he had created slithered up into his patients’ noses and then burrowed straight into their brains. But before he had the chance to take control of them, the worms had taken over.

Soon after, he was overpowered by several of the patients. They forced him onto a table and placed, what turned out to be the alpha worm, into his nose. It burrowed through soft tissue and his skull before finally finding its mark. Dr. Shelton’s associates stormed in and destroyed the patients and then strapped him into a chair. They had hoped to figure out how to destroy the worm without causing any harm to its respective host.

Dr. Shelton’s assistants worked around the clock experimenting on animals with different serums and chemicals. Inevitably all of the hosts were killed in the experiments.

Meanwhile, Dr. Shelton’s brain screamed. White hot pain coursed through his body. The worm wanted control, but Dr. Shelton fought it with all the strength he could muster. But he gradually became weaker and his concentration slowly began to fade.

Dr. Camilla Jefferson shined a light into Dr. Shelton’s exhausted eyes. She looked concerned. Dr. Shelton felt a mild flutter of panic in his ragged body. He watched her whisper to the other doctors. They glanced at him disconcertingly. It would be over soon, he realized. Death was the only way out.

The worm must have sensed it too. Dr. Shelton’s body began to convulse involuntarily. Again it strained against the arm and leg cuffs that held Dr. Shelton’s body in place.

Large lumps of contracted muscle rose on his forearms, just above his wrists. Long cords of veins swelled as his arms shook furiously against the restraints.

Dr. Shelton cried out as both arms cracked loudly. He watched as the bones in both forearms pierced his flesh. They continued to rise as his hands remained clamped down. He howled in pain as the flesh split off like a banana peel.

The jagged ends of his bones raked against his neck, crudely paring the skin. His entire body was alight with pain. It was as if every nerve had been severed.

The doctors watched in horror across the room. The lab’s patriarch was flaying himself right before their very eyes. The sheer spectacle of it all kept them from interfering.

Finally blue and red strands snaked out from the gaping gash around the doctor’s neck. They slid out further and then pushed against the body like a maintenance worker pulling himself from a manhole.

Dr. Shelton’s head separated from his body. His veins and arteries were acting like a confused network of rudimentary legs. They flailed about, trying to get their grip. Dr. Shelton’s head dangled from the body for a moment and then finally dropped to the cool tile floor.

Dr. Jefferson was the first to snap out of her horrified stupor. She snatched a scalpel from a surgical tray and charged at the head.

An artery whipped at her and then wrapped around her throat. It barely needed to flex before her windpipe crushed. Her face was a disgusting shade of blue when she crumpled to the floor.

The head lifted itself with new-found self control. The vein and artery legs carried it closer to the other two doctors - Dr. Banks and the young Dr. Hinson. Dr. Banks flung open a stainless steel cabinet door. He grabbed several glass jars.

He threw them, one at a time, at the head. Most had no effect. Then one, marked: Hydrochloric Acid, seemed to slow it. The jar shattered at the head’s “feet.”

It stumbled a bit before wrapping an artery around the doctor’s throat. It required more effort than before, but it was able to successfully crush his windpipe.

The last doctor, Dr. Hinson, backed himself into the corner of the lab. He whimpered like a sad puppy. He crawled up onto the counter.

The worm sensed that the tissue was dying in the head. The lack of oxygen in the blood and the effects of the hydrochloric acid had nearly done Dr. Shelton’s head in. The time had come to take over a new host.

The worm sent a web of veins to Dr. Hinson. It pulled the head closer to him. Finally the head was nose to nose with Dr. Hinson, who was merely a quivering mess of emotions.

That would soon end.

The worm climbed out of the decapitated head of Dr. Shelton, and soon after, it burrowed into Dr. Hinson’s brain.

The head fell to the floor. The worm was pleased with its new host. Dr. Hinson was far lesser of a fighter than Dr. Shelton was. He commanded his new host to retrieve the other worms. There is much work to be done.


Copyright: © 2009 Brian Barnett


Brian Barnett lives with his wife, Stephanie, and son, Michael, in Frankfort, Kentucky.To date, he has published over forty-five stories since he began publishing in November 2008.

He has been published by, Flashes in the Dark, Static Movement, The New Flesh Blogzine, Midnight Screaming Magazine, The Monsters Next Door, Sonar4 Ezine, Blood Moon Rising, Flashshot, Black Lantern Blogzine, Dark Fire Fiction, Burst Fiction, The Daily Tourniquet, Yellow Mama, The Lesser Flamingo, and The Short Humour Site.

He was co-editor the anthology “Toe Tags: 21 Spine-Tingling Tales from the Best New Authors of Horror” with William Pauley III.

"Worms" originally appeared on Flashes In the Dark on 8.3.09


  1. Very cool story. How long before those worms take over the world--in a messy, messy way?

  2. Thanks! I'd say that it depends on whether or not they unionize. That always seems to muddy things up.

  3. Scary, Brian! They could be walking amongst us even now...