Harry Grubbs will never again eat another peanut. He doesn’t care how perfectly formed the one you offer may be, how refreshing the scent, how perfectly roasted - honey or otherwise - he will not go near them anymore. Not after that day.

One day, in the summer time, Harry watched a game on his TV. His Reds were battling it out with the Braves. He was reclined comfortably, flanked by his two-liter of coke and his half-emptied bag of roasted peanuts.

He was perfectly positioned so that he could watch his game between his elevated feet and over his ample midsection. The growing mound of hulls on his partially exposed belly made no difference to him, so long as they didn’t interfere with the game.

During a commercial, he reached down and twiddled his fingers around until he dragged a comfortable handful of shells from the peanut bag. As usual, he cracked the shells, dropped them onto his chest, and ate the peanuts in one fluid motion.

Over and over, one at a time until his hand was empty, he ate them. He took a heavy swig of coke, which burned his throat and caused him to burp. The taste of partially regurgitated coke and peanuts only caused him to eat some more. He had to cover that nasty taste in his mouth, after all.

Again, he shelled the peanuts one by one until most of them were gone. As it turned out, that was the fateful handful that contained the things that he bit down on that was slightly bitter and entirely evil.

It didn’t crumble under the pressure of his teeth. Instead it merely squashed down, excreting a pungent bitter fluid.

Harry gagged and flung the recliner back to its upright position, sending wave of emptied shells skittering across the floor. The salty shell dust tickled his nose, but the gagging sensation supplanted his need to sneeze.

He spat out the offensive wad of goo. It slapped onto the hardwood floor and stuck. Harry drank quickly from the two liter, which only intensified the disgusting flavor in his mouth.

On the brink of vomiting, he watched as the black mass on the floor seemed to pulsate. Almost as if it were breathing, it puffed up and down slowly, ominously.

Harry was horrified. He slapped his crumb-encrusted hand to his mouth. What was it that he ate? A bug? Some sort of disgusting, heaving bug? He felt the coke and peanuts creep up and bubble his esophagus.

He blinked repeatedly, trying to clear his eyes which he was sure were deceiving him. The black mass had nearly doubled in size!

With his head swimming, Harry fell backwards into his chair. His heart pounded against the inside of his rib cage. The announcers on the TV yelled, "Wow! I don’t believe my eyes!" Perhaps Harry had missed a play where he ordinarily would have lumbered out of his chair in celebration. But for now, it was the least of his concerns for the mass had grown to the size of a small child.

The doorbell rang.

Harry hesitated. He wanted to go to the door. He wanted to leave the apartment and go to safety despite the fact that he was wearing stained briefs and a tank top that barely fit.

The doorbell rang again.

Harry edged past the mass which almost seemed to watch him as he did.

A hard, impatient knock startled Harry. He jumped, which made the black mass flinch.

He’d had enough. He lunged to the door and flung it open, startling the pizza man.

What happened next is a subject of local legend. Some say that the pizza man who had stood so impatiently on the doorstep ran away and became completely insane from what he saw that day. Others say that he became what is known around here as "The Peanut Demon" or "The Creature from the Black Legume".

However most accounts are as follows: Just before Harry had the chance to dart past that poor pizza man, the black mass propelled itself past Harry and latched onto the pizza box. From there it wrapped itself around the pizza man and took over his body, like a tar-like parasitic exoskeleton.

Now whenever great misfortunes happen around here, they are blamed on that disgusting black plug that came from Harry Grubbs’ bag of peanuts. Broken windows, flat tires, house fires, exploding hot water tanks - household disasters seemed to escalate after that day. Many needed someone, or something, to blame.

Legend tells it that if someone near here buys a bag of peanuts and one of them (or all of them, depending on who you ask) has spoiled, "The Peanut Demon" will be visiting soon.

Of course, many don’t believe in such things. I, for one, am a little skeptical. However, if you ask Harry Grubbs what he thinks, he’ll just absently bring his invisible two-liter to his permanently salt-dried lips for a drink, and his massive folds of flesh will tremble fearfully. So friends, just to be safe - be wary of bags of peanuts, especially those that appear to have spoilage.

"The Peanut Demon or The Creature from the Black Legume"
Copyright: © 2010 Brian Barnett
Brian Barnett lives with his wife, Stephanie, and son, Michael, in Frankfort, Kentucky.

To date, he has published over fifty stories since he began publishing in November 2008. He has been accepted by over twenty-five publications, online and in print, including four anthologies.

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

For up-to-date news on Brian: http://merrilyhauntingfrankfort.blogspot.com/

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