The Creeping Coral
The Creeping Coral
The old beachcomber paused at the shoreline of the old beach. He liked picking things up, but he sure hadn’t picked this up before. He touched it, then screamed and never knew why.
“It appears to be a member of the coral family,” uttered venerable Professor Limus Mankeason at his lab in Coastal City, a large coastal city named after itself. He and assistant Rosty Newlar — taking up science after it killed her boyfriend Teenage Shrimp — gazed at the strangely encrusted corpse. Also there: Agent Cods Hairigon of the Federal Bureau of Dams, probably because of his familiarity with hard crusty things.
“How could coral do this to a human person, Professor?” he coughed, lighting a cigarette.
“It’s an advanced form, Mr. Hairigon, unlike any I’ve seen. Preliminary tests tell me it might be… intelligent.”
“Next you’ll be telling me rocks can talk,” chuckled Cods through smoke.
“We shall require more tests,” coughed Limus, waving smoke away.
That night at the empty lab, the encrusted corpse sat up. With crunching difficulty, the Coral Man got off the table and shuffled out the door. A short time later, it looked up at a tall building, then reached out and embraced a corner. Coral began spreading to the building.
“Things just don’t get up and walk out unless they’re things that can do that,” objected Cods the next morning.
“Incredible,” gasped Limus. Just then the radio crackled. “We interrupt almost everything to bring you this news flash! Buildings in Coastal City appear to be turning to coral. Authorities remain baffled but promise to say words when they have them.”
Limus, Rosty, and Cods stepped into a nightmare. Crowds ran screaming through the streets. Limus stopped a man. “What? What is it?”
“Let go of me, you old fool! What’s wrong with you, do you want to be coral?!” yelled the man, half insane with fear, who clearly didn’t want to be coral.
The crunching was oppressive as coral crept like fungus up building after building.
“Because it’s hard and crusty, this is under the jurisdiction of the FDD,” barked Cods. “I’m declaring martial law!”
A short time later, Limus, Rosty, Cods and army officers studied a map.
“So you’re dead against an atom bomb?” persisted Cods.
“Cods, that could actually be worse than turning to coral.” reasoned Limus.
“Have you seen that stuff?”
A cry from a guard brought them to the window. Coral People were roaming the streets, touching buildings, which began to coralize. It was the final straw. The army ordered evacuation.
Soon, Coastal City was a shadow of its former self, which used to have people in it. But three did remain — Limus, Rosty and Cods — using the only subterfuge they could: realistic papier mâché coral costumes laced with actual coral in case the coral had a way of sensing that. They shuffled along, occasionally touching buildings to “coralize” them, mingling with actual Coral People.
“I don’t see what this will accomplish, Professor,” mumbled Cods through his mask.
“Only by studying them can we hope to defeat them,” replied the elderly scientist.
After shambling a while, Rosty said, “Hey, Prof, can we eat? I’m starved,” so they stopped in a diner.
“The coral is somehow reanimating corpses of its victims, forming almost a hard candy shell to keep them from decomposing,” theorized Limus.
“But, Prof, like, why would they do this, man? Is it just really mean coral?” queried Rosty.
“If only I knew, Rosty.”
Abruptly, a Coral Man shuffled up. “Why are you not turning this diner to coral?” It was the first time they’d heard one speak, and its deep, dead croak rumbled. The three started touching things, pretending to coralize, until the annoying Coral Man left.
The city continued its horrifying coralization. The crackling was unbearable, like buildings in pain. Limus began a series of tests to see what, if anything, might reverse the process: water, sodium, electricity…
“I usually try punching things,” grunted Cods, “That’s the tried-and-true method.” And, with that, the veteran dam man hauled off and laid one on some coral.
As Cods iced his swollen hand, Limus continued testing: acid, extreme cold, extreme heat…
He’d about given up, when Rosty pointed. Coral People were crowding together around a particularly crusty leader. Rarely had there been so much shambling.
“Soon our work will be complete, my coral brethren and sistren!” croaked the Leader. “Long has humankind weakened our delicate ecosystems: coral reefs that are the beating hearts of the sea, livings oceans that sustain life on this planet. Now… well… see how they like it, okay? When the final building is covered, then shall we trigger the vibration that crumbles them to dust.”
“Vibration,” gasped Limus. “That’s it!”
Cods watched as the Professor and Rosty used a primitive electronic device to test various sounds and frequencies on a secluded coralized building corner.
“If one vibration can crumble, another may simply remove it,” bleated the elderly scientist.
Just then, a Coral Person spotted them, then another. Cods had his hands full, fighting them off the only way he knew how. But they were closing fast…
“I’ve got it!” cheered Limus. “Okay, now run away!”
A short time later, the three emerged from an uncoralized music store, free of cumbersome disguises. It was not exactly music, but the untrained sounds emitting from their flutes had the desired effect. Like Pied Pipers, except for the rodent part, they made coral slide down the sides of every building they passed — an unearthly and unattractive striptease — to crumble harmlessly to the ground. Likewise, each Coral Person began shuffling off its coral coil, slumping to the pavement, their rotting corpses now revealed.
The city was finally restored.
“Now we can get the people back. Clean things up.” said Cods.
“Gee, you, like, did it, Professor,” said Rosty.
“Not I, my dear,” twinkled Limus. “Twas the simplest of God’s creatures…the flute.”
A few quiet days in the middle of our powerhouse campaign, as we celebrate the changing of numbers around the globe. I hope everyone has an excellent few days, and we'll launch 2019 strong with another preview coming on Thursday...
Until then, spread the word! Warn your friends... I mean, invite your friends, to share in this awesome campaign! And play a game and let us know!