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I Couldn’t Risk Strangling That Maniac Cabdriver

October 25th, 2005 by Jeff Simmermon

The cabbie ranted, sweat flying from his blubbering lips as he craned his neck around to steer. The crazy sonofabitch was accelerating us backwards down one of Sydney’s main thoroughfares, utes and passersby blurring into an cursing metal rainbow. We careened and caromed down car-lined streets, a four-cylinder pinball headed fast for guardrail flippers and off the Bronte cliffs and into the ocean. There would be no multi-ball…That bad motherfucker was going to kill us both.

I couldn’t risk strangling him, as his death throes would make him mash the gas even harder — but we had to slow down somehow. Quickly, I flung both rear doors open to try and get a bit of wind resistance to slow us somewhat, buy me some time or maybe let me risk a leap out of the speeding car. The doors sparked and smashed against cars on the highway, each impact slowing us a little more until the doors ripped off. We plummeted into the ocean all the same.

I braced myself for the impact and swam like hell out of the sinking cab before the grill even made it below the surface. I could feel slippery, muscular mollusk flesh caressing my shoulders and legs as I splashed to shore, cold slimy arms with thousands of living nubs tickling the gooseflesh on my cold shoulders.

I felt heavy and imbalanced as I climbed out upon onto the rocks, panting with exertion and adrenaline. Something was definitely off. I staggered into the nearest Hungry Jack’s to comport myself in the restroom, and that’s where I saw it…

A giant, black starfish had settled itself onto my back and shoulder. Its thick arms pulsed with activity, ripples moving along the exposed nubs under the sides of its five arms. It must have weighed at least twenty pounds, but I couldn’t feel a thing.

I marched straight into the nearest doctor’s surgery, where the nurses shrieked. One of them tried to calmly explain that the starfish had latched itself onto my back very tightly, and was gobbling the flesh off of my back with its sharp beak. Its saliva, she explained, contained a powerful numbing agent that guaranteed I wouldn’t feel a thing until its beak started to scrape bone.

I snatched up a can of spraypaint from a nearby cart and shook it menacingly, trying to threaten the vampiric mollusk off of me. No such luck. I sprayed and sprayed, covering the beast with a candy-apple metallic color, the paint and my blood commingling in rivulets as the vicious beast prised itself from my back and fell to the floor, writhing in agony.

Then I woke up, had a piss and stayed awake until three a.m. What could that have even meant?

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