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Volume 3, Issue 2, June 30, 2008
black suitcase
All Kinds of Monsters
by Matthew Howe

        With a grunt, the fat man bent and yanked his bag off the carousel. Jacob watched him, his eyes wide with 11-year-old curiosity. The man was strange looking, gigantically fat, pale and doughy, with tiny eyes. He hadn't been on the plane with Jacob and his mom and dad, their luggage was coming up on another carousel.
        The man set his bag on the floor. It was big. It was black, like so many other bags were, but different somehow. Blacker. As if it ate the light that fell upon it. There was something Jacob didn't like about the bag. Just looking at it gave him the chills. He was about to turn away when the bag squirmed.
        That's the only way he could describe it. A shudder ran through the fabric as if it wasn't cloth, stitching, and a handle, but something breathing and alive.
        Jacob shook his head and turned to his mother and father who were still scanning for their own luggage. They hadn't seen the fat man's bag move. Of course they hadn't. Even if they'd been looking that way, they still wouldn't have seen it. Jacob understood a few things about the world. One of them was that by the time you got old enough to have children, you forgot how to really see things.
       He turned back to the fat man's bag. He stepped closer, studying it. As he did, he saw the fabric twitch, fast, like the blinking of an eye.
        The fat man put his hand on his suitcase and stroked it with a motion that reminded Jacob of someone petting a favorite cat.
        Jacob looked up. The fat man was staring at him, a smile drawn across his features. There was nothing friendly in that smile. It was the grin of a jungle animal about to feast.
        Jacob stepped back until he fetched up against his mother.
       There was something wrong with the fat man. Something bad. Jacob could almost smell it, like meat that had been left in the fridge too long and had gone all green and stinky.
       "Jacob, help me with this." It was his father, pulling one of their suitcases off the belt while another came into view around the corner.
        Jacob got a hand on the bag, raised the handle, and wheeled it out of the way, giving dad room to land the next.
        As he did, Jacob's eyes returned to the fat man. The fat man was hauling another bag off the belt. A normal bag with a strap that he slung over his shoulder.

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        All Kinds of Monsters (pdf)
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