by Lorna D. Keach
Jerry knew Barbara wanted to kill him, but he really thought she’d try poison or an ice pick first.
He underestimated her creativity.
Barbara was a knitter. She often whined that people underestimated the creativity of knitters. She ran a yarn shop on the corner of Third and Maple, something so boring Jerry couldn’t remember what it was called. They spoke very little since he lost his job at SisTerm Networking Solutions. At least they didn’t argue about the mini fridge in the garage anymore.
Jerry sat at home all day looking at porn, under the guise of working as a freelance web consultant. Their house had four spare rooms, but Barbara had manufactured it so Jerry only got one of them—his “den” she called it, but it wasn’t his den at all. Barbara used his den to store the leftover projects and surplus inventory from her store. Her yarn lurked in the corner behind his computer desk, spilling out of plastic tubs in reds, blues, goldenrods and periwinkles. It was multi-toned, hand-dyed, felted, woven, sparkling silver and soft plushy green. She’d denied his request for a mini fridge in the garage, and now she claimed the only room he had to himself for her spare yarn, so Jerry was confident she was trying to kill him slowly through torture.
Most of the yarn was from Peru.
Barbara wasn’t exactly sure when she began to loathe her husband, but it seemed to coincide with his request for a small refrigerator in the garage.
The ladies gathered. Barbara knew Jerry never bothered to learn the name of her yarn store, but it was called Pachamama’s Wool Specialties, open from ten a.m. to three, with knitting classes all the way up until midnight. After midnight, Barbara and her knitting circle took off all their clothes, draping the quipu over their pre-menopausal bodies.
The quipu—a set of bundled knotted strings used for ritual sacrifice. And accounting, but mostly sacrifice.
Jerry sat at his computer, watching porn until well after midnight.
The yarn began to twitch at 1:17 am.
First, a wad of baby-blue wool jerked like a limp tentacle come to life. It started to crawl—slowly, laboriously—over the edge of its plastic tub, dragging along with it a tangle of bright red strings. The goldenrod yarn trailed after it, and then the sea green, until a swell of knotted colors came creeping towards Jerry’s computer chair.
Jerry, sitting at the computer with his pants around his ankles, didn’t notice. He barely noticed when the first string of murderous softness wrapped around his left leg and started burrowing into his kneecap. It didn’t hurt, it just felt strangely warm and itchy. When he finally glanced down, he saw the yarn wrapped around him. It infused him, tunneling under his skin like worms.
He didn’t scream. There was very little blood. He just stared down at it, blinking.
But then the yarn coiled up around his legs, squeezing and stretching him, and Jerry tried to shake it off. He batted at it with a panicked hand, but already the yarn was too deep. He jumped up, his heart now racing, and immediately fell flat on his face thanks to the tangle embedded in his feet. Baby-blue, red, gold, green, all of it wove up around him, swallowing his hips. He laid there and gasped, sucking air in shock, as the woolen entity crushed him in a python-strong grip.
Cardigan, Jerry thought. She’s going to kill me by cardigan.
When Barbara finally got home, she found Jerry completely unraveled.
A tangle of him lay on the floor of the den, seeping little dribbles of blood. His skin had been spun into his bones, his organs had been stretched into throbbing purple strings. All of him melded with the Peruvian wool granted sinister life by ancient Incan deities.
As Barbara walked in, the yarn was knotting him up in a simple garter stitch.
“Look, honey.” Barbara smiled. “I made you a sweater.”
With his dying breath, Jerry groaned, “It’s… itchy.” And then he was gone.
LORNA D. KEACH lives in Lawrence, Kansas, with her saint of a husband and one irritable cat. Occasionally, she tries to summon Baphomet but that usually doesn’t work out very well.