The Little Pink Worm

Dorothy J. Heydt


Everyone's head turned (including Essebai's; how did she manage that?) and all eyes were on the culvert. And out of it crawled what looked like a little pink worm.

It crept to the rim of the culvert and paused. It faced a fall of no more than a foot's distance to the sand, but it appeared to have no eyes to tell it so. Unless that flat scale atop the head end protected a simple eye---

It wriggled, fell to the sand, and began to crawl forward again. Now, Valmai thought, she must have gone as far as fear could reach: her heart could beat no faster, her blood run no colder. The little creeping thing was not a worm, but a finger.

Valmai sat, still as stone, while it crawled (passing two inches from her knee) to where Essebai lay smiling in her basket. It hooked its nailtop into the wickerwork and climbed the basket's side, tumbled over the edge and fell past the sorceress's cheek into the chaos below. Shapes were moving in the faint light, six or eight separate fingers inching back and forth, bearing the head on knuckleback. And that was how she was able to turn her head.


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