The Visible Filth
Nathan Ballingrud
Contributed by Shemika Thormahlen
Chapter 14

Will decides to go to Eric’s apartment. It seems like no one has been around to visit since the last time he was here. Knocking on the door yielded no answer. He attempts to  twist the knob, and the door freely opens. Once inside, Will sees a mess and immediately notices how awful the apartment smells. He calls for Eric, who responds from his bedroom deeper inside the apartment. Sleeping on his bed with his wound seemingly worse than before, Will asks if could stay for a few days, but to which Eric refuses. Nonetheless, he takes himself back out to the living room and makes some space for himself. Later, he calls Alicia and tells her about the break up with Carrie — who did not seem the least interested, for she loves Jeffrey. Despite the rejection, he does not feel angry, heartbroken or sad.

Eric appears in the doorway and tells him that he should leave. Will responds by asking about the call he made to the bar last night, which — according to Eric — never happened. This leads him to believe that it must have been the college kids that made the call, a suggestion that Eric seems to agree with while also telling Will about the present they wanted to leave for him. Finally, he understands the “present” the kids had left him, and the realization brings on a tide of vertigo that sweeps through him. He asks Eric if he can feel it moving inside, whether if it will come through his face or if he has to make a hole for it. Will even mentions several things that portrays Eric as a horrible guy — instead of the nice person everyone perceives him to be. Finally, then calls Garrett’s number from his phone and listens to the grotesque language via speaker. The voices make Eric mewl like an animal, curling into himself.

After a while, he begins to give birth and his body becomes rigid on the bed. Will, on the other hand, leans close and watches the rapture on Eric’s face; blood spat from Eric’s face and splashes onto his cheek. Something is trying to come out to the light. Will opens his mouth and places his lips on the wound. He thinks that whatever the thing is will fix and make him whole. He feels it as it goes into him, through his mouth with blood leaking from the seal of his lips. Eric begins to shriek, repeatedly and in escalating volume, and a large number of cockroaches begin to climb up the walls.


Will already considers Eric a friend, even though they are not close. For this reason, he feels comfortable going to Eric’s place to request for accommodation. However, Eric does not seem to feel the same way as he refuses Will’s request. But this does not stop Will from making himself comfortable, for he has nowhere else to go. He also has a back plan, which does not seem sure for it involves Alicia. Calling her and informing her about break-up with Carrie is a way of cementing his hopes on them dating; but Alicia seems focused on Jeffrey instead. It appears as if fate is taking its course, since the rejection does not affect him — and, instead, he goes on further to realize the present left for him by the kids, as well as Eric’s role in the whole play. Will no longer cares about Eric’s condition for he realizes that it is time for the evil inside of him to come out. This ugliness eventually comes out in the form of monsters crawling out through his face, externally expressing the internal grotesque. The cockroaches climbing the walls further affirm this ugliness.

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