|Head down and dripping with tepid, April rain, his denim jacket soaked through, his legs aching from hours standing behind the register at the convenience store, foot-sore from trekking over half of New York looking for another shitty minimum wage job, mind full of bills he couldn’t pay and could no longer afford to ignore, and recently dumped besides, Eric trudged through the lamp-lit, pre-dawn gloom of lower Manhattan on his way home. A glint caught his eye: a penny, flickering like a distant, copper star, just as far from the curb as a monkey could reach through the bars of a cage. He slowed, stopped, and then squelched over to pick it up. A new penny: it gleamed in the palm of his hand.
He meant to slip it into his pocket, but found, to his surprise, it stuck to his skin. Suspecting the glue of a childish prank, he tried to pry it free. The skin rose, paled, and finally pained, but failed to separate. Annoyed, he shook his hand, and then watched in shock as the coin grew, spreading to almost cover his palm. He almost felt relieved when the penny stopped growing, but fear soon stepped in as the coin, huge and unmoving in his palm, began to weigh down his hand. No longer able to support the rapidly increasing weight, his arm dropped to his side.
The penny dragged him down to the ground. His knuckles cracked against the pavement and pain shot up his arms. The skin around the edges of the penny turned livid white. Bones shifted and ground together, and then splintered under the weight. Splayed fingers bulged as muscle and bone within pulped and then burst through the skin like an angry, ripe discharge.
Only then did he scream as pain overwhelmed shock and disbelief. Someone, unhappily woken from pleasant dreams, peeking out their window and seeing a man kneeling in the street screaming, called the cops. They found Eric unconscious in the street, his hand crushed, a shiny new penny still resting in his palm. They figured that, somehow, he'd gotten his hand run over by a truck.
Do not be the kind of person burdened overmuch with the how or why. Just be quick to heed my warning, because I swear I do not lie: If you find a penny, do not pick it up.