The glass case creaked in pain, protesting against C.C.’s massive weight as he continued to wipe the same spot with a paper towel. His stomach growled with an impatient reply. As long as he kept busy, time would shuffle along on its own. No need to stare at the clock. It always had a way of spitefully freezing when it felt it was being watched. Nope. He’d finish the rest of the glass cabinet, for the fourth time that day, look back at the clock to find that the waiting period had passed and it was time to eat.
He didn’t like this one bit, but he learned over the last few months that there wasn’t much room for argument when it came to Their decisions. He either obeyed, or his world would simply cease to exist. They would consume him just as quick as he would his next snack.
Snaaaaacckkk. His mouth watered as the word stretched out before his eyes; a warm length of taffy pulling away from his greedy fingers. He tried averting his gaze when the dreaded clock came into view. He closed his eyes with a determination only matched by that of a child watching the shadows beckon for its flesh from the dark corners of the room in the middle of the night. He was sure he hadn’t seen its face clearly enough to tell the time, so he walked around and began wiping down the front of the cabinet, peepers clamped shut.
He took a breath and opened his eyes to a clear reflection of his wide face staring back from the glass. His head, a bloated basketball pierced with two tiny blue orbs, appeared small atop a pair of shoulders spanning almost four feet across. Beads of anticipation bled down his smooth, round face as his stomach protested the wait with a cry of its own.
He smiled, recalling his father’s teasing about his girth. How one halloween, the old man threatened to paint his face orange and enter him in the local giant pumpkin contest. At the time, C.C. cried his way through a handful of candy bars, hidden away amongst the silent trees behind the house. He grinned, knowing the old b*****d got his in the end. His little friends had made sure of that.
The bell hanging above the front door chimed, alerting him to new customers, but as he turned around, the door closed and empty of a body. False alarm. Happened a lot in those days, with Spring Breakers running amok in the streets. Probably some kid lost from his buddies and trying to find them, one store at a time.
His stomach rumbled for a moment, paused and then growled so loud that he could feel it ripple in waves across his massive belly. With a hesitant hand, he squeezed a fold of flesh on his side so hard, it made his vision quiver. He hadn’t had to use pain to mask his hunger in years. It made his 950 pound mass feel small and insignificant. He was not made to feel small and hadn’t felt insignificant since They vanquished the world of the evil that was his father. No, this latest change to Their deal was not working out.
He let out a sigh as he slowly looked up to the clock, sure that enough time had passed. “S**t on my face,” He said, staring at the minute hand that had only moved three notches towards victory. Taking a few lumbering steps forward, he growled, “Three f*****g minutes?” His stomach seconded; bubbling with disappointment of its own.
C.C. turned around, slumping his weight into an imposing 6’8″ moping slouch. The frown tugging his meaty jowels towards the floor spoiled, rotting away to a sneer of anger. He balled the heavy hands hanging at his sides into cinder blocks of bone and gristle, shaking with fury. Taking a deep breath, he tried to calm the rage.
Moving back to his spot behind the lengthy counter, grinding his teeth, he wondered why. Well, They’d told him why, in no uncertain terms, the night before, but it amounted to nothing more than simple torture. They certainly knew that, with Their supposed eons of knowledge.
He inhaled a quick snort of air, and blinked twice. Knowing. He let the word marinate before swallowing it whole. Didn’t really need to waste all that time on questioning why. If They didn’t know, it wouldn’t matter. And how would They discover his disobedience, if not for his own admission? They never came out during the day, and it was only 2:32 pm. Stupid clock.
Kneeling down behind the counter, he pulled a white card board box marked King-Sized Snickers from beneath the bottom shelf.
C.C. was no stranger to hiding his habit. He was the nugget ninja. The sumo stampeder of sweets. Years under the watchful eyes of his parents, always looking for a way to one up the other when catching him shoveling his face. Father at the ready, belt in hand and a demonic tongue stabbing with hate and shame. But this wasn’t the thatch of woods behind his father’s house. His punishment would be so much more severe than a few welts.
His stomach growled, painfully twisting the image of Them from his immediate attention. It really didn’t matter what the threat was. Being eaten by those….Things, couldn’t compete with his stomach in the long run. It always won and always would. Anyone with a pair of working eyes could see the truth in that.
He looked up at the clock, who’d given up only one more of its precious minutes. Sliding his hand across the lid of the box, he said, “It’s between you,” patting the box, “me and that f****n’ clock on the wall.” He pointed a thick finger and an angry glance at the quiet time keeper, daring it to tell.
Content the clock understood the threat, he turned back to the box and lifted the lid. 12 out of 50 King-Sized Snickers lay in wait. He couldn’t close shop until the days quota was met so 12 would have to do. He let his weight drop back, slapping to the ground. He snatched two bars as he folded his giant trunks beneath him, resting into an Indian style crossing. Dropping one of the two bars to his lap, he ripped into the other, broke it in half and shoved the whole thing into his mouth at once. Eyes closed, he chewed that bar into oblivion, swallowing the entire mouthful three seconds later. Saliva seeped from the corners of his mouth, dripping chocolate drool down his chin. Nostrils flaring as he breathed deeply.
C.C. lifted the second bar, ready to strip it down, when the bell rang again from the door. It was Them. It had to be. His eyelids exploded wide as his fist closed tightly around the defenseless candy bar. Jaw clenched, his b**t cheeks took the cue and followed suit. They were here to exact his punishment. He could barely taste the disobedience on his tongue and somehow, They knew. Dropping the crushed bar, he pushed himself forward, burning his knees across the carpet, and pressed his face against the open slit in the back of the cabinet.
“I’m just saying, if you wear that stupid thing again tonight, I’m gonna punch you in the throat,” The young man threatened, pointing to the fanny pack the other kid wore around his waist.
“Why do ya have to be such an a*****e?”
“Cause I can be,” he replied, threatening to throw a punch and laughing wildly when he made the other boy flinch in fear.
C.C. loosed a raspy sigh. His a*s relaxed and sighed as well. He hadn’t been discovered after all. Just a couple of college students out for a good time. “Got a mess back here I’m cleaning gentlemen. I’ll be right with ya.” He picked up the roll of towels from the floor and wiped the chocolate from his face.
He popped up from behind the counter, kicking the box of candy back under, and announced with a wide grin, “Welcome to C.C.’s Smoke Shop.” He spread his arms, displaying his tiny shop like any worthy salesman would do. It seemed the quota would be met.
“What the……” The Bully yelped, jumping back away from the display case. His dollar store flip flops twisted, nearly sending him to the floor. He stumbled about to regain his balance, his gaze never once left the goliath stretching the width of the room. The man was huge. He couldn’t tear his eyes away from the confusion of the behemoth towering over them. It made no sense. Sure, he’d seen plenty of pics of obese people, most of which were bed ridden because they could no longer move about, but this? This man was easily 1000 pounds. He had to be 7 feet tall at least. By simple law of physics, this man should barely be alive, much less on his own two feet, popping up like a bloated Jack who had just eaten his box.
Fanny Pack nudged the Bully, trying to get him to break his rude stare. The last thing he wanted was a confrontation with this juggernaut. The Bully continued to stare, mouth slowly gaping in shock.
“Hey C.C.,” Fanny Pack asked, taking a cautious step toward the counter. “I’m Chris and this is Charlie. Howya doin’ today?”
“I couldn’t be better,” C.C. answered, lowering his arms to the counter. “What can I do you boys for?” His stomach growled, begging for the second candy bar. The counters frame groaned, begging for mercy.
“Hey, C.C.,” Charlie asked, “be honest…….” The look on his face went from curious to deviant. He stood in front of a giant steel fan, cocked and ready to throw a massive handful of s**t into its spinning mouth.
Chris inhaled a s****h of air as he nervously glanced over his shoulder. The door was maybe six feet away. When the s**t hit the fan, he’d have no problem getting the Hell out of there before this behemoth could waddle on after, if he could walk at all.
“You were back there eating weren’t ya,” Charlie stated, leaning into the counter a bit, keeping his eyes glued to the fat man. He smiled, almost daring him to sling the s**t back.
Reflex hooked his face, twisting it into a painful looking snarl as he eyed Charlie. The knuckles in his right hand popped as it flexed against the counter. Like a magnet, his death grip was being pulled toward this little shits throat before something else occurred to him. Why was this little punk asking him about eating? Was he really trying to piss him off… Unless.
He eyed the smaller one with the fanny pack, who merely smiled in return before ogling the door again, and looked back at the inquisitor. He had never met one before, but it was pretty obvious that these two worked for Them. They were spying on him. That was how They’d kept watch over him. Other humans, working for Them, just as he had for so many months. Made sense. Those two were probably standing right outside the door when he decided to disobey Them.
He bowed his head, eyes watering as his tongue fished around his massive mouth for some excuse. No, They didn’t care for excuses. An apology would be better. Maybe a bit of begging would be called for as well. He squirmed behind those beady blue eyes and felt a cold trickle of sweat slide down his back. He was about to become the days quota.
No sooner had he decided what to say, his reflection staring back at him from the glass countertop offered up another theory for the little jerks observation; a dribble of chocolate clinging to his chin. His visage in the glass split as a swelling grin spread his mouth wide open, displaying a row of enlarged teeth. Their size was well proportioned with the rest of his too-big-to-be-true frame. These little pissants in his shop were just that; a couple of little pissants.
C.C. whipped his head back, loosing a howl of laughter as he thanked the stars above. “Can’t hide anything from you kids these days can I?” His laughter turned to giggles as he licked a paper towel and wiped his chin.
Charlie scoffed and stated, “Dude, you couldn’t hide behind a tank!”
“Jesus Charlie,” Chris said shaking his head as he took a single step toward the door. This monster was a bite Charlie couldn’t possibly swallow, no matter how many shots of bottled courage they’d already downed that day.
“Its o.k. kid,” C.C. said, and in fact, that was the truth. He was so elated at the fact that he hadn’t been discovered, nothing else at that moment really mattered. “A guy my size has to have thick skin…you know,” He began, grabbing his belly with both hands, “To keep all this fat in.” He shook his handfuls as he laughed heartily.
So much of this man was now in motion; Ripples colliding with one another, creating smaller waves zig-zagging across his mighty torso. Chris felt a shift in the room, as air began to brush past his face. This guy was so big that he created his own personal gusts of wind simply by moving.
Charlie just watched, like a stoned hippy caught in the molten dance of a lava lamp.
As happy as C.C. was at that moment, Charlie’s stare was beginning to needle him. Best get this transaction completed before he was forced to snap the pissant. “So, What can I do for ya?” He leaned forward, hands on the counter top, allowing just enough of his weight to make the glass creak in pain, as he stared back at Charlie.
Chris cleared his throat loudly, hoping his friend would catch on, which he didn’t. “Well sir, we’re looking for a couple of electronic cigarettes.”
“Oh,” C.C. said, feigning interest, “As you can see, I carry a wide variety of e-cigs and juices,” waving his hands across the counter. He’d rather have waved his hand across Charlie’s face. He glanced over to find the rude stare unbroken. “Anything in particular that you’re looking for?” He said, meeting Charlie’s eyes. Something close to a healthy a*s kicking was what C.C. wanted to suggest, but the transaction had to take place. The boy would get his, no doubt.
Chris shrugged, even though no one was looking at him.
“Let me help ya out,” C.C. said, as he knelt down behind the counter. He opened the cabinet, moving a few boxes around in search of something and stated, “You boys are on Spring Break so you probably don’t have much money.” He found the box he was searching for, pulled it out of the cabinet and stood back up. “I’d also have to offer a guess that neither of you boys are smokers and if you are, you haven’t been smoking for long.”
He kept a hand on the wooden box as he eyed both the boys for an answer. Charlie’s eyes weren’t speaking, but Chris replied, “I can’t stand the smell myself, but Charlie smokes.”
C.C. turned to Chris and said, “And would I be correct by assuming that you probably wanted to look cool…maybe catch a fine piece of pelt at the night club?”
The smaller boy blushed as he smiled, nodding his head in admission.
C.C. smiled as he opened the box. “I believe I have something that’ll work for ya,” He said, pulling a small metal cylinder from the box. He stepped from around the counter, quicker than he should have been able, and disappeared through the curtain closing off the back of the shop to customers. He reappeared even quicker, holding a second box. “What kind of candy do you like?” He asked Chris, opening the lid to the second box.
“I guess I like mints?”
C.C. nodded, retrieving a particular vial from the box with a green liquid inside. He unscrewed the metal cylinder and poured a few drops of the liquid inside. “Try this if you’d please,” He said, handing the e-cig to the kid.
He took a couple of drags from the contraption, with a confused look framing his face.
“Ya gotta press that button right there and then take a pull,” C.C. instructed.
“Dumb a*s,” Charlie said under his breath, but loud enough for everyone to hear. If they did hear him, they ignored the insult.
Chris pressed the button and pulled deeply on the cig, almost immediately coughing out a plume of mint scented vapor.
“Just gotta go easy the first couple of times,” C.C. stated with a chuckle.
“I don’t know,” Chris said disappointed, “I really wanted one with the light on the end, you know, so it looks like a real cigarette.”
“Oh my God…you’re so dense,” Charlie said, snatching the device from his friends hand. He pushed the button and turned it around so he could see the little red light on the tip begin to glow. Chris smiled, took the device back and pulled another drag.
Charlie leaned into the counter, eyeing the contents of the second box. “Do you have one in here that tastes like p***y?” He was the only one laughing at his stupid joke.
C.C. eyed the little cretin and said, “No, but I believe I might have something in here just for you.” He pulled out another e-cig from the first box, but this time, filled it with a yellowish liquid. He handed it to an apprehensive Charlie.
“Let me guess, this is the cat piss flavor,” Charlie said with a sneer and a few quick sniffs of the mouthpiece. He was sure this freak did something to what he was being offered. Maybe the fat man kept an e-cig tucked between his giant b**t cheeks, just waiting for an a*****e like him to come in. Probably added a bit of his own urine to the cat piss mix he was being asked to s**k on. Nope. No way in Hell he was gonna fall for that one.
“That’s actually one of my own creations,” C.C. said proudly, “I call it Lemon Bliss”
“I’m sorry, did you say Women Piss,” Charlie chuckled, lost in his own amusement. He just couldn’t shut up, even knowing he had already crossed a line with this monstrosity. He handed the e-cig back to C.C. and said, “I think I’ve changed my mind.”
Chris looked over at Charlie and said, “What are talking about? This was your idea.”
“Dude! Will you just look at this guy,” Charlie stated, pointing a finger at C.C. “Do you really want to buy something that he’s had those sausage fingers on?”
“I think your just being an a*****e,” Chris stated, taking another drag.
“Whatcho call me,” Charlie demanded as he balled his fists.
C.C.’s stomach loosed a howl. It had waited long enough for the second candy bar and would wait no more. He felt like it took a bite out of his patience instead as he lept over the counter like an Olympic hurdler, and landed with a thud in between the boys. They both looked at him with eyes wide, shocked into surprise. There was just no way possible that this guy could have jumped like that. “No Charlie,” He said, stretching the boys name out like a length of already chewed bubble gum, “The question is, What did you,” poking a thick finger into this boys chest, “Call me?”
If Charlie had eaten that morning, he probably would have come close to shitting himself, as his world became eclipsed by this angry giant. A warm squirt moistened his crotch.
Chris acted quickly, trying desperately to end the massacre before it began. The giants back was to him and he couldn’t see Charlie at all. A part of him hoped the fat man had swallowed the other. “C.C., as you can see, Charlie’s an a*****e.” He said, accentuating the last word. “And do you know what happens when you punch an a*****e?”
C.C. snickered. He knew the answer to the question and decided he liked the boy even more for asking it. It was too bad though that reality dictated that he was guilty by association.
Maybe he’d have a little fun instead. He balled up his right fist, held it up to Charlie’s face and laughed as the boys face completely vanished. “I believe I’d come away smelling like s**t!”
Chris coughed out his next hit, making room for a wild laugh he hadn’t had in years. C.C. smiled at the shaking boy behind his fist and laughed as well. Charlie’s machismo tapered into a tiny whimper of fear as C.C. slowly pounded off to his spot behind the counter.
Picking up the yellow vial from the counter, he asked, “Are you sure you don’t want to s**k on this cat piss for a bit?” A new roll of laughter split the room in half, leaving Charlie in the middle, being picked on. And he didn’t like it. Not one bit.
“You know what…….,” Charlie said as he backed off towards the door, “you two chuckle f***s can s**k it.” He grabbed the door with one hand and his crotch with the other.
C.C. flicked his shoulders forward, as if he were going to give chase. Charlie’s eyes exploded wide as he flew out the door.
Chris started laughing even harder. He knew he was going to get an a*s kicking when he got back to the hotel room, but in his mind, it was well worth seeing the look of mortal fear on Charlie’s face as he ran for safety. He made a mental note to hold onto that image for the rest of his days.
C.C. looked at the boy, tears of laughter blurring his crowded eyes. This kid was all right in his book. Too bad he partnered himself up with such a jerk. Guilty by association. And as much as he wanted to tell the kid to run for the hills that night, he knew there was no escape. There were no hills, or mountains tall enough to hide away from Them. Once the stuff was ingested, there was no way back. They would come for him that very night, no matter how far they ran. The boy took another drag from the e-cig as C.C. sighed.
“So, how much do I owe you,” The kid asked, retrieving his wallet from his fanny pack.
“For you kid, not a thing,” C.C. replied with a wave of his hand. His foot toed under the counter, pushing the box of chocolate.
Intent on paying C.C. something, he slapped a twenty onto the counter and said, “In that case, this is payment for services rendered.” The fat man cocked a brow and squinted an eye. “For the show, I mean. I’ve never seen fear on Charlie’s face like that before. If those cameras actually worked,” pointing to one of the two video cameras in the shop, “I’d pay you every last dime I’ve got for a copy.”
C.C. glanced up at the camera above the counter. It was so long ago that he’d found those in the trash. Not only did they not work, he’d almost forgotten entirely that they were even there. Smart kid. Too bad. He tossed the bottle of green liquid at the boy and said, “Now get lost kid. I’m gettin’ hungry.”
Chris let a tiny yip break his smile as he turned around for the door. At the last moment, before stepping through to the daylight, he turned back and said, “Thanks C.C.”
The moment the door closed, he heard Chris yell, “Hey, give that back.” He knew Charlie would take the boys prize away and there was nothing he could do about it. More so, nothing he wanted to do. Chris was dead the moment he took his first hit. Now he felt happy in that he knew Charlie would share the same painful fate.
The fat man pulled the candy box out again, snapping another bar in half and shoved it in. As he chewed, he thought about the days designated feeders; The Creeping Shadow. He kind of wished the kid had come in the next day. Friday’s feeders were The Jungto; They were fast and quite efficient. The boy wouldn’t have suffered, much.
The Creeping Shadow on the other hand gave C.C. the willies. They’d take Their time, not because They were lazy, but incredibly small. About the size of a melted gumdrop, They worked in tandem with one another. As one, from a distance, They appeared as a living shadow, slowly creeping towards Their dinner. But at closer glance, one could see their tiny claws intertwined, creating a blanket of teeth and terror, all eyes trained on their meal. It usually took them a few hours to consume the victims bones, always saving the teeth for last. Once They finished, all that remained was a bean bag of human flesh and organs for the young ones to play with.
With the order filled for the day, C.C. decided to close up shop early and head on home. He stopped at three different restraunts on his two mile walk home, each of which served him a full meal. The sun was beginning to tire by the time his apartment complex came into view.
He opened the front gate to the courtyard when something moved in the blurry edge of his vision. He turned to the right and almost missed a slender shadow scoot behind a parked car. Was that a tail following the shadow? Couldn’t be, the sun was still up. C.C. jerked his eyes to the horizon with disappointment. The sun had in fact disappeared, leaving behind a dull orange haze ushering in twilight.
He took a breath and turned back to the car. The shadows the car sat in were inanimate. Nothing moved. Slowly squatting, he tried looking under the car as he rolled through the mental images he had of the many different species of creatures under his care. He couldn’t recall any of Them having tails, except….
C.C. stood up so fast, his feet left the ground for a quick second, causing him to lose his balance. He squeezed through the open gate and ran to the front door to the complex. Not hobbling or walking fast. Full out sprinting. His arms flew out in front him, one of his hands fumbling with the keys, before he slammed into the door. His left arm blew through the glass, as his attention remained on getting to the right key.
By now, he was certain it was a tail, and that was not a good thing to see. The only creatures he recalled with tails were The K’syph. They were the only species that he did not cater dinner for, and for good reason. It was explained that The K’syph were cleaners of a sort. They always lagged behind whichever creature fed that night and dined on the leftovers. Out of all the creatures he was introduced to that long ago night, The K’syph, were nowhere to be seen. The Old One, who seemed to play the leader of the group, warned of the ones with tails. Something about them not being seen and a warning if they ever were.
He slid the key into the door, pulled his left arm out of the broken frame cursing as he kicked the door open. The sting of fresh urine pinched at his eyes. He charged the elevator, one horn short of a rhino stampeding through the lobby. The little fuckers that pissed in his foyer would have to be dealt with later. Left arm stretched out with candles of glass biting his skin, flickering red and yellow; the sweet icing of stained fluorescents and running blood. His fist crushed the call panel as he rolled to the right, back swallowing any evidence there was door behind him.
C.C. shook his left arm, creating an odd chorus between his quick shallow breaths and the shards of glass falling away to the tiles below. Trained on the door, his eyes didn’t move. The rest of him shuddered. Rippling images of various creatures riding waves of terror across his massive being crashing into his face. He slammed his right hand into the call box once more with a sweaty thud.
The world beyond the door slept in a pale orange haze, soundly and snug. Nothing moved. The front door, on a pressure hinge, finally decided to close, sounding the alarm for all to wake as loose pieces of glass broke against the bricks. Still, nothing moved. No wispy trails of animate shadows or mysterious tails attached to unseen malice. Nothing.
Suddenly, something moved across his back. The surprise sent him reeling forward for safety, but his feet panicked, shuffling around as if they couldn’t agree which way to go. His left hand grabbed the extinguisher on the wall as the other flailed about blindly. Neither kept him from crashing into the floor. Sprawled out, his left arm twisted behind him in defiance of the fall, still holding the extinguisher that landed on his back. Somehow, the image of tiny things, sharp and hungry, scampering across the floor, aiming for his ear holes, faded before the pool of piss not four feet in front of his face.
“Do you plan on keeping me prisoner here?” A voice asked from behind him.
C.C. pushed himself up as he turned around. Trying to exit the elevator was an old man, pointing a cane at him. He recognized the man as a tenant in the complex, but didn’t know his name. In fact, he didn’t know any of their names and that was how he liked it.
With no reply on the horizon, the old man scooted forth, and began poking C.C.s legs with the tennis balled end of the cane. “Come on now,” He said, jabbing the fat man. “Get up, come on.”
“Give me a second Grandpa,” C.C. commanded, swatting the cane away. He popped up from the floor quickly, crunching glass beneath his feet. He immediately turned back to the broken front door, eyes wide.
“I’m not your grandpa you little….” The Old man began, pausing to correct his words, “you big piece of s**t!” At that, C.C. turned around and slapped the old man with a scowl that looked almost painful to display.
“What did you call me?” He took one, long step, towards the old man.
The old guy gasped, pulling the cane close to his chest. He scampered around C.C. and didn’t say a word until he reached the broken door. He turned around, pointing to the puddle of piss on the floor, “And you couldn’t wait until you got upstairs?”
The door to the elevator was closing as C.C. shot the old man a middle finger. He would’ve warned the old coot about going outside, but f**k it. The old man would get his just desserts. His stomach growled at the word.
The small lift groaned and shuddered as it pulled the great C.C. to the third floor. He loved torturing the machine. As the door opened, Nirvanas Come As You Are blasted down the hall. Last week, it was gangster rap. He thanked the ceiling for a different group of renters with better taste in music. Next week, it would probably be country music and in that case, he would leave the floor to the spring breakers and find a hotel room for himself.
He nodded his head to the music as he made his way down the hall. As he passed the second door on the right, it became apparent by the shaking door frame, where the music was coming from.
“S**t,” he mumbled. He didn’t mind the music, from down the hall, but these kids were right next door. It was going to be a long night. Just as his door came into view, he stopped walking and shoved himself against the adjoining wall; the door was wide open. He still took up just as much space in that hallway. He couldn’t hide if he wanted to. The wall rumbled with the bass line from the song, keeping him from hearing anything from within his apartment.
His stomach grumbled, holding onto the word dessert and not letting him forget. Quiet down you! He inched his feet closer to the door, as he slid along the wall. It wouldn’t have been the first time some degenerate had broken into his apartment, but he didn’t want to take the chance.
Taking a deep breath, he turned around and slid sideways through the doorframe and stopped short of taking a second step in. He kept his fists clenched tight as he scanned the dark living room for any movement. “Hey you,” he shouted into the room, as he flipped the light switch up on the wall. Still, nothing moved. Keeping his eyes on the living room, he shuffled sideways into the tiny kitchen. Left hand reached out blindly for the block of knives on the counter. He snatched the first handle he touched and quickly sidestepped back the living room.
Satisfied the room was empty, he turned his attention toward the closed door of the bedroom. He steadied himself, knowing that something waited beyond that door. He reached up with a slow, shaky hand, for the door knob when a noise pulled his attention away.
He turned around, looking back at the open front door. Whatever it was sounded distant. He contemplated the bedroom door again when the sound grew louder. Tightening his grip on the knife, he drew closer the wall behind the sunken couch.
C.C. leaned an ear into the plaster as the scratching grew loud enough to drown out the music from next door. Soundgarden belted out a live version of Black Hole Sun as something broke through the ceiling, and snatched a thatch of hair from the top of his head.
“Son of a …..” C.C. cursed, backing away from the small hole above him. He reached up, touching the now wet, bald spot on the top of his head. Whatever it was took a piece of his scalp with the handful of hair it yanked out. Crouching down, he jabbed the knife into the hole, stabbing at different angles, trying to skewer the culprit.
Suddenly, the wall behind him exploded in teeth and hunger as three creatures burst through, clawing Thier way through the air to his back. C.C. birthed a scream he could never imagine producing as the little bastards anchored themselves to his flesh. Two of them clung to his lower back, while the Other climbed, using the giants spine as a ladder, each step becoming painfully clear that C.C. was in serious trouble.
He spun around and rammed the other wall with his back, screaming again as one of them dug deeper in. He pressed his weight into the wall, doing all he could to ignore the pain. One of the creatures weezed loudly before it popped. The other felt as though it was burrowing into his kidneys. Pushing himself off the wall, he threw his feet out in front of him and landed on his back. From his left side came a splattering sound, followed quickly by a viscous liquid spraying across the floor that smelled like burning rubber.
The hole in the ceiling came alive, baring a set of teeth that glowed against the darkness. A small pair of red eyes peered down at him as the teeth parted with a screech. Two small arms ending in three sharp, hooked claws sprouted out as the creature dropped down on his face. It growled, raking its claws across his face. C.C. reached up and grabbed the Thing by its head. It thrashed around, tearing into his knuckles with its claw. As it bit down on his forefinger, he brought his other hand up and squashed It, spraying his face with that black blood. Its teeth continued to glow with life as he wiped its carcass from his palms.
He turned his head and spit as much of the stuff out of his mouth as he tried to get back up. He froze when something scuttled across the floor. He squinted against the sweat stinging his eyes when the last creature launched its final attack. The Thing jumped onto his face, grabbed his left eyeball and pulled, holding on as the other clawed hand sliced into his neck.
C.C. rolled over onto his stomach, as the creature tugged on his optic nerve, continuing to search for an artery in the fat man’s neck by scraping away the excess. He kept the right eye closed, more out of pain than protection, but the horror of his situation was still all too clear. He reached up to grab the Thing, but it protested with its claws.
He felt a pop as the room went black. A wave of nausea crashed over him. A spear of hot steal thrust into his brain. The pain was too much. He didn’t need to open his only eye to know the Thing had yanked out the other. He cursed loudly, trying to get a grip on this Thing, when it reached out and grabbed his tongue. Panic took the reins. He began smashing his fist into his face, trying to connect before it ripped out another vital organ. He bit down as hard as he could, hoping to taste It instead of his own tongue.
The Thing screeched as C.C.s chompers found their mark, biting into its invading claw. It kicked, puncturing his double chin in several places before pulling away from his closed mouth, minus a hand. He found his opening and exploited it, slamming his face into the floor, refusing to stop until the clawing ceased. C.C. pushed bits of the creatures hand from his mouth with his tongue. It tasted like it smelled; melting rubber. He laid for just a moment, before jumping to his feet. The K’Sylph. Once They smelled blood, They’d come. And if he didn’t do something about it, They would continue to come until he was just fat to be rendered.
He stood, cupping his hand over the bleeding hole and eyed the puddles of gore and teeth littered around his feet. He scraped the roof of his mouth with his tongue that felt swollen and rough. C.C. stumbled to the fridge, looking for something to wash that acrid taste away. Grabbing the two liter of flat cola, he downed it, spit it out in the sink and took another swig. The last mouthful he swallowed and nearly choked it back up, making his one eye blur with a tear. It felt like there was something stuck in the back of his throat. He forcefully swallowed several times, but the lump remained. The acidic flavor coating his mouth began to burn, as his tongue tingled, like it just awoke from a cramped nap.
He scraped his finger nails across his tongue, trying desperately to get it out, whatever it was. He took another long pull from the bottle and swallowed as hard as he could; one giant mouthful to flush the tank.
The light bleeding in from the window flashed as something crossed its path. Time to go, and he knew exactly where he was headed. He picked up the knife, and stopped short of shoving his way through the door. His head vibrated from the internal screams of his mind demanding that he look, so he did. He stood there, staring at the four bodies, mashed and spread out against the carpet. Look!!!! He looked, from one pile of flesh to the other. Do you see it? Look again!!!
Out of the four piles of flesh, only one still had some semblance of what it looked like before C.C. liquefied it with a swift pounding; it was the last one with the missing claw. Well, not missing, just no longer connected to its host. He poked it with the knife, almost hoping it would pop up for a rematch. He looked around, and grunted when he found the little claw.
A hissing sound came from the window, reminding him that he needed to go. Now. He stabbed the amputated claw with the blade, just enough to skewer it to the end as he glanced up to the window. A purple mist, swirling with yellow stars that seemed to swim against itself, seeped through the window panes.
Curiosity had him rooted to the spot. Even with his own life in danger, he could not move, caught in the hypnotic twirling of the smoke, that wasn’t smoke at all. The mist, heavy with hunger slid down the wall slowly. Once it connected with the floor, the twinkling stars within began to dance, faster and faster until they became a blur of flesh and bone. Its frame, weak and smudged stood, solidifying as it curled into itself. The last thing he saw were the teeth, adorning a mouth that was quickly inhaling the left over bits of mist clinging to its back and tail. Go now! C.C. slid through the door frame and slammed the door shut.
Something tickled his lips. He ran his tongue across and tasted blood. Bringing his hand up to his face, he felt a warm stream, running down his face from the eyeless socket. C.C. had almost all but forgotten about the wound. Must be in shock or something.
He touched the drooping lids cautiously, waiting for a stab of pain to call his hand away, but none came. Pushing in, the eyeless lids parted and curled, as his finger went in. Still, nothing. He could feel his finger probing, just absent of any pain or discomfort. He decided he had gone far enough when his last knuckle pushed against his brow. He wondered for a moment what his brain would feel like.
Another wet crunch from behind the door pulled him from his stupor. Time to go one-eyed Willie. The curiosity of the lack of pain was quickly eaten away by anger. Anger at the fact that he’d been betrayed. Betrayed and mutilated. Left for scraps. They took your eye man, your f*****g eye!
His knuckles popped as he squeezed the handle of the knife. “I believe it is time to go,” he growled as he made his way down the hall. Waiting for the doors to open, he ripped one of the sleeves from his t-shirt and stuffed it into the weeping socket. Pain may have become a stranger, but he didn’t want to risk bleeding to death before he had his revenge.
C.C. raised the blade, bringing the claw before his one good eye. Was that right? Did that denote the other eye was bad? It’s f*****g gone. That’s more like it. Call it what it was.
He studied the skin, an overlapping of leathery scales, blending into a tuft of fur that began at the wrist. Three long, curly fingers hung limp, multiple knuckles running down their length. And at the other end, three yellow talons, curling in an arc under the first knuckle….
He turned the knife around, in turn, spinning the claw. There were three fingers, but only two talons…It’s gone! He looked around the floor, thinking it might have fallen off.
His stomach cramped, bubbled and then loosed a moan. He swallowed, thinking about that missing talon. Swallowed again when he realized what it was stuck in his throat a moment ago. Not gone. Relocated. The elevator doors opened.
C.C. spent the fifteen minute cab ride trying to come up with a different plan that didn’t end with his giblets being gnawed on, but none came. He could ignore the assault, run like Hell and set up camp in a different state. Maybe a different country all together, but that wasn’t a solution. It merely delayed a painful death in a strange town. It would hang over his head like a halo with a hook, dangling a hotdog in his face. Always reminding him that it was near. Wasn’t that why he took Their deal to begin with? Being morbidly obese kept death close, but what They gave him promised to keep it away. Death came in many forms. When They came for him again, making up for Thier mistake, there would be no pinky swears keeping Them at bay.
Pluck your heart and hope to die, stick a talon in your eye.
“You sure I can’t take you to a hospital man,” the Cabbie asked, hoping to stretch the measley $42 fare out a bit more.
For the umpteenth time that evening, C.C. had forgotten about his missing eye. He stepped out of the cab, and snickered as the shocks pushed the car back up to a normal height. He gently touched the piece of cloth sticking out from his socket, expecting a flash of pain.
He pulled a crumpled fifty dollar bill from his shorts pocket and handed it to the Cabbie. “Keep it.”
“Hey, thanks man,” the driver smiled, tucking it into his bill fold he kept hidden between the front seats. “Want me to wait for ya?”
“Nah,” C.C. answered, shaking his head as he eyed the landfill over the cab. “I’m gonna be a bit.”
“Your funeral boss,” the Cabbie replied, but spoke up just as he began to pull away. “By the way, you really shouldn’t eat those glow sticks man. They’ll kill ya.” His tail lights vanished as he rounded the corner, leaving C.C. standing in the middle of the street wondering what he was referring too. Didn’t really matter though did it?
He crossed the street and pushed his way through the neighboring woods. Three minutes into the journey, he would come across a section of fence that had been cut open, granting him access to the landfill, but he thought he was being followed. Every few steps, he caught a glimpse of light, faint and blue surrounding him. Figuring it for a flashlight, he crouched down behind a sable palm and waited. Whoever it was would give themselves away the next time they flashed that light in his direction and he would smash them. No time to ask why. The K’Syph would have figured out by now that Their dinner was denied and scurried back home. If They made it back before him, his element of surprise would be blown. He was sure that would be the only way for him to make it all the way through to the inner chamber.
“Come on,” he said quietly. There it was. A haze of blue light and then it was gone. “What the ….” and there it appeared again. What did the Cabbie say? Something about eating a glow stick? He slowly opened his mouth and watched as a sliver of blue light shot out from between his lips. He gasped as he brought his hand up to his mouth, like he was checking his breath before a good night kiss. “Christ on my crotch…” He moaned, staring at his blue hand. The thought of swallowing a handful of smurfs tickled his mind. All of them, sitting around a campfire in his stomach, using their combined magic to light their new domain.
Time to go smurf smoker. C.C. stood back up and trudged along to the opening, trying his hardest to ignore the flashlight that replaced his mouth. The side of the Mt. Trashmore hill was a few steps ahead. He’d have to worry about himself later. For now, revenge would have to do.
He stopped at the hillside, scanning the woods he’d just come through for any followers. Satisfied he was alone, he turned back to the hillside and unzipped his pants. He began to urinate as he directed his stream in a specific design against the grassy hillside. Slashing it upwards, across to the right and back down through the first stream, he spoke the words of entry, “Nuthb, Trinuyg, Wasgth.”
He took a cautious step backward as the ground began to tremble. The side of the hill yawned open, like the mouth a waking giant, revealing a darkness he couldn’t peer through. A fetid stench pushed against his face reminding him there were more pleasant places to be at that moment. He took a deep breath, squeezed the handle of the knife tightly and stormed into the pitch. Two steps in, he stopped, turned around to find the hole closed as if it weren’t ever there. No going back now. Turning back to the tunnel, he wished he’d brought a flashlight. He raised his hand and said, “can’t even see my own…” but he could. The blue light seeping from his mouth was enough to send the shadows reeling away, slithering back down to Those who waited at the other end.
C.C. looked around briefly, before his internal voice piped in and nudged him along. The tunnel stood about a foot over his head and twice as wide as he was. He grinned, keeping his mouth opened slightly, as he made his way through, steak knife leading the way. A few steps further and a soft sound tickled at his ears. It was coming from up ahead, there was no doubting that, for where else could it have. He stopped as the ground beneath his feet began to shake slightly. It was Them, he was sure. They must have known he was there and they were trying to escape. Making a run for it before he could exact his revenge. A growl escaped his lit mouth as he pushed forward.
The soft sound quickly became louder as he ventured deeper into the hill. It sounded like an alarm, something warning the Others that he was coming. He pushed forward, doubling his speed until a yellow tinge of light appeared up ahead. C.C. closed his mouth, swallowed what little fear he still harboured and rushed forward into the glow.
The tunnel gave way to a chamber, lit by dozens of small torches poking out from the garbage encrusted walls. He hadn’t noticed the silence until a swooshing sound pulled his eyes to the right. He caught a shadow move off into one of the smaller tunnels leading off to the right. The opening was half the size as the one he just came through. There was just no way he was going to fit in there. Looking around, he found all six of the new tunnels were too small for him.
He could venture back, but where did that leave him? Waiting for death to come a knockin’. He could try to squeeze through one of the smaller tunnels, but he’d surely get stuck. The only thing he had left was the very ground he stood on. He looked around once more, this time taking note of the distance between the first tunnel and the six others leading into who-knows-where. He backed off towards the first tunnel, keeping an eye on the other holes of blackness, and a tight grip on the blades handle.
Here we go. He took a breath and yelled, “Ding ding goes the mother f*****g dinner bell.” His eyes danced, shifting from one tunnel to the next, waiting for a reply of teeth and talons to come spewing forth. He turned around to check behind him and found silence waiting there as well. Had they all really vacated? If they had left, there would be no revenge. At least not on his part. He cleared his throat, and yelled, “I’m here…,”
“We know why you’re here,” a voice hissed from the gloomy depths of one of the holes.
He turned quickly, sure the voice came from one of the two tunnels to his left, but there was no movement to confirm. Sweat rolled down his face as he stared into the gloom, unblinking.
“I need to speak to the Master,” he demanded of the darkness, hoping he was the only one to catch the stuttering fear in his voice.
The chamber erupted in a cacophony of chatter. Unknown syllables followed by clicks and chirps flooded his ears. He turned, cocking an ear to each side of the chamber only to discover that the sound was coming from all of the tunnels, including the large entrance he used to get in. Out of one of the tunnels, came a more familiar sound; laughter. They were all laughing at him, most in their own tongues. They hadn’t escaped after all. They fortified and prepared for his vengeance.
“How will you speak with your tongue flopping at your feet Chubby Crowder?”
That was it. They had no intention in allowing him an audience with the Master. He had walked himself into his own death. He took a step backwards toward the first tunnel when his stomach growled, sending a wave of nausea upwards towards his throat. It was an alien sensation as he couldn’t recall ever throwing up before. He dropped to his knees and gagged, his stomach wrenching with each false alarm, sending the blue light splashing against the wall between each breath.
He dropped the knife, beginning to panic from the lack of air. He could still breathe, but couldn’t get enough air to fill his massive lungs. C.C. didn’t notice the lack of laughter. It seemed as though They had stopped. The gagging stopped just as quickly as it had come, giving him a chance to gain a breath. Beads of sweat poured over his face, but he no longer had the strength to wipe them away. He stayed on all fours, panting like a black dog in the summer heat. He shuddered as something touched his back. He reached for the knife, but fell face first into the dirt.
“Oh C.C. You have made it home haven’t you?” The voice was slurred, like a drunk with a swollen tongue.
He tried to push himself up, but only managed to roll over onto his back. The Thing speaking leaned into view, caressing his massive stomach with what appeared to be a melted hand. He recognized the voice and tried desperately to keep his eyes closed to the horrific sight as it spoke. His stomach wrenched again causing him to cry out.
“You have brought our new edition home,” the Master announced.
“This is not my home,” C.C. growled through the pain.
The Master raised its head and laughed. “You…you…you are nothing more than a meal for the one we welcome into our home.” It continued to cackle and laugh as it took a step backwards.
C.C. screamed as his stomach wrenched one last time before his rib cage split opened, opening like a gory bear trap waiting to be tripped.
The Master knelt down, taking C.C.s lifeless left hand and moved it tauntingly towards the gaping hole. “Come on now little one, I know you’re hungry.”
A single eye appeared in the gaping hole, blinked twice and disappeared. Suddenly, C.C.s oversized stomach exploded from the gore and latched onto the hand the Master was waving back and forth with a set of teeth that glowed an eerie blue. It blinked its single eye as it turned around and began to dine on what was once its own master; C.C.
“We have never required your assistance to eat C.C., but we did need the entertainment. We get so bored down here that we must create our own forms of delight and joy,” The Master explained, running a kind hand over the flesh of the stomach that was continuing to eat the fat man. “What we do require is the strongest part of you to join our brood.” The tunnels filled with chanting as the hidden creatures came for a piece of the grand feast.