Two young runaways share a small filthy apartment after escaping from an abusive cult. They soon discover that something far worse waits for them in the outside world.
Pages – 08
Published – January 04, 2014
Publisher – Smashwords.com
ISBN – 9781311904164
Rating – CA-18
Each night when he came home she’d fill the bathtub with a few inches of water— warm water, not too hot or cold. He’d sit in the tub and she’d wash away the smell of the men he’d been with. During the baths he kept his jaw clenched. He couldn’t stand the feel of water against his skin. A side effect of the black stuff.
Her own bathing was less frequent. Only when her skin itched to the point she scratched till she bled, only then would she consider the awful feeling of the water.
But she liked bathing him each day. It reminded her of her baby.
After his bath, she would pat him dry with a towel—gently, the sensation of rough cotton was almost as bad as the water. When it was over the muscles in his face would relax, his bath-time grimace would disappear. They would go to the bedroom and he would cook two spoonfuls of the black stuff, holding each over a candle till it bubbled.
They shared the needle. First her, then him.
With the black stuff in her veins, she felt weightless. She floated. It was like the world around her got heavier, quieter, darker, and she was lighter by comparison. Almost like she was in water. In water, but without the awful feeling on her skin. In water like her baby had been.
With the black stuff settling into their blood, her and the boy would lie down on the bare mattress they shared. He would blow out the candle. Time would pass, hours. Her mind would drift. Sometimes she would think about her baby. Somewhere behind the curtains that covered the small windows of the apartment the sun would rise, or stay behind the clouds. She couldn’t remember what the sun did. She hadn’t been outside the apartment since they’d arrived. She couldn’t remember when that was.
Eventually, the weightless feeling would start to wear off, once by ounce, until her body was heavy against the mattress once again. The boy would sit up and light the candle, clean the needle, cook more. Another stab in her arm. Again, floating. She would start to kiss him and he would slide his hard thing inside her, into the place between her legs. It felt good as it went in and out over and over again. At the end she would feel it twitching inside her.
When they were done he would leave her on the mattress and go to the bathroom. There, he would clean himself again, gritting his teeth against the water. The men he would meet that night wouldn’t want her smell on him. When he finished bathing, he would leave.
She’d stay on the mattress, the black stuff still swimming in her blood. Some of the stickiness he’d left in her would leak from the opening between her legs, like she was a broken egg. She would hold her hands against her belly and pretend she could feel the baby growing inside her. She would close her eyes and imagine her belly was big and swollen. She would pretend little feet were kicking against the walls of her big babyfilled belly. She couldn’t make babies anymore, but she could pretend. And sometimes, if enough of the black stuff was still swimming in her blood, she could forget that she was only pretending.
She had made one baby, once, with the man who had been her husband. Her belly had gotten big and round and all the girls she went to church with were jealous and proud because they were all trying to make babies with their husbands. But she had been the only girl lucky enough to make one.
Her baby took a long time to come out. Too long. She didn’t like waiting. Her husband didn’t like waiting either. That’s why he showed her the trick, the trick to make the baby come out, the trick he showed her in the bathtub.
“Do you want to see the baby?” her husband had asked. “Of course,” she said. She’d started to cry when he showed her the long, thin branch, cut from a tree, like the kind he would hit her with when she was bad. “Are you going to hit me?” she asked, upset. “No sweetheart I’m going to use this to tickle the baby, to trick it into coming out.” Then he tickled her, and she laughed.
He put the branch into the water. Then, into her. It hurt a little, even though it was only as thin as a pencil. The pain became sharp. The water turned pink, then red. The baby came out slowly, and it hurt, it hurt so bad, but soon her baby was out, and she sat in the bathwater cradling it in her arms.
She was holding her baby in her arms when her husband went into the next room and had his accident.
She didn’t like to think about the accident. The accident was a loud noise that had turned her husband’s head into a broken, messy thing. When the people from the church saw what had happened, they took her baby away, even though she cried and cried for them not to.
She didn’t like to think about these things because she really didn’t understand them, and the more she thought, the more they made her upset, made her insides hurt. But sometimes she thought about them anyway. It was hard not to, she missed her baby so much.
After her husband’s accident none of the girls at church or school would talk to her anymore. None of the adults would talk to her either. The only person who would talk to her was the boy. The boy was older than her, but much younger than her husband had been. She told the boy how her insides hurt and he gave her the black stuff and it made her feel better. Better than better. Wonderful.
And when the boy told her he was going away forever and asked her to come with him, she said yes.
His piss had been pink before he left the apartment and he thought that maybe he should take the night off. He’d taken a bad beating the day before. But as bad as the beating had been he’d held onto his money—money he needed for rent, and more importantly, junk.
He worked out of a motel. It was only a few blocks from the apartment. The night manager at the motel was an obese man of indeterminate age, with skin as pale and greasy as cheese left under a light bulb. In addition to managing the motel, this man also sold junk.
“Jesus kid, you look like hell,” the manager said.
“Nice to see you too. Got a room for me?”
The manager passed a room key across the front desk. He took another look at the boy, then reached into a drawer under the counter. “Here, take these too,” the manager said, and handed over a pair of brightly colored pills. “No charge. You look like you could use a pick-me-up.”
The boy looked at the pills. They were uppers, speed. He nodded thanks and turned to walk away.
The manager called after him, “Hey kid, be careful tonight. Anyone gives you trouble, I’m here. Phones in the rooms still work. Just dial zero.”
The boy turned back to the manager. “I don’t need a pimp.”
“I’m just saying kid, be careful. I’ve been hearing stories. Boys like you found dead, ripped up bad. Girls too.”
“The way I heard it, it’s more like they were mauled. Like some kind of animal got them.”
He looked at the night manager. Again he considered taking the night off, going back to the apartment, cooking a spoonful of junk, calling it a night.
Instead he thanked the night manager and walked out of the office.
Some of the other boys who worked out of the motel had a favorite room, one they liked to use night after night. To him, any room was as good as the next. He’d never gotten fleas or anything else from using the beds, and as far as his accommodations were concerned, that was all he really cared about.
There were 36 rooms at the motel. Eighteen were reserved for the boys and girls who worked there at night. These were furthest from the front office. The other 18 were for real people, who came here during the day, to cheat on their husbands or wives or whatever. He’d never been in one of those rooms, but could guess they were probably at least a little cleaner.
He walked across the parking lot and opened the door of tonight’s room—number 31. It looked like all the other rooms, with moldy seafoam carpeting, stained walls, furniture peppered with cigarette burns. There was no TV. The sheets had been changed, but the air still stank of stale sex.
In the nightstand drawer next to the bed he deposited a few dozen condoms, a 16oz. bottle of lubricant and a switchblade. The knife was mostly for show. It reminded the men he fucked that the he was a dirty, desperate thing—the kind of thing that would hurt them if they got too rough or tried to steal from it. The sight of the blade was all it took to dissuade most. He’d stabbed someone once, and if it came down to it, he didn’t think he could do it again.
Even with the knife, he took beatings regularly, though it was rare that anyone ever made away with his money.
He went into the bathroom and peed again. His urine still had a hint of pink. He checked his hair in the mirror. He took a strip of condoms—in case he had to do a quick job in an alley or a car—and went in search of the night’s first customer.
He never spoke to the other boys that shared his territory. None of them offered each other anything more than a nod or a moment’s eye contact. They were all junk addicts, like him or worse. They didn’t need friends. They needed junk, and money to get it. Luckily there was always enough money to go around. Like them, their customers had a need.
But tonight the scene was different. He saw one or two familiar faces, and a few others he didn’t recognize—kids who had just gotten into town or had finally sunk to this level of desperation. But the number of kids working was thin, and there was something in the air, some kind of bad energy. Maybe he was just spooked by what the motel manager had said. I should go home, he thought. It wasn’t too late to go back, he could ask the motel manager for a day’s worth of junk on credit. He’d get it. He’d done it before and had always paid the man back.
But before he had fully made up his mind, a customer found him, then another right after that, and the night started to feel like any other.
The two-block radius he roamed was near the airport, and prowled by men who were usually on their way somewhere. He only saw occasional repeat customers. He imagined some of the men who came here wore suits during the day and coached little league on the weekends. But here they came to him in hooded sweatshirts and dirty jeans, looking for a different kind of catch and throw. Some were closet-cases. Some pedophiles. Some were career perverts. For others, he was a boyhood fling revisited, that one brief dabble in the days before heterosexuality had taken hold. Some were cops who were willing to ignore what he did for money so long as they got a sample of what was for sale. Some, he imagined, were just curious to find out what it felt like to rub latex-covered skin with the lowest of human existence.
There were, on occasion, women who came looking where he roamed, though he never went with them, not unless he really needed the money. He didn’t think he did well satisfying them, and their anatomy always made him feel slightly repulsed. It was different with the girl, who was young enough that she almost looked like a boy. And he knew it made her happy in some way. He was happy just to not to be alone when he went back to the apartment.
He’d always preferred his own gender. He’d taken his first lover when he was barely 12 years old—not all that long ago. The adults in the church had found out, and their solution was to hand them each a knife. He’d been two years older than the other boy. There had been so much blood in that boy’s thin, young body, so much more than he ever would have thought.
It was a busy night. After only three hours he had made more money than he usually did in a typical eight hours’ work. Again, he considered calling it a night, but the speed he’d taken was still going strong. The customers had been good too, no trouble, a handful even throwing him a few extra dollars for his effort. He was due for a little luck.
Again, he dismissed the thought of going home.
He took a few minutes to clean himself up and smoke a cigarette before heading back to the street where he found most of his customers. He spotted another boy working, a beautiful, blue-eyed thirteen-year-old who’d he’d been harboring a crush on for a few weeks. The blue-eyed boy was leaning against a street lamp a block and a half away. He stared for a moment, thinking of approaching. A voice in the alley behind him interrupted.
“Hey kid, how much?”
The voice was deep and rough. He turned to see a man—shaved head, tall, thickly built—standing a few feet away. The man wore a filthy coat, pajama pants, cheap rubber flip-flops.
The man asked again. “How much?”
“A hundred.” Much higher than his usual price. He was almost hoping that it would be out of the man’s price range. He had an uneasy feeling. There was something off about the man, something not quite right.
“Fine, where do we go?”
“Let’s see the money.”
The man reached into his coat pocket and produced a thick roll of cash. Even if it had all been singles, with a hundred dollar bill on the outside, it would have been enough to pay the asking price ten times over. The troubled feeling he got from the man disappeared, replaced by a sudden bolt of optimism. He would beg for some of that money later. He’d spill his whole tragic life story to this man.
“A motel. A block from here.”
The alley was dark and most of the lights in the parking lot were out, so it wasn’t until they got back to the room that he got a good look at the man, who wasn’t really bald, but had a shaved head, the scalp covered in a thin layer of gray stubble. Deep lines etched the man’s face, and his skin was so pale it was almost translucent, with a network of blue veins visible underneath. Still, the man looked young. There couldn’t have been more than a decade’s difference between their ages.
The man locked the door behind them. That sense of trouble, of unease, came back, and it was harder to push away this time.
“You don’t have to lock the door.”
The man ignored him, stepping over to the window to look past the curtains into the parking lot. When he turned around he was holding a gun.
“Oh fuck,” the boy said, his knees going soft. “Oh fuck,” he said again. “You’re from the church.”
The man reached into a coat pocket and brought out a pair of metal handcuffs. He tossed them onto the bed. “Cuff yourself to the bed.”
“Listen, you can have the girl back. I can take you to her.”
“I don’t want any fucking girl.”
“They sent you here to kill me then. The church. Just do it. Shoot me.”
“I don’t belong to any fucking church. Now cuff yourself to the bed and stop talking.”
The boy did as he was told. The man set the gun down on the nightstand and took a roll of tape from a pocket of his coat. He tore off a piece and used it to cover the boy’s mouth.
The boy didn’t resist. He tried to prepare himself for what was going to happen next, wondering what it would be, would if he live through it, would he want to.
The man removed the long heavy coat. Underneath he was wearing a t-shirt that had once been white but was now yellow. The man’s arms and chest were thickly muscled, like he’d been in the army, or done time in prison. There was a hospital bracelet on his left wrist.
The filthy shirt fit tight, tight enough to see that there was something wrong with the man’s torso. It wasn’t the flat slab of abs that would have matched the thick biceps and round pectorals. It wasn’t a paunch, either. It was lumpy, deformed. Like there was a bag of rocks tucked underneath.
When the man removed his shirt, the boy saw what was causing the deformity. It was under the man’s skin. A railroad track of staples ran from the bottom of the man’s ribcage down past the waist of his pants. Underneath the tracks, half a dozen round lumps pressed outwards against the skin. Each was dark in color, the size of a doorknob.
The lumps were moving, pulsating.
It got worse.
The man took off his pants, and the boy screamed against the tape that covered his mouth. The man had been castrated, his penis and testicles removed. In their place was long tube of flesh, with an opening as wide as a bottle mouth. It looked more like a hose than a dick, though it was obviously a sex organ of some kind. The man’s pelvis was crossed with an X of metal sutures surrounded by red, irritated flesh. The tube-organ disappeared underneath the skin, and bulged like a thick vein over the man’s pelvis, leading up to the cluster of knots under the abdomen.
The organ didn’t get hard, it only wagged a little as the man knelt on the bed and removed the boy’s pants. This close, the man smelled like a hospital—like anti-bacterial ointment and piss and skin that had been covered under a bandage for too long. The man’s hands felt hot and strong as they spread the boy’s thighs.
The man leaned closer and the boy closed his eyes. He tired to pray, but was too terrified to concentrate. He kept his eyes closed and felt the thing hanging between the man’s legs slither underneath the tight bundle of his scrotum, then up into his asshole. It didn’t hurt—the thing was too soft, too thin—but it was long, and it went deep. It felt like a snake was navigating his insides.
“I’m sorry,” the man said before his heavily muscled body went rigid. The man started to grunt, then whimper and sob, as if in pain.
The boy felt the muscles of his sphincter stretch wide with sudden, sharp pain. It only lasted a moment, then the pain moved deeper inside him. It felt like a fist was being pushed through his guts.
Sobs wracked the muscular body that was holding onto him. “I’m sorry,” the man said between clenched teeth.
From shock or pain, the boy lost consciousness.
Her nose was running and the sun was already up when the boy arrived at the
apartment. He was much, much later than usual. He didn’t seem like himself, but she didn’t notice for more than a moment. A nameless, shapeless anger had started inside her and the salty snot running over her lips made it worse. She knew the black stuff would make it better, was the only thing that would make it better.
He smelled awful but still she made him cook a spoonful of black stuff before she gave him his bath. Once the black stuff was in her arm, she felt better, just like she knew she would. Her anger faded as black and blue mixed in her veins.
He sat in the warm puddle in the bathtub and she washed him with the sponge, rinsing away the awful smell he carried on his skin.
He began to shake. The tremors were small at first, then violent. White foam poured from his lips. A moment later, his tongue flew from his mouth. He’d bitten it off. Blood ran over his chin, mixing with the foam.
The black stuff surged in her veins. She was actually enjoying the warm water on her hands. She was thinking of baby. Oh how she missed her baby. How unfair it was that the adults had taken her baby away. She wiped away strings of blood and foam from the boy’s chin.
The water turned pink, and then very red, and then there was more blood than water in the tub. The boy’s body went rigid. He gripped the edges of the tub so hard the bones of his fingers snapped. He clenched his teeth till they splintered and sprayed from his mouth. A moment later, his body relaxed.
She kept washing and thinking about baby and then baby came, wiggling out from between the boy’s thin thighs. Had baby been hiding there all along? Baby wasn’t how she remembered. Baby’s body was long and thick and squirmed when she held it. But what else could it be, but baby?
The flesh was pale enough to see the organs and bones underneath. At one end of the body was the face, with black eyes and a mouth filled with row after row of tiny sharp teeth. The other end tapered into a tail with a pointed, serrated tip. Each side of the body had a dozen finger-like legs that wriggled as she cradled it in her arms.
She rinsed baby under the faucet, washing away the blood. The fingerlike legs tickled her as she held the body against her chest. A mewling sound came from the mouth.
“I always knew you’d come back,” she said, and she was filled with pure, overwhelming joy. She could do nothing but smile as she held baby to her chest to nurse and its small sharp teeth tore away her nipple and suckled blood from her small breast.