SHORT STORY SATURDAY: WAX-MAN
CLASH BRING YOU A TWISTED AND TRAGIC TALE ABOUT LOVE AND MELTING
Screams filled the kitchen of the frat house. Solo cups hit the floor, splattering cheap booze. Partygoers slammed into one another all trying to put as much distance between Gary and themselves as possible.
Gary had started melting. The outer layer of skin separated from muscle and fat, giving the sensation of thousands of micro-pinchers pulling him apart. He stepped into the living room. The kegger had cleared out quick. Dubstep thumped from the sound system and rattled the walls.
The cricket bat whipped across the back of Gary’s head, taking a hunk of wet skin with it. He turned, and spit blood-streaked phlegm into Chuck’s face. The frat boy staggered backward, dropping the bat in favor of wiping the muck from his eyes.
“You’re supposed to be fucking dead!”
Gary scooped up the bat, shattered Chuck’s left knee. He went down onto the other. Gary drove a foot into his bare stomach, knocking him onto the throw rug that had an image of a polar bear doing a keg stand on it. He shoved the wooden edge of the bat against Chuck’s throat and pinned him to the carpet. “Can you reverse this?”
Chuck shook his head no. Gary pressed harder on his Adam’s apple. Melted skin crept down the length of the bat like candlewax.
“Where is she?”
Chuck pointed upstairs.
Chuck ignored the question, gripped the edges of the bat, and shoved. The handle dug furrows into Gary’s flesh-muddy palms. He gripped the bat as best he could and thrust downward. Chuck’s neck collapsed under the wood with an audible crunch.
It didn’t take Gary long to find Jason’s bedroom. Last door at the end of the hall, plastered in cut outs from porn mags, pictures of sports icons, and Tucker Max books covers.
Gary tried the handle, found it unlocked. More half-assed techno spilled into the hallway. The room was dark except for the bluish-white glow, of the dual monitors. Katrina lay on the bed, wrists and ankles strapped to the bedposts. A camera was set up on a tripod at the foot of the bed, leering down at Gary’s fiancé.
Gary moved around the bed, bat held high. Jason turned to say something to his captive, saw Gary, ducked. The bat crashed into one of the monitors and then a stack of discs. Jason came up, jabbed Gary in the chin.
Gary staggered back, swung wildly. Wood hit bone. Jason’s head snapped to the left. Blood and teeth flew. The muscle-bound college kid fell on all fours, tried to crawl away. Gary slammed the cricket bat into his ribs, rolled him onto his back. For a guy that seemed intent on becoming a bodybuilder, Jason didn’t seem to be putting up much of a fight. If Gary was being honest with himself, he expected to lose once he walked through the doorway.
Jason threw his hands up. “I’m sorry. We had to know what was going to happen!”
“Oh, you fucking knew!”
“We thought it might be different with people. You know, that’s like biology and shit.”
“You really are an idiot,” Gary said, bringing the bat down onto Jason’s crotch.
Three more swings:
A split shin.
A shattered pelvis.
A ruined left arm.
Jason lay wrecked on the floor. The walls, the ceiling, and the bed sheets were covered in amber slime. Gary sat on top of his chest, reached underneath his own shirt, and pulled two handfuls of liquefied flesh from his stomach. He forced the melted fat down Jason’s throat, clamped the frat boy’s mouth shut. Jason tried to move, tried to scream, but Gary rode the alpha male’s death rattle to the end.
He pushed himself to his feet, began untying Katrina’s straps. She’d already seen him; no sense in hiding his appearance now. Gary pulled the gag from her mouth.
He moved closer. “They put that love drug shit in me.”
Katrina rolled off the bed, so fast Gary wasn’t sure if it was to get away from him or just the urgency of the situation. She grabbed her clothes from a pile on the floor, slipped them on. “We need to get you to a hospital.”
Gary’s legs turned to jelly. He sat himself down, leaned against the bed. “I don’t think they have an intensive care unit for people that are melting, Kat.”
Katrina flipped the overhead light on, covered her mouth to stifle the scream.
“I know. I look fucking awful, but…” Gary leaned slightly to the right, slid sticky, blood-caked fingers into the pocket of his jeans. “I have something for you.”
He pulled out a long silver chain, smiled. “I wanted to surprise you with this, but as you can see…”
Katrina sat in front of him, took the family heirloom into her hand.
“Sorry it’s a bit of a mess.”
She wiped tears away, put the chain around her neck. When she couldn’t get the clasp to catch Gary’s gut dropped.
“I think the clasp you put on it is too big.”
Gary chuckled. “I was never too good at fixing shit was I?”
“Broken or fixed. What matters is you tried. Does it hurt?”
“Feels like I’m covered in bees.”
Katrina slid next to him, ignoring the slowly forming brown puddle. She took his hand, placed her lips onto his. In that moment none of the bullshit mattered. Not the fact that he’d been spending the last two months scraping by as a party clown or that any time he tried to help he just made every situation worse; his intent was always in the right place.
When Katrina broke the kiss most of Gary’s lips went with hers. Her face blurred. The sting that had been needling his skin started in on his organs. Whole sections of Gary peeled off like wet tissue paper in the breeze. His stomach collapsed, spilling its contents. Memories burst in his mind, but none of them made sense anymore, images without meaning. Weightlessness took over and Gary’s consciousness floated into the void, while his physical existence spread out across the bedroom floor.
Anthony Trevino is the author of the New Bizarro Author Series 2015-16 novella King Space Void published by Eraserhead Press, the horror comic Fruition, and also made an appearance in the True Detective tribute anthology Walk Hand in Hand into Extinction from CLASH books.