Author: MG Gallows
Alex came home at 3 AM. He wasn’t alone.
Two sets of boots stomped down the trap door in our kitchen. Creepy vinyl music drifted up from downstairs. It was so weird, like he was embracing the stereotype.
I pulled my pillow over my ears, but there was no way I could sleep. Curiosity and disgust fought for control. With a sigh, I slipped into my jeans.
The smell of wet copper hit me as I opened my door. It bothered me how much the smell didn’t bother me. The trapdoor was open. I dropped to a crawl and peeked in. Alex had plastic and shower curtains set everywhere. A dented mortuary slab sat in the middle of the room, over a sewage drain. He had a tray table loaded with tools, pocketed from hospitals, or bought from kitchen supply stores.
Alex was hunched over a body. The hands, feet, and head were gone. It was a man, or had been. He gestured, and it rolled onto its stomach so he could flense its back.
My brain registered horror, watching the transfiguration of a person into unidentifiable hunks of flesh. But I became aware of a gnawing ache in every inch of my body, a hunger that would only be soothed if-
My hand slipped on the edge of the trapdoor, and I screamed as I hit the concrete floor with a wrenching crunch.
The next thing I knew, I was on my back. Alex had shucked off his apron and was touching my neck. “Anything broken?”
I shrugged, and it sent a jolt of pain through my shoulder. “Fuck!”
“Stay still,” he said. His fingers traced my collarbone and I sucked in a breath. “Shouldn’t need resetting. What were you doing?”
“You woke me up,” I grumbled. “Please don’t tell me I need to eat something.”
He pursed his lips. “Sorry, kid. It’s that, or you walk around with a fracture.”
I grimaced. “Does it have to be… him?”
Alex glanced back at the body. “No. You still got frozen upstairs?”
He fetched it for me, a little frozen steak in plastic. I stared at it.
“Undead gotta eat,” he said.
With a sigh, I started to eat. Frozen wasn’t a problem, Alex once said I could chew through wood to get what I needed. I felt the bones fix inside me. The relief was horrible.
“Need a hand?”
I shook my head. “Just… I dunno! I’m still getting used to this! I wish you could warn me when you’re gonna do this shit.”
“Sorry,” he said. “I gotta take ‘em as they come. Can’t be making our own supply.”
I rubbed my eyes. “I know. But keep it down?”
He nodded. “Okay. Get some sleep. It’s a school night.”
When I was up the ladder, he waved goodnight and shut the hatch behind me. I climbed into bed and put my headphones on.
They were right. You never want to know how the sausage is made.