Face me, she said.
I turned to look at her.
She wasn’t looking at me. She was looking at the guy beside me.
I couldn’t blame her. He was much easier on the eyes. He wasn’t melting constantly or trailing viscera and gore or dropping body parts. Instead, he was blond-haired, blue-eyed, and, perhaps more importantly, still whole.
Wholesomeness is a quality I lack.
She saw me looking at her and turned around, pretended she had not said anything, but I heard her.
Face me, she had said. But she wasn’t talking to me. Maybe she wasn’t even talking at all.
Damn telepathy. It’s a real bitch sometimes. You’d think it would make things easier, a little more clear to hear other people’s thoughts, but sometimes other people’s thoughts are more confusing than your own. And then what? You’re left with someone else’s confusion, as if your own wasn’t enough.
So, I turned away. My arm fell and landed with a plop in a brown puddle beneath my feet. I didn’t look down at it. I didn’t reach down to pick it up with my other arm. That would be humiliating. Besides, what if my other arm fell off while reaching for my lost appendage? That would be a worse fate than any man could stand. So, I let it sit there and gather flies. I bled from the nub on my shoulder. I tried to smile at the others on our train.
I looked out the window. The sun was setting in rays of purple and orange. I grew itchy where my arm once was. I reached down to scratch. A new one was growing in its place. Only it wasn’t made of flesh. It was black and shiny, like a beetle’s carapace.
Reincarnation can be a bitch, too. It sometimes comes in fits and quibbles, not to be confused with shits and giggles.
I looked over at the blond-haired, blue-eyed dude. I noticed he no longer moved. The train bumped on the tracks. The man’s head bobbed back and forth a few times and then fell to the ground. It left a smear in the brown puddle on the floor as it rolled to a stop next to my lost arm.
Face me, she said.
She got her wish: The head, but not the man, stared up at her, and she smiled.
I felt her joy and it confused me until she leaned over and began to gnaw on the dead man’s body.
See? she said, See? I told you I’d eat you one day.
A single tear fell from the dead head’s eye. I knocked it with my shoe to turn it away. Even though I didn’t know him – he had not said a single word since I got on the train – I thought the guy was a humongous and egotistical prick, I didn’t want him to see this woman – if she could be called a woman – eating what was left of his former well-built and wholesome humanity. Besides, maybe he really was a good guy, and I was just jealous.
She didn’t like it that I turned old blue-eyes’s head away. The woman turned on me. She leaped across the train. I reached up and stuck my new shiny black appendage through her like a stake. She shuddered. Foul grey gruel fountained out of her gaping mouth. There was a sudden pop, and then she turned into a Pomeranian. I named her Fluffy and knew that one day – if we ever got off this damn train – we’d have a great time. I’d take her on long walks through the country on Sundays, and if I died, I wouldn’t have to worry about funeral expenses or anything. She would just eat me.
And that would be okay. At least I’d have her attention.