Don’t Eat Her!
Aite and Jude PT. 1
I didn’t exist in this way until I woke up.
When I woke up the first time, that very first time, I couldn’t see beyond the bangs. There was a bright light, but I could only tell that because of the warmth on my skin. I remember trying to open my eyes and realizing that all the blue was something blocking my face, blocking where my eyes should’ve been.
For the first few seconds, I swear, I was someone else. I could feel that. I felt like I had a name. I knew my family. I knew myself. And I knew my head hurt, that something terrible had happened, that I was terrified.
And then I moved the bang, the new thing that was so deep blue, and I felt my face. I felt the hole. It was almost like the hole drained that self straight from my hand, devouring it into some forgotten place.
And then I was Jude.
Whatever, or whoever, I’d been before simply vanished. I was simply Jude.
That’s all I’ve been ever since.
When I was the other person, I thought about my parents. For that split second, frantic, I wondered where my Mom and Dad were. I wondered if they’d made it out of the car or if they’d been hurt in the accident. As Jude, I got to watch them reach out to me, both far enough away to make seeing them at the same time impossible. I could, though. Somehow I could.
The car was mangled. Utterly destroyed. I couldn’t understand much about makes and models as Jude, but it was a bigger car. The mother I used to know, she was partially trapped underneath it, her legs invisible under the twisted body of the vehicle. It wasn’t a normal accident. It looked like a giant had wrung the car out in search of oil. The woman was severely broken, body shaking terribly, and something was pulling the skin off of her face. Trying to enter her mouth, I’m sure of it. It eventually ripped her jaw off and slid in, almost liquid, a thick blue glob jittering down her throat. She stopped being the old me’s mother then.
I won’t describe the being as it was before it entered her. I think about it enough.
The man, he sobbed uncontrollably. His stomach was crushed into itself, something to do with the accident. It took a while for the next blue being to take over that one – he pleaded and shook and tried to crawl. There was a bit of a mess by the time it broke his skull and climbed in. It was a smoother process than The Mother. That one knew how to reattach the skull, at least. It was almost pleasant to look at.
And from there, a big empty field bathed in sunlight, we walked home. And I’ve been Jude ever since. I’ve existed as this thing ever since.
Rebellion is natural. It’s something that happens when you don’t know who you are. I don’t know what I am. I hold on to those minutes where I was that person. I try to reach beyond them, expand them, figure out who I actually was. But the name has escaped me. The sound of my panicked voice, his panicked voice, it escapes me. I keep on living and, little by little, I am just Jude. The hole in my head spits things out and they seem to help me calm down. But I really wish I could remember.
Or at least, at the very least, I wish I knew what I was supposed to do. Why I had to be Jude. If I could just understand what went wrong maybe things would be different. Whatever process the other two went through didn’t work for me. I don’t think it worked well for them, either, but it definitely worked even less for me. Somehow, I remember being that boy just enough that it stops me from understanding what comes next.
There’s nothing left to do.
I’ve touched everything there is to feel. Eaten and eaten and eaten things that make most of these humans twitchy. I’ve engorged myself with sights and sounds and whatever else seems new. There’s nothing here. It’s all boring nonsense. I’m always listening to the gurgling noise from my head, wondering where my brain is, wondering what the boy I used to be was like. It repeats.
The Being Pretending to be my Father, it spoke once, and I heard that. Its voice peeled some of the skin around my hole. It sat and stared at me, skin loose and unmotivated, and spoke until the hole whistled. I didn’t do it again, but the experience stood out. The word that stuck out the most was TRAPPED.
The Being That Ate and Killed my Real Mother and Then Took Her Body, I watched It kill the woman. I listened to It talk all the way back to the home, somehow understanding where we needed to be. I helped It clean up the bodies of the people who were here and wouldn’t leave at Its initial request. I sat and ate their remains with It and felt more hungry when it was over. I even developed a slight bond with It. It talks to me too much but, either way, experience. I’ve experienced these things.
I sometimes wonder if I’m ever going to understand. I’m obviously not human. Maybe I’m not one of those blue beings that took the other two, but I’m also not human. I’m not the human I’m pretending to be, at least. Every day more sharp teeth rip through the roof of this mouth. I don’t fit in the body well.
There’s obviously something I’m supposed to do here. The things that ‘raise’ me make sure I leave every day to go to school. They make sure I come back after. They make sure I continue to eat, to gorge, and that I never cover the hole with anything other than the bang. The Mother tells me that I have to correct our mistakes in that field. That they were trying to ensure we could fix the problem by attracting ‘her’. Since I never became Jude. It says that I’ve had a purpose since I arrived and we were late.
It never says ‘since you were born.’ It’s always ‘since you arrived.’
I don’t remember any of that. Sometimes I can’t remember anything before the previous week.
All I know is that there’s nothing left to do.
The Being Pretending to Be My Father doesn’t hide the hole in his head. It’s nowhere near as deep as mine – you can see the broken skull underneath the spiraled skin and nothing else. The main thing it does is eat. Every now and then I’ll ask it a question, and it responds with noises or gurgles. I understand some of them. Most of them just feel like blades slowly edging into my skin.
I try not to talk to It unless I need to. Unlike It, I seem to have the ability to make my own decisions. It makes me go to school but other than that It stays out of my way. The Being That Ate and Killed My Real Mother and Took Her Body lays out clothes for me every day, and they’re always the same outfit. I don’t know how she has so many, but it’s always the same thing: red shirt and blue jeans. I wore my clothes to bed one night, wanting to see what would happen, and she brought out a duplicate outfit in the morning. I ripped a hole in the shirt, frustrated, and she brought out a different shirt with holes in the same spot. It’s always the same outfit but, somehow, it’s not.
As The Mother says, “We must attract her. She likes red.”
The two of them are never in the same room but that’s easy – one is always eating in the kitchen, and the other is always standing by the front door, waiting for me. This house we confiscated is large enough for separation.
On a day that felt particularly odd, I skipped breakfast. The Father sat at the table and stiffened noticeably when I turned toward the door instead of joining him at the table. I wanted to see what he would do. He just tilted his head back a bit and laughed. Some of my lip skin blistered.
On the way out, fully dressed, I stopped to grab my ‘lunch’ from The Mother. It turned its head slightly, the skin stretched and thin around the base of the neck, and stared. The eyes were gaunt enough to put my hole to shame. I shifted my bang nervously.
“It’s time, Jude. You will meet someone today. Do not kill her or anger her. Ask her to help you fix our mistake. We must wait to be welcomed back.” I stared from behind my bang, seeing through the thick wall of hair as usual.
I can’t explain that or anything else, so I don’t wonder about it anymore.
“Someone? A new person?”
The being coughed a thick glob of black smoke into my face, a deep chuckle seeming to bubble behind it.
“Yes. She will fix you. You will be pleased. And then you will be hungry. You must contain yourself. You must allow us this opportunity.”
… … …
School is usually just people trying to get away from me. I only have one teacher that actually attempts to teach me and she just ends up shaking so bad that she spends the whole time dropping and picking up dry erase markers. The students pull their desks away, they stand out in the hallway, they do whatever they can to evade me. And then they forget.
The minute I leave any given area, everyone goes back to normal. They’re afraid for the first time every time I come back. I wonder if I should care as much as I do. It…hurts. I can’t explain the emotion well, but I feel the rejection as a sense of pain.
I opened the door to my homeroom class and stopped in annoyance. Everyone was already piled against each other by the wall, shrieking in terror. A bunch of seniors grasping at each other, their eyes fixated on…
Not me. This time it wasn’t me.
I turned to see what they were all so afraid of, what they were making all the noise about.
She sat with hair so red it made everything else look black and white. Immediately, I realized that The Mother matched my clothes to this girl. I knew that immediately. Her dress, that dress, it was the same blue as my hair, as my bang. It was a dainty, pretty dress the same color as my hair. Her tiny wrist moved slowly as she wrote something in an equally small notebook. I walked around to the front of her desk to see what she looked like.
A bang. A red bang covered her face. Her lips, so thick you could chew them, sat still. If you didn’t already know she was real, that she was an actual being in front of you, you would’ve thought that she was a mannequin. Other than her hand quickly writing notes, there was no movement from her. The writing was nonsensical – the teacher was too busy cowering in fear to give any instruction.
She was me, but red. She was me, but a woman. She was ME, but with more face. She was ME, but with a terror that emitted from her that seemed to sit in people. I could look at the crowd of teens pressed against that wall and understand that they would stay afraid. There was no forgetting this feeling she pumped into the air.
And all I wanted to do when her head tilted up, eyes wholly covered, small nose sniffing, thick lips curling into a disgusted snarl, was devour her.
She was something new.
The boy I’d been started disappearing into her.
“You’re…supposed to fix me?” We were alone. The teacher had managed to usher the students out of the room while I’d fixated on this new thing, this new girl. Her hand frantically wrote on the nearly full paper.
For a split second, she stopped. Her head tilted up.
Is she looking at me? I couldn’t tell with the wall of thick red bangs blocking her…face? Eyes? I didn’t have any, why would she?
What did she taste like…
Disappointment radiated from her body, but she spoke. “You’re damaged. You can’t be fixed. This is a waste of time.”
“No. The…My mother said you’d fix me. We attracted you or something, we…the outfits and everything, they’re for you. I think. I…don’t worry, I’m not that bad, I just don’t understand. I just need to understand what I’m supposed to do.”
The disappointment thickened. “The people. They aren’t supposed to notice us. They noticed me. It’s because of you. You can’t be fixed.” Her voice was small. The information fueled my excitement. This was more than I’d ever known!
“I’m sorry! How do I stop that? Are you…you know what I am, right? Tell me!” I kneeled. The heat coming off of her was intense. It felt unnatural. I wanted to grab her, softly, to communicate with her. I felt the hole in my head moisten.
“You’re damaged. You can’t be fixed.” Small, flat, girly and emotionless. The hole in my head filled with something. I wasn’t sure what, but it filled. I felt the sides bulge.
“You don’t understand…”
“You’re interrupting me.” My arm had brushed slightly against her paperwork. I finally read what she was writing over and over.
It is damaged beyond repair, what should I do next?
“Tell me. I just want to know. I don’t care about all these missions or instructions or whatever. I just want to know what we are…who was the boy from the field?” At this, she stopped writing altogether. She straightened out her dress, slow and deliberate, and stood up. I hurried to join her. We were the exact same height.
The smell of her seemed to creep into the hole, making my mouth water. Slowly, daintily, she moved her hand to touch me. Her slim fingers traced the edge of my bang. She stopped in the middle and pushed up to where my nose should’ve been. There was nothing there but skin. Smooth, caramel skin. She spread her fingers and pushed my bang all the way up.
Things come out of me sometimes. I can’t always control them. As she froze, presumably taking in the real me, the jagged teeth and missing nose, I felt hideous. I felt naked. She pushed my bang all the way back, balling my hair into her fist, moving closer, staring into the hole.
“You went in the wrong way, you fool. This is pathetic. This is unacceptable. I can’t fix this. I WON’T.” I wanted her to say a name. To tell me the boy’s name. I knew she knew it. She knew the fucking name!
The smell of her filled the hole. No eyes. No nostrils. The hole did everything for me. I was becoming frantic.
I grabbed her hand, sucking in heavy breaths. Pathetic? Unacceptable? WHY?
“Who are you?” She didn’t try to escape my grasp. In fact, she moved forward. Her lips parted and her teeth, her wonderful human teeth, gleamed. She was right. Something went wrong with me. I wasn’t the same as she was. We weren’t the same.
“I’m Aite. You were supposed to be Jude. We were supposed to…it doesn’t matter. Fool. I won’t forgive you for abandoning me. I won’t forgive you for ruining this. I won’t forgive you for giving me the extra work.” A slick black tentacle shot out of my hole and wrapped around her arm, black gunk staining her dress and bang and face, a cracking noise filling the air. It yanked her toward me, sucking nearly half her arm into my head, trying to crush her through the opening. And I felt myself forgetting the boy. I felt myself understanding. I could feel her disintegrating into me, feel her becoming me, and I understood things.
The boy…he escaped me forever. And I was Jude. Simply Jude.
I just wanted to EAT her. To EAT her and take all the things she knew and BECOME her and TRY AGAIN. I could EAT her so quickly, it’d be over, she wasn’t that important. I just wanted to EAT her, please, let me DEVOUR her I have to eat I need to eat something I need to devour it…
A vile noise of terror gurgled from her throat, and she pulled back. I gripped to keep her from running, but she pulled away again, this time planting her foot on my chest and kicking. Strong legs, they were so strong, I could imagine stripping the muscles away with my teeth and slowly slurping her blood into my hole and…
Aite freed herself and backed away, terrified, filling me with so much hunger, scared and perfect. She was correct, she was complete, she did the whole thing right. She was IN the body it was almost like it was actually hers, she was in there, I had to EAT her, I had to! Sliding to the door, half her arm stripped of skin and pulsing blood onto the ground, she caught her breath.
I tried to stop myself. I stood there, at least. I did that, at least. Allowed the dainty girl to stand. The tentacle continued to creep toward her but I didn’t move, at least.
She turned so I couldn’t see her and wiped her skinless, bleeding arm under her bang. Wisps of skin materializing across the surface. The black gunk seemed to evaporate. Before I could see what was there, what she’d done, the bang adjusted. It was perfect, unbothered. She straightened out her dress and raised her lips in a violent snarl. “How could you mess up so badly? How could you LEAVE ME TO DO THIS ALONE?”
The Mother and The Father were waiting.
Whatever I’d done back there at the school seemed to reach them. The air was pure static when I walked through the door. They both stood there, finally together, and gave me a cold welcome. It was as if they’d planned on leaving when I came back. As if Aite was supposed to provide me with something, to do something, that would give them permission to go.
All I could think about was Aite’s skin slipping off her flesh, boiling inside my head, separating into knowledge. It repairing itself after she moved that bang.
What was under that bang?
The Mother nearly balked at me.
“She didn’t fix you? You’re the same…you’re not fixed?” The Father, silent, made a sour face. I hadn’t closed the door. Part of me wanted to back out of it.
“She said I was damaged and she couldn’t fix me. I’m sorry…I…I don’t know what to do about it. I…”
“You ANGERED her!”
“I didn’t! Just a little taste of skin but she’d already denied me. It helped. It actually helped. If you…” The two sunk all of a sudden. I stopped speaking and watched them.
We all get rebellious at times. It happens when you don’t know who or what you are. But I understood more, now, with Aite’s skin in my head. I knew that I was supposed to be a human. I’d done something wrong. The Mother and The Father, they’d done something wrong. We were all in trouble. We were all in so much trouble because of our mistake.
We were ruining a plan. But I couldn’t think of what the plan was. I didn’t understand it after a certain point. I needed more of Aite inside my head, more of her perfect human skin and flesh, more of whatever was behind that bang. Then I’d know. Then, maybe, I’d be able to fix it.
The Mother wept openly. The Father, his face finally straightened out. They both stood there, soaked in disappointment, defeated.
“You don’t remember either, do you?” I whispered. No. We’d messed up terribly.
The Mother grabbed her jaw and started pulling. Yanking. She struggled to rip the jaw off again. Choked up her Blue Being, eyes rolling so far into her head that two loud pops sounded from her. She clawed, dug her nails into the wood until splinters painted in blood flew around her hands. She grit her dead teeth, fighting to grab the Being and pull it back in her mouth, screaming in bloody rage and agony.
“APPEASE HER BEFORE IT GETS OUT! FIX US BEFORE IT GETS OUT! IT WILL DESTROY US, JUDE! AITE IS THE ONLY HOPE!”
The Mother doesn’t prepare my clothes anymore. She stays closed in her room, so silent that I worry she isn’t here anymore. I haven’t seen her in weeks. I don’t bother getting changed at all. I just wear the same red that brought Aite to us in the first place. I just hope it brings her back again.
The Father is never at the table. I come downstairs to mangled bodies, humans ripped and slaughtered, dead eyes staring at me. He eats while I sleep, avoiding me. They’re disappointed.
I’ll fix that.
Aite hasn’t come back to school. But after I ate the piece of her, after I devoured the skin, after she moved that bang, something changed. The students don’t run from me anymore. The teachers don’t notice me. I even tried baring my two rows of sharp teeth, separating my jaw as far as possible. They act as if I’m yawning or sneezing or merely sitting still. Some of them even talk to me, now.
I need Aite. Whatever she is, it’s fixing me. She may not know it, but I CAN be corrected.
I know I can save The Father, The Mother and myself. I just have to see what’s under that bang. And then I have to eat her and it.
I didn’t exist in this way until I met Aite.
When I tasted her the first time, that very first time, I couldn’t feel the things coming out of my head. I couldn’t control the tentacle. There was an emptiness, a confusion, that I could never get used to. I used to think about…something… all the time, I used to dwell on…something. I can’t remember what that is anymore. Sometimes I feel a warmth on my skin, even inside, even in the dark recesses of my room. I smell grass with no nose, oil, sometimes metal. But it doesn’t mean anything to me.
And then I move the bang, the old thing that is so deep blue, and I feel my face. I feel the hole, the black tentacle tasting everything. It is almost like the hole drains the memory of Aite’s skin straight from the air, devouring it into some forgotten place.
I have to see what’s under that bang. And I will. I’ll seek the rare monster out myself.
And then I’ll DEVOUR her.