|I WAS A TEENAGE CANNIBAL by Neal Privett|
Meat is life, Eduardo thought as he slowly wrapped the bloody slabs. He paused to press his nose into the wax paper. He breathed deep and moaned in ecstasy at the raw, wild scent. He smiled. The sirens grew louder, closer. They were coming for him and they would get him, but not before he placed these Grade A cuts into the freezer. Meat as good as this should not go to waste. Meat this succulent must be preserved.
The sirens were in front of the house now. Eduardo sighed and ceremoniously shut the freezer door. He closed his eyes and cleared his mind. A calm smile came to his face. The meat. The meat is life, he thought to himself... then and there standing in that sublime kitchen of night. The door exploded into broken fragments and they were on him. They tackled him to the floor and pulled his arms behind his back. He felt the cold steel of the handcuffs biting into his wrists. They pulled him up and a sharp pain shot through his arms and shoulders. “You sick bastard!” they screamed. He could feel the angered heat of their foul breath in his face. He could feel the disgusting patter of their spittle dampening his cheek. They demanded to know things of him. He expected this. “Where are they? Where are those women you kidnapped?”
Eduardo thought for a moment, then broke into hysterical laughter. “They’re in the hamburger... the rump roast... the steaks!”
A hard fist pummelled the back of his head and he collapsed to the floor. He rolled up into a ball and tried to outlast the rage they unleashed upon him. They punched and kicked and spit. They did not understand.
He tried to explain. His words erupted from his bloody lips in short gasps. “The meat... the meat is life! I gave them immortality!”
They dragged him from the house and threw him into the back of the patrol car. Eduardo lay on his back and watched the night sky sail past him like a nocturnal river. His body throbbed with pain and he wanted nothing more than to smell the beautiful meat back in his freezer one last time. He heard them talk up front. The police officers who had taken him.
“He’s a damned teenager... a teenager! Can you believe it?”
“It’s that damned rock n roll music they listen to these days.”
“I wonder how a high school kid becomes... a... a...”
Eduardo smiled. He relaxed and watched the swirling stars through the rear window. Visions of meat cleavers and wax paper danced in his head. He was the supreme lover of meat... the omnipotent... the greatest butcher in history. He could still taste it... the meat... the blood. It was a divine sensation. One only the gods knew. He paused and the smile left his young face. Was he now a god? Possibly so. He broke out into wild laughter.
“Shut up, you weird bastard!” the driver screamed. But Eduardo did not stop. He laughed louder and harder. The other cop turned around and pointed at him through the grating. “Settle down!”
Eduardo’s laughter took control. It wracked his body... turned his brain upside down. It began to hurt, but he could not stop. He clutched his insides and howled. At that moment, the kid knew beyond a shadow of doubt that he would laugh himself to death.
“Pull over,” the big burly officer shouted over the boy’s deafening laughter. “I’ll shut him up!”
The patrol car pulled over to the side of the deserted street and Eduardo knew that he would never make it to jail... to court... to the institution where they would put him in a straitjacket and give him a padded cell. He knew that the officers were about to snuff the life from him and say that he tried to escape. But he laughed at them. He laughed and laughed and rolled his eyes back into his skull and laughed some more. Because it was all so funny. He was a god and they could do nothing but close his eyes to this silly world and send him on to the next... better... plane of existence. They would be doing him a favour.
The back door opened suddenly, and the officers pulled Eduardo out by his feet. He hit the ground and screamed as they pulled him to the middle of the road. The driver pulled him up into a sitting position and stuck his gun to the kid’s temple.
“Whadya say we end this monster’s miserable existence right now?”
“Yeah... this is for those girls you killed, punk!”
Eduardo howled like an animal. “But they were delicious!”
His words incurred their wrath again and he curled up into a ball as they kicked and beat him mercilessly. But the punishment stopped in an instant when the starry firmament exploded into a blinding green cacophony of light and deafening thunder-like noise. Eduardo opened his eyes and looked up to see a meteor sailing overhead to crash behind a row of empty warehouses. The police stood in complete and perfect shock. They stared at the spectacle like it was the end of the world. One of them relaxed his grip on the gun and it slid from his fingers, but he was so stunned that he did not notice for a long second. The gun landed on the asphalt and bounced twice before it came to rest at his shiny black shoe. Eduardo rolled over and lunged for it. He came up firing and the two cops collapsed to the ground, clutching their chests and wondering what had hit them. They closed their eyes and went to sleep, cloaked in cold death. The last thing they saw in this world was a defiant and victorious Eduardo on his knees, wi
th a gun in his hand.
Eduardo shoved the gun into his belt and ran away. He cut through a dark alley, tripping over a sideways garbage can in the dark, and emerging on the far side into the dim dirty glow of a welcoming streetlight. He stopped and stared when he saw the green light beyond a brick warehouse. The light was a bright neon green and it pulsated... calling to him. Reeling him in like a tiny fish for the kill. All thoughts of escape left him at that moment, and he knew that he had to gaze upon the meteorite with his own eyes. He found himself completely spellbound and moved past the silent aged structure with its lifeless dark windows as if called by some unseen force.
It fell from the sky... from somewhere beyond the stars. It had smashed into this deserted part of the city... why? What did it mean? Eduardo had to know. He moved down a side street and turned the next corner. The thing waited down the alley opposite. He stood there in the street, watching the heavy green glow as it grew brighter... then softer... then brighter again. He reached down and touched the gun. Just to make sure it was still there. Then he moved towards the waiting thing from outer space. There was no one there at that time of night in that rundown part of the city to see Eduardo walking stealthily across the street and down the alley.
The green glow emanated from the back alley... the strange visitor waited at the very end. The determined Eduardo moved past the smouldering ruins of the old warehouse that the meteorite had ploughed through on its violent trajectory, down the shadow strewn, garbage riddled corridor. The heat was almost unbearable. He undid the top buttons of his shirt and wiped the burgeoning sweat from his eyes. He moved in slowly. The green light filled the filthy alley, coating the brick walls and the trash strewn ground with a veritable aura that was both alien and somehow divine. Eduardo felt something akin to a baptism as he walked into the light. He felt something bathe his skin and seep into his flesh, through his pores, and into his bloodstream. His brain sizzled with a weird electricity. Something was happening to him. He was in no pain. He felt almost... elated. The meat urge had left him, too, at least for the moment, which had never happened before.
He called out to the visitor. His voice echoed eerily in the alley and rang inside his own ears. “Hello? I am coming to see you. Do not be frightened. I mean you no harm.” There was no response. He could not know whether this was a sentient being... or something animal or mineral. He moved closer... stepping inch by inch cautiously. The meteorite had not completely burned up in its descent to earth. Eduardo saw a shimmering rock in the middle of a garbage pile that slowly caught fire from the intense heat. Smoke trailed upwards in the green light. And sizzling green slime oozed from the interplanetary stone. The glowing substance dripped from cracks in the meteorite and rolled down its sides into the garbage. Eduardo laughed. This was like that movie he had seen at the drive-in last week... what was it... The Blob! Did this rock harbour a flesh-eating entity, too? Then they would have something in common, wouldn’t they?
He called out again. “Hello? Anybody there?”
The alley was so hot that he could barely stand it any longer. The very bricks around him almost seemed to be melting. Eduardo got as close as he could. He found an old broom handle and touched the glowing space rock. It was Saturday night... and Eduardo Sanchez was meeting the unknown face to face. He pushed the handle into the meteorite and gasped when the outer face cracked open. There was a sizzling pop. Green ooze bubbled and spewed. And it was then that something rose from the slimy cauldron and loomed over Eduardo, who could only stare in frozen awe.
The patrol car made the turn onto Highland, near the old warehouse district, responding to the All-points bulletin. There were two dead cops and a serial killer on the loose. Not the average night on patrol. They saw their fugitive immediately, emerging from the shadows. The lone figure moved ahead of them on the side of the road, oblivious to everything.
“Is that him?” The rookie leaned forward, gritting his teeth.
The senior officer leaned over the wheel and stared through the windshield at the tall lanky kid in their headlights. “Yeah, that’s him. Let’s get him!”
The patrol car came to a screeching halt with the blue lights flashing. The officers jumped out behind their open doors and aimed at the suspect’s head. “Stop! Put your hands in the air!”
Eduardo stopped but did not turn around.
The older cop repeated, “I said put your hands in the air where we can see ‘em!”
Eduardo did not respond. He stared straight ahead into the night. The rookie glanced over at his mentor. “What’s wrong with him, Casey?”
“You mean besides bein’ a cop killin’ cannibal? I couldn’t tell you.” Casey frowned. The little bastard was going to make this hard. So be it. He looked back at the kid. “Come on. But don’t let your guard down. The bastard’s got Simpson’s gun.”
The cops moved slowly towards their suspect. Eduardo stood there like a statue, arms down at his sides. His mind locked into the frequency of another world. But as the two cops advanced, a slight tremor began in the depths of his grey matter. And he knew that he could not be captured. There was too much to do. No, Eduardo was a god... the being from space granted him his powers.
The polemen gasped as Eduardo slowly turned to face them.
“Jesus! Look at his eyes!”
A bright glow emanated from Eduardo. It shone through his eyes and crackled across his flesh. The wisdom and power of a thousand alien millennia radiated inside him. He was now an unstoppable force. He smiled and a deep voice raged from within him; a voice that was his, yet not his. “Dinner is served!”
The rookie screamed as Eduardo ripped his arm from the socket and bit deep into the tasty meat. The young cannibal devoured the flesh from the dangling fingers ravenously and howled, “I gotta hand it to you officer, you are absolutely delicious!”
Officer Casey fired! The bullets ripped into Eduardo’s chest, but did no damage. In fact, the shots did nothing to slow him down. The demonic teenager cackled and hurled the bloody arm at the elder cop’s face. The force of the blow knocked Casey flat. Eduardo pounced on the downed officer, like a spider on a fly. Casey stared up into those glowing green eyes... those windows to an alien world... to a possessed brain... and he knew right then and there that he was gazing headlong into a new kind of hell! Twenty-five years on the force and the last thing he saw was Eduardo’s fangs as he lunged for his throat. The rookie writhed on the ground, lost in his own little world of shock and agony. He looked over at Eduardo, sitting atop his mentor’s chest, with a mouthful of his flesh and a string of steaming intestine in his hand. The cannibal teenager grinned back, with the blood gushing from his mouth, down his chin and onto his t-shirt.
“Tastes like chicken!”
The rookie screamed and screamed again.
Eduardo moved steadily across town towards his first destination. If a god were to control the city first... then the state... then the country, and maybe the world later... he had to have his pawns. Powerful pawns, who would be his strong arm in the night. The Vampyres’ clubhouse waited on the far side of town. Situated between two ancient and decaying warehouses and right down the street from the sewage treatment plant, this was the official headquarters of the meanest street gang in the city.
The leather-jacketed gang leader, Johnny Sykes, sat all alone inside on a ragged couch collected from the dump. He smoked a cigarette and studied oil stains on the cold concrete floor like an acolyte in a temple. The clubhouse had been a garage decades before. It had sat empty and abandoned for years until the gang took it over. Then it became the scene of countless wild parties and less than legal operations.
Johnny flipped out his switchblade when the door burst open unexpectedly. A tall, thin kid with glowing green eyes stepped inside and moved steadily closer, only Johnny could not really tell if he was walking or floating.
“What the hell are you?”
“Your salvation... the god of your new world order!”
“Have you been drinkin’ Drano?”
“No... just blood!”
Eduardo got closer and glared at the hoodlum with eyes that radiated with manic alien energy. The emotion and colour drained away from the kid’s face and cold shivers raced up and down his spine. Never scared of anything, the tough found himself staring into the eyes of something inhuman, something he could not understand... and it chilled him to the core.
“I need your help,” Eduardo said. “I am your new god. I will protect you... make your wildest dreams a reality... and for that, you will serve me.”
Johnny dropped his blade and sat there with a dumbfounded look on his face. “Yeah... I see what you mean.”
“Come with me... we have a visit to pay to the Vandals.”
The Vandals Motorcycle Club was down the street from a liquor store and a bail bondsman. The Vandals were in the throes of the loudest party the neighbourhood had seen in years and virtually everyone within earshot knew better than to complain to the police, half of whom were under threat or payoff from the club anyway. Eduardo and a hesitant Johnny crossed the tiny yard to the front porch where several bikers sat guzzling their beers. Johnny held back for a second and shook his head. “Man, I don’t have no business goin’ to a Vandals’ shindig. Don’t you know our gangs don’t jive?”
Eduardo smiled. “Don’t you know that you will taste amazing... cooked on a spit over an open fire with some homemade BBQ sauce?”
Johnny shook with fear and gulped. “Okay... okay... you weird bastard! Let’s do this.”
A big burly biker, wearing a sleeveless denim vest, his thick arms decorated with tattoos, cut off their entrance. “Now just where the hell do you two faeries think you’re headed?”
“To see the boss,” Eduardo said calmly.
The biker snarled. “About?”
“Power, friend... control... fame... money... what else would you like?”
The biker stared deep into Eduardo’s eyes... they began to pulsate again and glow with alien fire. His brain quivered and his insides shook violently. Suddenly, the neanderthalish clubber didn’t feel too good. “Yeah... sure.” He held the door open for the two visitors and they walked right into an off-limits Saturday night world. The party stopped as if a pause button had been pressed. A curly-haired biker in a worn black leather jacket stepped forward and shook his head in astonishment. “Who the hell are you and what do you want?”
“To see you,” Eduardo grinned.
The bossman raged. “Yeah... well you saw me... so get the hell out before you end up pig food!” He looked over at the doorman who stood on the porch in bewilderment, staring in confusion through the screen door. “Nice job, doorman... remind me to punch you in the damned face later!”
“Sorry... Kip... I... I don’t know how they got past me...”
“I do, stupid!” The bossman got in Eduardo’s face. “Don’t make me ask you twice, boy... like, get out now! This is a private Vandals party... and you idiots ain’t Vandals, you dig?”
“Not ‘less they want to be somebody’s mamas,” someone shouted. The house broke out into laughter.
Eduardo’s eyes began to glow again, and the crowd fell back in awe.
The leader’s jaw dropped open. “What... what the...?”
Someone mumbled, “Hey... what’s with that cat’s eyes, man?”
“I am your new god,” Eduardo announced to the stunned party. As if on cue, the entire congregation broke out into laughter again.
The leader buckled over, cackling. “You’re... what?”
“Hey, boss... let’s take these two jokers out back and cut their guts out,” someone jeered.
Eduardo laughed maniacally. “Yes... that reminds me... I am famished!” He reached over and grabbed a bearded biker wearing a denim jacket with the Vandals emblem on the back, covered in grease. Before anyone could move, Eduardo pulled his latest victim closer and bit deep into the man’s throat. With one savage jerk of his head, the cannibal teenager ripped the flesh from around the jugular and bathed in the resulting fountain of red with eyes closed and fangs bared in ecstasy. The house came apart then... and half of the Vandals exploded through the door and out the windows into the dark yard.
“Jesus! What are you?” the boss screamed.
A biker returned suddenly with a sawed-off shotgun aimed right at Eduardo’s head. Before he could pull the trigger, however, the possessed cannibal opened his eyes and to everyone’s horror, the biker dropped the gun and covered his face with dirty hands. He threw his head back and howled in pain as the brain inside his skull melted into mush. He hit the floor and lay there in a puddle of bloody froth that ran in gory rivulets from his eyes and ears.
The spellbound audience huddled together in fear. Eduardo looked them over and spoke again. “I don’t think we will have any further problems. Now you can see the seriousness of my words, right?”
The Vandals nodded in agreement.
“We are going to take over the city... you, me, and the Vampyres.”
The leader glanced back and forth from his gang to the emotionless alien in the middle of their living room floor. “How are we gonna do that?”
“By sheer force, friend. I will be supreme ruler and you will all worship me... in return for my protection and all of the money and power you could ever want.” Eduardo thought for a second, then added, “And... all the meat you can eat!”
The biker crowd stirred and chattered. Someone yelled, “That’s real cool... ’cause I ain’t no damned vegetarian...”
‘Excellent,” Eduardo said, his eyes aglow, “Then join me... we will have plenty of meat...”
The leader shot a grim stare at the domineering teenage cannibal. “What choice do we have?”
“Absolutely none,” Eduardo laughed.
A few nights later, Eduardo and both gangs peered over the barrier of twisted metal, garbage cans, bullet ridden cars, and wooden beams at their proposed target: City Hall, waiting like a beacon across the square. The idea of conquest appealed to both gangs and they came around, grudgingly at first. But the promise of spoils, screaming vengeance for their status as outcasts, and a roaring good time finally won all of them over. And now they were locked in place... waiting out their enemies in the streets as if they were besieging a medieval castle. Splinters exploded from the old wood piled high as a fresh round of bullets riddled the attackers’ fortifications. Eduardo and the others dropped to the ground as hot lead whistled over their heads. The gunfire from across the square peppered them with debris, but in the midst of the chaos, Eduardo smiled. Let them waste their bullets. It was only a matter of time until he took City Hall. The town square was in ruins. The first battle had been supreme and Eduardo, along with his newfound henchmen, had pushed the police and city officials back into the temporary sanctuary of the largest government building in town. And it was there that they would surrender and pledge allegiance to Eduardo, or it was there that they would die horribly. Their choice.
The citizens? Many of them were dead. Many had fled the city. Many remained and huddled inside their homes in fear of the invaders. But they would all bow down before the war was over. They would serve. Eduardo laughed. The city would soon be ruled by The Cannibal Party... and after that? TD: Total Domination! A New World Order. Temples would be erected in his honour... a special room would be constructed for the visitor from space. Civilizations would kneel at his throne! The earth would be his! He would go down in history and with the power of the meteor... he would live forever!
But first... City Hall.
The police crouched behind their patrol cars, defending the mayor and all his cronies with every drop of their blood. Kip, the leader of the Vandals moved closer to Eduardo. “So, what do we do now, boss?”
Eduardo thought for a second. “Where’s Johnny?”
“I’m here.” Sykes, the Vampyres’ leader inched closer, ducking his head when another barrage punished the fortifications. “You want us to move in on ‘em?”
Kip shook his head in disgust. “And get our asses shot off? Listen, kid... those pigs are entrenched. They ain’t movin’ and we would be Swiss cheese and minestrone if we tried to rush ‘em from the front.”
“I have a better idea,” Eduardo said. He rose and stepped across the makeshift barricade with his arms raised. His movements held all of the ceremony of a holy man in a sacred trance.
The Vandals’ boss tried to grab his foot. “Whoa! Get back here, man! What do you think you’re doin’?”
Johnny screamed. “Hey! Don’t do that!”
But Eduardo did not listen. He did not stop but moved swiftly towards City Hall to the astonishment of the defenders, as well as his own gang. The police defenders rose from their cover and, in unison, they cocked their weapons and aimed for the teenage cannibal’s head. The night was alive with tension and fear and every black emotion that welled up from the pit of man’s soul. Eduardo moved through the dark precipice of this conflagration of base minds. His eyes glowed again with alien fire and the electricity sizzled at his fingertips and he began to float... to move like a hot wind from Hell.
“Well,” Kip muttered. “It’s all over!”
“Wait,” Johnny said. “Look at him... he’s glowin’!”
The city’s police force shivered in fear and astonishment at the sight of the extra-terrestrial being walking on air before them! The order to fire came almost immediately... but the bullets simply passed through Eduardo with no effect and punished his henchmen instead. The attackers hit the ground and cowered behind their barricades as wood and metal exploded in their faces.
“You bastards!” Kip shouted.
The green spectre stopped before the line of police cars and lifted his arms high into the night air. The green aura around him began to quiver and pulsate. The unnatural light in his eyes gained intensity. And before the police could act, a massive explosion rocked the square. Green death rays shot from Eduardo’s ocular cavities and destroyed the defenders’ barricades! Cars exploded in place... melting into twisted, flaming bits of shrapnel that sliced through the police! Burning cars and contorted bodies flew through the air as if they were toys tossed about by a destructive child!
The air was filled with the less than human howls and groans of the dying and the already dead. Eduardo stepped over the carnage, pausing to pick up a roasted arm to gnaw on. The front door blew open with one twitch of his forefinger and he stepped inside with fangs glistening as he gnawed the meaty bone. Women scurried into adjoining offices and slammed the doors shut. A man in a suit vanished down the far hallway. They all scurried like rats; Eduardo laughed. He took another bite of the meat and glanced around his new headquarters. The Vandals and the Vampyres appeared behind him.
“We did it, boss,” Kip said. He looked away sheepishly when he saw Eduardo rending and tearing the meaty arm with his teeth.
“Yes,” Eduardo said. “It all begins now...”
Without warning, an office door flew open and the mayor raced towards Eduardo with a pistol in his hand and opened fire. The bullets flew right through the cannibal teenager and cut a Vandal down. Eduardo glared at the stunned mayor and clenched his fist in the air. “You should not have done that!”
The alien possessed teenager was on him, ripping and tearing. The gangs turned their heads in disgust as Eduardo bit through the mayor’s throat and lapped at the flowing blood like an animal. The mayor screamed once and faded out. The last thing he saw was a pair of glowing green eyes bearing down upon him.
Eduardo tore the eyes from the mayor’s dead face and munched on them like grapes. Then he helped himself to the chest cavity and the still-warm heart that had just ceased beating. He then tore a line of gut from the stomach and chewed with his eyes closed, enjoying every bite. The gangs retreated back into the street to escape the horror and to breathe some fresh air. A few of them fell to their knees, retching violently onto the pavement.
“Jesus, man!” Johnny said. “I ain’t so sure about this now!”
Kip turned to the leader of the Vampyres. “What are you sayin’? You want out?”
“Man... it ain’t worth conquerin’ the city if you lose your soul. Besides, that sick bastard just ate the mayor! When’s he gonna get hungry enough to eat one of us?”
“He wouldn’t do that.” The biker paused. “Would he?”
Johnny shot the leader of the Vandals a gritty look, then walked away, motioning his waiting gang to gather around him. They whispered among themselves for a few minutes. The Vandals conferred, too, with the same consensus.
The Vampyres broke apart and moved down the street. Johnny shook his head. “This is crazy! We’re outta here!”
“Yeah, man,” Kip said. “So are we.” The Vandals dispersed and, in a few seconds, the two gangs were gone, leaving behind the flotsam and jetsam of conquest littering the streets behind them.
A blood smeared Eduardo knelt beside the half-eaten corpse of the mayor. He trembled with meat fever... the taste drove him wild! The mayor was like a fattened hog ready for the feast. The cannibal teenager took another bite and stopped chewing when he sensed something wrong. He glanced up, staring off into space. “So... you will all abandon me now... when we are winning?”
He stiffened as the first blast of pain hit him in the chest. The room grew warmer suddenly and it took him only a second to realize that the heat was radiating from inside his body. Sweat rolled down his gore stained face and for the first time that cold spectre of fear blanketed his mind with its dirty sheet. The heat inside him became more intense. “No! I did what you wanted... I conquered the city!” The pain hit him so hard that he vomited. “Give me time... I will serve you!” Eduardo screamed as the searing green light inside him ate its way through his flesh to the outside. Shafts of light ripped through his chest and back... green energy exploded in his eyes and great gouts of blood ran from his ocular cavities. He fell to the floor and wailed in horror and pain as the alien light consumed him. “But I’m a god!”
Eduardo awoke screaming.
The door to his padded cell flew open and the orderlies rushed inside. They restrained Eduardo, who was working his way up into another violent crescendo. They tightened the straps of his straight jacket and stepped aside for the doctor with a fresh dripping needle. He plunged the tranquilizer into the howling patient’s neck and Eduardo quickly faded back into the slumbering universe he had been ripped from.
“Thank you, gentlemen,” the doctor said.
The head orderly scratched his head. “What a freakshow. Did he really eat those girls?”
“Yes,” the doctor sighed. “But he is completely delusional. He will never stand trial for it. It looks like our little cannibal will spend the rest of his life in here.”
“Screamin’ about aliens and world domination?” The orderly laughed. “He will never get outta here. You think that will keep him out for a while, Doc?”
“He will sleep for hours,” the doctor said.
As soon as the door of the white room closed, Eduardo rolled over and stared after them. A radiating green glow appeared in his eyes and grew steadily brighter. The sound of his laughter filled the room, then the long white halls of the hospital, much to the consternation of the staff. The meat... he drooled, thinking of bloody, rare, Grade A! To rend and tear with his teeth... the ecstasy of the meat! Eduardo’s laughter returned. It took control of him. It wracked his body... turned his brain upside down. It began to hurt, but he could not stop. He clutched his insides and howled. The teenage cannibal laughed deep into the night with his green eyes glowing demonically in the semi-lit cell.
Meat is life, Eduardo’s quivering brain screamed! Meat is life!