Chapter Fourteen

I walk for a whole day, and by the time the sky darkens I've found the next town along the string of the highway. I don't know where I'm going. I figure I'll keep walking, running when I can, see where I can get.

The town is big enough to have the big-name stores, but small enough to smell like manure on the outskirts. I walk off the highway into the town, but this time no matter how fast I want to move my corpse can only walk slower and slower. My joints start to creak and I start to cry.

Alice...

I didn't ask for this! What am I doing here, alive, when I'm supposed to be rotting in my grave? When I pass a shiny, tinted window I stop and look at my reflection. I could be wrong, but I look even blacker than I did the last time I saw myself. My eyes are blazing in anger even through the tears.

Alice – why did I have to find her? Why did I have to find her and love her? Couldn't I have just gone on my solitary way and somehow found a way to fade into the background of what I'm supposed to be?

Instead I've got to wrestle with what to do – do I forget her and try to play the hand I was delt by lurking around, pretending I don't exist, or do I go back and find her?

But what would that mean? Pretending I do exist, but in the way I used to? There's no way I can pass for alive, no way I can fool myself into thinking my heart is beating. Alice... oh, why does her name have to have so much in common with what I'm not? Swap out that c for a v, and you've got the difference between us and the reason I couldn't stay with her in the car.

My black lace dress bears a streak of dirt. I try to brush it away but it's useless. I look up into my own blurry eyes and try to collect myself. First things first. I need new clothes.

And I have to deal with this growling stomach of mine.

I start to walk with more purpose now, not knowing what to do but letting my instincts guide me. When I see them, I know I'll pick them – a group of kids on the street corner ahead. They talk and laugh too loudly, and I know they're out looking for attention. Their clothes will do, I think, and they will do just fine.

I approach them slowly, watching, waiting for one of them to notice me. Then one of them does, a short skinny boy who looks like a girl. He has a ring in his bottom lip and I have to look twice to make sure he really is a boy, because this will be easier if he is. I catch his eye, his eyeliner-rimmed eye, and I wink. Doubtless, he is amazed that a girl is even looking at him. The next part is even easier than I thought it would be: I crook my finger and he follows me.



Chillingly easy – his friends don't even notice he's gone as I'm leading him down an alley.

"Who're you?" he asks. "I haven't seen you around."

"I'm not from here," I tell him.

"Where you from?"

I don't answer. I've got to get this over with. I don't have time to make friends.

I seize his face in my hands and kiss him. As I work away at his lips he comes undone at the seams, petting my hair and skimming his hand down my back. Whatever; I let him have his fun for a few minutes. It's probably his first kiss, and I feel a little twinge of something similar to sadness as I realize it'll be his last.

When I've had enough of his whimpering, I squeeze a little harder, a little harder, a little harder, until he breaks. His skull cracks pitifully, and warm liquid courses between my fingers and down my arms as his body goes limp and falls to the ground. I scoop the milky whiteness of his brain into my mouth, letting the crimson of his blood flavour it. My hunger climaxing, I move down his body and rip open the different pieces of him, combing the sweet chunks of muscle from the cartelidge and fat and bones.

When my stomach is finally full and I feel the boy's warmth swimming through my body, I pick up the remains of his body in my arms. I tuck the body into the nearest dumpster, folding his legs up to his hollowed-out stomach, touching his hands to what's left of his head. It's the best funeral I can afford to give him.

I disappear from the scene after slipping into his clothes: skin-tight jeans and an equally tight hoodie. As I pass the group of friends he left behind on the same street corner, I pull the hood up around my head and smile to myself. They didn't even look up from their cell phones to see the blood of their friend staining the lips of a girl passing them on the sidewalk. When will they notice he's gone?

I forget about it. I keep walking, getting faster and faster, now that I've fed. I don't know where I'm going, but wherever it is I can get there fast.