Jaws of Love
Sleeping in the shadows
Hidden in the midst of darkness
Love is waiting to be discovered
Love wants to wake up...
~ ~ ~
“Excuse me?” Tiffany Donnelly’s pretty face twisted into a look of surprise. “Cannibalistic girl in Wilmington?”
Tabitha Powell, her best friend and colleague, nodded as she held out the paper she had bought from the store earlier. She pointed to the headline, which had been written in bright yellow letters. “It’s true. I’ve been hearing it everywhere I go.”
Tiffany sighed and shook her head. “Tab, how many times do Dylan and I have to tell you? No one reads this crap but you! It’s not even real news.”
“This is.” Tabitha flipped through the paper and found the story about the girl in Wilmington. “Here we go! People claim that the boyfriend was spotted here!”
Tiffany began straightening the red and green plaid scarf she was wearing, which matched the rest of her Christmas themed outfit. It was pointless to argue. Tabitha was a chemistry teacher as well as the twin sister of one of her friends. Tiffany liked everything about her except for the obsession with tabloids. Even Dylan Grier, Tiffany’s boyfriend who had a strange sense of humor, found the stories in tabloid papers to be ridiculous. But Tabitha was obsessed with them. Everyday she’d tell Tiffany and Dylan something that had been written in the paper. Yesterday, she told them about the elephant that had the ability to predict the future. The day before, the big story had been Albert Einstein reincarnated in the body of a platypus. All Tiffany and Dylan could do was nod as Tabitha giggled and read further.
“This is the reason why I never became a science teacher. I value my sanity.” Dylan had told Tiffany one day, pointing to Tabitha reading her tabloids. “I bet she was never like this when she was younger.”
“I don’t know, sweetie.” Tiffany had responded watching Tabitha gasp and flip through the pages. “I think she’s had the obsession for a while.” Then she remembered something Dylan had said only seconds ago. “And who said *you* were sane? There isn’t a day that goes by without you driving me crazy and giving me a headache.”
“Oh, c’mon! I can understand the ‘driving you crazy’ part. But how the hell do I cause you headaches?”
“Well, let’s see...we can start with the time you spilled clam chowder over my brand new dress at the restaurant. Then there’s the time you left the movie theater early without telling me and I almost ended up kissing the old lady who took your seat...”
“Well, excuse me! I can’t help it if you can’t see in the dark, Tiffy! It’s your own fault you tried to kiss some stranger!”
Tiffany ignored him and went on. “The most recent headache came two days ago, when you rubbed my hand against your face *immediately* after I did my nails!”
“I didn’t know your nails were wet. Besides, your nail polish didn’t ruin my face that bad!”
“Please! All that red nail polish made it look like you’d been in a fight with a cat and it won! Oh, and let’s not forget the nights when you...”
“Okay, okay, I get it!” Dylan winced. Tabitha had already lost herself in the world of stupid stories so she didn’t ask what they were talking about. Dylan lowered his voice. “I hate it when you prove your point, Tiffy.”
The conversation ended right there with the bell, signaling the end of a period. The two of them kissed before they parted and left Tabitha gushing over those tabloids. Neither bothered to pull their friend back into reality. One of her students would probably do that.
Tiffany shook her head when she saw the pictures on the paper. She had to admit that they made her queasy. It was a picture of a girl’s bedroom decorated in pink and white. The flowers on the curtains matched the ones on the bedspread. There were stuffed animals cluttered in a corner and a top of a wooden desk. All in all, it would have been a pleasant scene had it not been bathed in blood. The thick crimson liquid was everywhere! Blood was drying on the walls, the ceiling, the curtains, the bedspread, and the floor. Tiffany gulped. She had no trouble with a little blood. But a lot of it made her want to run into the bathroom and start vomiting.
“It’s creepy, isn’t it?” Tabitha asked, noticing her friend cringe. “They didn’t bother cleaning up the room. They think there’s still evidence as to what actually happened.”
“Wait!” Tiffany shook her head. “You mean this girl *isn’t* a cannibal?”
“I don’t know. That’s what everyone is saying.”
Tabitha turned away for moment so Tiffany could only see half of her face. Her colleague was a striking young woman of twenty-five, only three years younger than Tiffany and Dylan both. She was willowy and perfectly proportioned like a statue one would find in a museum. Her hair was the color of cocoa and her jade eyes always sparkled like fireworks. Her waxed eyebrows looked like they had been drawn on her face. Her skin was neither tan nor pale but a lovely beige color. The only thing that wouldn’t get Tabitha on the cover of a fashion magazine were two small scars on her face, one above her right eye and the other close to her nose. She ran into an armoire when she was two and drove her tricycle off the dining table when she was five, resulting in a total of eighteen stitches and the scars. But they were nothing. Those were only two of thirteen scars she had received throughout her childhood. The total number of stitches she got was actually fifty-one. It was enough to keep her off the covers of any magazine.
But Tabitha had never been obsessed with the way she looked. Now she was older and wise enough to know that riding off a dining table was dangerous. She was also wise enough not to listen to her brother anymore because he was the one who convinced her to try those crazy stunts in the first place. When she thought about those times, it always bought a deep red flush across her face like someone had taken a red pen and drew a line across her. Right now, that flush was coming back again.
Tiffany decided to change the subject. “You are coming over tonight, aren’t you?”
Tabitha whipped back around. “To your place? Oh...yeah. Yeah, I am.” Then a grin replaced her blush. “We’re going to have a lot of fun grading exams together, huh?”
“I know. We’re pathetic.” Tiffany groaned and making Tabitha laugh. Personally, she did not want to tackle the exams from her Algebra II classes yet. She wanted to spend the night cuddling with Dylan and catching up on things that took place over the hectic week. He would be complaining (as usual) about how he had to grade 62 essays and she would tell him (after kissing him) to stop griping because grading essays was part of his job. But Dylan wasn’t going to be home tonight. He needed to take care of some unfinished business first. He didn‘t tell Tiffany a whole lot about it. She wanted to know what it was but he refused to tell her. So she pouted and whined until Tabitha came to the rescue. She also had a pile of exams to grade and suggested that the two of them spend the night looking through them. Tiffany ultimately gave up and agreed with Tabitha’s idea.
Right now, though, Tabitha didn’t seem to care about anything but that story. So Tiffany decided it was high time to change the subject. “So, Tab...what do you plan to do for Christmas?”
Tabitha shrugged. “Considering this will be the first year my twin and I aren’t going home for the holidays, I’m probably going to spend it with my husband and my girls. Hey, you think they’re going to find out who’s driving all these people to cannibalism before Christmas rolls around?”
Tiffany groaned. So much for trying to divert Tabitha’s attention from that damn story. Still, the whole thing scared her. People were dying around Christmas time for starters. It was supposedly “the most wonderful time of all” and everything was supposed to be fine. People were supposed to be with family and friends, buying gifts, getting drunk from drinking too much eggnog, and just being happy. It was a time to stop being selfish and care about others. No one was supposed to be dying. And, from what Tabitha had showed her, these people who suddenly became cannibals didn’t have problems. They were normal people. What the hell was going on with them? Why were they suddenly turning to cannibalism? Those questions swam through Tiffany’s mind as she tried to piece everything together.
“Well, if it isn’t my two favorite women on the planet.” Dylan interrupted them both, coming up from behind and wrapping his arms around Tiffany’s waist. Tabitha gave him a smile as Tiffany tried to pull herself out of his grasp. It wasn’t that she hated his hugs. In her mind, there was no place as warm as his embrace. He could get on her nerves but he was also the best support system she had. Whenever her day wasn’t going the way she planned, he only had to look her in the eye and everything got better. Likewise, she had always been there for him when he needed her. The real reason she didn’t him to hug her now was that she didn’t want any students catch sight of them. Dylan got the hint and let her go. Tabitha went back to her paper as the two lovers exchanged amused looks.
“What’s she gushing over now, Tiffy?” He asked. Tiffany realized that this new story may spark Dylan’s interest a little. Fake or real, he’d probably want to know more about it. He thrived on stuff like this and it did get him in trouble. Tiffany knew about it; she was the one always pulling him out of every jam he got into! She snapped her fingers, causing Tabitha to look up and hand the newspaper over.
“Look!” Tiffany waved it in Dylan’s face. “Read the headlines!”
Dylan stared at the paper for a minute before answering. “Man pulls baby giraffe out of a gutter using only his teeth?”
Tiffany rolled her eyes and hit her boyfriend with the paper. “Not that one! The one underneath!”
“Oh.” Dylan looked at where Tiffany was pointed. Then his hazel eyes widened. “Oh! I...I already know about that. My students told me.”
“According to the tabloids, the incident in Wilmington is *not* the first time this has happened.” Tabitha went on. To her, it was the best thing she had heard all her life. “Two weeks ago, some girl found her boyfriend finishing what looked like a dead body. He attacked her but she shoved the fireplace poker into him and saved herself. Then there’s another incident like this that took place a week ago.” Tabitha gave them a devilish grin. “Can you tell I *love* this story?”
“So do I.” Dylan murmured, soft enough so Tabitha couldn’t hear but loud enough so Tiffany could. She bit her lip, staining her two front teeth with her plum-colored lipstick. She hated hearing those words out of his mouth. She also hated that grin on his face. Tiffany may not have been an English teacher but she knew what look spelled: T-R-O-U-B-L-E. She was ready to disagree with whatever he had planned to do. Leave it to Tabitha to find freaky stories and get her boyfriend all hyped up about something that wasn’t even real.
At least, I don’t think it’s real. Tiffany thought, trying hard not to gulp out loud. Neither Tabitha nor Dylan seemed to notice her hesitation. If she had a normal life, it still would have scared her. She would have let pass by her. Hell, she probably would believe that she was safe.
But she didn’t have a normal life anymore. Fact or fiction, she had feeling she’d unwillingly get to the bottom of this mystery.
* * *
Meanwhile, not to far from where the high school was located, two young women had gathered in front of an apartment building. It was only two o’clock in the afternoon but the sun was still high and people were going back to work after lunch. The young women weren’t doing anything illegal, just giggling and gossiping. They had been waiting for another young lady to come.
“You know, I’m worrying about Kelly.” One of them, a tall dyed blonde, said. She kept glancing at her watch. “She was supposed to meet us here. Where the hell is she?”
“Maybe she’s running late.” A pretty brunette replied. “You know she had a lot to do last night. Kelly will come. Anyway, you gotta tell me about the teacher that came onto you!”
The blonde grinned and went into the story. They were still giggling when, several feet above them, a young woman stepped to the edge and looked down to the ground. She was at least twenty feet above the world, high enough to almost touch heaven. She was beautiful woman with long red hair, soft green eyes, and a face that belonged to a Barbie doll. She looked all right...except for the blood. It was staining everything: her shirt, skirt, legs, hands, and everything in between.
I’m a murderer. She thought, looking down at her bloodied hands. A murderer.
How long had it been since she found herself with a dead body? How long had it been since she realized that she was eating the dead body of a woman? How long had it been since she made the decision to cleanse herself and get away before she was caught?
The flesh...I was eating her flesh. She caught a piece of that flesh clinging to her shirt. Her stomach turned itself inside out as she tried to flick it off.
By now, other people had noticed her. They began pointing to the girl on the roof and talking. The other two girls looked up to see what the commotion was about. They both gasped at the same time when they saw her.
“Oh my God!” The blonde cried. “That girl...she’s gonna jump!”
“Don’t do it!” The brunette began yelling. “Get off the ledge!”
The other woman didn’t seem to listen. More people had gathered around the building, waiting to see what she was going to do. The blonde squinted to see what that woman looked like and let out a scream.
“Oh my God! That’s Kelly!” She shrieked. Her friend looked up and saw that it was *indeed* Kelly. The two of them began screaming for people to help their friend. Kelly made no attempt to back away from the ledge.
“Someone get help!” A stranger yelled. People began running around, looking for someone who could change everything. The two friends were right there, losing their minds and crying. Kelly didn’t notice that they were down there or hear them call her. In a few seconds, everything would be over. She would be rid of sin. She would never be caught for her crime.
Suicide is the only way. Suicide is the only way. Suicide is the only way. She kept telling herself.
“KELLY!” The two girls screamed. The brunette made a beeline towards the stairs in hopes of reaching her friend in time. The blonde just stood there, paralyzed with fear, as her friend stood on that edge.
“I’m sorry.” Kelly whispered. There was no way to repair the damage she caused. She just ate a person. The woman’s flesh was still stuck between her teeth. She tried using her tongue to force it out. Then she tried dental floss. It wasn’t going away. Tears began to run down her bloodstained face but they didn’t erase those terrible marks. She couldn’t face them again. She was a murderer.
I killed that woman. She realized. I killed her and tried to get rid of her body by eating it. I can’t let them catch me. Suicide is the only way. Suicide is the only way.
“Don’t do it!” The blonde begged her. “For the love of God, don’t do it!”
Suicide is the only way...
The brunette made it to the top but it was too late to do anything. Kelly leaned forward and let gravity pull her down to the ground. Everyone screamed as her body landed, cracking her bones and letting blood ooze out. People went calling for help but it was no use. She was gone and she took the secret of her strange behavior with her.
Copyright to Me: CT 2002-2003
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