THE SOUL (EATING) MATE • by Michael McMullen

Adrienne had locked herself in the bathroom, again. In the three months we had been dating, this was her seventh deployment of that tactic. She’d go in there to cry, we’d argue through the door, and then everything would be fine.

“Babe, c’mon, open the door,” I said.

“No!” she shouted back at me. So far we were right on schedule. I could tell from her voice that she was definitely crying.

“Adrienne, please! I want to talk with you,” I said. What I really wanted was for this to be over with so we could go back to watching my favorite TV show.

“You never want to talk!” she said. “I’m the one who wants to talk, and you keep shutting me out. How does it feel to be shut out, James!?

I rolled my eyes. Were all women crazy, or was it just the ones I dated?

“I don’t always shut you out,” I said.

“You never want to do the things I want to do, things that are important to me,” she said. “Like the language class we were going to take, and then you dropped it!”

“Babe, it was Latin. Nobody speaks Latin. There was literally no time in my life I would need to know Latin unless I got the chance to travel with the doctor.”

“James! I’ve told you a hundred times that you would need to know it so I could teach you the incantations!”

I grabbed the hair at my temples. We were back on this again? For the last two months it has been nothing but “Elder Lord” this and “Dark Servant” that. Our first fight was about the time I accidentally told her I thought it was ridiculous. Seriously, this chick.

“Babe — ”

Don’t call me ‘babe’ right now,” she said.

I crossed my arms and leaned against the wall. This was going to be a long night.

“I’m not saying it’s stupid or ridiculous or anything like that. I’m just saying I don’t see why I need to learn a dead language to play your games with you.”

There was a long silence.

“Games?” she said, finally. Her voice was flat and cold. I have never heard that tone in her voice before. A slight chill ran down my spine.

“Babe — ” I said, but there was a loud knock against the door. It sounded as if she had kicked it or something.

“Games?! I want to share what is most important to me and you call it games?” Her voice was dark and resonant. The door to the bathroom started to slowly open.

“Was I ever important to you, James?”

“You were! You are! I just… I didn’t understand!” I said. I was scared, wondering if I should leave the house or not for a few hours while she calmed down. I didn’t have that idea long before I felt something pin me to the wall. It felt like a giant hand against my chest, even though I couldn’t see anything.

The door flew open. The bathroom was dark, inky black with no lights inside, yet Adrienne had an ominous glow. Her normally brilliant green eyes had turned to a deep red and her skin was a sickly pale white. She began to slowly walk, or maybe float, towards me.

“You shouldn’t mock things you don’t understand, James,” Adrienne said.

She began to glow more brilliantly. I was overcome by terror and tried to look away but it felt like another hand was holding my head still. I felt something like worms running up and down my body. It was getting harder to breathe and the whole apartment started to smell like sulfur.

“There are powerful things I can teach you, wonders beyond your wildest imagination.” Her voice now sounded like the roar of a hurricane.

She came closer until he was inches from my face. I could see the light of the sun in her eyes. The room was filled with the sound of shrieking and I could feel more hands grasping my arms and legs. “Are you going to sign up for Latin classes again, or not?”

I mouthed the word “yes” since I couldn’t move my head and couldn’t breathe to speak.

Instantly, Adrienne’s glow disappeared and her eyes went back to green. The hands holding me and the feeling of worms went away. The sulfur smell was gone and I could breathe again. Adrienne squealed with delight and wrapped her arms around my neck.

“Oh James, I’m so happy! We’ll have so much fun together! You’ll love these classes. We should take guitar lessons, too! We’re going to be so happy together, James.”

Michael McMullen is 29, living in Cheney, WA and currently working as a full-time photo editor while also trying to work as a full-time writer/blogger/artist. Currently, you can find him on Twitter at @mimcmullen and on his blog at

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  • We’ve all been there.

  • Great entertainment that made me laugh, even when I recalled how real it is!

  • Fun! Love the title, too 🙂

  • Tina Wayland

    As a metaphor for those relationships that suck the life out of you, this is pretty spot on.

  • Great story. I loved that he wanted to watch TV. And then got a TV show all of his own.

  • Catherine Olaso

    Classic. Well done. I smiled the whole way through.

  • #6 I think the metaphor refers more to how strange and wonderful our mates are, that we should “dump our favorite TV program” and take interest in their interests. The “soul eating” title describes the MC’s mistaken perspective.

  • This really kept my interest throughout – I thought the characters were really believable and felt sorry for James. I found the “horror” part of the story actually less gripping than the rest – perhaps because it was such a brief part of it – but I enjoyed it very much. Thanks!

  • Tyler Durden

    Hey James, run while you still can…

  • Sarah Crysl Akhtar

    Clever and well-done. Just the right voice for each character. Four stars.

  • Thanks for the feedback, guys! I’m so glad you all liked it. 😀

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  • Mariev Finnegan

    In a world built on HIStory and and religion lacking the sacred female, only virgin births, I glad to see some man gets it. And you didn’t even cop out and blame her. Great story.

  • I liked the flow from the every-day argument to the horror show. I’m glad the “demons-from-hell” part wasn’t any longer than it was; my jaw was starting to hurt. But the snap back to normal at the end was funny and tension-relieving in such a clever way, I am still smiling.

    I’m glad James wasn’t breaking up with her… 🙂

  • Pete Wood

    Um, this is just a story, right?
    Nice job.

  • andy hamilton

    A lot of exclamation marks. Do you need all (or any) of them. Let the writing show how things are said. Don’t tell it by scattering exclamation marks.

  • yep. it worked for me

  • a brilliant story! did I mention I loved it? I’m rereading it for the third time copying out p\assages I like. I’ve come to short story writing quite late in life but this one has taught me a lot

  • Celeste

    Adoring this right now! This is awesome! I can almost see you turning this into a full length novel–I’d buy it in a heartbeat!

  • I’m with Celeste (#19) and others – this is awesome. Both the mundane relationship woes and the demonic horror were handled very well. I could picture everything.

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