When I first met my ex-girlfriend’s new guy, I leaned in and whispered into his ear, “Zahoth Xin Haagra.” He looked at me questioningly, but I didn’t repeat myself because my throat suddenly hurt. Anyway, he had heard.
A week later, I ran into him again, this time at the co-op. He had bananas and soymilk in his cart, just like me. He was a lot like me, I noticed then. Too much like me — a fake me, a shoddy substitute with a bit more girth and a touch more handsome. Just a touch. I had to persevere and reclaim my place at my girl’s side, where I belonged, where she obviously wanted me. So I snuck up behind him while he unloaded his cart at the cash register. “Zahoth Xin Haagra,” I hissed.
He whipped around and sweat oozed from his brow. “What?”
“I curse you.” I smiled the smile that my ex had loved for almost seven years. Seven amazing years. It made the back of my jaw hurt.
“You are fucked, man.” Pudge Pile ran out of the store, abandoning his bananas and soymilk. The curse had started to take its toll.
Of course, it wasn’t a real curse. I didn’t know anything about curses. Those words had just appeared on my tongue, ready and willing. Nonsense words. Pudge Pile didn’t know that though. All I needed to do was convince him that I knew my satanic shit and that would scare him off. Then I could give my girl back the real deal instead of that dipshit doppelganger. He wouldn’t be hard to convince, especially if my ex told him about what I had done to her chinchilla, which, unfortunately, was what had caused this breakup business in the first place. I should have confined my experiments to the neighborhood squirrels, I guess.
I soon ran into both of them at the movie theater, not entirely by coincidence. Without drawing their attention, I took the seat behind them. I had collected some dead spiders from behind my radiator, and I was able to throw them into Pudge Pile’s popcorn without him noticing. At least, he didn’t notice at first.
When I leaned forward and licked his hairy earlobe, whispering, “Zahoth Xin Haagra,” I pointed at his arachnid snack. He screamed and threw it all over himself, all over her and all over the surrounding filmgoers. Clumsily, he turned around and fell at me, over the seat, in a pitiful attempt to punch me.
I scurried away, my gums bleeding, not because he had made contact, but because my mouth had been sensitive lately. Had it gotten worse every time I said those words? I laughed at the thought. My act had been so convincing I was starting to fool myself into thinking the words had power.
That night, I lay awake in bed, blood gurgling out of my lips, smiling because I knew I had done it. I had scared that pudgy fuck off. It was only a matter of time before my ex came calling.
The wait was shorter than expected.
“Darling,” she said from the foot of my bed, where she stood naked, haloed in the moonlight that seeped through the window. Her flowing blonde hair whirled around her head in the night breeze as she reached out for me with long-nailed hands. “I have come.”
I sat up and tried to speak, but instead of words, blood ran down my chin. My tongue sloughed off and slipped between my lips. Like a slug, it crawled across my sheets toward her. She snatched it up and shoved it into her mouth, moaning as she devoured it. This was not the sort of thing my ex usually did.
Tongue-less, I coughed out the bloody question, “Who?”
“You called me, darling,” she said as her now black eyes bulged from their sockets. Her lips, one moment so soft and familiar, became rows of gangrenous lesions. She leaned forward and sank her claws into the soft spot below my ears where jaw met neck. She ripped my head from my body, but I felt no pain, nothing.
She howled, “You called Zahoth Xin Haagra, and I have come!”
Ridged wings erupted from my cheekbones, and I flapped free. I left my headless body quivering on the bed behind me and followed Zahoth Xin Haagra, this glorious she-demon, as she flew into the night sky. I knew I would follow her from then on, worshipping her and serving her for all eternity.
My ex would be so jealous.
MP Johnson’s short stories have appeared in more than 30 weird publications. His debut book, The After-Life Story of Pork Knuckles Malone, was recently released by Bizarro Pulp Press. His second book, Dungeons and Drag Queens, is due soon from Eraserhead Press. He is the creator of Freak Tension zine, a B-movie extra and an obsessive music fan currently based in Minneapolis.