Note: the following story was a four-hour challenge to myself written on Halloween, written from scratch and based on prompts received: Tittynope, Milkshake, Dollar, Glass, Chestnut, Gouge, Waitress and Loafers. I think I got them all in…
Just a bit of Halloween fun – if you want stories which had fancy things like time and editing spent on them, you can try Cellar Stories or Basement Tales for your sick little kicks…both available on Amazon for £1.99 on Kindle.
And so, Halloween 2019 Story for Bedtime…don’t read while you’re eating…
The Night of the Tittynope
The Doc and me were sat in one of the booths at the back of the diner when the waitress came over.
“You finished with that?” she asked, gesturing to my empty plate with a smile.
I looked at the empty dish in front of me, “Uh, yeah…”
The Doc smiled his creepy little smile at her, “Not a tittynope left.”
The waitress’ smile switched off like a light, and she took my empty plate that had contained a big old slice of Chestnut Pie not more than five minutes ago, and the Doc’s half-finished one without a word and walked away quickly.
The Doc sighed, “Ignorant rube.”
I shrugged, “You shouldn’t talk rude to her Doc, she’s just doing her job.”
He glowered at me – like he does a lot, “I did not ‘talk rude’ to her, moron. Tittynope. Etymology based on tittle – a tiny amount or part of something. Hence Tittynope: a noun, meaning a small quantity of anything left over, whether a few beans on a dinner plate or the dregs at the bottom of a cup.”
“You weren’t talking about her boobs?” I asked, “Like some kind of chest nut?”
He glared at me.
I looked down. I wasn’t good with word games like the Doc could be, but I thought that wasa good one. Besides, I’d tried not to look, but they had been nice boobs. She’d had a friendly smile as well.
“I want her arms.” The Doc said, wiping at his mouth with a napkin from the container on the table and dropping a single dollar bill on the table.
I shrugged. That seemed to make sense. She had nice arms as well.
“Let’s go,” The Doc said, and we left the diner, the waitress hovering way back until we were gone before she went anywhere near the table we’d been sat at.
I’d been working for the Doc for a few months now. He’d found me biting the heads of rats for bet money downtown. It was something I’d done back when I was a kid in the travelling show before they shut that sort of thing down. My Mom and Dad were long gone by then. Seems that it wasn’t ‘normal’ for a show to be doing some of the things the Wandering Freak Show did ever, not just the ‘change in the times the bleeding heart liberals brought on’ like my Daddy used to say. When the raid came, they’d all ran. Me, being the size I was and only ten years old, hadn’t been able to run so fast and they caught me easily enough. I never wanted to be caught in a raid again.
Anyway, the Doc took me home, cleaned me up, and gave me food. He seemed like a decent guy at first. Then he started talking and explaining his work – using lots of words I didn’t understand like ‘innovative’ and ‘misperceptions’ and ‘anatomical procedures’. He had a big house. Lots of space and he didn’t mind me staying there. He put a lock on my door which I didn’t like too much due to the fact it reminded me a little bit about those years I spent in Prison – something I had no intention of ever doing again, but otherwise, it was okay. It was a few weeks before he took me down into his basement.
It was like nothing I’d seen before except for on television. Back in the show we’d had to do all the people fixing in Mr Nightshade’s caravan, and it didn’t always go too well, what with the damp and the dirt and the fact we didn’t have anyone in the troupe who were anything like a proper Doctor. We’d take the animals in there when they got broken, and occasionally one of the family – that’s what we called ourselves. Some of them got better, some of them didn’t, and we’d leave them when we moved on to the next town. The Doc’s basement was nothing like that. There was all sorts of fancy equipment and machines and fridges and computers and stuff. And he didn’t use it for any animals.
For a small man, the Doc had big ideas. He was so small if he sat on the sidewalk his feet would dangle – that’s what my Daddy would have said. Me? I’m big. ‘Tall, dark and annoying’ my mamma used to say – even when I was just a kid. And since then I’ve got a whole lot taller. But the Doc, what we called a runt in the show – only about four foot six, he was smart. Kind of strange, but smart. Not just the words he used, but his ideas. I guess because he’d always been so tiny, he’d given it a lot of thought. And when he found me, he told me about his biggest idea.
He wanted to build a perfect woman.
And that was where I came in.
The Doc said he was looking for the perfect bits from less-than-perfect people. He was going to stick them all together and then…well, he didn’t really go into what would happen then much, but I guessed it had something to do with him looking so small and ugly that he couldn’t get a woman of his own so he decided he was going to make one.
He’d done all the work to figure it all out he told me. Now it was time to start the next part of the plan, and that was why he’d chosen me. I was a bit confused at first, given there’s nothing womanly about me, but he explained it slow. I think maybe he thought I would be against the idea at first, but I didn’t really care. I had a comfy bed here, he let me watch whatever I wanted on TV while he was working, and I got plenty to eat. If he needed me to help him get parts, because he was too itty bitty to get them himself, I was okay with that.
We had ourselves a start of a collection now. The Doc would spy some woman he liked, follow her around a bit, then we’d go to work. He’d been in this here diner a few days ago and spotted the waitress’ arms and decided he wanted them to go with the other bits we had back at his basement. It wasn’t my favourite thing in the world – in fact, I pretty much hated it. Some of them women had been nice enough to me when I’d first seen them – like the waitress here with her kind smile. But the Doc was determined; he had a vision, a dream, and a little electric buzzer he’d stuck in me at some point when I was asleep that hurt like a son-of-a-gun when he pressed the little zapper.
We waited outside for the waitress to finish work. We didn’t know how long that might be given it was a 24 hour place, but around midnight she came out with a coat on. She lit a cigarette and smoked it down quick before she turned left and headed off down the alleyway on Third and Main. Maybe it was a short cut home. Maybe she was going for a drink somewhere. I didn’t know and never found out because the Doc gave me a little nudge – with that zapper thing of his – why he couldn’t just tell me I didn’t know: he seemed to like the control he thought he had over me. The truth was I’d got so used to it, it wasn’t much more than a tickle now, but if it made him happy and I still got my bed, TV and food I’d play along.
She started to run when she realised we were behind her, but in those shoes she was wearing and my long arms, I grabbed her easy enough. I grabbed her a bit too hard – not the first time I’d done it, and the Doc had only minded once when I’d snagged that singer with the ‘swan-like nape’ (No idea) a bit too hard.
The Doc caught up to us – her lying there dead and me standing over her, and he pushed me to one side as best he could with that little scrawny body of his and pulled his little saw out. It was small, but from experience, I knew it was sharp as all get-out. He rolled her over, pulling her out of her overcoat, and sat on her chest. It looked kind of funny, except for her being dead and all, with that sweet smile of hers.
“Keep a watch out, Igor.” He hissed, as he stretched her arm out so he could get at it easier.
I don’t know why he called me Igor – but that’s all he’d ever used since I’d known him.
I started over him as he went to work, swivelling my eyes from one end of the alley to the other and could hear the sawing sound as he hit bone.
And then I couldn’t hear much else other than her screaming. I guess I hadn’t grabbed her as hard as I’d thought.
The Doc cursed and called me a name I didn’t care for much and seemed stuck between two choices for a second before he carried on sawing, faster and faster, the waitress’ screams getting louder and louder.
“Don’t just stand there, moron!” he cursed, his little arms pistoning away with the blade, “Shut her up!”
I covered her mouth with my hand – it was big enough to do it easily and half her face as well, and she shook her head wildly from side to side, trying to get free. Then she turned her head one way, while I was pushing it the other and, well…there was a crack and then she stopped screaming. Stopped moving altogether.
“Uh, Doc,” I said, looking down the alley the way we’d come.
He glanced up at me, “What?! Can’t you see I’m bus…?”
He stopped mid-word just as his little saw cut through and he saw the policemen running towards us.
She’d screamed really loud.
“Run!” He screamed at me, hopping off the waitress’ body, holding her arm in front of him like one of those sticks the guys in the Olympics passed to each other when they’re running – except it was the length of both of his arms put together and he didn’t look like he wanted to pass it on to me.
We ran, down little side streets, the Doc shouting out to me “Left”, “Right”, and occasionally, “That’s not your left, you idiot!”. It would have been easier if he’d been in front and I’d just followed him, but like I say, his little legs made it harder for him to move at any speed. If the cops hadn’t stopped to check on the woman before coming on after us, I think they’d have caught us before the end of the first block. As it was, they were still behind us, and I guessed they’d gotten their lefts and their rights mixed up as well. I could understand that. It did get confusing.
In the end, I picked the Doc up, the extra arm and all and kind of slung him over my shoulder and ran. He couldn’t help with any lefts or rights then, but I figured the important thing was to get away from the cops and it didn’t really matter if it was up, down, left or right.
The diner hadn’t been in the best part of town to start with – Doc always said it was better to stay away from the lights and the money, but we were deep in the industrial area now. I recognised some of the buildings from labouring work I’d done over the years: a few days here and there before they got rid of me because of something to do with…well, I was never sure what – I just know people didn’t like to talk to me at the best of times, and after a few days anywhere they found they’d got enough people to get whatever needed doing done.
I didn’t recognise the building the Doc was gesturing at over my shoulder, tapping me on the side like you’d steer a horse, which struck me funny and started me laughing for a moment before the Doc gave an extra long press of his little zapper. Holding it down long enough for me to feel it good – or bad, more like.
I put him down, and he walked over to the half-open doorway, beckoning me in. I wasn’t so sure, but then I heard shouting from not far away. Cop-shouting, you can always tell, and then I was sure and ducked into the darkness behind him.
“We wait here. Half an hour, then we head back to the house. Half an hour should be enough for them to look elsewhere…”
“What if it’s not?” I asked, “What if they get more cops…and dogs?” I didn’t like dogs. And they didn’t like me.
The Doc gave me that sour look he gives me – the one I’ve been getting more and more sick of recently, “Because, -crap-for-brains, this won’t last much longer than that before it’s useless to me!” He waved the arm at me, and I almost waved back, just to see whether he’d laugh. I didn’t think he would, so I didn’t bother.
The place was dimly lit – the moonlight coming in through the frosted glass lining the top quarter of the walls around the place.
“What do you think this place is use…Oww.” I cried out a little as he zapped me again. It felt like he’d turned the button on it all the way up. The Doc held a finger to his lips.
I glared at him, getting pretty sick of all the zapping, and listened. I could hear voices getting closer and closer until they were just outside the door we’d snuck in through.
“That’s everything?” I heard a man’s voice say.
“That’s as clean as it’s going to get, and I don’t care if we are getting double-pay. They’re still gouging us for this. If the cheap sons of bitches can’t keep their place clean, they deserve everything they get when the sanitation guys check ‘em out.” Another voice said.
“Nine hours. Why else do you think they agreed to pay us double time? They get another write up, and they’re closed down for a hella long time…You got the padlock?”
The door slid shut, and the Doc and I looked at each other as we heard a bolt snapping shut and then footsteps walking away.
We sat in silence for a minute and then the Doc threw the arm as far as he could, cursing loudly.
I rubbed my face, “Hey. We can get another arm Doc…”
He turned on me, his beady little face creased in fury “It’s not the arm, you complete and utter dolt! It’s the fact we’re locked in here, and there’s going to be a whole team of hygiene inspectors arriving in a few hours who will find us with…that.”
“Oh,” I said.
“Oh.” He repeated, not sounding anything like me. “Think, think, thi…look at who I’m talking to. May as well wish for a teleporter to get us out of here.”
He started stomping around the place, trying the door – rattling it good and hard with no effect.
“Can you reach the windows?” He asked me. Which was pretty dumb for a guy as smart as he was. Even I could tell I wouldn’t be able to reach them. I may be six foot eight, but even stretching as high as I could, I’d be a good two feet short of them.
He cursed some more and paced some more and then cursed again.
I tried to help look for some sort of escape, but there was nothing. I tried to move the machinery around the place to see if maybe I could stand on something to reach the glass above, but it was bolted solid to the ground.
“What is this stuff, anyway?” I asked him, puffing hard after failing with the last bit of equipment.
The Doc studied it a little closer, “Industrial Saw. Grinders. Mincing machines. I guess it’s some sort of food preparation place. Sounds like those guys were on clean up duty. Guess they’ve failed a few hygiene checks.”
He collapsed to the ground, his big head in his little hands.
“Couldn’t we just say we came in here by mistake?” I asked.
“And the arm?” He asked, “Are you hoping that’s just going to crawl out of here on its own?”
Oh yeah, the arm.
“We’d be fine if we could get rid of that…then we could claim we were drunk. On our way home, took a wrong turn…flimsy, but if there was no proof…”
He lifted his head out of his hands and looked at me, a smile slowly spreading across his face.
“Uh-uh. No way, Doc.” I said.
“C’mon. What’s the big deal? You were eating rats when I found you…”
“Rats are different!”
“They’re rats! Not human.” I knew this for a fact, and no matter how smart he was, I didn’t think the Doc could argue with me.
“What’s the difference? Meat is meat.” The Doc said, as though it made perfect sense, “We grind it up – that big machine there, see? It’ll end up not much more than paste. I’ve seen some of the stuff you eat – three-day old tuna casserole. Compared to that, this would be a gourmet meal…”
I shook my head, “No way.”
“You want to go to jail? They find that there with us, they’ll lock us up. Then they’ll search the house and find all the rest of it. You think they’ll believe a little guy like me could do it? They’ll go for the big dummy, believe me. You’ll get the chair…”
I stared at him, “I never wanted to do any of this – this whole thing is your idea! I’m not going to eat the arm.”
“It’s the only evidence they’ll have! Just eat the damn thing, and we’re free – a slap on the wrist for trespassing at worst.”
I shook my head. Slowly at first then faster and faster – I couldn’t help myself, he’d cranked that button all the way up, and he was keeping it pressed down.
“Eat the damn arm, or I’ll fry you, you big ass-hole!” He screamed.
I swang out an arm. All I was trying to do was knock the buzzer out of his hand, but when someone’s putting that much juice through you, your aim is going to be a bit off.
I hit him upside the head, and he flew across the room. Actually lifted off the ground and landed in a heap face down. And the buzzer still underneath him, with his finger pressing down on it.
I kind of hurky jerked over to him, my legs jittering like crazy. I was only trying to flick him over, to get his hand off that damned buzzer, but the electricity and everything. My big foot came down on his bald skull. Hard. And again, and again, until the fob rolled away from his unmoving hand.
I collapsed to the ground, my body still shaking, my head buzzing, and then darkness came over me.
When I came around, the Doc hadn’t moved and feeling the floppiness of his head, I knew he wasn’t going to.
I thought about what he’d got me into. Thought about being locked away again. Thought about the doors opening and them finding me there and the fact that there was no way I could say it was an accident him dying and happening to have my size 12 boot mark all over his face and there not being a single cupboard in the place I could hide him in.
“You little rat!” I cried, looking at his tiny body lying there, all twisted and battered, “I ain’t going back to jail because of you and your lady part plans…”
And had a real, honest to goodness thought.
I got the machines going without much problem. I know I’m not the smartest person in the room – well, technically I was at that very moment, but I’ve always been okay with mechanical things. The saw was loud, and I worried when I first started it up, but no-one came running. The mincer was manual, so there wasn’t too much problem there. The guys who had been in cleaning the place up had left sheets of plastic everywhere, and they came in useful.
I spent an hour sawing and mincing. My Daddy used to say something about measuring twice and cutting once. I didn’t need to measure much, so I spent the extra time on cutting.
It started to get messy, and I realised I was going to have to eat the soft bits first. I gouged out the soft bits from inside. At least they were warm – hot even. Some of it was a bit chewy, other parts too slimy for my liking, but it went down. There was a lot of blood inside the Doc’s little body. And I admit it got a bit messy slurping it all down, not having a cup or nothing. I tried to think about milkshakes as I bent over him. I’ve always liked Milkshakes. But I’d never drunk eight pints of the stuff. I took a break after that.
I’d stripped the Doc of his clothes – I wasn’t sure at first what I could do with those. I didn’t think I’d be able to get those down, no matter how many times I put them through the mincer. But luckily, once I’d sawn through the trousers, I was able to tie them altogether and wrap them around my body, putting my own clothes back on over them. His shoes, dappy little loafers, were small enough to fit inside my trench coat pockets.
Then, reluctantly, I got back to the body. It wasn’t that it tasted so much worse than the rats I used to bite the heads off for dollar bets. There was just so much more of it. Once I’d passed the bones through the mincer a few times they came out fine as dust. I tried to think of it as sherbet and used the last of the blood to wash it down with – thinking I’d been smart to leave some.
The skull was harder. I swallowed the teeth like little tic-tacs – not chewing, just popping ‘em down whole – two, three at a time. Luckily, the Doc hadn’t had the best dental hygiene history, so there wasn’t quite a full set to get down. The brain – as big as I thought it might have been to have all of them fancy medical thoughts the Doc had, didn’t seem so big once I popped it out and twice through the liquidiser, it wasn’t so much different to the blood – just a bit lumpier.
The flesh I’d ripped off the bones. That was chewy, no two ways about it. It took me an hour and a half to get through it all.
I was sure glad the Doc hadn’t been any bigger.
By the time the sun had come up, shining through the frosted glass, there wasn’t too much left of the ole’ Doc. Once I’d bashed the skull a few dozen times and fed it through the mincer a few times, which I was starting to worry mightn’t last much longer, I was able to swallow it down with the last of the blood.
That was the last of it, other than the bloody mess on the plastic sheet. I took the whole thing by its ends, pulling it up, making sure nothing fell out, and carried it over to the big sink. It was only as I was washing all the slop off the plastic sheet into the tub and down the plug, stamping the slightly bigger bits down that it hit me that I hadn’t actually had to drink all that milkshake blood. I could have just drained it all down here.
I never said I was the smartest.
I laid the wet sheet back onto the floor, and pretty much collapsed on top of it, trying not to recall any of the good times I’d had with the Doc, or recall any bits of him full stop.
I had a real case of the meat sweats and was hyperventilating a bit when I heard the door unlocking, and the big cargo door slide open.
“Oh, Sweet Lord.” I heard a man’s voice say – I couldn’t see him so well, given I was wearing the Doc’s glasses I’d spotted lying on the ground just as the door had started to open – tiny little things that barely covered both my eyes, but I could hear him shouting. Shouting for help. For Police, and a moment later I guess they arrived because I could hear the cocking of a lot of guns. I took the glasses off and looked at them. I had my story ready – I’d been thinking about it a lot during my all-night feast. I may be a bit dumb, but I was smart enough to play on being dumb. Just a big old dummy who’d wandered in here looking for somewhere to sleep off a few drinks. On my own. I was already to start telling them all that when they finally got around to looking at me.
Because they weren’t looking at me.
They were staring behind me.
Their mouths open in horror.
I turned and took the little tiny glass off, to see what it was that they were finding so damned scary.
And in the corner, lying where it had lain since the Doc had thrown it across the room when he’d been so mad, was the arm.
The pretty, pretty arm.
The Doc would have been disappointed – in all the confusion, it seemed I’d left one of them tittynope things he’d been talking about back in the restaurant after all.