Ghosts of the Barbershop

Ghosts of the Barbershop

“Your wife?

“Yup.”

“And you’re a barber?”

“You know it.”

“Sometimes I wonder. Your wife, and you’re a barber…”

“I cut men’s hair, not… okay, I’m not good with men’s long hair either.”

“So when she saw it, what happened?”

“She divorced me. After six months, no less.”

“It is less, man. If it were, maybe two years…”

“Well I don’t really blame her. She looked like an Asian pop star when I got done with her locks. The nutty kind, not the classy kind.”

“They’re all nutty in Asia, man.”

“Well…” Alex paused.

“What, man?”

“She’s the reason I haven’t passed on yet. I just want to cut a woman’s hair right, once. I know I could do it.”

Kurt levitated a pair of scissors. “Like I don’t know that? I want to cut anyone’s hair using only scissors, but I’m a freakin’ razor guy. It ain’t gonna happen. No one’s been down here since they carted away our bodies in ’11.”

The barbershop was underground, but the only sign of damage to the place was the large block of ceiling that crushed the pair of barbers. Kurt lamented not tipping the contractor.

“We’ve been cutting hair since the mid-2000’s, right?”

“Yeah, man.”

“Who cut the long-haired customers’ hair?”

“Uh… Tony.”

“Oh yeah, good ol’ Tony. He was out with mumps that day.”

“Lucky sunnuva…”

Rattling came from the outside. Someone was tampering with the locks.

“KURT.”

“ALEX.”

A high-pitched voice echoed in the stairwell. “Okay, we’re in the Barbershop of the Damned. Remember, breaking and entering into abandoned places is illegal, but fun.”

This was it. A woman for Alex to practice on. Or for Kurt to use scissors on.

“And here’s where Alex Monty and Kurt Segar died. Remember, if you post it on your YouTube show, it’s not illegal.”

“It is, though.”

The woman spun around. Nothing. “Who said that? Get out here!”

The barbers materialized in front of the YouTuber. “Hello,” said Alex. “Can we cut your hair?”

“What, are you trying to scare me? I’ve seen ghosts before.”

“Man–er, ma’am, we need to move on. Can we cut your hair?”

“Are you… Alex Monty and Kurt Segar?”

Alex chuckled. “Guilty as charged. Look, sorry to bother you, uh…”

“Liz.”

“Miss Liz. Can you take off the hat and sit in the chair? One of us would like to practice on you.”

Liz turned her phone off. “I don’t think…”

“No need to think,” said Kurt. “Just choose who’s hotter,” he pointed at himself, “and let them play with your hair.”

Liz hesitated as she took off her hat to reveal…

“You’re bald.”

“Yeah, no, I have cancer and chemo. Sorry to disappoint you.”

“No,” said Alex. “We’re sorry to have imposed on you.”

“What about a wig?” asked Kurt.

“I think they’re itchy and represent a patriarchal concept of women needing to be beautiful. Mostly itchy.”

“No, ma’am. I mean would you be willing to wear a wig and we cut that? We don’t have a wig head, so we couldn’t cut them right, but we do have wigs in the back room.”

Liz rolled her tongue. “Fine. But I want the cute one to do it first. Alex.”

Alex pumped his fist, or the spectral version of it. He picked up a brunette wig that went down to Liz’s shoulders. He picked up the scissors and went to work. After a half-hour, Alex was finished with his masterpiece.

“Is this me?” asked Liz.

“Yeah.”

“It looks great.”

Alex faded away with a big smile on his face.

Kurt stroked his astral beard. “Looks like he’s a real barber.”

“Next. Your turn, scissors guy.”

“No thanks. I actually don’t care that I suck with scissors.”

“Then you must have another reason for still being here…”

Kurt thought. “Oh yeah. The Nintendo Wii U came out after I died. Was it a success?”

Liz forced back a laugh. “N-no. Not even a little.”

“Good.” And then he vanished.

Advertisements

Uma Thurman of the Owls

Uma Thurman of the Owls

“Have you ever seen Motherhood? No one has. It’s $1.99 online. $1.99 to see me act.”

The owls were trying to sleep, but she kept chattering on.

“My Super-Ex Girlfriend is $2.99. I don’t know. To me, they’re of a similar quality.”

She tried picking off feathers from the snowy owl with her toes, succeeding all too well. She held them in place.

“Ta-da! Quentin would have loved this. But forget him. Forever.”

She watched the largest owl fly away in what she perceived as something other than annoyance.

“Off to get us some worms, right bros?” She laughed nervously. The barn owl turned away from her.

Uma Thurman flopped onto her back. Why didn’t the other owls like her? Was it because she was so tall? Her size 11 (she claimed) talons? Her tired eyes? She identified as an owl now. She recalled what had happened.

As of today, she said in a public speech, I no longer feel like a human. I’m being watched and photographed all the time. I feel overly sexualized and criticized. Therefore, I will now live my life as an owl. I will move to an undisclosed tree with other owls and if you think I’m mad, you’re just a bigot.

Many people supported her in fear of being ousted as bigots. Uma bought five male owls and moved to the top of a dragon blood tree.

But now they hate me, even though I’m one of them. What did I do wrong?

The thought struck her. “I’m not a predator like my brothers! I need to use my talons to attack, and I’ve just been lazing about!”

She ran and ran and ran and jumped off of the tree, toes outstretched to grab an animal with. She fell and fell and fell and landed on Quentin Tarantino. He lay unconscious on the dirty ground. She stood up and realized he must have been looking for her.

A cruel idea struck her brain. What was the name of her big movie he directed? Kill Quentin? That sounded right to her.

That night, Uma fed an ambiguous meat to her brothers. “Eat up,” she said. She turned to the snowy owl. “Uh, those are for me. I eat the feet.”

The largest owl hooted. The roundest owl hooed. The snowy owl whoed. The barn owl whomed. The bland owl said nothing. The Uma owl said, “What are we going to do now, brothers?”

The owls picked her up with their talons and flew off. Over the forests flew the six owls, high in the sky, over the trees and beyond the clouds. Past rivers. Past valleys. Past the boundaries of the forest.

Finally, Uma felt like one of her brethren. Uma laughed in excitement, hoping this flight would never end.

They went into the human territories and stopped at a police station. Uma ran, barefoot, but the five owls’ strength was no match for one owl.

“I don’t want to go! I don’t want to go!” She panicked. “You can’t take me to jail over Quentin! Directors are creepos!”

“What seems to be the problem?” asked the sergeant. “Ain’t you Mia Wallace from Pulp Fiction?”

“N-n-no! I’m an owl! An owl!” She stomped frantically.

“That’s Uma Thurman, the self-proclaimed owl,” said a female cop. “I recognize her from Motherhood.”

“Oh, would you like an autograph?”

“I hated that movie. Worst waste of $1.99 I spent.”

The owls began to hoot wildly. To Uma, they seemed to be pecking a path of truth into her skull. She couldn’t withstand it any longer.

“I KILLED QUENTIN TARANTINO AND ATE HIM! But it’s fine, right? I’m an owl. You can’t arrest me.”

“Actually,” said the second cop, “an animal that attacks a human usually gets put down, and you killed one. Let’s send her to animal control.”

Uma froze. This wasn’t right at all. “I was only kidding. I’m not really an owl.”

“No, no. You made it clear. You’re an owl and we’re putting you down. Hello, animal control?”

“But I’m human! I have human children! My ex-husbands are human!”

“That so? Then we’ll send them to jail for bestiality.”

The animal control came in. “Which owl is she?”

“The big yellow one with the goofy claws.”

“But I am a human! I am human!” She kept on screaming it until the words couldn’t be heard.

At the animal control center, Uma was strapped down with leather ropes.

“You can’t do this! Kill Bill! Pulp Fiction! The Producers! I’m too famous for this! Too rich! Too… COME ON, I’m human for Christ’s sake! Quentin totally deserved being eaten! You can’t do this to another human being!”

“Stop hooting, little one. It’ll all be over soon.”

Uma shouted and wailed and cried, but to no avail. The needle pierced Uma Thurman the owl’s skin and…

Vampire The Deejay

vampire the deejay

So tired. Always so tired. Aco hadn’t fed on a female in a week and a half. His blood levels were low, too low to be deejaying. And he spent his mornings trying to hire a prostitute, since he couldn’t leave until sunset. Problem was, prostitutes didn’t make house calls to vampires. They had a history of bleeding dry.

What was he going to play tonight? Perhaps some Skrillex? No, too mainstream now. He thought about the elf. Maybe she liked College. He played “Teenage Color” and swayed a little, partly due to enjoying the beat, partly due to the fact he was going to collapse any minute. He really had trouble standing. Aco hoped she’d be coming tonight.

Night came and the monsters rushed in. Gorgons, yetis, werewolves, even Frankenstein’s monster’s great-great-great grandson. He desperately glanced around the room. Was she here? Was she alone?

Aco played an awful lot of College songs, but no one was complaining. For a moment he forgot her, but she never escaped his mind.

Then she, the Asian elf with chestnut hair, spun into the room. Not just her dancing, but her very footsteps, spun. She also brought her rock-monster coworker, but he didn’t register her in his mind.

An hour passed as he watched her. He felt drowsier than usual. He shot up awake when she walked up to him.

“Hey man,” she had a bratty voice that he liked in a woman, “Can you play ‘A Real Hero?’ That one’s like, my fav.”

“Sure, I like that one too.” He smiled, exposing his fangs. She pretended not to recoil a bit, but he caught her. He closed his mouth, crestfallen. The elf pouted.

“I didn’t mean to get scared. Thanks, DJ Blooddrive.” She looked at him closely. “Like, are you okay man? You’ve been swaying a lot.”

Aco crouched. “Just fine, miss. One Real Hero, coming up!” He fell over.

“The name’s Karis.” She realized he was unconscious on the ground. “Hey, mister! What about my song?” She set her priorities straight. “Hello? The deejay fainted! Someone help!”

An hour later, Aco woke up. He had a sweet bloody taste in his mouth. Did someone puncture themselves on his teeth?

The paramedic tapped him on the shoulder. “You were very lucky. It’s not often an elf donates her blood for a vampire.”

Aco’s jaw dropped. “You mean the Asian elf with chestnut hair?”

“Karis, she said her name was.” He handed Aco a ripped shred of paper. “And she wanted you to have this.”

It had a phone number with a small heart on it and a note that read “Call me if you ever need blood!”

Aco grinned at the slip of paper. He didn’t feel too embarrassed about his fangs anymore. He did, however, wonder if he should call her up for a date.

Two years later, they were married. Aco and Karis had a mess of cute skeleton dogs. Aco never went hungry and, carnally, neither did Karis.

146 Terrace

146 Terrace

The house had been haunted as long as it had been standing. It had not been doing much of that lately. The slanting roof was more of a caving roof, and the man-cave was more of a man-slant. Problem was, the ghost and skeleton who occupied the house couldn’t compete with trendier haunted houses. Wax statues and wall-sized photos of creepy faces lined these new homes of haunting. The little spooky spooks couldn’t compete.

One night, Maxie the ghost and Richard the skeleton became desperate. What if no one were to visit ever again? They would dissolve into nothingness for some unknown reason. It was a haunt thing.

Then a flyer flew through a crack in the window. “Change your life today! Hire me, Angela Bartholomew, for your martial arts/self-help/interior decoration needs!” They needed the help badly and dialed.

“Yes, 146 Terrorace. I mean, Terrace. Just a little ghost humor. Thank you.”

Within a matter of hours, a bare foot came flying through the door, crumbling it to pieces. “Whew,” came the soft voice of a karate instructor, “That ought to get some air circulating in here. Angela Bartholomew, at your beck and call.”

Maxie oooed for a moment and Richard clattered. “So can you help us?”

“Yes, I do believe I can. I think you could reinvent this place as a bistro. ‘Come to 146 Terrace. Our souffles are simply the b–‘”

“Best not to do that,” chimed in Richard. “If we don’t haunt, we could die. Or… whatever the opposite of dying is.”

“Live,” Maxie chimed in.

“I see,” said Angela, wiping the dust off of her bare soles. “So how about a haunted bistro? Like the murder mystery trains! ‘Come to 146 Terrace. Our souffles are simply to DIE for!’ Oh, I do believe that one is a winner!”

“We can’t hire a chef. We don’t have enough money for a new staff member,” moaned Maxie.

“That is a problem,” Angela said, really having a tough time with her dusty feet. “Do you know anyone who would buy dust?” She paused. “That was cruel, I’m sorry. You two don’t really seem to have the arms or muscles for sweeping. I’d recommend a maid, but, well, the money problem…”

“We’re trying to keep an air of unwelcomeness in the house!” shrieked Richard.

“I see. Get ’em in, get ’em out. Good business model! How do you make money?”

The two spooks looked at each other. “We… sort of steal their wallets when they’re all scared.,” said Maxie.

“Hmm.” Angela looked at them with disappointment in her eyes. “How about charging a nominal fee at the door instead? Five dollars?”

“Five dollars? Seven.”

“Five.”

“Six.”

“Five. I have two rules. I never inform the authorities of criminal wrongdoing like theft, and I don’t haggle.” She folded her arms and crossed her legs.

“…Five.”

“Good. Trust me, when I’m done with you, five will be plenty. Now, let’s update the horror aesthetic. I’m thinking wax statues and wall-sized photos of creepy faces lining the corridors.”

The pair of spooks groaned. “EVERY new haunted house is doing that. There’s one just like that 19 blocks from here.”

Angela gently massaged her chin. “Okay. Here’s an approach. Vaporwave.”

“Vaporwave?”

“It’s music slowed down. Why they named it that, I don’t know. Popular on the internets. By the way, Nightcore is music sped up. But Vaporwave can sort of make you feel like you’re dying.” She opened her phone and played “Always” by Erasure as a Vaporwave.

“I don’t know,” hemmed and hawed Richard. “We’re sort of old-school ghouls…”

“I’m an old-school gal too, and I say you need updating! And those other places aren’t doing that, right?” She looked at them with confidence. “And it’s the only other change I’m asking you to make.” She lifted her foot at them. “Maybe dust a little more.”

The next week, Angela Bartholomew finished teaching her all-children’s karate class when her phone rang.

“146 Terrace! How’s my favorite haunted house?” Personally, she preferred The Dread Home on Maple Drive, but it was business to claim dinky outfits like theirs were golden.

“Oh,” Richard gasped over the other line, “Business is booming! That Vaporwave really did the trick!”

She smiled. Another satisfied customer. “I’m glad I could help you boys.”

“Help us? You’ve screwed us!” Maxie could be heard saying. Richard shushed him away.

“Look,” said Richard, “A guy got so unsettled by that Always song that he went into a coma! His girlfriend is suing us for a ton! We’ll lose the house!”

Click! She callously hung up.

No one wants that crappy house, thought Angela. They’re more likely to go to jail if he dies. But then, maybe he’ll come back as a ghost or skeleton.

One Sunday morning, a police car pulled up to the house and a knock came on the door.

“Open up! You’re under arrest for the murder of Joe Farr!”

Richard looked at Maxie, who looked out the back window. Angela Bartholomew was standing there. “Guys, listen to me. All you have to do is…”

“On the count of three, we’re coming in! One… Two… THREE!”

He burst the brand new door down. He looked around for the perps, a skeleton and a ghost. Suddenly, a man with a deep voice began to sing slowly.

“Alllllllllllllllllllwayyyyyyyyyys, IIIIIIII waaaaaaant toooooo beeeeee wiiiiiith yooooooou…”

The officer began shrieking horribly.

“Aaaaaaand maaaaaaake beeeeeelieeeeeeeeve wiiiiiiiith yooooooooou…”

“Make it stop! It’s turning my brain into a wave of vapor!”

“Aaaaaaaaand liiiiiiiiive iiiiiiin haaaaaarmoooooonyyyyyy, haaaaaaarmooooooonyyyyyy ohhhhhhhhhh looooooooooove…”

The cop ran out of the house and moved to Wisconsin, where he made cheese.

“You did it, Miss Angela!”

“Yes, I did! I told you, if Vaporwave got you into this mess, it could get you out!”

“How did you know it would work?”

“I didn’t. We just got really lucky.”

“Oh.”

Stapler and Tape

12749828_569959333163330_792215213_n.jpg

The end came not from fire or ice, but from protein drinks. After the first tainted Power Fountain beverage claimed a human life, the world and Power Fountain LTD shortly broke down from there.The world was survived by the employees of the dissolution of society.

Holed up in a skyscraper for four years caused strain upon the 217 remaining people on Earth, even if it did come with new friendships, greater understandings, astonishing romances between accountants and marketing reps, births, clarity of demise, factions, deformed births, a short-lived quest for a legendary lost game of Solitaire removed from the computers to maintain productivity, lost births, murders, suicides, murder suicides, suicidal murders, muimimal surcers, and very little filing.

By the end, 215 people had died. This is the story of how the remaining one and a half people spent their final day on a planet that would be be inherited by the smarter iguanas.

The CEO that started the kerfuffle coughed out a gold tooth. It was not natural gold; not when he first started guzzling his own protein drink. Once the water fountains broke down and the maintenance staff dissolved into a puddle of protein years prior, Gonson Gobsmack (CEO) opened the vault that held the last untainted Power Fountain cans and issued them to the final nine humans.

To his immeasurable regret, even though they were untainted, sitting in aluminium cans for years had adverse effects on the consumer. Seven died. Two remained; Kevin Beecher (Data Entry Clerk) survived off of pen ink due to insurmountable fear of the protein drink. Gobsmack fared better only a day longer than the other seven who drank.

He was essentially dead, but delusion kept the man who sucked the world away busy.

“Beecher, file these folders for me, would you? Got to have things orderly for our clients. Appearances give us power. Power Fountain. Power…” Then he died.

Kevin nodded. He knew the last CEO on Earth had been confused, but who was he to ignored a dying man’s request?

He took the colorful folders to the cabinets and began sorting them by state. New Jersey (now barren, orange and musty ash within a month of the tainted shipment), Ohio (survivors lived there for a week until a turtle raced into them and caused the living corpses to shatter), Montana (a revolutionary form of suicide was invented there, but no one was around to document it), and Michigan (the only state with an inhabitant, Kevin Beecher).

He placed the folders into the correct slot, coldly pretending that he wasn’t just shuffling the names of corpses around a hollow coffin. Even seeing a folder with his own mother’s first name on it couldn’t distract him from his menial task.

The last data entry clerk wiped away a smudge from his lips. It had always been a disastrous habit of his, drinking slightly toxic pen ink at work. But it had been a large company, and he had enough experience with data entry that he could pretend he wasn’t there for Quality Assurance purposes, watching the world melt off while drinking a pen over a vat of protein-enhancing liquid.

“Gibson, Kristen. Hewlett, Stewart.”

He told himself that it started when a cute girl in marketing laughed at the ink on his face. Not a mean laugh, but a “chase after my heart” laugh.

“Larson, Alison. Brie, Brie.”

But he knew it was a predispositional habit of his spawning from middle school. He just chewed his was through a pen and liked the taste of it. Now he needs it to survive.

“Seofusall, Demi.”

Kevin Beecher realized with horror that his work is done. Nothing could distract him anymore. He rose and turned from the standing metal caskets. His footsteps kept time with the blinking of iguanas, more and more spawning each day.

He continued trudging past the marketing girl, who had died drinking the “clean shipment” only a day gone. She had been his office wife for three years but never bore him a child. They couldn’t justify it. They saw the world; it was not a world of hope.

Finally, he reached the center of the office. For five hours, Kevin gyrated wildly, saying nothing and looking eager for a vacation day. At last, his voice shone through his dance.

“And… done! Well, now that that’s over with, better go get the handgun my boss keeps in his desk and blow my brains all over the office.”

Mountain Trail

12751093_1700635393539050_776080572_n.jpg

“Are we almost there yet?”

The rough shadows took a moment to converse, silent in their furious mimic, perfectly following the wild gestures of their physical companions. It was a near-perfect autumnal Thursday on the side of the mountain. The only deterrent to go outside would be the volatile grousing of the woman.

“We’ve been walking all day. I’m exhausted. We should’ve gone to the public rest stop like I wanted.”

Her figure said Embrace me; her face said Try it and die. Her mouth said more than enough to believe her. She was a striking auburn-haired lady, hips that moved to a symphony, and a henpecked manservant who once agreed to live together, even getting her a gemstone to commemorate a once-considered happy occasion.

“My back hurts. Did you bring enough bullets? Wipe that look of nostalgia off your face.”

He needed her to shut up. Cowering worked well, but it was his wife’s birthday. He wanted to bring her out of it, like every year. Yet for the past five years, he failed again and more. Once, he had been a young man of sixteen, but her nagging lips (which had brought him to fall for her) aged him prematurely. His once flowing brown hair turned ashen, his eyes no longer sparkled with buoyancy, the smoothest skin in high school looked even worse than Jeremy Finklemeyer on picture day.

“There’s only six bullets in here. What more could I expect of you?”

Worst above his other grievances, no one would believe him when he said he was only twenty-five. If he were to be reborn (and he prayed he wouldn’t), he hoped he’d remember to never marry his high school sweetheart.

“You need to do it. My eyes hurt too much.”

“Yes’m.”

She pulled out a soothing lotion and rubbed it on her feisty yet milk-kissed arms.

“Augh. I’m beat.”

She brushed aside her hair and pressed more lotion into her skin. She opened her mouth; rather, she finally closed her mouth and immediately opened it, only for nothing to escape.

“What?”

“What what?”

“You wanted to say something?”

“Oh, it’s nothing.”

It had to be something. She was loud (though never a screamer) and honest and never one to shut up. This was a breakthrough. A kind emotion might be hiding. He couldn’t press her, lest she bottle it up entirely.

“If you say so. At any rate, we should reach its campground in an hour or so. Then I can shoot it for you.”

“It what?”

She was seriously asking? Was she being coy? No, flirtatiousness and facetiousness were far behind her. They’ve been doing this for five years. Did she somehow forget mid-trek?

“You know… it?”

“Just say werewolf. Seriously, there’s no need to use pronouns. It’s just us.”

He felt dumb but relieved. Yet also enthusiastic. Her harsh and hoarse voice wavered a little when she said “werewolf.” He would wait for further developments.

“Yes, the werewolf. I’ll shoot it, cook it, and, well…”

“DON’T EVEN SAY IT.”

Her voice reached too high a decibel and rebelled on itself. He stuck a green bottle in her mouth. She calmed down, allowing him to press it against her lips for three minutes. When the bottle was emptied, she shoved him off. She shook and wobbled and cleared her throat. Cold tears streamed down her face.

“Don’t you say it. Every time we try this, you say it and I get my hopes up. Let’s just go and never say it.”

“It what?”

He was oddly defiant towards her tonight. Perhaps the annual journey gave him resolve.

“That… I can be cured of it.”

That was enough for him. He couldn’t consider hurting himself by asking her “It what?” again.

“Okay. We’ll find out sooner if we head out now.”

He was almost positive that she’d never return to how he remembered her. It hurt to remember her, but it was worse to forget.

“Don’t forget to turn the safety off this time.”

She was his Biology teacher when he was a sophomore.

“I’ll get it, I’ll get it.”

His friends said that she wasn’t calling him out in class because she wanted him; he was just stupid.

“You did manage to forget two years already, so let’s not make it three.”

When she held him after school one night, he never trusted his friends’ judgement again.

“You know, it’s a nice night out. Full moon. Your birthday.”

Everyone disapproved.

“No.”

His family shut him out.

“Just checking.”

The school fired her.

“You knew it was no.”

The legal system imprisoned her, but she was eventually on the street again with a ring on her finger and a husband in her pants.

“Sue me for asking.”

She tried giving him a nasty glare, but she started wobbling again. He forgot the woman he loved again. He bent over his wife and picked her up.

“Do we have anything left to drink?”

“It’s all gone. I’m sorry.”

She coughed bitterly. He wept like a boy.

“This curse ruined your life. I’m, I’m sorry.”

Her voice rumbled within.

“It’s my fault. I should have let you live a normal high school life, not force you from your ways because I wanted you.”

At that, her body went limp. Her pale fingers twitched slightly, the rust-colored liquid working its way back up and falling from her mouth.

Everything went silent. Then everything in the trees made a cacophonous turmoil. The skirmish of the animals left two people and one creature the only remaining members of the mountain trail.

Still in an uncontrollable fit of loss, he laid her across their gear. He reached his gun and aimed at the werewolf. The darkness didn’t bother his eyesight. He could make out a hairy figure, hunched over and about to die for the woman he still loved.

He pulled the trigger.

The safety was on.

Collapsing onto his knees, he prostrated himself in defeat, nothing new but the sense of regret lingering in his heart.

“Tommy? Tommy Cleavers? What are you doing up here, man?”

Tommy stood up to face the werewolf, oddly taking the form of a man. It hit him.

“Jeremy Finklemeyer? What… why…”

“I live here, man! Also, I go by ‘Jerry’ now. Like, I’ve been hiding here ever since I got turned into a werewolf.”

Jerry had clearer skin than Tommy recalled, but it was buried under mounds of body hair. He was rounder and taller and smelled better than ever, despite living in the wild and technically smelling horrible.

“Who’s she?”

Tommy turned around.

“My wife. She… look, we’ve been trying to get a cure for her curse, and we read on the internet…”

Jerry smirked.

“Let me guess. Werewolf blood, huh? Like, I get it. Some couple’s been trying to kill me for four years to save the woman.”

“Six years, Jeremy.”

The half-conscious croak made Tommy clutch his chest, then look at Jerry, then curl into a fetal position.

“Nah, get up. I said I get it. Like, hold on. Is she… Miss Eden? That’s our bio teach, Gertrude Eden? WOW. Like, no, congrats, but wow.”

“Hello Jeremy. I expected more in this report than cheesy fingerprints.”

“Well, maybe I can get an extension? You know, like the one Tommy got from you in his pants?”

“This was the final…”

“Excuse me, can we not do this now?”

Jerry looked up at the moon.

“Yeah, no problem. Good thing you got the wrong day. The moon is still Waxing Gibbous. Pick up Gertie and follow me.”

After a few minutes, they reached a cabin with a sign blaring “WEREWOLF BLOOD” in red letters.

“Not keen on the name, man, but it brings them here. See, when I got hunted by people like you, looking for a cure, I realized I could help them. I researched various cures and this year I finally feel ready to open shop. So what’s the curse?”

Jerry looked her up and down.

“Pale skin. A muddy-looking drink you need. Youthful features. Haggard partner. You have something on your skin. Lotion? Also, you’re crankier than I recall. I’m guessing you were bitten by something beginning with a V…”

“It’s not vampires.”

“What? Of course not, man. They don’t exist. I was going to say, like, vegan.”

Tommy nodded. Gertrude remained nonfunctional.

“People mistake the two a lot, so it’s cool you get it. When a vegan gets too hungry, they’ll bite a human because they won’t hurt animals. That drink has to be a protein drink, right? And the lotion is just her pale, meat-deprived skin acting up. But what’s with you?”

“Stress.”

“Well, like, werewolf meat works, but so does gorilla meat, whale meat, I do have shark meat. Anything with strong meat.”

“I’ll take the shark brain for 400, Jeremy.”

“I’m doing this for free, Miss Eden.”

“I think she’s doing a bit.”

“Ah. Eat up.”

“Thanks, Jeremy. And that’s Mrs. Cleavers to you.”

——————————

Tommy was overjoyed. His wife has bright tanned skin again, her voice cleared up, and her heart found him once more.

“Tommy, thank you for sticking with me. I think I would’ve shriveled up if you weren’t with me.”

Looking at the mirror, Tommy saw his features brightening up. In a few days, he figured he’s be hot again.

“Well, you know, I love you, so I stayed. And Jerry, how can we repay you?”

Jerry leered at a visibly annoyed Gertrude.

“I want you to fix my grade. When you got fired, the perma-sub teach hated me and I flunked. It still bugs me, y’know?”

Gertrude smacked the wall.

“Not only do I not have the authority to do that or the permission to be within thirty feet of the school, but I can’t believe you didn’t even ask to do things to me!”

“Ask your husband to do that, man! I have a lover already!”

Jerry pet a raccoon.

Gertrude looked down at her hiking boots.

“We have a lot of lost time to make up, Thomas.”

Tommy smiled.

“Yeah… a lot. Since you’ve been distant, I’ve been looking up videos of–”

Jerry and the raccoon howled, but for different reasons.

“Okay, nice catching up, guys! See about that grade, Gert!”

As the couple walked off the trail, they heard the shrieking sounds of questionable love.

“I didn’t mean just our love-making, you know. I think I’m ready for you to meet my parents. I want to see yours too.”

Tommy imitated the raccoon.

“Gertrude, it’s been almost a decade. We can’t go see them now!”

“That’s exactly why. I don’t want any regrets if something were to happen to you.”

Tommy giggled to himself, then burst out laughing, followed by Gertrude laughing heartily, the two of them going to the roads of the future.

“By the way, what did you want to ask me earlier right before we were talking about the werewolf?”

“Oh, that? I wanted to know if you had any tampons. Then I realized it was a dumb question.”

“Oh. Okay then.”