Warning: This work has been rated 16+ for language and violence.
When you're Holden Cauthwell, you often find yourself gazing upon the world with nothing more than utter complacency. Being a young man who never knew his mother, Holden assumed that a strong relationship that he'd foster with his father would compensate for his missing maternal figure. That assumption was proven wrong when he turned ten. On that very day, Eric Cauthwell vanished without a trace. "What a shame," Holden considered. He would shrug off the condolences of those around him. Nothing of the sort would return his father, so why bother with such platitudes? What others chalked up to an unfortunate event, Holden branded a moment of rebirth. An opportunity to come into his own as a man. Now, at the age of seventeen, he felt at peace with his self-sufficiency. Having dropped out of high school several years prior, his hands were rough and worn, having been molded as if they were clay, all as a product of his extensive labor. Mowing lawns, shoveling snow, walking dogs, managing crops. All work done so that he could live in a dingy apartment that comprised little more than basic furniture and electronic appliances. Though the documentation was signed under the name of someone else of legal age, Holden was the one who ultimately paid the rent and handled the chores.
If you were to ask anybody who "knew" him, they would say he was a strange kid. One who often kept to himself as opposed to making friends or engaging in social events. It's for that reason that the term "knew him" can only ever be applied loosely. Truth be told, Holden didn't mind things being that way. As a matter of fact, that's how he preferred it. He wasn't some sort of misanthrope or anti-social character. It's just how he was. Though he would admit some fault in the "creepy" reputation he cultivated. After all, it isn't typical for any person to spend their time in graveyards or abandoned buildings, much less finding solace in those activities.
Holden couldn't ever rationalize why he felt drawn to those kinds of locations. In his mind, a sense of belonging struck him whenever he was surrounded by eerie and macabre environments. So, it was of no surprise to him when he found himself standing in front of a large, derelict building that had been cloaked by roughly a mile of woods. Whispers and rumors of such a structure had made their way to Holden's ears, and after an hour or two of exploration, he found it. The wooden exterior was, of course, chipped and rotted. The paint that once likely served the house well had long since faded into a dull, murky blue color. As Holden observed the vines and cobwebs that adorned the windows and shutters of the home before him, he shrugged in a passive manner and stepped foot onto the front steps.
His fingers clung to the doorknob for a moment longer than usual. The metal sent a cold sensation through his body, chilling him to the bone. With a slight turn, the door popped open, drifting along its set course with what could only be described as an exaggerated creak. Holden grumbled in mild annoyance as he was immediately hit with an overbearing wave of darkness, one that he figured would be mitigated by the sunlight he expected to peek through the windows. It seemed, however, that filth and grime dirtied the glass, allowing only a scant few glimmers of precious golden rays to pierce through the disgusting barrier of dust. Granted, his flashlight would ensure that this wouldn't be an issue. Holden reached into the back pocket of his black jeans and retrieved that, as well as a hair tie, manipulating it carefully with his fingers to gain some sort of control over the long, wavy hair atop his head. It was a habit he'd grown accustomed to, having learned his lesson after a few instances of spiders becoming entangled in his hair. It was a standard occurrence in these types of places, after all. Without hesitation, he walked along the settling floorboards, turning his neck in every which way to observe his surroundings. If there ever was a home that symbolized the word "antique", it was this one. From the sofas and coffee tables blanketed in a thin sheet of dust-fuzz, to the raggedy curtains that seemed like they would crumble should they be exposed to the slightest touch. Even the chandelier that hung above his head further evidenced this fact.
With his efficient pace, it was only a matter of time before Holden stumbled upon the bathroom. The sink had long since deteriorated, having lost its faucet already. In its damaged state, it more resembled a fragmented marble podium rather than anything else. The bathtub and toilet, while not in an equal state of ruin, were non-operational. Their surfaces, much like the house windows, were smeared with less than hygienic substances that Holden himself wasn't confident he could guess the composition of. Regardless, he pulled out his camera and snapped several photos of the scene before moving on to the next room.
Next up, the bedroom. If Holden hadn't known any better, he would say that the area was ransacked by wild hyenas just moments prior to his entry. Dirty clothes and towels were strewn about the floor as if it were a murder scene. Navigating the place felt akin to waddling through a pool of thick stew. Nonetheless, he carried onward to the bed. Stripped of its blankets and sheets, all that remained was a bed frame and a mattress. Mold dotted the surface like a bubonic plague might infect the skin of an unfortunate, ill man. With another snap of his camera, the moment in time was captured. Holden quickly proceeded back to the door, much to the mercy of his lungs.
The truth that many urban explorers refuse to admit is that abandoned buildings are often quite boring. While the liminal space of these structures often spark the imagination and intrigue of the human mind, that sensation isn't a strong enough crutch to carry the weight of realizing that empty places are also often empty of things to do. It was for this reason that Holden found himself in the kitchen in no time, where black and white checkered tiles decorated the floor. Aside from that, all that stood before him was a refrigerator, an oven, and many vacant cupboards. Though, oddly enough, a small analog television sat by itself on the kitchen counter, hosting a screen of perhaps fifteen inches in length and width.
When opening the refrigerator door, he flinched backward as the rotten stench invaded his nose. Much to his surprise, the box was filled to the brim, infested with bottle upon bottle of expired milk. The fact that the bottles contained milk, however, was only understood based on the label each glass was marked with. The liquid itself, on the other hand, resembled a chunky and yellow conglomeration of ick in texture and color respectively. Taking this photo far quicker than the others, Holden shut the door with haste, rubbing his nose in discomfort.
"What kind of damn mess...." he mumbled under his breath, trying to shake off the horrid, gag-inducing "aroma". He attempted to find comfort in leaning against the counter beside him, using it for support as he relaxed. "Least I got some interesting photos out of this one..."
He scrolled through the various images he had obtained, a slight smile creeping upon his face. A vague notion of delight stirred in his gut as he focused on the photos. Something about them made him feel at peace. In his mind, retaining them as reminders of his explorations allowed him to revisit the feeling of bliss that radiated throughout his body. No matter where he ends up, so long as he had access to his camera, he would find these pictures, and with them, find a reason to be happy.
Without meaning to, he got lost in his own world of scrolling through his camera-roll. For what felt like hours he did so, up until he stumbled upon the image of a familiar face. The image of his father. Upon doing so, there was no rush of sorrowful emotion, nor were there feelings of disdain or betrayal. He gazed upon the visage of Eric Cauthwell. He was a man that, despite his absence, Holden kept a plethora of photographs of, if only to make sure he always remembered his face. Holden often took an interest in the physical similarities he shared with his father. The long, black hair. The exhausted-looking brown eyes. The faint freckles adorning both their cheeks, provided with just enough opacity to be noticeable. He was Eric's son, alright. Despite everything, it did feel nice to be reminded of that now and then. Holden nodded to himself ever so slightly, taking a deep breath and exhaling slowly.
"I'm not angry at you, y'know. Things are just... different now. Before you left, I saw you as my dad. My protector. My teacher. And now, I see you in an alternate light. You left me on my own, and I took care of myself on my own, like a man does. I work, I work hard. And sometimes I wonder... if the way I see the world is how you view it too. As a place where we have to count on ourselves, because we can't guarantee anyone else will."
Holden gently brushed his thumb across the camera, pausing in contemplation. That line of thinking is one he had repeated to himself hundreds, no, thousands of times. Whether it was an attempt to justify the lack of his father being in his life, or it was his genuine interpretation of events, Holden wasn't entirely sure.
"I wonder if you leaving me taught me how to understand you better than I ever could. If you stayed, would I have only ever seen you as a father? A title of respect and responsibility... but not as a man? Not as who you are, Eric. Not as you, the person. I wonder what went through your brain when you left. What the world subjected you to, that made you leave. I hope I'm right, that I'll fully understand you someday. You... and maybe even Mom."
Once more, Holden dipped back into a state of silence. A supreme quiet. One that could only be briefly maintained, before something strange interrupted it. The sound of dripping could be heard. The noise was soft, but present nonetheless. Suspecting the kitchen sink, he glanced over at it, only to realize that it was completely dry. Rather, the origin of the dripping was elsewhere. He turned his head, this time focusing his vision on the analog television that sat on the counter opposite of him. From the corners of the bottom of the screen, he saw... droplets of water, plummeting down to the floor below.
"What...," he whispered faintly.
The abrupt sound of static caused him to jump in shock as the television turned on. Holden backed away slightly as the pixels on the screen violently darted around unpredictably. Then, as suddenly as it arrived, it ceased, the static dissipating as the screen settled upon turning completely white. So too did the sound of static diminish, though it didn't transform into silence. It became something else. Waves... like that of the ocean. Holden froze in confusion and surprise, studying the scene in front of him with intrigue. Lifting his camera slowly, he aimed it at the screen, snapping a photo. As he looked upon the image, he witnessed something that made his skin run cold. Two hands, pale and withered, gripped the edge of the television.
He looked up, eyes widening as his vision fell upon the sight of a woman forcing her way out of the screen.
The snapping and bending of bone could be heard as her body adjusted to the miniature screen she was emerging from. What were once droplets of water leaking from the television became a consistent pouring of fluid gushing forth, flooding the kitchen entirely. The woman finally flung herself out of the screen, collapsing into a messy pile on the surface underneath. Her cluttered strands of hair littered her head and the floor, cloaking the blue, bloated skin underneath. As she stood, the white dress she wore was presented to be in an obvious state of disrepair. Her eyes were cloudy and muddied like a swamp, and her face itself appeared tortured and strained, making way for the muscles and veins underneath to protrude through her flesh.
"Oh hell no," Holden blurted out, not even certain of what exactly he was looking at. Without time to think, he turned and instinctively began bolting down the hallway, dashing towards the house exit. Behind him, he could hear the sound of heaving and belching, as if the woman were vomiting something from deep within her throat. Whatever it was, he didn't care. His sole focus was on escape. He was only ten feet away from the front door when he felt something slick and slimy wrap around his ankle. He collapsed to the ground, urgently scraping and clawing at the rug beneath. Despite all his strength, he was helpless to resist the pulling effect of the thing that bound his foot. He looked behind him, recognizing the sight of seaweed strands tied around him. The strand itself was long, extending all the way back to the woman's mouth. Holden once more jammed his fingers into his pockets and felt around for the hilt of the knife he carried. Without hesitation, he began feverishly sawing at the seaweed that captured him. To his disbelief, the blade didn't even make a dent into the strand. He hacked and cleaved, desperately trying to weaken the restraints that brought him closer and closer to his demise with force equivalent to that of a tractor-trailer. He was pulled through the living room, pulled through the door, and eventually found himself back at the kitchen entrance. "Like shit I'm gonna let this happen!" Holden exclaimed.
Realizing the futility of attacking the seaweed, he opted to stand up and rush forward to the creature himself. Much to her surprise, he jammed the knife straight into her neck, causing an eruption of water to leak from the wound. Holden proceeded to thrust downward, creating a sizable gash in her throat. Water continued to flow out of her, now with even more intensity. Even with his confusion, one thought persisted in his mind. "I won't dare go out to some crazy shit like this," he thought. "Not while I haven't had the chance... The chance to understand my mother and father. Why am I even alive if they never intended to stay with me? Why even bother… What was the point? I'm not going out, not until I have the closure of realizing why they gave me a chance at life in the first place, regardless of all that's happened since then!"
Small fish creatures occupied the water that originated from her injury, flopping around on the ground. Holden ignored this, though, as he was stunned by the fact that the woman appeared unphased by his attack. She reached up with her arm, where it was then made clear that her fingernails resembled the shape of talons. She struck at him, horizontally slashing across his chest. Stumbling backward, Holden gripped onto the cuts with one hand while using the other to grab ahold of her hair and slam her face into the counter. He began applying a relentless barrage of punches into her skull, not stopping even while the mushy sound of her brain's destruction was all that rang in his ears. As he continued, he felt himself losing focus. The once dead lights began to flicker as his blind fury prolonged, all the while Holden clenched his teeth and beat her again and again. The being once more desperately attempted to swipe at him in protest. Her arm moved quickly, far faster than he had predicted.
The light flickered off, entrenching the area in darkness. As soon as it flickered on once more, the woman's claws had already completed their slashing motion, outpacing even the sharp woosh sound that followed up the attack. Yet, without time to process what happened, Holden managed to evade the strike with a side step he didn't even remember taking. He winded his arm back, the lights fiercely strobing beyond what was thought possible. Then, in one swift motion, he drove his fist straight into her skull, shattering both it and the counter under her head. He backed up a foot or two, studying his hands in disbelief. As he calmed down and his breathing evened out, the lights finally ceased their outburst and returned to their original, powered-off form.
Holden looked behind him, stunned to see the product of the slash he had managed to avoid. Several consecutive walls had been utterly decimated, and the effects of the attack had been profoundly engraved into the ceiling and floor, all extending dozens of feet behind him. All that remained of the barriers that once stood between the kitchen and the front door were splintered fragments and dust. "What… Did I just do," he questioned, thousands of thoughts racing through his mind. To him, the last few moments were like a dream he could only recall in bits and pieces, the events nothing more than a blur in his brain. There was little time to think of that, however, as he realized he was bleeding from the monster's first attack. "Ain't this some shit…"
With a grimace etched into his face, he removed his shirt and tied it around his torso as a makeshift gauze. He gazed upon the creature that lay motionless, trying to make sense of what he just experienced. Though he had many questions, he calmed his nerves by convincing himself that he had survived, and that was all that mattered. However, a shadow of doubt was cast in his mind when he noticed the woman's body twitching. Preparing to stride over and stomp her head in again with nothing short of total conviction, reason finally entered his mind when he realized he should use this opportunity to escape instead.
Once again rushing to the front door, he only stopped when it opened for him and someone stepped inside. "YO! WHERE THE HELL IS-"
The person cut themself off when they saw Holden. Stepping forward, a tall woman in baggy, black sweatpants and a white short-sleeved t-shirt presented herself. The clothes, while not form-fitting, didn't fully conceal her lean, muscular build. She looked to be somewhere in her mid-twenties, standing at about six feet, two inches tall. She wore a pair of black glasses that loosely clung to the bridge of her nose, and her medium-length brown hair settled down around her shoulders. Several silver earrings and piercings gave personality to her nose and ears, and her pleasant features were well accentuated by her soft, blue eyes.
"Huuuuuuh? Who the hell are you? You don't look like some crazy TV-inhabiting bitch." The strange woman questioned Holden, staring right into his eyes.
Holden could only stare at the woman in disbelief, not having expected anyone else to be here of all places.
"I don't got all day, kid. If you've seen some weird lookin ghost lady walkin around here throwing up water all over the place, spill. Got it? Hehe, spill. See what I did there?"
Holden nodded and pointed back towards the kitchen. Who was this woman? How could she be so nonchalant about this? She looked in the direction Holden had highlighted, raising an eyebrow in response as she observed the carnage.
"My my, I figured this place was in need of renovations, but I definitely didn't expect this piece of shit." She paused and covered her mouth with her hand, as if she were embarrassed.
"Sorry, are you the owner? I didn't mean to barge in here and diss on your piece of shi… I mean, your house. Who am I to judge, right? Your place, your rules, yeah? Though… you really should try to get some air freshener up in here. And maybe give it a new paint job. Annnnd that couch is crooked, just so you know. Maybe even patch up those uh… those gaping holes in the wall? Just sayin, y'know? And honestly, a vase of flowers on that coffee table would add some flavor in my humble opinion."
She continued rambling about interior design suggestions, all the while Holden could only stare at her with the most ludicrous "are you for real?" face imaginable. Her attitude was almost so jarring that it temporarily made him forget about why he was trying to leave in the first place. He did, however, remember that fact eventually, and coughed into his fist to get the woman's attention. Finally, she put her rant on hold and giggled in a way that almost sounded far too giddy to belong to someone sane.
"Right, right, the crazy gal that took one too many baths, I'm on it. You said she was back there, right?"
It was not a moment later that wet footsteps approached, and the creature stood in the living room with them, her badly fractured head not seeming to hinder her movements. In response, the strange, beautiful woman smiled with sheer confidence.
"Haha, finally! Guess that's my cue. Step aside, kid. Looks like I've got some work to do."
The two women approached each other, and although every instinct in Holden's body told him to run, he couldn't bring himself to. Not when there was some strange, innocent woman putting herself in harm's way. Even if he thought she was incredibly stupid for getting herself in danger, he would feel ultimately guilty if he ran off and left her to die. He thought about asking her to run with him, but that didn't seem like an option. The toughness the strange woman exuded, as well as her clear intention to be here, made it almost certain that she wouldn't flee as soon as she arrived.
"Let me help you, this thing isn't norma-"
Holden was interrupted as the woman spoke, her smirk very telling of how she felt about the situation. Not an ounce of sweat occupied the surface of her face. Her voice, soothing and calm, carried an undertone of eagerness that Holden couldn't help but pick up on. With it came a strange feeling of comfort that put him at ease. It was a feeling that was only amplified by her next words.
"Thanks, kid, but don't even sweat it," she stated, cracking her knuckles and then her neck.
"Yeah, I've got this."
They say that in moments of great importance, time slows to a standstill. Be it when a student realizes he forgot to do his homework as he walks into class, or a child hears his mother enter the driveway without having yet done the dishes. With great consequence, comes a great, sturdy lump in one's throat that grows harder to swallow as the seconds go by. Even in the absence of a clock on the wall, one can hear the ticking in their mind as the suspense furthers, their heart dropping deeper and deeper into the pit of their stomach. To Holden, there was no more appropriate a description as the two women approached each other. The vile thing's head had seemingly reshaped, now fully healed. Did traditional damage simply not apply to it?
Beads of sweat trickled out from his pores, methodically running down his cheeks and nose. Was he nervous? Perhaps, though it would be more fitting to say he was anticipating something. The weight of the world seemed to encroach upon his shoulders while he wondered just what would be the result of this inevitably deadly encounter. Seconds felt as if they took hours to pass until a familiar voice entered his ears once more.
"Name's Melony Harper, but you can just call me the best. Thanks for askin!"
"But I didn't ask...," replied Holden, glaring at the tall woman in front of him.
"Oh, really? Well now you've gone ahead and hurt my feelings," Melony asserted, slightly sticking out her tongue in jest. That action, as simple as it was, managed to release the pressure of the atmosphere in the room.
Turning to face the creature once more, Melony lifted her feet and began walking towards it, each step taken in an exaggerated, borderline comedic fashion. Her knees lifted high enough to reach her waist as she stomped along. With her left hand in her pocket, her right arm was free to dangle in the air with the fluidity of jelly, almost like all concept of "bone" or "form" didn't apply to it. She carried an eerily wide, toothy grin on her face, examining the monster with interest as she grew closer.
"Who invited the crackhead to the party," Melony remarked with a tone that released enough sarcasm to fill the entire room. "Well, got anything to say to me? I got all dressed up and did my makeup, and you're not even gonna comment on it? I'm hurt... Hmph, well in that case, you aren't exactly eye-candy either, lady."
Melony stuck out her bottom lip in an artificial pout, crossing her arms and turning her head away with false indignance. To Holden's surprise, the grotesque being opened its mouth and began to speak.
"I...I...," it choked out, like the mere action of talking was as laborious a task as rolling a boulder up a mountain. Melony looked at the thing and nodded her head slightly as if asking it to continue.
"Yeah? Spit it out now, what is it?" Melony opened her eyes wide, pleading to the ghastly figure to go on.
"I... I... know...," the monster croaked, struggling to get the words to come across with any semblance of coherency. In an instant, Holden's eyes bulged and his lips divided in an attempt to shout to Melony. To warn her that, as she was now within a foot of the creature, the disturbing entity may attack. He was correct, as not a moment later it began flinging its arm in an overhand, downward motion, aiming its claws at Melony's temple. Holden could hardly comprehend the pace at which the events unfolded. Before the synapses within his brain could even begin to fire... before the sound generated by the violent slash even started to travel... everything had already happened. Holden could only react to the aftermath, as an explosion of force shook the house and surrounding woods, rattling his ears. Following that was complete silence... proceeded by gentle groaning and a wet, dripping noise.
Melony's one free arm extended outward, positioned next to the creature's face. However, it didn't look like any human limb Holden had ever seen. Shards of bone that numbered in the dozens layered the skin, creating a jagged surface. Within a split second, it had returned back to its normal appearance. Holden wiped his eyes and shook his head, kicking himself for being surprised. Of all the bizarre things he had seen, this was just another one of them.
Be it an arm or a weapon, whatever it was had already completed its motion. In its wake was the creature's face, or what had been left of it. Threads of flesh and meat hung down from where its jaw used to be. Where that jaw was now, however, was a complete mystery. It was as if it had been entirely dissolved by pure, unadulterated force. Water poured from the gaping hole that replaced the lower half of the woman's face. She lifted her hand towards the area, grasping at nothing, feeling around for her missing mouth. Her fingers trembled in primal fright as she looked back into the eyes of Melony, who was now beaming with delight. Melony, who was completely unharmed, leaned forward and placed her open hand against her ear, directing it towards the creature.
"Hm? What was it you were going to say? You'll have to speak louder, I'm a bit hard of hearing," she teased.
The creature's high-pitched screeches echoed throughout the area, her neck and head snapping back as her hands gripped her skull with desperation. Slowly but surely, the tissue and meat in her facial area began to repair itself, until it once more possessed a mouth and throat capable of speech. It again began to talk, stuttering and trembling with wrath and terror.
"I... I know.... I... I know... you... I know you... I know... I KNOW WHAT YOU A-A-A-A-RE.... I KNOW WHAT YOU AREEEEEE!"
The shockwaves produced by what happened next sent Holden flying backward, crashing into a wall and forcing him to take cover behind a nearby couch. Having initially stuck behind to ensure Melony's safety, he now found himself more concerned with preserving his own life. As he ducked behind the furniture, he began wondering if making a dash for the door would be worth it. However, he decided against it as he saw strange lashings and gashes appear in the walls around him. The top half of the couch he hid behind was cleaved right in two, making him crouch down even further. The message was clear. If he even tried to run, he would be fillet like a fish.
Despite not being able to process what was happening, the truth of the matter was simple. Many strands of seaweed had been extended from within the thing's throat, whipping around at blinding speeds, carving apart anything they came into contact with. Their quickness and power made the claw strikes the creature delivered earlier seem slow and impotent by comparison. For what felt like an eternity, the onslaught continued. Tables, chairs, walls, and windows, nothing was spared from complete annihilation as every object became diced and split apart. Everything except the singular couch Holden had thrown himself behind.
Then... it stopped altogether.
Holden held his breath and waited several moments before poking his head up and surveying his surroundings. Chaos and disarray filled his vision in every direction, except for what stood right before him. There, in front of the couch, stood Melony, one hand still tucked neatly in her pocket. The other arm had taken on the appearance and functionality of a sleek, steel blade that had been painted with bits and pieces of green seaweed. Melony looked back over her shoulder at Holden, smirking. Holden swore there was a sparkle in her eye as she gazed upon him and flashed an amused smile.
"C'mon... you gotta give me a ten for that one. I won't accept anything less. Did ya see how mad it got? Did you piss it off or somethin kid," she questioned with a wink.
Holden blinked, and she had vanished. At least, he thought she had. So too did the creature it seemed, who appeared completely startled as Melony disappeared from sight. The monster then noticed Holden, and snarled in disgust. It took one step towards him and then froze. The only part of it that moved now was its quivering lip, as the outline of Melony's head appeared directly behind it. She positioned her chin on top of the creature's right shoulder, looking down on it. The thing hesitantly turned its neck to meet Melony's stare with its own. Melony's eyes were... different. They had widened to their absolute limit, and the pupils had dissolved. What was left behind was only a pool of white like that of a void, and slight stretches of thin, red veins that aligned the corners and edges. The extent in which her grin was straining the skin of her face seemed unnatural, like her facial muscles would tear at their seams if pushed any further. Small giggles passed through her clenched teeth, progressively getting louder and more unhinged with every moment.
"I... I... Know... Know what are.... What you are... I KNOW... KNOW WHAT YOU ARE...," shouted the monstrous entity, its entire body now shivering uncontrollably. Melony let out a faint gasp of ecstasy before positioning her lips beside the thing's ear, whispering into it.
"Aww, so I've got fans? I'm flattered. Why don't you give me a big, warm hug..."
Holden wasn't sure what to expect, but it damn well wasn't what came to pass. Melony took a step back, finally removing her second hand from her pocket, using it to slightly lift up her shirt just enough to reveal the majority of her stomach. Holden observed as her right hand's index finger morphed into a scalpel, and was subsequently stabbed into her gut. A harsh shadow fell upon Melony's face, obscuring all her features except for her wide, sadistic eyes that burned deeply into the creature's soul. Her scalpel-like finger slid downward, dividing the skin and muscle apart and granting her entry into her insides. Blood poured from the gaping wound, as did her intestines which plopped down onto the ground like wet noodles, but Melony didn't even flinch. She gripped the folds of skin and pulled them apart, revealing the inside of her belly. Within were hundreds upon hundreds... of teeth. Gnashing, gnawing, hungry, and desperate for satiation, leaving Holden utterly speechless.
The creature couldn't even scream before an overwhelming abundance of hands emerged from Melony's stomach, dragging the monster inside. Much like a woodchipper, the shredding of flesh and bone echoed omnipresently as the teeth crunched and devoured every inch of their victim. This time, rather than water, it was pure gore and viscera sputtering out by the gallon. Crimson red puddled around Melony's feet as the job finished. Without a word, her innards slithered back into her like they were sentient snakes, and the flaps of her split-open stomach came together and closed like a zipper. She released her grip on her shirt, letting it droop down and cover her gut again. Her blue eyes returned, and she smiled sweetly in Holden's direction.
Hardly an instant later, the house began to shake and shudder as parts of the ceiling collapsed, the structure itself unable to handle the devastation that transpired. Both Holden and Melony looked around at the unstable construct surrounding them, rolling their eyes in unison.
"I... have a lot of questions. But I'm gonna go ahead and suggest we get out of here first," Holden exclaimed, motioning to the front door. Oddly enough, he decided against fearing Melony. He figured that if she wanted him dead, he would be. So, with little other choice than to accept reality as it was, he did just that.
Melony placed her left hand in her pocket once more, shrugging her shoulders in acknowledgment of the situation.
"Sounds good to me," Melony replied, jogging over and suddenly hoisting Holden up, slinging him over her shoulder like a sack. Holden, although surprised, simply exhaled in disapproval and allowed her to take him out of the house. As the building collapsed behind them, Melony slowed down to a casual walk and proceeded through the woods, still carrying Holden. She snickered to herself as if it were the most amusing thing in the world, and hummed a strange tune as the twigs and leaves crunched under her boot. Despite being drenched in the blood and fresh remains of her previous opponent, all she cared about was that her stomach had begun to rumble.
"So, ya hungry kid?"