Eating Richly

📅 Published on June 18, 2022

“Eating Richly”

Written by Seth Paul
Edited by Craig Groshek
Thumbnail Art by Craig Groshek
Narrated by N/A

Copyright Statement: Unless explicitly stated, all stories published on are the property of (and under copyright to) their respective authors, and may not be narrated or performed, adapted to film, television or audio mediums, republished in a print or electronic book, reposted on any other website, blog, or online platform, or otherwise monetized without the express written consent of its author(s).

🎧 Available Audio Adaptations: None Available


Rating: 10.00/10. From 1 vote.
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“And a double with cheese, please.”

Patrick leaned in close to me from the passenger seat.  “Can you add a Coke to that, too?”

I leaned out.  “Can we have a Coke, too, please?”  I looked back at Patrick, who made a hand gesture, pulling his hands away from each other quickly.  “A large, please.”

“We serve Pepsi products.  Is that ok?”

Patrick made a face.  “No, skip the drink, please.”

“Ok, is the total on your screen correct?”

I was about to answer when Patrick rolled his eyes and pointed past the screen.  “Oh, geez, another one of them.  That’s the second time this month I’ve seen somebody hanging around.”

Over by the locked front entrance, a guy, clearly not doing well for himself (if not exactly homeless), was trying to flag us down.  “Hey, can you help?  Not looking for money, just need some food.”

From the seat behind me, Jim shook his head.  “Just get him something.  It’s late at night; the place is closed; he probably just doesn’t have a car.”

I looked at Jim in the rearview mirror as he took it upon himself to remind me why he always sat in the backseat of the car whenever we went anywhere.  “Patrick, it’s your card.  You want to do it?”

“Hell, no!  We already ordered.  He can wait for the next person in line.  You can’t keep doing this, they just know people will pay for them, and then all they do is show up all the time, and then they just bother everybody instead of getting real jobs.”

Jim folded his arms, a determined look on his face…or at least from what I could see in the rearview, he tried to have a determined look.  “Maybe he does have a real job, Pat.  He just doesn’t have a car.”

“Then how did he get here?  I don’t see a bike.  He just had someone drop him off so he can get free food.  It’s all a scam, and it’s guys like you that keep it going.”

“Your choice, Pat.  All I know is if I was starving, I’d like somebody to offer.”

“Jim, if you were starving, you’d be out with resume in hand, showering at the Y, going to a soup kitchen to eat.  Because you’re a nerd like that.  Don’t make me the bad guy here.”

While they bickered, I just watched the guy wave once more.  I waved back and gave a noncommittal shrug.  “Sorry, man.  It’s my buddy’s card, and we have to get back.”

The guy put his hands down and seemed a little defeated but repeated “God Bless” a few times before pacing.

“Yeah, Jim, I think I’ll have to agree with Pat this time.  That guy seems a little out of it.  I don’t want him near the car.”

“People like that need the most help.  He’s not going to go to a soup shelter.  He probably doesn’t even know where he is.”

The speaker crackled, “Sir, is the order on the screen correct?”

“Oh, right.  Yes, everything looks fine.”  I wanted to kick myself for forgetting our order was right onscreen.  We drove on, paid the lady at the window, and then waited for a few moments while they got the bag prepared for us.  I watched them place the greasy, paper-wrapped sandwiches in the bag, and suddenly, a late-night burger run didn’t sound quite so wonderful.

“I think I’ll just give him my sandwich.  I don’t even really want it.”

Pat sighed, then punched the ceiling of the car.  “You do that, and he’ll just be back here tomorrow night!  He won’t go away!”

I shrugged.  “Hey, he eats tonight, and there are loitering laws still in place, right?  Win-win for everybody.”

We got our food, and as we drove past the parking lot again,  I saw the guy stumbling around and mumbling something to himself.  Having not yet rolled the window up, I waved him over and handed him my sandwich.  He thanked me, nodded his head a few dozen times, then went back to what he was doing, just now with food.  I couldn’t make out much of his mumbling, but what I could sounded a lot like he was reciting some kind of oath over and over.  Not something mystical sounding; the more I listened, the more I was sure it was the Post Office creed.

We got back on the road which led back to Pat’s house, having driven through old, quiet neighborhood back roads to get our burgers.  I wasn’t used to driving near downtown, but Pat insisted this place had great food, even though I had never heard of it.  Considering he didn’t know they sold Pepsi products, I wondered if he was telling me the whole truth or if we drove all the way out here in the middle of the night, when we were all already content to watch movies and pass out on the couch after a good night of drinking and laughing, to do something else.

“So, uh, Pat…we out for just the burgers, or…”

“Hang on.”  He rustled through the bag.  “You’d better not have given him mine.  Ah, wait, there it is.”  He took a quick bite, and by the face he made, I knew for certain he’d just picked a random burger place to visit.  “Just…ugh…just like I remembered.  Make a left up here.”

Almost missing the road he was pointing at, I squealed the tires trying to make the turn.  Thankfully, this was the kind of area where most cops weren’t likely to just be sitting in a parked car waiting to catch speeders.  “Warn me next time, ok?”

Jim looked out the side window, and I could see growing alarm in his eyes.  Despite Pat referring to him as a nerd, Jim wasn’t, really.  He was probably the most athletic among us, and he was the only one without glasses, compared to the two of us up front.  Still and all, he was a friend, even if he was a determined killjoy and had rightfully earned his place in the backseat with all his griping and finger-pointing.  “This isn’t the way back.  You got the wrong street.”

“No, we’re going the right way.  We’re not going back to my place.”

“Then where are we…”

Pat smiled, put his still-wrapped burger between his legs, and reached into his pocket for a roll of dollar bills.

“Wait, no, we’re not…”

“Hell, yeah, baby!  Boys’ night out!  I just got a promotion, and drinks and entertainment are all on me!”

I didn’t want to go.  I’m guessing Jim didn’t want to go, either, but when Pat made up his mind about something, we all got dragged along into it.  So, I sighed.  “Fine.  Which road?  I’ll put it into my GPS.”

“Geez, don’t get so excited about it, now.”

“No, no, congrats, man.  I’m glad you’re now…what is it you’re doing again?”  I started clicking on my GPS app, but in big red letters, it informed me I could not put in the address while I was driving.  “Hang on; I have to stop the car.”

Pat, not really paying attention, started in on how he was now minor management, and yes, he would misuse his power as much as he could, because that was the kind of guy he was.  Jim, on the other hand, squeezed the back of my seat.  “BRAKES!”

“I’m already sto-”  The thud reverberated through the car, and I slammed the brakes on.  “What the hell was that?”

Jim was still squeezing the headrest.  “Some guy…looked like he was drunk…he stepped out into the road…”

I felt my heart tighten, my fingers grow cold.  I’d hit somebody.  Perfect driving record, never even hit a squirrel, and now I’d run over somebody crossing the street.

I stopped, opened the door, and made sure I had the keys in my pocket.  Last thing I needed was for them to disappear somewhere if things got really bad.

We all got out, and in the headlights, we saw what we assumed was a man in a thick, black trenchcoat.  I say assumed because he was huge.  It wasn’t like a “fat” huge, or “bodybuilder” huge, or even a “tall” huge…he just was all around big, like when kids play with action figures that aren’t to scale.  I felt like a G.I. Joe next to a Stretch Armstrong or something.

I wasn’t sure at first if he was alive or dead…either way, this was bad, but dead would have made things a whole lot worse.  Then, I saw the coat rising and falling, and I breathed a sigh of relief.

I looked at my two friends, who sort of nodded and shrugged as if to say, “Yeah, if you’re going to do something, go ahead, but we’ll be back here while you do it.”  I gulped, then moved toward the coat-covered mound in the road.

“Sir?  Sir, are you ok?  Can…can you hear me?  Can you tell me if anything hurts?”

The breathing continued, but there was no response.  I looked around at the area nearby…the houses here were burnt out, long abandoned, or inhabited by squatters looking to smoke a few rocks or shoot up.  If we couldn’t get an ambulance out here, I didn’t think it would be possible for him to fit in my car and take him somewhere he could find help.

I figured the best thing to do would be to call 911, so I got out my phone.  I imagined, again, for a moment that someone would try and stop me, argue that none of this was worth it, and that it would be best if we just left.

Then I remembered that this wasn’t a movie, and that despite how my friends bickered and argued, they weren’t stupid, and they knew as well as I did that running away from something like this was just about the worst thing we could do.

I called the dispatcher, who took my name, and reminded me to be calm.  Unfortunately, I couldn’t recall the name of the street we were on, and Pat only knew where we were going, not how to get there.  They just said to remain calm and wait, and emergency personnel would be there soon.

I kept my phone on, and relayed everything to the other two, when we heard the man grunt.  It was a deep, rumbling grunt, and immediately I tried again.  “Sir?  Excuse me, sir, are you all right?”

The man grunted once more, then said something in a low voice, his back still to us.

“I’m…fine.  Just a little hungry.”

To my surprise, Pat went back to the car and got his burger.  So much for his values of not helping those less fortunate.

“Here, man.  Have this.  Look, no hard feelings, ok?  We were just going along, and we just didn’t see you.  You…you need money or something, too?”

As he handed the burger down to the man on the ground, his arm shot up, snatching the burger from Pat’s hand.  There was a very loud and unpleasant slurping sound as he finished the meal, apparently in only a few seconds.

Having had the burger and the wrapper crunched and tossed aside, the man stood.  As I suspected, I was absolutely right…he was massive, not just tall, but wide as well.

“No, I don’t need any money.  I just need food.”

At this, the man turned toward Pat and grabbed him, forcefully, two large, meaty hands wrapping around both his shoulder and his side.

Pat began to scream.  I stumbled forward to try and grab him, but of all things, Jim pulled me back.

“Jesus!  Look at him!”

The man had a thick, jowly face, and from his lower lip, two tusk-like teeth jutted.  His eyes were small, but bright red, looking almost like every blood vessel had blown in them at the same time.  His nose was small, but turned upward, like a pig or boar.

He might have been a man after all, but I’ve never seena human being that looked like him before.

I had to do something to rescue Pat from this thing’s clutches, but before I could break free from Jim’s grasp, the man-monster had already opened its gigantic mouth and closed it on Pat’s shoulder.

I expected it to maybe swallow him whole, or to rip him apart.  Both would have been preferable to what actually happened.

In the moment the thing bit him, Pat’s scream began to warble and drop in tone, like the very sound was melting.  His color drained, becoming paler by the second until he was pure, alabaster white.  And his body flopped, the bones and muscle seemingly vanishing or, more likely, reduced to nothing but goo.  Even as he appeared to…well, melt wasn’t the right word.  It was more like he deflated, like a balloon at a birthday party with a sudden leak.  The moan still hung from his lips as the thing pulled him and slurped him into its mouth, clothes and all.

And, like that, my friend of nearly fifteen years was just gone.  There one moment, joking and making light of things, and a moment later, vanishing into the maw of some gigantic creature like a piece of spaghetti.

It then turned to look at both of us.  “I just need a little more.  Please help me.”

I felt the grip on me loosen as Jim began to pull me away, though I didn’t want to go.  Not that I wanted to be the feast of this piggish monster, but that it made more sense to get back into the car and drive out of here before anything happened to the two of us.  But I now saw, as it strode toward us, we would have never survived.  Its long arms could have easily smashed the window and pulled us out, turning us into whatever it was that it called a meal.

I followed Jim, blindly at first, towards the back of one of the houses.  We rounded a corner, hoping to find a knocked-in door, or a shed, or a raised back porch we could hide under.

What we found instead was a backyard with grass nearly three feet high and filled with discarded, rusty junk, including an old refrigerator and car parts.

Oh, and the board with the rusty nail in it.  Jim found that one about three steps in.

He screamed and clutched his wounded foot, the board still stuck on the bottom of the shoe.  I tried to remove it, but he waved me away.  “I’ll just walk on it.  We can’t slow down.  It’ll get us.”

We could hear it coming.  It was thankfully slower than we were, or at least it gave the impression it was.  We ran into the yards of at least a dozen houses until we found one that had the sort of raised porch we were looking for.  Jim played with a loose piece of trellis that we could slide back into place, and thus once we got through, we could make it look like it hadn’t been touched.

We slid it in, and together we moved into the back of the porch, close to the cement wall that made up the outer wall of the house.  After a moment, we heard it stalking closer, could see the movement of its legs as it wandered along in search of its next target.  We watched the shadows on the trellis bend and shift until, at last it went to move on.

We waited for the sounds to retreat before we even thought to move.  Jim moved first, scrabbling forward toward the broken trellis to undo it when I suddenly heard loud stomping coming from the house behind me.  Above, the door smashed out, and with sudden violence, two arms punched through the deck flooring.  The hands wrapped around Jim, and he was lifted with ease.

“Got you.  You forget how much you smell to me.”

I did not see the process this time, but I could hear it as Jim experienced whatever had happened to Pat, the horrible noises followed by the slurping sounds.

I did not move from the spot I was in, but I was vaguely aware that I was gathering up dust and throwing it on myself.  I was in a sort of fugue state, having experienced something in one night that should not have been, and was letting my mind go on autopilot.  I fell down into the dirt, and as I heard it stomping, trying to find where I had gone.

I didn’t recall much until I woke up.  I don’t know if I had fainted or just fallen asleep, but the trampling sound was long gone, followed by the muffled sound of talking.  I quietly slid towards the hole in the porch, trying to get out, but also trying to determine where the noise was coming from.

After assuring myself that nothing was going to grab me when I put my head up and through, I listened once more.

It sounded like someone talking to a dispatcher.  The ambulance I had called.  I pulled myself out and ran to it, finding my way through the maze of houses until I saw my car and the blinking lights.

I don’t even recall what I said to them, as my thoughts were still haunted by the way that thing had swallowed my friends.  But I do know that some time after I was talking with them, a police car pulled up and asked me, only slightly not that politely, to accompany them to the station.

And here I sit now, in a room with very unpleasant lighting.  Within a few minutes, a detective comes in, sits down, and asks me questions.  Questions about the friends that were with me.  Questions about the sounds that came over my phone, the phone that I didn’t hang up when the dispatcher called, that caught our screams, the panicked running.  The sounds of my friends turning into some kind of mush before it ate them.

The detective looks at me.  “Look, we know that something happened tonight, but we need your help to piece it all together.  But we need you to calm down and look at it rationally.  If you are currently on any sort of narcotics, you should let us know.”

“I wasn’t drinking.  I don’t do drugs.  I saw what I saw.”

“I understand, but if we are going to have any chance of catching the man who kidnapped your friends, we need to know the truth.”

“They’re…they’re not kidnapped.  They’re dead.  He ate them.”

“Yes, we know what you think you saw, but it’s just not possible to have happened the way you describe.  Look, if you need some time to collect your thoughts, we have a room here where you can sleep it off.  Maybe you’ll remember better then.”

I clench my fingers, but I also nod, understanding they will never believe this story.  I watch him as he rises, gives me a pat on my shoulder, and then returns to his duties outside.  I put my head in my hands, and wonder if maybe he is right, that maybe what I saw was too outlandish, that it was the state of a panicked mind, that the material on the phone call had a different explanation.

And then I look outside the room, and I see the detectives have ordered a late night/early morning meal.  The one who was just speaking to me selects a carton of something either Thai or Chinese.  He opens it, and proceeds to scoop noodles out of it.

Thick, wide noodles.  And he slurps as they go into his mouth.

And before I lose consciousness again, I feel my whole world shatter.

Rating: 10.00/10. From 1 vote.
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🎧 Available Audio Adaptations: None Available

Written by Seth Paul
Edited by Craig Groshek
Thumbnail Art by Craig Groshek
Narrated by N/A

🔔 More stories from author: Seth Paul

Publisher's Notes: N/A

Author's Notes: N/A

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Copyright Statement: Unless explicitly stated, all stories published on are the property of (and under copyright to) their respective authors, and may not be narrated or performed, adapted to film, television or audio mediums, republished in a print or electronic book, reposted on any other website, blog, or online platform, or otherwise monetized without the express written consent of its author(s).

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