It Had Three Mouths

📅 Published on March 25, 2022

“It Had Three Mouths”

Written by Brandon Faircloth
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 3 votes.
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The night was quiet until we got the call that three men were beating a homeless person to death.

Dispatch called two patrol units along with EMS, and when the first deputy got there, they phoned me as the investigator on call.  I went to the scene, pulling up just as the ambulance was driving away.  The three assailants were in the back of the two patrol cars, and when I checked with Deputy Marin, he told me they’d still been attacking the poor guy when he pulled up.  Not even the lights and sirens slowed them down.  It wasn’t until the first one was hit with a stun gun that the other two glanced around and then stepped away from the man lying on the ground between them.

Marin looked at me warily, his eyes watering slightly as he shook his head.  “I…they weren’t just beating him, Jess.  They were cutting on him too.  Damnedest thing I’ve ever…” He swallowed and wiped his mouth as he glanced over to the patch of blood on the asphalt nearby.  “Just don’t be surprised if this turns into a murder case, yeah?”

I nodded, frowning.  “What did EMS say when they got here?  Was he still alive?”

Marin rubbed his eyes.  “Yeah, yeah, he’s alive.  Stable even, but just barely.  I could tell they were rushing to slow the bleeding until they could get him to the hospital.  Just hope he can hang on long enough to make it.”  He looked back up toward the patrol cars.  “What do you want to do with these three pieces of shit?” Shrugging, I glanced around.  “Place them under arrest and read them Miranda.  Then get someone to bring them all to the station so I can do interviews.  Make sure you and Dave check for anyone that might have seen something.”  I gestured across the street at the squat houses that sat slowly moldering there.  “Canvas the neighborhood and check for any cameras in the area.” He nodded and was about to head off when I stopped him.  “Did any of them say anything?  Any idea why they did it?” Marin gave a bitter laugh.  “One of them said something to Dave.  Told him they didn’t have a choice.”  He shook his head.  “Mean, crazy bastard said they had to do it.”


Informal Interview Summary One: James Buckner

I began my interview with the subject in interview room two.  Age eighteen.  He was the youngest of the three suspects.  Buckner had not only graduated high school as valedictorian but had started college a year early.  In the fall, he would be a sophomore at the state university.

He appeared clean and well-groomed other than the dirt and blood that seemed attributable to the attack on the other man that evening.  When I entered the room, he looked up nervously, and his obvious anxiety didn’t lessen as I sat down and started pulling out paperwork.  Still, he listened as I went through Miranda again, and when I asked him if he understood his rights and would waive them to talk to me, he agreed without hesitation.

I asked the initial questions you always ask—name, address, occupation, that kind of thing.  And then I started into the meat of it with a very general question.

“So tell me what happened tonight?”

His hands were trembling as he looked across the table at me with wet eyes.  “I-is that guy going to die?”

Keeping my expression neutral, I shrugged.  “It’s too early to say, I think.  I’m sure they’re doing everything they can to help him, though.  When we get done, I’ll check with the hospital to see how he’s doing.”  I leaned forward slightly.  “For now, though, I need you to tell me what happened tonight. Everything.  Be honest, and don’t leave anything out.  That’s the best way to help yourself at this point.”

A tear rolled down his cheek as he nodded slightly.  “Yeah…I…I’ll tell you what I know, but I don’t know much.  I…I’d come home for the weekend from school to see my girlfriend.  She lives not far from…where that happened.  But I wanted to surprise her, so I parked a block away and was going to walk over and go up to the back door.”  He shuddered as he went on.  “But I don’t think I ever made it. I was walking through this empty lot…I’ve used it as a cut-through to her house before…and…and someone spoke to me.  I think maybe it was that guy, but I don’t know for sure.”

“What did he say to you?  Did he say something that made you mad?” Buckner’s eyes widened.  “No, nothing like that.  He…I think he asked me if I’d help him.” “Help him how?”

He began crying more freely now.  “I-I don’t know.  The next thing I remember, we were beating him. Cutting on him.  I could see myself doing it, but I couldn’t make myself stop.  It was like I was dreaming and couldn’t wake up.” Lowering his head into his hands, he went on.  “Then the cop came up.  He told us to stop, but we didn’t.  I couldn’t, like I said.  Then he shocked me, and everything went fuzzy for a second.  Next thing I remember, I was in handcuffs being put in the back of the cop’s car.”

“Had you ever met the man you were attacking before?” He shook his head from between his palms.  “No, not that I know of.  And I don’t know why I did it.  Why any of us did it.” “Did you know either of the other two men with you?” “No.  I mean…I recognized Mr. Lankin from the grocery store, though that’s mainly from the picture they have up front of him.  The other guy I don’t know at all.” “When did you first see them?”

He let out a half-sob.  “When we were hurting that guy.  I looked up and saw them hurting that man the same as I was.  Hurting him, but looking at each other and at me.  Looking like I felt.”

“And how’s that?  How did they look?  How did you feel?” When he looked up again, his eyes were red-rimmed and raw.  “Like we were trapped in a nightmare we couldn’t stop.”


Informal Interview Summary Two: Gary Lankin

Gary Lankin is a 55-year-old man who has lived in town for the past twenty years.  For the last fourteen, he’s been the manager of one of the large supermarkets in town.  A check of his criminal history shows no arrests, and his driver’s record is clear other than a speeding ticket two years ago.  I know of him from around town, and as far as I know, he has a reputation for being a jolly, honest guy whose biggest vice is that he talks too much if he runs into you.

Sitting in the harsh fluorescent light of interview room three, he didn’t look jolly.  Covered in another man’s blood and his own sweat, he looked more like a caged animal when he glanced up at me and said nothing as I entered.  Going over to the table, I sat down and watched him quietly for a moment before starting into his rights.  When I got to the point of asking if he was willing to talk to me, he just stared.

“Look, if you don’t want to talk to me, that’s fine.  But this is your chance to tell your side of what happened.  If you don’t answer, I’ll take that as a no and leave you alone.”

Grimacing, he rubbed a thick hand across his cheek and snorted.  “What difference does it make?  I’m fucked, aren’t I?”

“I don’t know that.  But again, if you want to talk, you have to make clear to me that you understand your rights and are will…”

“Yeah, yeah.  I understand them.  I’ll sign the waiver or whatever.”  His eyes narrowed.  “But don’t think you can fucking trick me.  I’m doing this because I’m innocent.”

I slid the waiver over to him and watched him sign it.  “No one is trying to trick you.  But we don’t understand what happened tonight or why.  So tell me what you remember, okay?”

He glowered at me silently for several seconds.  “I’d rather talk to Bill Murphy about this.  No offense, little lady, but I don’t know you well.”

My smile felt thin and brittle.  “Well, I’m the lead investigator on this case, and you don’t get to pick who interviews you.  So you want to talk, or are you wasting my time?”

Lankin let out a sigh and shrugged.  “No, that’s fine.  I just…you need to understand that I didn’t do this.  Or maybe I did, but I wasn’t in control.  Someone must have drugged me or something.  Me and the other guys, too, I guess.  I’ve known Terry for years, and he’s not a bad guy.  The young kid I’ve seen in the store, but I don’t really know.”  His mouth was slack as his eyes drifted away.  “But who would do this kind of thing?  Especially in our town?”  He brought his gaze back to mine.  “I know I wouldn’t.  Not unless someone had drugged me or something.”

I nodded.  “We’re going to be getting blood from you all as soon as we’re done talking.  You can consent to the draw, or I can get a search warrant.  Maybe there is something in your system, or there was.  But you feel clear enough to talk to me now?”

“Yeah, yeah, I do.”

“Good.  Then tell me what you remember.”

“I was in the store, finishing close down for the night.  We lock the doors at nine, do the final register checks, and then the place is empty until the stockers come in at five the next morning.  I was the last one left, and I was walking to the back to leave myself when I saw someone down one of the aisles.  It was Aisle Four.  Soup and other canned goods.”

“Who was it?”

“I didn’t know at the time.  I didn’t recognize him.  He had on a sweatshirt with the hood up, and…look, the last few years, we get homeless people coming in sometimes, right?  Usually it’s fine, but once or twice before, they’ve tried to stay in past closing.  I figured that’s what this was.  I called out to him, telling him the store was closed and I needed to walk him out.”  He trailed off as he began to tremble.

“What happened next?”

Lankin lowered his eyes to his hands as he went on.  “I think he turned toward me.  I don’t know.  The next thing I remember, I was hitting and cutting him in the street, like those other guys.” He started to reach forward and then stopped himself at my hard stare.  I felt my phone buzz in my jacket.  “I swear, we were looking at each other while we were attacking him.  None of us wanted to do it.  It was like we had to, crazy as that sounds.”

Pulling out my phone, I saw I had a text message with three pictures from Marin.

Marin: The victim is stable at the hospital.  These are some initial pics the deputy there took before they bandaged up his wounds.

The pictures were of different parts of the man’s body—a leg, his chest, and an arm.  All three were swollen and starting to bruise, but I barely noticed.  All I could see were the symbols that had been carved into his flesh.  Red, precise slashes across his mottled skin, crisscrossing in a way that looked purposeful and meaningful, though I had no idea what the purpose or meaning might be.  So I held up my phone to Lankin.

“Did you do this?”

His eyes widened as I flipped between the three photos.  “I don’t know.  I don’t see how, but I know I cut him.  We all did.”

Snorting, I shook my head as I stuck my phone closer to his face.  “Those don’t look like random cuts to me, or by someone that wasn’t looking at what they were doing.  What do these symbols mean?”

Leaning back in his chair, his lower lip began to quiver.  “I don’t know.  I swear I don’t.  Maybe the other ones did that, but if that’s from me, it was an accident.”

Turning my phone back to me when it buzzed again, I reread the new message from Marin twice.

Marin: Done at scene.  Heading to hospital now.  The roadie there is now saying the victim is disfigured?  Like not from the attack, but his head isn’t normal or something.  Think the kid is confused.  I saw the guy at the scene.  He was dirty and fucked up, but his head was the least hurt part of him, and it didn’t look weird.

I looked back up at Lankin.  “Did you know this guy you attacked?” The man shook his head, his expression miserable.

“So your story is that you see this stranger in your store, you tell him he needs to go, then next thing you know, you and these two other guys are out on the street, five miles from the store, kicking the shit out of this guy while you cut these clearly intricate symbols into him, all the while not even really looking at what you’re doing?”

“Y-yeah.  I mean…”

“Because you’re all looking at each other, right?  Not even paying attention to what you’re doing. These people that you didn’t plan this with.  You’re all just magically attacking this guy and carving the same kinds of things all over him.  Is that what you’re saying?”

“It sounds crazy, but I…”

“No, it sounds like bullshit.”  I puffed out a breath.  “Mr. Lankin, are you and these other gentlemen in some kind of cult or something?”

His face flushed.  “What’re you…are you crazy?  Of course not.” Leaning forward, I glared at him.  “Well, that makes more sense than what you’re saying.  So do you want to try again, or you sticking with this?” Sniffing, he wrapped his arms around his stomach.  “I…I think I want a lawyer now.”


Informal Interview Summary Three: Terrance Wells

As I opened the door to interview room one, someone started to scream.  It was a high, sharp sound that made me wince and cover my ears even as I tried to see into the room through watering slits.  Wells wasn’t at the table but was instead sitting against the wall with his back to me.  The screaming had to be coming from him, though I didn’t know how he could make a sound like that.  I tried to yell over the noise as I stepped closer to tell him I was there to help.  That’s when his hand appeared, red and slick with blood, as he flung something against the far wall.  I followed the trajectory of it and saw the small mound of meat on the floor where it had slid down the cinderblock like a gory slug.

It was Terry’s tongue.


“Marin, I’m bringing Terry Wells to the ER.  Crazy bastard just ripped out his own tongue.  We got his mouth packed with gauze, but I didn’t want to wait for an ambulance.  You already there?” There was a crackle over the radio, and then I heard Marin’s voice through the static.

“Yeah…yeah, I’m here.  Jess, I don’t know if you should bring him here.  Maybe carry him over to the uni hospital instead.”

“What?  That’s twice as far.  Why?”

“I…they’ve lost the guy.  The victim.”

My hand tightened on the steering wheel.  “What do you mean, lost him?  He died?” Crackle, then.  “No, I mean he’s gone.  No one knows where.  And that’s not all.” “What do you mean?”

“I talked to one of the ER docs before we knew he was missing.  The roadie was right, even though it don’t make sense.  They said the guy was severely disfigured.  Something they haven’t ever seen before.”

“Disfigured how?”

“Diprosopus or something.  Said its like when a twin doesn’t get absorbed all the way.  I don’t know. But…Jess, this fucker…they say he’s got three mouths.”


Marin was waiting with two nurses when I pulled up to the ER, and five minutes later Wells was in the back being treated while Marin told me there was still no sign of the victim, though there were two more deputies coming to help search the area.  Shaking my head, I tried to think of anything else we could do short of calling the state police for help.

“What about the road deputy?  Rob, wasn’t it?  Sure he didn’t see anything?  He was supposed to be watching him.”

Shaking his head slowly, Marin didn’t meet my eyes when he spoke.  “He’s a dumb kid.  He says he didn’t see or hear anything, and when he found out the guy had ghosted, he looked like he was going to throw up.  I told him to chill out and go look around in the parking lot for him.  More so, he didn’t yak in here or get in the way.”

I raised an eyebrow.  “How long has he been out there?  I didn’t see him when I pulled up.” Marin paled slightly.  “Shit, it’s probably been twenty minutes.”  He hit his mic.  “715, what’s your 20?”  When he didn’t hear anything back, he tried again before calling dispatch.  They hadn’t heard from the roadie either and couldn’t raise him on the radio.  He shook his head.  “What the fuck is going on around…” He broke off as one of the ER doctors came into the waiting area.

“I’m sorry, but your prisoner didn’t make it.”

I stared at him with disbelief.  “What do you mean?  He was bleeding a decent bit, but we’d slowed that before I brought him.”

The woman shrugged.  “I’m sure you did your best.  And it wasn’t the blood loss that killed him anyway.  We think he had a massive heart attack, though we’ll have to wait for the postmortem to be sure.”

I went to say more when mine and Marin’s phones started buzzing at the same time.  Meeting each other’s eyes, we answered the calls.  It was the office.  Buckner and Lankin were both found dead in their adjacent holding cells.  Lankin’s right arm was bloody, but it was easy to understand why.  He’d had to shove his fat forearm between the bars far enough to get leverage, and the effort cost him most of the skin there.  Buckner was thinner, so it was easier for him.  In the end though, it came to the same thing for both of them.

Because somehow, within the span of less than the hour since I’d left them, they’d ripped out each other’s tongues.


My hands were tight and shaky on the wheel as I drove the empty, moonlit path back to the office.  It was past two in the morning now, but I wasn’t sleepy or even tired.  There was too much to do.  I needed to call the sheriff, Vegas conference or not, and I needed to get someone from the state police down here.  And we still needed to locate the victim and find out…

I slammed on the brakes as a figure appeared on the road before me.  It was him.  The victim.  He was still wearing a hospital gown and had bandages taped all over his body, but it was his head, framed in the yellow glow of my headlights, that I couldn’t look away from.

Marin was wrong.  This man…he didn’t just have three mouths.  He had three faces, or near enough to it.  Spread across a lumpy palette of flesh were four eyes, three noses, and three sets of crooked lips, all almost perfectly articulated except at their edges, which ran together and apart like melted wax.  I felt a combination of sympathy and horror looking at him.  How had he have survived like that?  And how could he have made it so far out here on his own?  Stepping out of the car, I called out to him.

“Sir, I’m here to help you.  I’m Investigator Jesse East with the sheriff’s office, okay?  I need to get you back to the hospital.”

The man had seemed oblivious to me before, but now he was staring right at me, all three of his mouths discordantly working in unison.  At first, I heard nothing, but then I realized I was hearing him speak, though I wasn’t sure where the sound was coming from.

“I need your help.”

I nodded, trying not to let my growing fear and discomfort show.  I didn’t understand what was going on, but I still needed to do my job and get him back to the hospital.  “That’s what I’m here for.  Can you make it to the car?”

“No.  I need you to hear me sing.  Your flesh will become the door.” He wasn’t really talking.  It was…it was in my head.

No.  I was being stupid.  Freaked out because…well, reason enough to be freaked out, but no time for it.  “Sir, I don’t understand what you…” My words faded away as a sound rose from the figure before me.  Not one sound, but three.  Three voices, all singing different parts of a song in harmony.

I doubled over as my vision began to swim.  My chest and stomach felt like they were on fire.  What was this?  That song…I didn’t understand the words, but it was still so beautiful.  So wonderful and terrible at the same time.  What was it?

“It is one of the names of my god.”  The voice thundered across my brain, never interrupting the singing of the three mouths in front of me.  ”It calls to him across the dark even as it calls you to serve his purpose.”

I was on my knees now, barely able to think.  This…this was all happening.  The song, the spreading agony across my body, the feeling of pressure building to the point that I felt ready to explode…this thing in front of me was trying to bring something here.

“Oh yes.  You will see.  You will serve him; even after death, you will serve him.” The man’s body shook with what might have been laughter, making the hospital gown flutter in a passing night breeze. I had to try and…no, I had to not think.  It was in my head already.  I had to not think, just act.  But it hurt so much, and now he was ripping off the bandages, and I could see the symbols clearly in the headlights, bleeding tar like a dozen small fountains as he sang and sang into the black sky and…

“I can feel him.  He is nearly here.”

Oh, God.  I had to do something, but it hurt so much and I couldn’t let him see I… “Just let go.  You will be the beginning of a new ag—” The thing’s head snapped back as the first bullet struck it.  I didn’t think or hesitate but just kept firing into its head until the singing began to trail off and then stopped altogether.  It toppled over, and I quickly crawled closer and emptied my remaining rounds into its chest.


It took me two hours to get rid of the body.  I drug it out into the woods past a nearby cow pasture and dug a deep hole before dousing it well with fuel from my gas can.  Only after the body had gone out did I cover it with several feet of earth and leaves.  Maybe later, I would have to find a better spot, but for now, this would have to do.

I got back to the office as the sun was coming up, and Marin was there, waiting with a worried expression.  “Where have you been?  I’ve been calling.”

Shrugging, I walked past him without meeting his eyes.  “Sorry.  I was out looking for the victim.  No luck.”  When he touched my arm, I glanced up and saw him frowning at me.

“You smell like gas and gunpowder.  And you’ve got dirt under your nails.  You okay?” Swallowing, I nodded.  “Yeah.  I…I’m just real tired, you know?” Marin studied me for a minute before nodding.  “Me too.  Maybe…maybe we should just stop looking for this John Doe, yeah?  What do you think?” I gave him a smile I didn’t feel.  “Yeah.  I think that’d be for the best.”

Rating: 10.00/10. From 3 votes.
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🎧 Available Audio Adaptations: None Available

Written by Brandon Faircloth
Edited by Craig Groshek
Thumbnail Art by Craig Groshek
Narrated by N/A

🔔 More stories from author: Brandon Faircloth

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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