Arthur Sallow’s afternoon tea was rudely interrupted by a knock at the door. He banged his cup down indignantly and waddled down the hallway, swearing as he went. He eyed the intruder through the peephole, only opening upon sight of the package he had been impatiently awaiting.
“Do you need me to sign?”
“No.” The courier was dressed in a tatty black frock-coat and top hat. “I’ll bring it inside; it’s hideously heavy.”
Arthur examined the man’s long hair, gaunt face, and grim demeanor. “Is this some kind of...A promotional thing?”
“No.” The man slipped past Arthur, his slender frame insubstantial like a shadow. He held the huge box overhead like it was full of feathers and not weighty, steel machinery.
“Just in the kitchen! Left! Left!”
Relieved of his burden, the courier reappeared. “You’ll let it settle before unboxing.”
“Is that... Okay, then. If that’s what you recommend.”
“Leave it for a day and a night.” With that, the man was gone and Arthur returned to his stone-cold Earl Grey.
The scratching was getting louder; it was making Arthur’s skin crawl. He ran from room to room, pressing his ear to the walls, but he couldn’t make out its source. There was breathing and moaning also, like the haunting cry of expiring prey. Arthur took a double dose of Xanax before even trying to sleep.
Cracks and holes appeared in the newly painted walls. Arthur Sallow paced up and down like a caged bear—sweat soaking the back of his unwashed shirt. He necked more pills and stared at the box in the corner of the kitchen. He’d waited long enough; it was time to open the damned thing. A scream from the basement made Arthur’s buttocks tense and his bladder-wall shiver. The box could wait.
Arthur shook uncontrollably as he slowly descended the stairs. He couldn’t leave the house and he couldn’t seek help—confronting the disturbance was the only choice. He felt around and hit the light switch, half expecting it not to work. The globe was weak but functional, yet Arthur soon wished that it wasn’t.
There were ditches in the dirt floor that looked freshly dug but no evidence as to how or by whom. Arthur was about to turn-tail when he felt a sudden dull thudding at the base of his skull and then darkness.
Arthur’s eyes adjusted to the murky light in the living room and he tried to rise. His arms and legs were held down by something, and when he realized by what, Arthur squealed in an impressive falsetto. The things that surrounded him, however, remained unmoved. He recognized every last one of the figures in the room but found no comfort in it. One of them approached, she was female like the others but slightly less decayed. Her missing jaw allowed her tongue to loll about like a fleshy neck-scarf and Arthur swallowed his own vomit.
The creature knelt down beside Arthur and stroked his brow, leaving a trail of grave-earth there. Another of the things tore at the box that had once sat near the refrigerator and Arthur cried out. “No! Please! It's not for me! Why are you doing this?” The corpse carried the object over to Arthur’s coffee table and gently placed it atop a stack of old newspapers. “T-That’s... What is it?”
It wasn’t the item that Arthur had ordered; it was made entirely of bone—human bone—fanned out to form an oval. It was shaped, for all intents and purposes, like a platter, and set in its center was a complete and very tiny skeleton. Arthur’s breathing quickened and he feared passing out amidst his terrifying house-guests. A third entity plopped down onto the floor and began rubbing Arthur’s belly with a stump where a hand should have been; her left eye was dangling from its socket like a dropped pocket-watch. “You know me! You all do! I loved every last one of you!”
The severed hand holding Arthur Sallow’s right ankle was still cold from the fridge. Arthur tried to free himself but the body parts holding him captive were incredibly strong. “How are you doing that? It’s not possible!” Then came a knock at the door and ‘Dangly Eye’ rose to answer it.
“You’re enjoying my gift?”
“Are you f**king insane?”
“Good. Excellent craftsmanship, I think you’ll agree? The ladies seem to think so.” The man in the frock-coat cast a narrow eye at the detached limbs restraining his audience. “Looks like you’d saved some choice cuts to gnaw on at some point. Ironic, that.”
The slender man clicked his fingers and the reanimated horde got to work: ripping at Arthur’s carcass like it were little more than a rotisserie chicken. The delivery man dumping Arthur Sallow’s long-awaited mincing machine at the door barely heard the crunching, chewing and slurping.