Four Shreddings and a Numeral
by Martin Bolton
The waiter at the Swindon Travelodge was strangely nervous. Sweat glistened on his twitching brow.
“I’ll have the lasagne,” said Simon.
“The… the lasagne,” the waiter tugged at his collar with one bony finger and gave a maniacal, high-pitched cackle. “You’re… you’re absolutely sure you want the lasagne.”
“I recommend the fish and chips,” argued the waiter. Perspiration poured freely down his face.
“The lasagne please.”
“The burger is excellent!” the waiter pleaded.
“Very well, sir.” The waiter’s face was a picture of misery.
“The fish and chips is good?” asked John. The waiter nodded dejectedly. “Lovely, I’ll have that.”
“Me too,” said Adam.
“Yes,” said Martin, gazing at the waiter with bemusement, “same here.”
The waiter shambled away.
* * * *
“To the 900 Club,” Martin cried as he raised his glass. The four writers stood and toasted the success of their collective. They had finished dinner and there had been no further sign of the terrified waiter who had taken their order. Martin assumed the poor chap was ill, and had been sent home.
“Speech!” Adam called to Simon, the founding member.
Simon pulled a battered piece of paper from his pocket and began to unfold it. He glanced down at his speech and cleared his throat.
Then he cleared his throat again. Simon’s handwritten speech floated to the floor as he broke into an uncontrollable coughing fit. As he hacked and rasped, Adam patted his back and John poured him a glass of water.
Simon sat bolt upright, sending Adam staggering backwards, and gave an ear-splitting bark. Something hot and wet slapped against Martin’s forehead, followed by a welter of warm blood and semi-digested lasagne. Martin stared down at the table in horror as Simon’s still beating heart bobbed about in his pint.
“It’s, uh, it’s…”
“Simon’s fucking heart,” said Martin.
Simon turned slowly and lunged at Adam. He went down screaming as Simon’s teeth tore at his face.
John picked up a chair and smashed it over Simon’s back. Adam’s screams turned to gurgles as Simon ripped a chunk of flesh from his face and spat it at John before burying his teeth in Adam’s throat with a crunching squelch.
“Fuck! Get him off!” Martin and John attempted to remove Simon’s snapping jaws from Adam’s throat. Adam had stopped moving now and blood pooled on the wooden floor.
Simon stood and turned, backhanding Martin and sending him airborne over a table, then lurched towards John. John smashed another chair over Simon’s head to no effect. Simon merely shuffled on, hands outstretched, a jagged piece of wood protruding from his neck. John went down growling.
By the time Martin extricated himself from a pile of tables and chairs, Simon was sat on top of John, greedily devouring a handful of his entrails. Martin turned to see Adam ambling towards him. Adam’s throat was a ragged hole, oozing thick blood. His eyes were dead and his jaw hung slackly open.
Martin ran into the kitchen and found it deserted. He glanced about frantically and his eyes rested on a cordless electric carving knife. He found a chef’s blow torch nearby. Armed with these, he turned to see Adam enter the kitchen, followed by John and Simon. He ran to the back of the kitchen, through another door and found himself in the bar.
As Adam followed, Martin hurled bottles of spirits at him, showering him in whiskey, brandy and tequila. As the thing that had been Adam reached out, Martin lit him with the blow torch. He became a flailing fire ball. Stumbling through the bar, pulling more flammable booze onto himself. Martin scrambled over the bar. Adam sank to the floor behind as the flames consumed him.
John was in the bar now. His entrails dragged on the floor between his legs and left a slimy trail of blood behind him. Martin grabbed a bar stool and hurled it at John’s feet. As John stumbled and went down, Martin pinned him with a chair and sat on it. John was face down, arms flailing uselessly, as Martin sawed through his neck with the electric carving knife. The electric knife whined as it cut through gristle and bone. Eventually John stopped moving. Martin sagged against the chair, panting.
Searing pain exploded in Martin’s neck as Simon sank his teeth in. He shrieked, pulling the knife from John’s neck and pressing the button. The knife was out of power, so he stabbed it behind his head and felt it bite into flesh. He sawed frantically with the serrated blade. He and Simon stumbled backwards, slipping on bits of John’s innards and hitting the floor together. Martin rolled away from Simon and almost into Adam’s flaming corpse. Simon’s hands and feet waved around as he lay on the slick floor like a beetle stuck on its back.
Martin grabbed a bottle of single malt scotch from the shelf. He pulled the cork out with his teeth and took a long pull, then doused Simon’s head and lit him with the blow torch.
As the room went up in flames Martin grabbed another bottle of whiskey and headed for reception. This too was inexplicably deserted. He took a swig of the whiskey, drew a face on the counter in blood and wrote the words ‘THE END’ beneath it. He looked at the blood-face and grinned.
“Checking out please.”