HUNGRY TO THE BONE
750 word short by Jeffrey Beesler
Matt Krudd just wanted a fucking burger. Something fast and simple, something that wouldn’t cost him an arm and a leg. Stomach threatening to gnaw away at muscle tissue if it didn’t get fed soon, he raced his Subaru Impreza through the parking lot of the first restaurant he had came across, Hungry to the Bone. With a distinct lack of cars and customers around, it seemed the store would close in a few minutes.
Slamming his foot against the brake pad, he reached the order box.
“We’ll be with you in a moment,” said the distorted voice through the speaker.
“Yeah, I want a burger,” Matt said. “Just give me something hot. It doesn’t have to be fresh.”
For a moment, silence filled the air. Then a blip came from the speaker, followed by, “I told you to hold on a moment. You’re dealing with skeletal crew here.”
His arm dangling out the window while he waited, Matt began rapping his fingers against the car door. One at a time, the digits on his car clock ticked away. 10:47, 48, 49. 50. What could’ve been the hold-up? It wasn’t like he’d gotten in back of a long line of cars or anything.
“Are you there?” Matt tried his best to keep his temper in check. But when no one got back to him after five minutes, he hurled his fist at the empty passenger’s seat to his right. “Damn it, dude. I want food, and I want it now. Your lot lights are still on. I’m not going anywhere until you serve me.”
Another blip at last. “I don’t have to deal with this,” the order taker announced defiantly.
“Excuse me?” Matt’s jaw hung low. What the hell was wrong with this person? Receiving no further response from the jerk at the box, Matt swung around the drive-thru lane, pulling up to the window. Like the outside lights, everything inside was still lit up. He pounded against the window, hoping someone would take his damn order already. No one approached the glass.
Furious, Matt parked his car and stormed up to a side entrance. The handle twisted as it should have, indicating the staff hadn’t yet locked up for the night. He threw the door open and stomped inside. A dank odor, possibly of moldy meat, attacked his nose upon entry.
“Hello?” he asked, searching for someone to yell at over the horrendous service he’d gotten just now. Again, no answer. Covering his mouth with an arm to keep himself safe from the stink of the place, he marched away from the entrance. A moment later, he heard something click from somewhere nearby. The lights went off. Glancing around in all directions, including the entrance he had used, his search came up empty.
“I’m not going anywhere until one of you idiots apologizes and gets me a burger.”
“Looks to me like you’ve had your fill of burgers, young man,” a raspy voice spoke out to him from the shadows. “Haven’t you heard of dieting?”
Matt’s blood soared to beyond boiling. “That’s it. I’m calling your corporate office.”
Before he could reach for his cell phone, something icy grazed the skin on his arm. Bony fingers tickled his hairs, and then seized his wrist with a stone-hard grip. Matt struggled to break free, but as a second set of skinless digits snatched his remaining hand, his heart chilled.
The office light came on, shedding dim light on the inside of the restaurant.
Three skeletons had cornered him, all in tattered rags that may have once resembled crew member slacks and polo shirts. Maggots skittered about the eye area of the only one wearing a loosely wired head-set. A small noose, possibly a manager’s tie, dangled around the neck of the second. The third one, the one holding tightly onto him, wore slight patches of hair and flesh over disconnected sections, just enough to suggest that this creature had likely been a teenage girl in life.
A swallow of bile swimming around in his mouth, Matt choked on his next words.
“My employee did warn you that you were dealing with a skeletal crew,” the tie-wearing skeleton grumbled, gesturing towards the one wearing a head-set. Head-set Skeleton chattered his teeth at Matt and a few maggots plopped to the floor.
A weak whimper escaped from Matt as the manager skeleton fondled his face, using its talons to slice open Matt’s cheeks.
The skeleton with the head-set fingered Matt’s sides, asking the others, “Will we be eating here, or shall we take it with us?”
of Drei City), and has several novel and novella projects at various stages of the writing and revision process. When not writing, Jeff likes to twist around the words in songs, and maybe catch an episode of Big Brother. You can connect with him via his blog, or find him on Twitter under @jeffreybeesler.