I re-read that because I really don’t have nice eyes. My eyes are globs of slung mud and gravel on two cracked plates, yellowed by age and exposure. In fact, I’ve been asked many times before to stop staring – it’s gross, it’s weird, it’s scaring the children. I’ve never been complimented on my eyes before.

Usually on MONSTR, they mention the hook, because of course they do. It’s my best feature. It’s sharpened every night, carefully oiled, and well-maintained. I take pride in it, and it shows.

But on MONSTR, it’s usually the same B.S.:

But this message seems strangely sweet and sincere, and it’s been a while since I’ve had anything sincere, and I honestly can’t remember the last time I’ve had anything sweet. There’s no profile pic, but I’m not surprised, half of these assholes never put one up. However, the profile details catch me off-guard.

If I didn’t know any better, I’d think he was human, a young human, and maybe he is. I’ve been caught by that before. Werewolf wannabes that swear they’ll change the next month, it’s just been an off-month or the moon isn’t really full yet. Fuckin’ normies. I’ve got no time, interest, or energy for them.

I have to look up what pokemon are since I’d been in the institution for a while and I’ve never been one to strike up a conversation if I didn’t have to.

Oh…they’re cute animals.

I’m baffled. Baffled but a little intrigued. I mean, he called me out, right?

This better not be some dumb kid trying to screw around with monsters. But if it’s legit…sure, whatever. I’ve heard of imps, but never met one. I’ve never really considered them for a date, but I’ve got nothing against them. I assume one monster cock is the same as any other, and I’ve had my fair share of monster cocks.

The funny thing is that I was actually considering taking a break from all this. At first, when I got out the institution and wandered back into the world as a “rehabilitated” man after twelve years, the changes were overwhelming. It was like everything had shifted overnight when I had been sleeping. Before I went in, phones were phones, cameras were cameras, and porn took thirty minutes to fully download and buffer.

I felt so young and so old at the same time, navigating through a different world, trying to catch up. Both terrified and inquisitive, I made up for lost time.

And when I first learned about apps, about how trusting people are now, I thought, ‘How easy! How brilliant!’. I started using the apps first as bait. There are some idiots that will meet anywhere without a second thought – abandoned hospitals, forgotten cemeteries, the middle of the damn woods where there’s no cell reception! It was such easy pickings…

But that’s when I fell into MONSTR, an app for the evil, twisted and monstrous, developed by the evil, twisted and monstrous. And I fell into it deep for months after discovering it, ecstatic that there was a platform for me. I wasn’t alone. And after the years of therapy, I could accept what I wanted and who I wanted.

And I’ll admit the random hook-ups with six-pack lagoon monsters, “physically-enhanced” lab experiments and all the multitude of were-animals was, at first, amazing. Night after night, just meeting other twisted souls for a good lay and slay was like heaven. And, yeah, sure, I had been tricked a few times by normies or by other crazed killers looking to add another notch to their machetes, but I’m good with my gut and even better with my hook.

So, it was a blast. It was hedonistic and it was fun. And it was Heaven…

Until it wasn’t.

Until I realized that I still went home alone at night and ate cold raviolis from the can in an overwhelming silence so deep and profound, I could barely swallow the congealed pasta. The thrill of it dissipated into the need for contact, for touch, for connection. As shitty as the institution was, there was always people, always chatter, always some new and young psychologist trying to be the one to break-through to the stoic killer. And everyone thought it was impossible…until one impossibly did it…

And I hate to admit that a part of me misses the connection and interaction…

I hear my phone chime and I’m surprised to see he replied so quickly.

Embarrassingly, that’s how I got my start, but I don’t want to say that and come off as a stereotypical asshole. I mean, teen-killers are a dime a dozen with serials. I’ve moved on, I’ve grown past that.

I try to even remember the last song I heard. It’s been so long. And I’m not talking WAP blaring from Geana’s side of the duplex. Real music. Music that felt real and genuine.

And it goes on like this for a while. I actually set down my cold can of ravioli. I actually turn off the rerun of The Munsters, even though I never saw this episode before. But I don’t mind.

In fact, I enjoy myself.

***

After two weeks of chatting almost every day, it got brought up that we should meet. I can’t remember if it was by him or me, but the other agreed quickly, maybe too quickly.

So, here I am and I’m nervous. I have my best, least-stained trench coat on, and even though it’s May, there’s still a cold wind that feels like Fall. It smells like disturbed earth and rain. It feels like a set-up. But here I am at midnight in Antwortet Park with friggin’ pack of pokemon stickers in my sweaty hand. Here I am like a goddamned idiot with his best trench on and hoping for the best, which I try not to make a habit. I even tried using beard oil, like a dirty hipster…

And why am I so damn nervous? This is nothing. It’s a stupid date that means nothing. And if it is a set-up, then who cares? I’ll just kill him and keep trying, I guess. Or maybe not. But maybe it’s not a catfish. Maybe this is real and there could be something to this. But maybe it’s not-

“Tony?” I hear a hesitant voice behind me in the shadows. He’s good, very good, at blending into the darkness. I don’t even see him at all.

“Jenglet?” I ask, in a general direction.

“Jenglot,” he softly corrects and steps into the light. He is small. Small and timid, or maybe just cautious. His skin is as black as jet and refuses to reflect an atom of moonlight. His body is short, lithe, looks hairless. Pointed ears, a grim little mouth with fangs that slightly poke out, and dark but curious eyes. His spiked little tail weaves nervously behind him. He’s wearing a t-shirt and jeans that he must have fitted for him.

“Hi,” I say, awkwardly, taking him in.

“Hey,” he replies just awkward, but laughs. “You’re taller than I thought.”

“You’re smaller than I thought,” I admit, but this bristles him.

“Is that a deal-breaker?” He asks, guarded, like he’s going to dash back into the shadows.

“Not really,” I say, “I’ve never met an imp before.”

“Oh,” he softens, “Actually all my brothers are bigger. Most imps are. I’m a bit of a runt.”

“I killed my mom,” I blurt out, and realize that maybe wasn’t the best thing to say.

“Oh, sorry? Or…congratulations?” He’s tentative.

“I mean, I was so big as a baby. I guess…I guess I just killed her. So, maybe being tall ain’t so good?”

Things are so much easier when the other monster doesn’t speak any human language, or when it’s just a quick tugjob behind an old, abandoned haunted house. I am not good at this. The talking, the being talked at. I wince under my beard.

But he smiles, laughs once, baring his white sharp teeth. “Yeah, maybe so.”

“I found these,” I stick out the stickers as an offering, but then realize my mistake, “I mean, I got them. I bought them. At a store.”

Gingerly, he takes them and beams. “You bought these for me?”

“I guess. I mean. Sure. Probably.”

I need to re-read the Dale Carnegie book that I stole from the asylum. But, in fairness, it’s not my fault that half the pages have the scribbled ramblings of the other patients. But in this moment, I acutely realize that I should be better at this.

“Thanks,” he says, tosses them into the air and, in a wisp of black smoke, they’re gone. He kindly explains, “I teleported them home.”

“You’re not an imp kid, are you?”

He looks to the side, an almost human move. “No, I get that a lot, though. I look young for my age. I’m two hundred forty-two. That’s about…twenty-two in your years, I think?”

“Still young. I’m thirty-four. But to be honest, I feel like half my life was taken away.”

“You wanna walk through the park some? You can tell me about it if you want…?”

“Am I…?” I gesture to my dirty coat, to my hook, and my long ugly mug. “You’re good with this? Or is this a friendship thing, or…? I usually just hook up, so I don’t know how dates work.”

“This is…your first date?” He asks and his astonishment embarrasses me.

“I’ll be honest, I got out an asylum a few months back and before that…I wasn’t ready for this,” I shrug, “I wasn’t ready to accept this…for myself. But…I got some good help and I feel ready now, I guess.”

“You don’t mind me being so small?”

“You don’t mind that this is my cleanest trench coat?”

His eyes sparkle with delight before we both hear an ear-piercing scream rip through the silence. Turning, we see a young woman. All long hair and long legs. Tight waist and yoga pants. She’s spotted us and had the audacity and gall to scream out. Some people, man…

She starts to run away and I charge towards her instinctively, matching her pace easily, as we run along the path of the park. The thrill of the chase isn’t lost on me. It’s freeing. It’s intoxicating.

Helpless, gasping, crying, she trips and crashes to the ground a few feet in front of me. And seriously, I don’t even know how she did it. I mean, she’s wearing sneakers, for Christ’s sake. What the hell did she even trip on? The concrete is level and smooth… But here we are and here she is on the ground, crawling and sobbing.

Backing up from me, still on the concrete, she puts her hands out defensively. In a high pitch, she screeches, “Please no! Please! I’ll give you money! Just let me go!”

This is kind of my favorite part because she’ll soon figure out that there is no reprieve, no good knight in white armor. This is her death and I am her destroyer, and she will accept that in her final moments because there’s nothing left for her to do but accept that.

I lumber closer, hook raised and glistening in the moonlight. My heart’s pounding and I hope Jenglot’s watching. I hope he’s enjoying the show.

She’s still crying out. “Please, no! Please! Stop! Plea-”

And then suddenly, with a guttural splatter, her throat gushes open. It splays apart like a snapped trap of torn flesh and ruptured muscles. Blood spurts forth like a fountain head, wild and uncontrollable. She tries to gasp and just squirts the blood farther, getting all over my “nice” trench coat.

Her hands reach for her throat, then reach for nothing, held helpless and twisted in the air. She foams and gurgles, eyes bulged and pleading until they slowly glaze over. The little jerks of a sudden death ripple throughout her body, long legs twitching against the gravel.

I stare, uncertain of what happened, at what’s going to happen…

Just standing here, blinking, in shock.

She almost falls back, but is stiffly caught from behind. Dark claws reach out from behind her back and embrace her body. Jutting from her throat I recognize the thick spike of a tail poking through her still seeping neck before it slips away.

Her body collapses slowly onto him, and I realized that he has her body propped against his small frame. His dark face partially peers from behind her long, blood-spattered hair to look at me. His eyes are still curious and nervous, and a soft pink tongue slips from his mouth to lick his lips. My breath catches in my throat.

“Was that a dealbreaker?” he asks me, quietly, almost a hiss, “That I stole your kill?”

I laugh, full-bellied, and he quirks his little head.

“Nah, maybe some years back…But I’m a different man now. I used to kill…well, for a lot of reasons. Maybe some I still don’t even know yet. But now,” I shrug my heavy shoulders and smile despite myself, “Now I kill for me. I kill for fun. So, no. That doesn’t bother me. The chase was fun.”

He smiles, too, eyes gleaming in delight before he leans to her and bites down into her flesh, tearing the meat there. I crouch where I’m standing, closer on his level and he watches me as he chews, blood dripping down his jaws.

“Hey, can we do this again sometime?” I ask. “I’d like to see you again.”

He grins, full white teeth, now pink from the blood and bits of flesh clinging there. And it’s the most fucking adorable thing I’ve ever seen. If he was a pokemon, he’d be my favorite.

“I’d really like that, Tony,” he says and leans back down for another bite.

About the Author

When not howling Tina Turner classics with Glorious Spouse under a Detroit moon, J.M. Brannyk (a.k.a. Boxhuman) reviews mostly supernatural and slasher films from the 70's-90's and is dubiously HauntedMTL's Voice of Reason. Aside from writing, Brannyk dips into the podcasts, and is the composer of many of HauntedMTL's podcast themes.

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