[Content Warnings: Blood, Implications/descriptions of addiction and Violence]
"Just One More"
(A short story for 13Days13Shorts following the prompt "Suspicious Candy")
[Content Warnings: Blood, Implications/descriptions of addiction and Violence]
"Hey, does this candy taste funny to you?"
Two teens, or…two "About to lose the teen in their age" teens, Arzu and Kai sit opposite each other on the floor of a small bedroom. To their side, two plastic pumpkin-shaped buckets with the words "TRICK O' TREAT" engraved on both of their fronts. About thirty minutes ago, they were filled about halfway with a variety of different candies, sweets, some cut-up fruit and one piece of paper that simply stated "Sorry, out of candy.". But now, those contents were laid out atop a towel in front of them, treats categorized by which house they came from. A board reading "The Ranking(™) laid beside them as well to facilitate their original plan of ranking their neighbors based on the candy they gave.
Though, perhaps that objective would shift now. As they are sharing the pile of candies they got from the weirdest house yet, Arzu glances up and repeats their question.
"The candy from this pile." They gesture to the pile that had been moved to sit in the middle of them. It had very specific treats, large, hypnotizing and swirling lollipops, sparkling gumdrops, taffy that had so many colors it was hard to look at, and two wrapped candy apples. "It tastes like…weird.'
Kai blinks a few times, glancing down at the pile they had yet to indulge in, then back at their friend, "Then…don't…eat it?"
There's a pause as the two stare at each other in silence.
And then Arzu crunches into the lollipop they were eating once more.
"That's crazy–why would you do that?" Kai exclaims, an exasperated tone entering their voice.
"I said it tasted weird not that it tasted bad–" Arzu states with a shrug and cheeky grin. Somehow, even while chewing, their words come out perfectly clear. The first red flag their friend unfortunately doesn't pick up on, instead rolling their eyes and sighing.
However, the second and third red flags they do pick up on, one a bit quicker than the other. One that brings a heavier concern than the other.
The second red flag noticed was the slow but apparent increase in Arzu's consumption of candy. This pile of candy specifically. From their motion of grabbing it, to their chewing, to their heavy breathing after. It all becomes rapid, rabid, animalistic even. As if they haven't eaten in years. As if there's a fear that if they stop, it will all go away.
Kai knew it was a poor idea to even have the house this candy came from in their peripheral vision. It was almost too…perfect. A picturesque estate on the edge of the neighborhood. Perfectly sculpted and made of a pristine marble, that glimmered underneath inviting halloween style decor. Orange and black banners, skeletons and pumpkins lining the outside. The man, standing perfectly still in front of the door, holding a sign that says "Trick or Treaters Welcome."
The man…that waved the two over as they were about to pass by the house. Kai said that the whole area gave a bad vibe, that they had enough for the night. But what was one more house? It's just one more.
That same man…whose smile never wavered as the two approached. Who never spoke a word, but as the words "Trick or Treat" reached his ears, he moved akin to a sleeper agent that heard their code word. Holding a hand up to tell them to wait a moment before opening the front door of the home and reaching inside for something.
The home…that Kai saw was much different on the inside than the outside. In the split second the door revealed its secrets, they saw a broken down, rotten space. It was dark and cracks lined the wooden floor dangerously. Were there bugs scurrying around? Something was scurrying in the darkness, there had to have been.
But that was all that could be seen in that small peek. As quickly as that insight was given, it was hidden away, and the man held out a wrapped box with a small plastic-covered window showing the contents to be the assortment of candy they had now.
"...Surely not." Kai looked at Arzu.
"...Happy Halloween!" Arzu grinned before taking the box with glee.
What was the harm in living a little? What was the worst that could happen?
What if the worst is happening?
What is happening?
What the hell is going on?
Those thoughts ran through Kai's mind as they noticed the third red flag.
Arzu's saliva was becoming…foamy.
An almost pink, sugary substance replaced what would be the drool leaving Arzu's mouth as they devoured candy after candy. How was there so much? They could've sworn they should've run out by now.
"Oh what–what…what the hell–okay Arzu, it's time to stop. That's enough, my guy–" Kai scooted around the pile of candy and reached out to their friend, who had now taken a hunched over position over the treats.
Arzu, however, was not so easy to budge. Despite feeling Kai's hands attempting to pull them away, they continued to reach and grab at the candy.
"Relaaax! Relax…relax, relax, it's not that serious!" They said, despite their words broken up through heavy breaths and pants, "It's just really good! Try it! That guy put somethin' in this I swear to you-"
Kai grew more exasperated, their voice rising, "That's why I want you to stop?? Because there's probably something in them?!"
"I'll stop in a bit, I just want a little more!"
"Zuzu don't play with me, move from the candy-"
"I can stop whenever I want, it's just candy."
"You've had enough!"
"Something's happening to y-"
"KAI SCREW THE FUCK OFF-"
In the blink of an eye, Arzu watched as Kai went from being in their face, holding onto them; to two or three feet away against a wall, holding their nose as blood poured from it, seeping through their fingers. A look of shock in their now teary eyes. In one moment, Arzu's angry and wide eyed expression melted into one of guilt as they sat in a temporary moment of clarity.
"Kai…" They began, their voice now small and quiet, "I'm…Oh God–I'm so sorry, I didn't mean too…"
The now bleeding Kai held their free hand up, as if to pause Arzu from continuing. After a beat of silence, glancing around to catch their bearings, they slowly start to get up. Their body stumbles a bit, but quickly, they leave the room without a word.
"I…i'll stop. I'm putting the candy away-Kai i'm-"
The door slams shut.
Arzu is left on the ground in a stunned silence, their gaze slowly falling to the bit of blood sprinkled across their knuckles before moving to the last remaining bits of candy. With a frustrated shake of their head, they begin to quickly grab the little bits left and throw it into the previously emptied box they came from. No matter how much every muscle, how much every cell in their body yearned for just one more sugary piece; The image of their best friend bleeding and crying because of them pushed them on, carried by regret.
That regret carried them far.
They were so close.
But then their hands hovered over one of the candy apples, covered with a plastic wrapping.
And they paused.
God, why did they pause?
Why did they hesitate?
Because that's all it took. That's all it took for everything to fall apart. Everything. The world crumbled and distorted around them, their senses zero'd in on this final treat, the most anticipated of all. Their world, their existence, it became this one candy apple. Nothing else mattered, nothing else was real. And they know they shouldn't, they know deep in their bones this is wrong, and hurts and will hurt, but how could they not? Who looks at the treasure of a lifetime, a one-time experience, and shuns it away? They will die…without this. Their body knows it. Their mind knows it. They know it. This…is necessary.
It would just be one more.
Cold water splashed against Kai's face for the third time as they cleaned the blood from their nose once more, finally stopping its flow after about ten minutes. Truthfully, they were more focused on clearing their mind than dealing with the minor injury. They had no clue how to move forward, if they should call someone. They weren't equipped to deal with…this. They didn't even know what "this" was.
With a sigh, they turned the sink off, simply letting water drip off of their face as it hung low. Before they could process things further, a loud cracking noise came from the bedroom, spurring them into action. Without a second thought, they ran from the bathroom.
"ARZU?" They yelled, reaching for the door handle.
Arzu crouched in the middle of the room. The nearby wooden bed frame splintered as their multi-colored claw their hand grabbed onto it for stability, finishing the last of the candy in the room. Heavy, exhausted breaths escaped their lips, odd, they don't remember it being cold enough for their breaths to be visible. They don't remember them being so…colorful.
But that doesn't matter right now. Right now, they're starving. Everything in them yearns for just one more sweet bite. As they feel their body shift, and grow and expand, as they feel sugary saliva drip from their teeth. None of it matters…it will all be okay if they just have a little more.
But there is no more.
"Zuzu…?" A fear filled voice called from behind them.
Arzu turned, and a small gasp escaped their maw as they were greeted with the largest piece of candy they had seen yet.
A desperate, toothy grin spread across their face.
"Just one more…"
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