For my NaNo 2015 I tried to write 50,000 words of short stories. I did some, but flaked out. This was one of them. I didn’t even finish it then, I finished it now.

Looking back, I think I flaked out because I might have been in something of a dark place. Just a feeling. Or maybe I’m remembering it wrong.

“What was that?”

It took a moment or so for him to notice that this had been pointed in his direction, and when he glanced up from the pointless distraction he’d been occupied with he found her looking right at him. From there, it took another few seconds for the wheels to turn enough to actually put a response together.

“Hmm? Oh, nothing. It was nothing,” he said, trying a smile and failing.

“You said something though.”

“I was probably just thinking out loud, it was nothing,” he said, trying to deflect her interest, his efforts serving only to inflate it more.

“Thinking out loud means you said something, unless you are thinking of nothing. Are you thinking of nothing?”

“…yes?”

“You are lying to me.”

Standing up, she crossed the room in three strides and stood in front of him, glaring down. He seemed to shrink into his chair, looking up at her as she loomed. He choked a moment later as one of her hands whipped up, seizing him by the face and pulling him off balance and up onto his feet as her other arm rose back above her head. Ramming her fist down his throat all the way to the elbow she frowned, eyes narrowing in concentration as she ferreted around in his gullet.

“Ah. Here we are,” she said, fingers closing on that which she had been looking for. With a wrench she pulled her arm free, bringing with it a whole sentence in tube form (and some mucus, but that was just a side-effect). Spluttering and gagging he stumbled back, clutching at his neck, eyes bulging as he tried to catch his breath. As he did so she took a small handkerchief to the word-rod and gave it a cursory wipe before holding it up to read it, eyes still narrow as she squinted at the rather obtuse font. The more she read, the more she frowned.

“Really? Is this really what you think?” She asked, rolling her gaze onto him, giving him a shiver from the chill. Still trying to catch his breath he could little else but frantically shake his head. This did not convince her. Turning the rod in her hands so the writing faced him she shoved it under his nose, the smell of bile strong enough to sting his eyes.

“These are your words, aren’t they?” She asked. He nodded, whined, shook his head, trembled. He saw her knuckles whiten as her grip tightened and he trembled harder, shrinking down, still shaking his head.

“They’re not?” She asked. He still couldn’t pick which would help him – nodding or shaking or shaking his head – so continued to do both. He moved too slowly to stop her from swinging the rod hard into his gut, driving what little air he’d managed to get into his lungs back out again and doubling him over with a squeal.

“Are you sure they’re not?” She asked, bringing the rod down again and again onto his back as he clutched his stomach, being driven further and further down by her blows until he sank all the way down onto his knees. She did not stop. He felt a rib snap as an especially forceful swing caught him low on the body, and breathing became even harder.

“They look a lot like yours, don’t you think?”

He’d given up trying to defend himself. His head simply hung, as did both his arms. Limp, kneeling and hunched over, swaying with the strikes from the rod but otherwise unmoving. They were his words – how could he defend himself from that? The dull smack of them against him, the bruising, it was all his own fault really.

“Don’t you think you should pick your words more carefully around me?”

Winding back she swung with all her considerable might, catching him square on the chin and snapping his head back. With a thump he landed flat on his back, swallowing bits of teeth and seeing stars, staring blankly up at the ceiling. She filled his vision, the only thing not swimming, the only thing he couldn’t ignore.

“Words can hurt, you know,” she said, forcing the rod into his bloodied mouth and pushing it down, heaving her weight onto it.

His legs kicked out reflexively as the blunt, rounded tip pushed through muscle, working its way out through the back of his neck, but otherwise he remained still and quiet, helplessly staring up at her. The kicking lessened the further the rod went, happening only one last time when it finally made its way all the way out the other side and into the ground beneath him.

Putting a foot to his chest she hoisted him up into a semi-sitting position and started working the rod, and not in any way anyone could enjoy. It only moved a little bit at first but before too long his head started coming clean away from his body and soon after that it – from the mouth up at least – plopped wetly onto the floor.

Sitting him all the way up she slowly inserted the rod of his words down his throat, gingerly moving his wriggling tongue out of the way first so it wouldn’t interfere. She got it quite far down, too, until she reached a point where it wouldn’t go any further. Even after a little shove it refused, and this time she didn’t feel like forcing the issue.

Satisfied that he had eaten his words to a degree she found acceptable she stepped back, dusting off her hands.

“Think a little more next time. Think about how I might feel.”

He gurgled. Thoughtfully.

END

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