I suppose I shouldn’t have been surprised when my wife asked me for a divorce. The stress of juggling work, our marriage and looking after our young daughter Emily had taken its toll on the both of us. We had barely spoken to each other in months. So when the day she told me that she wanted out came, I’m not ashamed to say a part of me was relieved. My relief was short lived however. She presented me with a bag of clothes and told me to find somewhere else to live. I won’t lie, I was angry. I mean, SHE was the one who was quitting the marriage, why should I have to leave? I may have said some things that I’m glad our daughter wasn’t around to hear.
After two months of staying in cheap hotels I finally found a place. It was stupidly cheap, I had my doubts but my ex refused to let Emily come and see me before I’d found myself some permanent place to stay. I missed her so much. I’d often heard how having a child changed you but I never truly believed it till she was born. She was always perfect to me, with her golden hair and little snub nose. She always had me wrapped around her little finger. Even when she’d been naughty, all she had to do was smile at me and I couldn’t bring myself to stay angry at her. When I opened the door to my new flat all I was thinking about was how she would be allowed a visit in a few short days.
God, that place was a shit hole. The walls were stained, the appliances were gross. I spent my entire first day just trying to get all my stuff moved in. When I finally got the chance to go to sleep I spent half the night being kept awake by music from a car outside. I had to bury my head under a pillow to get even a semblance of peace. When I woke up in the morning I was covered in insect bites from the tips of my fingers to my elbows. I was just glad I’d worn a T-shirt. It seems even the local wildlife was out for my blood. At least it wasn’t just my ex-wife. The spots where they had pierced the skin to sate themselves on my lifeblood itched terribly. I went to the bathroom hoping that a wash would ease my pain. I opened the bathroom cupboard to get the soap when I saw a tube of cream. It must have been left by the previous tenant. The label had been mostly rubbed off but when I unscrewed the cap it smelled antiseptic. I really didn’t want to wait for the chemist to open, the itching was too intense. I squeezed out a generous amount of cream and applied it liberally over my hands and arms. It stung like hell, but that at least meant it was working. It certainly soothed the itching at any rate.
The rest of my day was taken up by cleaning. I pulled on the rubber gloves and got to scrubbing. I didn’t stop until the place was spotless. If Emily was going to come over I wanted it to feel like a home. Somewhere we could be together instead of some depressing pit where her father now lives.
I didn’t stop until late into the evening. When I finally peeled off the gloves I noticed that the bites on my hand had somehow got bigger. What were once red pinpricks were now almost holes, deep and red. What I found especially puzzling was how there were no scabs or blood. Just a crimson redness. I assumed it was because I’d worn the gloves all day. I cursed myself for being so foolish and applied some more cream. I ate and decided to go to bed after watching some TV. Thankfully there was less noise to disturb me. I remember thinking how things might just work out after all.
I awoke the next morning to the phone ringing. I blearily answered and heard my ex-wife’s voice on the other end of the line. She irritably informed me that if I was still going to have Emily over to mine that afternoon, she’d need to see photos of my flat. Otherwise she would not allow Emily to see me there. As if I wouldn’t have tried to make it perfect! I took some photos with my phone and sent them over and she begrudgingly agreed that it was acceptable. Whilst I was taking the pictures I noticed the wounds on my hand had gotten worse. Now each hole was rimmed with a thick, white crust that was hard to the touch. I didn’t want to scare Emily so I applied some more ointment and wrapped them in bandages. I looked at my watch. It was eleven am. Emily was due at three. That gave me time to put the finishing touches to the place and still have some time to relax. As I fussed around I could hear a repetitive tapping noise like claws on tile. I Immediately checked the kitchen and bathroom. The last thing I needed was rats. Not with Emily here. Thankfully I couldn’t find anything.
As the afternoon progressed it happened again and again. Every time I jumped up to check, there was nothing to be seen. I thought I was going insane! Still, it wasn’t enough to dampen my excitement. It wasn’t long before I heard the buzzer go off, signalling Emily’s arrival. I rushed down the stairs to the front door and there she was. My heart swelled at the sight of her. Even the sight of her mother glowering just behind her wasn’t enough to stop the sense of elation I felt. My daughter was finally here. My mind raced with all the fun activities I had planned for us as I bent down to take her up in a huge hug. As I picked her up I heard another tapping sound. This time louder and more intense than it had ever been before. I held her tight to my chest. Suddenly she started to wail. I felt a wetness on my arms and saw the look of fear on my ex-wife’s face. I tried to let her go but something was preventing me from moving my arms. Her screams increased in pitch as I heard the tapping noise increase till it was almost a buzz. My ex-wife grabbed my wrists and tried to prise Emily out of my grasp, only to cry out herself and pull her hands back. I saw that, where there were once fingers, there were now only bloody stumps. Emily finally managed to wiggle free and as she fell to the ground I saw her back was a tangled mess of meat. Bits of bone were visible in the bloody mess. I stared at my hands. The bandages had come off. The wounds underneath were no longer wounds, they were mouths. Each with its own set of razor sharp teeth, chattering away with lethal intent. I began to scream and as I did, a hundred mouths screamed with me.