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Author's Note: This is my first creepypasta, and it was some real spur-of-the-moment microfiction, so it’s probably not the best I can produce. Critique is very much appreciated, though! –Terminal Dogma
I had always been what some might call a “picky eater”. Ever since I was a little tyke, there were some foods I just wouldn’t touch, no way, no how. Spinach, broccoli, and brussel sprouts, all the classic picky eater items made my list, as well as some odd ones, like whole milk, popcorn, and red meat. God, I hate red meat. Chicken and fish go fine by me, especially fried and crispy, and pork is sometimes okay, depending on the situation. But beef, veal, venison, mutton, all that stuff, ugh, you couldn’t pay me to eat it. Too thick, too greasy, too, well, meaty, I suppose. It just puts me right off.
Being a picky eater and all, and preferring the company of my video games and action figures to that of a sports team or other, more outdoorsy kids, I grew into your typical tall, pale, lanky, undefined teenage boy. To be frank, I sucked ass in gym class, and eventually I just stopped trying. And that combined with the fact that I hardly ate enough didn’t exactly give me the figure of a young Adonis. Though most of my phenotype came from my mother’s side (neither Chuck nor I inherited my father’s blue eyes, thick blonde hair, or tendency towards clear skin. Instead we got my mother’s black hair, hazel eyes, and a bounty of pimples at puberty’s onset.), I had my dad’s genes height-wise so I shot up like a bean sprout. But try as I might I never seemed to gain fat or muscle.
Speaking of my dad, he was my best friend throughout the greater part of my childhood. He was a giant of a man, standing definitely above 6 feet. Of course, my childlike imagination combined with my diminutive stature at the time magnified his height greatly, and to me he seemed easily 20 feet tall. When he let me sit up on his shoulders, my little kid hands gripping tightly to his head through his well-trimmed naturally blonde hair, I felt like I could see three blocks ahead! As I grew through puberty and started to shoot up to the old man’s level, him and my mom constantly pushed me to eat more and get some real exercise. Though dad had matured into a somewhat potbellied but still mesomorphic office man working in claims adjustment, at my age he had been a real bodybuilder type, a buff blonde beach dude who liked to surf, skateboard, and hit the gym. He would often pass tips down to me and my younger brother Chuck.
“You’ve gotta get your protein, guys. And meat’s the best way to do that. Red meat. Gets you the iron you need in your bloodstream, too.” He would advise, usually while driving us to or from school. Mom was usually busy around the house or at some charity event, so dad tended to be our chauffeur and playmate in our youth. That didn’t mean mom neglected us, goodness no. We just saw her less. But she was always there at mealtime, lovingly doling out helpings of whatever dish she’d prepared for the family that day-
Mom had a habit that always did get on my nerves. From when I first learned to talk on through my whole childhood, I would always be sure to tell her exactly which foods I did not like. I did this in the hopes that she would take the hint and stop serving them to me. What I didn’t count on was her persistence. She was a real health nut, and believed ardently in the incomparable value of a balanced, wholesome diet. As such, she didn’t like my dependence on junky convenience foods, and wanted to get me eating the things that I didn’t like. This meant a constant struggle between her, the loving but willful matriarch, and me, the stubborn little rascal who didn’t want to eat his vegetables. Her methods were clever, though. When she learned I didn’t like something, she never made it the same way twice.
If I turned my nose up at cabbage rolls at lunchtime, she’d make sure some cabbage would be grated into the salad at dinner. When I shoved away a good hearty steak, she dished out ground beef Sloppy Joes the next day. She certainly was persistent, but I was a perceptive little bastard and I caught onto her game early. There was one thing she always had over me in this game, though, and that was emotional blackmail. I loved my mom, and it did tug at my heart a little to see her disappointment when I turned my nose up at the meal she had slaved over that day. So eventually I would concede and halfheartedly pick at my food, move everything around on my plate to make it look like I’d made an actual dent in it, and typically conclude my meal by saying that it tasted scrumptious and I was just stuffed. Sometimes I’d pull the old kid trick and slip something off my table and onto the floor for our dog. This little gambit seemed to do the trick for mom, and she was happy her son was at least giving her meals a try.
Generally, we had a happy family, for a while at least. If things didn’t go sour, why would I be telling this story here? The sourness came when my parents started to drift apart. They say that 50% of all marriages fail these days, but it never feels as staggering of a statistic as when you’re actually experiencing it for yourself. My dad started sleeping at the office and my mom started sleeping with the postman. She couldn’t handle my dad’s disinterest, as the only thing he seemed to care about anymore was a tough case he was assigned at work. When dad caught on to mom’s infidelity, he was furious, and my parents’ arguments would last late into the night, waking the neighbors up with litanies of profanity. The divorce was ugly, and it hurt all of us. My mom got custody over us, but we were to stay at our dad’s place every weekend. Both of our folks seemed, well, really broken for a while. Dad stopped working out, his beer gut grew, and his apartment started to lack any touches of care. As for mom, a lot of her unhappiness was internalized. She seemed all well and good during the day, sure, but when Chuck and I would stay up playing video games we could hear her in the next room quietly sobbing, and when we snuck downstairs for midnight snacks we could see the empty wine bottles cluttering the kitchen counter.
Eventually, dad got a new girlfriend, Clara, who really encouraged him to clean up his act. She was no wicked stepmother, she was a genuinely nice lady, an elementary school teacher, actually. We were happy for him, and coming to his apartment over weekends started to seem less like a painful reminder of our parents’ separation and more like pleasant time with a beloved family member. But mom’s condition seemed to rapidly deteriorate. Where dad had found success looking for someone new to share his life with, mom seemed to be stuck sifting through scumbags to try and find a new boyfriend. The ones we had met all turned out to be real heels. Boozers, liars, ex-cons, the general no-good types that nobody ever, ever wants to see their mother with. Her mental condition really seemed to take a hit with this, and we started to get even more concerned for her. We would hear her muttering to herself under her breath while doing her chores, folding laundry, cleaning windows, and most of all, while cooking. She was always muttering while cooking. What came out audible to us were only a few tidbits, quiet murmurs that seemed to revolve around health and balance, various spices and ingredients, and “serving the best”. She was clearly commenting on her cooking, forcing all the negative energy of her divorce and failed dates into trying to perfect her recipes.
I started to notice her cooking with a lot more meat. She was always one for lighter recipes and vegetarian alternatives, so this came as a surprise to me. I had considered that maybe it was some sort of bodily response to stress, that she had been craving meat as comfort food to see her through this emotional storm. But her condition overall concerned Chuck and I greatly, and we urged her to try and speak to a professional about it. She would always give us her gentle little smile and say she planned on finding a therapist, but we never really saw her take any measures to this end.
One hot, hazy Thursday night in July, Chuck and I were getting ready to head off to our dad and Clara’s apartment, just 40 minutes away in a bustling little town close to my dad’s office. We tossed our schoolbooks in a bag and carefully stored our Xbox 360 and some games to take along, as they were the only thing we really needed to transfer between houses. Both our parent’s homes had our clothes, toiletries, and a place for us to sleep. We gave my dad a call about an hour before heading off, but nobody picked up. The line felt ominously dead. I tried to shake off the uncomfortable feeling and focus on the facts of the matter. This was odd, as he knew our visitation schedule by heart and would be expecting a call from us now, but I waved it off. He was probably busy getting something ready, Chuck’s birthday was only 5 days away on Tuesday and dad had mentioned putting together a nice little celebration for him when our time together rolled around. As we tossed the last of our stuff in the trunk, mom called us in for a quick dinner before we left.
We sat down to empty plates, glossy white and clean as a whistle. The delicious smell of tomato sauce wafted from the kitchen, leaving me excited. Mom hadn’t made spaghetti in a while, but hers was always the best I’ve ever had. The noodles are the simple store-bought fare; you boil ‘em and serve ‘em, nothing fancy, but what really shines about it is her sauce. She makes it all from scratch, spices, herbs, ripe tomatoes, the works, and leaves it to simmer on the stovetop until the family is ready to eat. With a glance around the table, I noticed that only two places were set. I assumed mom had eaten earlier, which was a little disappointing. Chuck and I liked to eat together with our mom before leaving for our dad’s house; the last thing in the world we wanted was for her to feel alone while we were off having family time with her former husband and his new significant other. But the aroma of lovingly homemade pasta sauce quickly allayed such worries, and Chuck called to mom asking if dinner was ready to eat.
She came in with a piping hot strainer of pasta, and wordlessly spooned out a portion for each of us.
“I can’t wait to eat, mom, it’s been way too long since you’ve made your special spaghetti sauce!” Chuck chirped, earning a warm smile from mom. She responded happily,
“Well Chuckie, I’m glad to hear you like it! It always does my heart such good to have my work complimented. It was your grandmother’s recipe, you know. But this time I’ve added some special ingredients of my own.”
Mom returned to the kitchen, presumably to get the sauce, and on her way out I noticed a smudged stain on the side of her shirt. It was a tarnished red, and formed a few small spatters against the plain light blue fabric. Tomato sauce, I presumed. Making it could be a messy endeavor, especially when the sauce started to boil and the little bubbles at the top sometimes popped. Sneaking a glance into the kitchen, I noticed more tomatoey spatters on the floor and side cabinet. She must have spilled some.
As mom came back into the dining room with a bowl of fresh, hot sauce, all thoughts of tomatoes and mess evaporated from my head. I was just excited to eat mom’s spaghetti again.
“I added a little red meat to the sauce this time, you boys are growing so I figured it’s like your dad always used to say. The protein and iron will do you good and all.” Mom commented calmly, ladling out hot chunky sauce onto the plain pasta.
“Alright, enjoy!” she said with a smile, and receded back into the kitchen.
I dug into the pasta, hungry as ever and eager for a taste. I didn’t even care about the meat, figuring I’d just pick it out and slip it to the dog. Actually, I did give a small chunk a try. I expected ground beef, but this was more of a chopped steak type deal, square hunks of muscle evenly distributed throughout the sauce. It was softer than beef, really tender and juicy. It was light, and had a certain sweetness to it that I’d never tasted in beef before. It was probably veal or a special cut or something. I actually enjoyed this, even despite it being red meat. I eagerly went back for another forkful, and another, and another. Both of us went in for seconds, and our plates were practically licked clean by the end of dinner. Chuck turned to me and grinned, some red tomato sauce staining his mouth.
“Mike, dude, this stuff tastes fantastic! I bet this is that fancy organic luxury beef from that hippie supermarket that opened up down off route 9. I’ve gotta ask mom for her recipe, maybe Clara will cook it for us over at dad’s.” he exclaimed.
“That’s a good idea, man. You go ask her, I’m gonna head to the bathroom. I think I got something stuck in my teeth.” I responded, rising up out of my chair, belly full of a tasty homecooked meal.
Walking down the hallway to the bathroom, I noticed some things that were off from this morning. The rug was crumpled up as if someone had been dragging something along it, the dog’s bed was overturned and across from where it usually stood, and just about every family portrait I saw, save for the ones taken of us all individually, were turned to face the wall. Upon turning them right side out, I saw something that gave me pause. In each and every one, my dad’s face was scratched out. I was very, very concerned now. My mom might be in a much worse state than she had indicated. To deface our family photos, our memories of time spent together and love we all shared for each other, must have taken a rage towards my father that I never would have guessed she had inside her. I vowed to myself that I would talk to her very seriously tonight about seeing that therapist, and make absolutely sure she followed through with it this time.
Entering the bathroom, I flicked on the light and glanced into the mirror, my tongue flicking around my teeth attempting to dislodge something stuck between. After a minute’s struggle, the thing gave way, and I spit it out into the sink.
What I saw made me vomit up that homemade, lovingly prepared meal right into the toilet.
It was a lock of blonde hair, with a scrap of scalp still attached.