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Social Anxiety

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When I was in high school, I wasn’t very popular. I kept maybe three or four good friends at a time, and nobody but them really noticed me. Not that I wasn’t OK with this. I just really didn’t like anyone in school. While all the other guys my age were out at the mall, doing drugs, or some sort of illicit activity, I was at home writing, studying, or playing the violin. Looking back now, I was kind of an arrogant snob because the only loneliness I felt was the feeling that everybody around me was an idiot. Never had that feeling ever really left me until I first talked to her.

She sat alone on a park bench reading on a brisk fall afternoon. She wore a lacy black dress down to her knees, and she was adorned with all sorts of magnificent jewelry. I suppose what caught my eye was her style. The clothes she wore expressed her uniqueness, and that itself led me to believe that she may not be another part of the herd of high school sheeple. I was awestruck at her, but not in that ‘teenage boy’ way. Alright, maybe I was a little, but really, I didn’t see why anyone wouldn’t be. She was a beautiful specimen indeed.

One thing you should know about me is that I suffer from severe social anxiety. I just can’t talk to people face to face that I don’t know all that well without coming close to shitting my pants, and don’t think I would ever approach anyone, let alone a girl that I was infatuated with. I sat down on another park bench maybe twenty or so feet away from her, trying to work up the courage to talk to her while masquerading as a busy student.

I was getting ready to go home and wallow in regret and cowardice when a miracle occurred. Now I had glanced up at her a few times earlier, still trying to work up the courage to approach her, and I think she noticed. She would turn her head my way from time to time, but my head would be buried deep in my book before her eyes even met my shy figure. She slowly stood up, and walked ever so slowly over to my bench.

“Is this seat taken?” she curiously inquired. I couldn’t believe she was actually talking to me, as it’s rare when people even acknowledge my existence. Anxiety was beginning to rear its ugly head, but a conversation, miraculously, had already been initiated, so I thankfully began to suppress it.

“Of course not my dear,” "‘Gah! How stupid of me!"’' My thoughts made me frantic. '‘"You don’t just call somebody you just met ‘my dear’ casually like that! She now probably thinks you’re some sort of freak, player, or pervert like all the other idiot guys! Hopefully she won’t run away screaming if you could just learn to shut the fuck up!"

She let out a small chuckle and placed her books down near me and sat directly next to me, making me immediately tense. I could only hope that she didn’t notice.

“So what’s your name?” she inquired. "Thank god she doesn’t think I’m a freak yet. I just can’t screw up again."

“Tom, and you?”

“Just call me Liz,” she answered. A long, wretched silence followed. "You were on a roll, dammit! Just ask something casually." Once again, my thoughts were leaving me tongue-tied.

“So what are you eating for dinner later?” "What. The. Fuck. Do I even need to spell out for you how stupid of a question that is? What kind of conversation starter is that?"

“Oh, I don’t know. I’m kind of hungry right now, do you want to go out and get fast food or something? I’m tired of studying and I’m sure you are too.”

“I would love too, Liz. My treat.” "Wow, this is great! A girl of this caliber can see through my social idiocy."

I managed to make it through a gourmet dinner at a McDonalds, eventually feeling casual around Liz. Sooner than I expected, I could relax around her and lose my fear. All it takes is a little contact. During our dinner we did more talking than eating. She was a junior in a different high school than mine, but she already achieved a scholarship to Cornell University, and was taking advanced classes at the local community college. I felt bad, as she was the one doing most of the talking, but I was content to just listen to her. I could have told her about my musical scholarship to multiple universities among other accolades, but I didn’t. I could never decide if it was a good or a bad thing to refrain from talking about myself. As you can see, I think about these little social things too much. I practically have an outright fear of talking to people, and a highly irrational one at that.

Anyway, at the end of the night, we exchanged phone numbers, and began calling and texting each other, keeping closer and closer contact over the months. Pretty soon, nights like that dinner became commonplace, and after a few months, we began to see each other as best friends and practically siblings. I was in what most of the other asshole guys in high school would call ‘The friend zone.' I’m sure anyone reading this understands what that means. I didn’t mind really. All I wanted was to be friends with her. Romance would just be an added bonus that, alas, would most likely never rear its head.

A year went by, and everything was going great, although, there was one thing that was really odd about her. Try as I might, I never entered the inside of her house. Usually it was a casual decline when I asked myself over, but it eventually became very strange.

On her birthday, I wanted to surprise her at her home, like the ignorant social idiot I am, by bringing her a CD of her favorite songs. I knocked on the door, and was met with no response. I knocked even louder, and I heard dogs barking. The door cracked open slowly, and out of that crack, Liz pushed her head. I was startled by how disheveled she looked. Her hair was in an absolute mess and her eyes were wide as if she were scared out of her mind. The strangest thing about it was what I thought to be a cut on her lip, as a little blood was dripping from her lips down her neck, and onto her breasts.

“Why are you here?” She furiously asked. I was taken aback by the whole situation. I wasn’t quite sure why she was mad at me, or why she looked the way she did, and on her birthday no less.

“I just wanted to say happy birthday, and I got you this,” I said, staying casual, despite my befuddlement as I held out the CD for her. She ripped it out of my hands, her eyes meeting mine with the most frightening glare I had ever seen.

“Don’t ever come to my house again without permission!” She screamed at me and shut the door, leaving me out in the cold.

I was extremely puzzled and somewhat saddened by the experience. I was afraid that she didn’t admire me as she once did for heavens know why. I also wondered why she reacted the way she did. Why would she be hiding something from me? Not that I cared about the thing itself, but I just wanted to know why she wouldn’t trust me.

My mind was racing for answers as to why she reacted the way she did. I tried to brush it off and continue with my day. Later, I received a text message from her. I’ll let our conversation speak for itself:

7:12 P.M. From Liz: “Hey, I’m sorry about the way I reacted to you today; you caught me at a bad time.”

7:15 P.M. To Liz: “Oh don’t worry about it. Do you like the CD? What was going on, if you don’t mind me asking?”

7:20 P.M. From Liz: “I love the CD thank you so much! I was taking out the garbage from my kitchen when the bag split open, and there was garbage and rotting meat all over the floor. That’s what you smelled. Anyway I was really angry because things weren’t going my way, and you just showed up at a really bad time. Sorry.”

7:22 P.M. To Liz: “Oh, thanks for apologizing. Sorry for showing up when I did. You could have just asked me and I would have helped you with the garbage. I’d be happy to help you my dear”

7:30 P.M. From Liz: “You’re really sweet. Do you want to come and hang out at my house tonight? We could have some birthday fun, if you know what I mean.”

7:34 P.M. To Liz: “Sure! I’ll be right over.”

7:38 P.M. From Liz: “Scratch everything I told you about the garbage. That’s not what happened. You’re really sweet, and I think it’s time you knew my secret.”

7:40 P.M. To Liz: “What secret? What really happened?”

The texts stop there.

In a mixture of apprehension for the secret Liz was vague in describing to me, and excitement for the ‘Birthday fun’ she had in store for me, I drove myself over to her house. It was in the middle of fall, so it was already dark out, which only added to my apprehension and fear. I stepped out of my vehicle, feeling dread and paranoia, as if something was going to leap out at me from the bushes, but nothing of the sort occurred. I knocked at her door, and within seconds I saw her shadow in the lights of the house coming to open the door for me. She greeted me with that warm, familiar smile that makes everything feel alright. Just with that little smile all my paranoia, fear, and anxiety were washed away.

“Hey there friend! Come on in! I have dinner,” She cheerfully exclaimed.

I walked into her home, which appeared just like any other household. Everything was clean, to my surprise. She made it seem like a bomb went off in her kitchen.

“Alright, wanna head down into the basement?” She asked coolly. I could only anticipate what was coming next, and was full of dread and excitement at the same time.

“With you? Of course,” I slyly said. "This is really strange. She has a terrible secret, she told you herself! Just excuse yourself and run!"

As soon as she opened the door to the basement, I was greeted with an unimaginable smell. It smelled like a mixture of death and rotting meat. It was next to unbearable. Down in the basement I was greeted by a most macabre sight. The open room was littered with corpses and bones. The walls were absolutely covered in dried blood, and bits of flesh fermented all over the ground. Body parts were scattered all over, some with ravenous bites out of them. Arms, legs, eyes, tongues, and fingers all littered the ground. Perhaps the most chilling thing was the center. Here, at the very center of the room, was a small fire, and over that fire was a spit. A severed human leg was roasted to a golden brown on that spit.

I absolutely didn’t know what to think. My mind was frozen, and racing all at the same time.

“OK, as you may have guessed, I’m a cannibal. I- I eat human flesh. I know I needed to tell you, but I didn’t know how. Perhaps letting my dining hall speak for itself was not the best idea. I forget how frightening this can appear to some people. I’ve tried to stop, but human flesh is just so delicious. I’m addicted. You needn’t worry about your safety, in fact, you can join me. We can enjoy feasts together for the rest of our days! Please don’t judge my lifestyle without experiencing it; I don’t want to lose you as a friend.”

My thoughts were racing. "You should have listened to what your mind was telling you. Maybe your fear of talking to people is rational. Maybe this fear is primordial like most all other fears. After all, in this world, we fear other humans the greatest. You were a foolish idiot and broke the barrier that you had, and now you’re paying the price!" “I… I don’t know what to think. So you shoved me off earlier today because you were eating…”

“My parents. Well, at least the leftovers.” she interrupted. “As I’ve grown, my urges have grown too. I absolutely could not take my hunger any longer, so, I killed them for their flesh. But I promise, I will never hurt you. We can share a life together, eating the flesh of wicked men, women, and children. Oh, children taste the greatest. The flesh is so tender, it’s a shame they're so small. All this could be yours. I would be yours, and you would be mine. Together.”

“This is absolutely insane! You don’t realize how crazy this is? You have to stop Liz, because I care about you!” I was starting to fear for my life at this point.

“I beg you, Tom, just try it, please, for me. If anything, just don’t abandon me like all the others.” Her voice turned into one of anger at the end of that sentence, which helped me assume the fates of these ‘others.’ “My parents are gone, Tom. I left myself with you because I know you can understand. I beg of you to just please try feasting with me. I don’t want to live this life lonely, like I have for so long.”

I thought for a moment, knowing that the only way to stay alive would be to eat with her. I attempted to justify what I was doing to myself by noting that these people are already dead. The gravity and macabre of the situation were causing my mind to slip.

“Fine, I’ll participate in your fetid gore-fest this one time.”

“I promise you Tom, after just one bite, your attitude will change.”

With great dread, I walked to the small fire, stepping on and over the gore that littered the floor beneath me, almost slipping in the fetid liquid a few times. I reached for the leg on the spit. Its lightness surprised me. It felt so soft, as if it were actually chicken.

Apprehensively pulling the leg to my mouth, I opened it up, and ever so slowly bit down on the tender flesh. Almost at once, my apprehension left and turned into a sort of thrill. It felt as if I was slipping from reality. Perhaps the eating of the flesh had somehow sealed a sort of deal with the devil. Regardless, this was perhaps the most flavorful meat I have ever eaten! The meat felt as if it were doing a delicate, savory dance across my tongue. As if forgetting what I was doing, I began to tear into the flesh, finally reaching the bone, and tossing it aside.

“I need more! It’s as if this meal came straight from heaven itself!”

“I knew you would come around. Not so disgusting, is it? We can have all this and more. You and I can run off into the night together. Move into one suburban neighborhood after another, picking out our prey! Nobody would suspect us of such wretched deeds as we feast upon their friends and family. What do you say?”

A long, brutal silence followed the proposition.

“Let’s begin our new life together… my dear.”

Written by Technicolor Raven
Content is available under CC BY-SA

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