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Jack took to it better than anyone else. After all, it fit him perfectly. Jack lived his whole life as a badass. Drinking, smoking, fighting, fucking ever since he was thirteen. Jack wasn’t even his real name, he just thought John was too boring. Now he was moving up. Jack was now Jack the Shark. Jack the Shark loved to tease the ladies.
“I won’t bite,” was his standard opener, and cheesy as it was it was hard to not be drawn to that flashy, menacing grin.
Later, he would offer them a chance to experience the thrill and danger of being eaten out by the Shark.
“I’m a surgeon,” he would say, caressing the serrated edge of one of his many, many pearly whites.
Bar fights? A thing of the past. You don’t fuck with a shark, it might tear your throat out. Kind of a shame, really. Jack would love the chance to actually use them on someone. Still, extortion with a grimace? Now that was sweet.
But tonight, Jack was alone. Make no mistake, extrovert though he may be, Jack was still treating himself. He was preparing a recent favorite: the steak sandwich. It’s exactly what it sounds like, heat up a piece of cow and slap it between some bread. What, did you think Jack was gonna be some pansy-ass vegan? Not with these teeth!
Sitting down and salivating, Jack thought to take it slow and savor his meal, but he could never help himself. He rapidly lifted it and took a bite – a big, big bite – and swallowed it almost as fast.
Something was wrong. Jack put the sandwich down and carefully probed the inside of his mouth. He had swallowed several of his teeth.
“Oh, fuck!” he shouted.
He scrambled out of his seat and made his way to the phone. Panic flashed through his mind. He couldn’t lose his teeth. He absolutely fucking couldn’t. So he called the dentist.
Jack didn’t finish his sandwich. He was too scared to take another bite. After scheduling an appointment, he nervously nursed beers and watched the tube, finding it difficult to sleep. Eventually, sleep found him, passed out on the couch.
Jack woke painfully. Incredible pain. Worse than broken limbs. Worse than a metal chair to the face in high school. Worse than being cut with a broken bottle. Worse than having his hand smashed with a billiard ball. A hard man like Jack was not supposed to feel this kind of pain. He coughed and sputtered blood and vomit in between screams of agony as he clutched his stomach, hunched over the table.
It was warm, it was wet. Jack’s screams turned to horror as he lifted his hand up and saw that it was covered with blood. Something shot of his gut, eliciting a sharp shriek of pain, followed by several more.
Jack counted five of his teeth randomly flopping on the ground like Mexican jumping beans. All he could do was scream.
Mary took the soaked cottonball out of her mouth and replaced it with a new one, along with a mint, as the doorbell rang. Today was the first snow of the winter, and what a snow it was. It’s just a shame it happened during the break, because they definitely would’ve closed school for this. It never snows like this here. She intended to enjoy it.
Most people were inside. She and Ian practically had the park to themselves. They made snow people and snow angels and fought with snowballs. For a while they seemed less like high school sweethearts and more like pre-school playmates. It was broken up only by Mary’s cottonballs and mints.
Hours later, finally exhausted as well as wet and cold, they sat down to rest. Mary pulled a thermos of hot cocoa and some paper cups out of her backpack. Mary pulled the cottonball out of her mouth, brown, dripping, and foul smelling, before she began drinking. Sipping without speaking they sat. Her hot cocoa wasn’t as good as last winter’s. She had grown used to the taste of the liquid in her mouth, but it diluted everything else. She missed sweet drinks. Ian leaned in for a kiss.
“Ian, my mouth.”
Ian laughed. “Mary, we’ve been going out for more than half a year and your parents invited my family to Christmas dinner. I love you, and I don’t mind a little dragon breath.”
“It’s not that and you know it.”
“I know. I haven’t even got a chance to taste the stuff,” he grinned.
Mary giggled. “God, you’re gross.”
There was a moment of awkward silence and cocoa sipping before Ian tried again. Slowly their lips met. They hung lightly on each other for a moment before Mary suddenly began to roughly kiss back, practically smashing her face against his.
Foul liquid began to pour forth as her gums opened like floodgates. It had never been this bad before. She couldn’t stop it if she wanted to, and she didn’t. It felt like such a relief, like peeing after a long movie, or getting off after a stressful week of finals. Hell, this practically was her getting off after finals.
Ian broke the kiss. Mary was shocked from her euphoria by weird, muffled screams. “What’s wrong?” she shouted, sputtering and dribbling the torrent of foul liquid. Ian frantically pointed to his mouth. His teeth were fused together.
The dentist wearily lingered on the side of his bed. Business was always booming this time of year. Noisy, too. He heard Them in the walls, the ceiling and the floor, bushes, mailboxes, anywhere hidden. Breathing, shudders, and even some yelps, but mostly just clattering.
Lots of clattering. Must be the cold.
The dentist removed his immaculate dentures, revealing tightly coiled balls of flesh glittering with bits of broken enamel. As he tucked himself in, two thin tendrils snaked out of his mouth, the ends balling up in his ears. He couldn’t let Them keep him up. He had another busy day tomorrow. The dentist hummed himself to sleep.
Credited to Erickson Warne-Coles
Original title was "Toothache"