Lost Souls


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by David Jones

Nobody liked Craig. He was one of those boys who didn’t much care for his appearance, or what people thought about him, and it seemed he did his best to discourage anyone from thinking he was actually human. Indeed, by any standards he wasn’t ugly in the traditional sense. I suppose he could have been quite good-looking in some girls’ eyes, if it wasn’t for his predilection for immersing himself in filth.

He was a skinny, fair-haired boy whose only preferred style of clothing was anything unwashed. His eyes were the colour of the snot that perpetually rimmed his nostrils and caked his upper lip in such a way that he often sported a Hitler moustache fashioned from mucus. Every three months his mother donned a butcher’s apron, escorted Craig to their back garden, and with her hands sheathed in the protection of a pair of rubber dishwashing gloves, quickly trimmed his hair over the lawn. Because of the lice that dwelled on his scalp he was forbidden from entering the local barbers. I know this for a fact because I there, waiting to get my bi-monthly short-back and sides, when the hairdresser suddenly screamed and dropped her scissors to the floor; ghostly white and statue-still, she stood over Craig and gaped at her hand in abject horror. "They’re all over me!" she cried. I could see Craig in the mirror, grinning in the barber’s chair and watching her anguish with much amusement. The kid loved giving people the creeps. It one of the many reasons he zealously maintained his vagrant-like demeanour and essence-of-sewer scent.

Most people would probably imagine that Craig had no friends. Well, he did…kind of. Craig had pretend friends – only he didn’t know it. My friends and I had recently hit puberty, so we hung around with him for the sole reason of feeling his sister up. At fifteen Julie was a year older that the rest of us and proved quite indifferent to whoever to probed her chubby body. At the time we all thought of her as a heifer, but guided by our newly-acquired urges we were driven to explore between her layers of fat. Often I would find myself sat on the settee in their front room on a Thursday night, my mouth clamped to Julie’s left udder while the girl it was attached to busied herself with a tube of Pringles and watched Top Of The Pops.

Sometimes Craig himself partook of this carnal feast. Like the snake that most people likened him to, he would slither beneath Julie’s blouse and start sucking her other breast – sometimes so vigorously he appeared to be in danger of almost swallowing the fatty gland. There was no sexual attraction between Craig and his sister. He merely suffered from the same cravings as everyone else, and felt left out. So in a gesture of sibling loyalty his sister obliged, leaving the pair of us to suckle like hungry babes.

Craig’s favourite pastime was eating, although he cared little for the well-cooked meals that his mother prepared for him, and shunned all her attempts to urge him to eat healthier foods. For all his parents knew, he subsisted on a diet that consisted exclusively of fast food: pizza, McDonald’s, and fish and chips. In a way it true, but the other kids and I knew better. Craig only ingested food that had been discarded by others; food that had been left out to rot and succumb to the diseased-influence of flies. He claimed that if he ate enough of this germ-ridden food he would surpass this level of humanity and evolve to become a higher level of being, something unique to the world, and probably immune to most diseases and infections.

He was particularly mindful of discarded pizza boxes. Whenever he came across such an item his snot-coloured eyes would light up and he would rush to the bin, eagerly fishing it out. Variably, he’d uncover a left-over slice of pizza from the cardboard envelope and stuff the rotten food into his mouth, all too aware of our evident disgust as he slapped his chops noisily, savouring the delicacy. "It’s fuckin’ lovely!" he’d enlighten us. Then he’d further the revelation by sucking the days-old pizza topping from his greasy fingers, groaning with pleasure.

As I said, nobody liked Craig, and his penchant for garbage food was only one of the many reasons people felt a deep distaste towards him. But neither his peculiar palate nor his incestuous inclination towards his sister summited his repertoire of revolting acts. The penthouse suite was reserved for defecation.

He shitted in public.

Telephone boxes, people’s doorsteps, car bonnets – no one was left out. Craig left a present for everyone.

Once a group of us had accompanied Craig to the local park in the hope that we’d eventually end up back at his house and ultimately inside his sister’s underwear. We were traipsing through a wooded enclosure when he suddenly stopped, unzipped his trousers, squatted amongst us, and proceeded to empty his bowels without any warning whatsoever. He grunted like a warthog as we backed away.

As Craig fertilized the earth, one of the guys suggested something: "Let’s examine his shit." Regrettably, for most concerned, we did just that.

After Craig was finished we armed ourselves with sticks and approached the stool guardedly, as if we had just cornered a stoat. Upon inspection its colour appeared normal and showed no indication of a diseased diet. We tentatively prodded the turd with our sticks but found nothing amiss with its texture. Bizarrely, its smell proved less repellent than that of Craig himself, although we still took in shallow breaths as we crouched around the specimen, studying it with caution.

One of the kids suddenly recoiled, his face cringing. He pointed his stick at Craig’s stool. "Urgh!" he uttered. "What the hell are them things?"

I couldn’t see anything, but Craig stepped forward and crossed his arms. A proud smile formed between his filth-encrusted lips. "They’re my babies," he proclaimed.

Most of the kids backed away warily from the turd. I noticed their faces blanching in disgust. A couple of the guys threw up into the undergrowth. I stepped closer and scrutinized the turd, unsure of what all the fuss was about because I couldn’t see anything wrong with it.

Then I saw them: tiny white worms wriggling all over the fragmented brown surface. Some of them were evidently dead as they didn’t move. But most of them did move; quite vigorously as I recall, and for a moment I viewed the stool as some kind of faecal lifeboat that the creatures were animatedly clinging to. I sat there, astonished and fascinated by the miniature life forms writhing in front of me. Had Craig been right? Had he really surpassed humanity and become a superior being? Not just immune to diseases but able to create life at a twitch of his rectum?

The other boys didn’t think so. They ran from the wood, cursing Craig as they left, while I stayed behind and pondered the mysteries of life and the universe.

After that no one spoke to Craig. He was quickly exiled from our group and given pariah status due to his disgusting little miracle, even when he came round and offered his sister into the bargain of a renewed friendship. Due to peer pressure I had to concur with the group. We wouldn’t be speaking to Craig again.

It wasn’t long before my raging hormones got the better of me, however. And my stash of pornography wasn’t enough to douse the fire. I needed the real thing. But to get to Craig’s sister I had to get to Craig himself, and befriend him.

I found him foraging in the bins at the back of the Indian restaurant, sitting cross-legged in a dumpster and eating with the flies. At first he didn’t noticed my presence. He was busy devouring the previous night’s chicken-tikka-masala, while fat blue-bottles buzzed around him in the same manner that electrons and protons whirled around the nucleus of an atom. A goatee-beard of brownish-red curry sauce was smeared around his mouth and all down his chin.

I interrupted his repast. "Alright, Craig?"

He dropped a handful of the slimy meat. It slid slowly from his fingers and dripped back into the black rubbish bag he was eating from. He scowled at me. "What the fuck do you want?" he blurted. A couple of blue-bottles landed on the curry sauce adorning his chin and clung there tenaciously, despite the brown globules that flew from his mouth as he spoke. "Thought you lot didn’t like me anymore?"

I felt like telling him that he was quite right: We didn’t like him anymore; in fact we had never liked him, and never would. But my hands were getting fidgety, and I wanted to do things to his sister.

"Erm. I, er, like you, Craig. The others don’t…but I do…"

He wasn’t convinced. He pointed a brown finger at me and retorted, "No, you don’t! You just wanna hang around with me so you can suck my sister’s tits!"

I shrugged. Although I was eager to fumble with his sister, I wasn’t going to go out on a limb to appease this creature in front of me.

Craig was silent in thought for a moment. The boy had never trusted me for some reason. Even when we hung around we rarely spoke. However, I reckoned I knew what he was thinking – if I couldn’t touch his sister up, neither could he. My suspicion proved correct when he relented.

Sitting in the dumpster, he licked his hands clean and then wiped his chin and licked his hands again; the action reminded me of a fly washing itself. He jumped from the large bin and we made our way to his house.

We had just passed the off-licence when Craig froze and held his stomach. He groaned. "I need a shit," he informed me.

I agreed to keep watch while he ran up the steps that led to the flats at the back of the shops. I stood at the foot of the steps for five minutes before I started to wonder what was taking him so long.

From the top of the steps Craig began to scream.

I could hear him whimpering and calling for help. A couple of times he called out my name, and he sounded as if he were in some kind of pain; my mind conjured up the most likely cause: a man leaves his flat to get a newspaper, and upon leaving he finds Craig shitting at his door; understandably the man isn’t too happy, so he literally kicks the shit out of him.

I began to laugh. I found my witty quip quite hilarious and proceeded to stand there with my hands in my pockets, chuckling while Craig continued his monotonous and depressive screaming.

Then silence. Craig’s screaming ceased, and I stopped laughing. Curious, I took my hands out of my pockets and climbed the steps to the flats gingerly.

Craig was indeed lurking at someone’s door, but was alone, and quite dead. His eyes were open. They had a glossy sheen to them as though they were made of glass. The tears clinging from his cheeks were still wet. He seemed to be looking in my direction, but straight through me, and beyond me, as if into the next world. A deep red pool of his blood slowly spread out from where he sat. I took a step back.

Then I noticed the things splashing around in the crimson puddle.

There were two of them, each the size of Craig’s forearms. They were spider-silk white with a pearly luminescence that suggested the maggot-shaped creatures were the same colour inside, too. Eyeless and earless, their only discernable features were their mouths: triangular apertures lined with three jaws of serrated teeth. They thrashed around in the blood as though it were amniotic fluid, blindly snapping at each other.

I rescued them both and left Craig to his own devices. One of the creatures I dropped into the Grand Union Canal, where I watched it wriggle away into the murky water. The other I kept for myself.

I put the worm into the fish tank in my bedroom where it quickly consumed the fish. Unsure of its sex, I conferred a gender upon it and named him Craig, after his late father.

Over the years I inevitably grew into adulthood, as did Craig. Eventually I moved out and got my own place, where I assembled one of those external swimming pools for him; it’s a big blue round one that I keep in my back garden. He’s that big, you see.

Nowadays Craig’s the size of a conger eel. I throw him the road kill that I find in the countryside after coming home from the office. That boy’s got such an appetite…

The school holidays are coming up soon, and I’ve got a couple of weeks booked in Rhodes. I expect that the kids in my neighbourhood will be taking advantage of my absence again, just so they can have their midnight pool parties in my back garden. Little bastards.

I heard someone say recently that this summer’s going to be a scorcher.

Copyright David Jones 2006

David Jones has not long starting submitting work. One story he has had published is on Whispers of Wickedness (www.ookami.co.uk). He is 29 years old and lives in the United Kingdom.

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