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Just Buried

I died on my wedding night. It had been a typical day of newly-wedded bliss. Allen and I gazed dreamily into each other's eyes as we said our homemade vows, kissed politely after the priest announced us "man and wife," posed for endless photos, shoved thousand-dollar cake into each other's faces, and danced the night away while our friends and extended family got drunk on thousand-dollar champagne. When it was all over, we slipped away quietly and sped off in our Hyundai Accent trailing a banner that read, "Just Married."

We had been driving for two hours when I sat up in my seat and said, “We’re lost.”

"We're not lost," Allen said. "We have GPS."

"Turn left in five miles," the GPS chirped.

"See?" said Allen, patting the GPS like it was an obedient puppy.

"Turn left in five miles. Turn left in five miles," I parroted in a shrill voice. Allen shot me an annoyed glance. "It's been saying that for over an hour," I said.

"Turn left in five miles," said the GPS. I raised my eyebrows at Allen.

Allen coughed. "It hasn't been five miles yet."

"We're doing 45," I said. "We should have turned left yesterday."

"It'll say when we have to turn left," Allen said. "Won’t you, GPS?"

"Turn left in five miles," said the GPS.

I let out a frustrated sigh. "I think your precious GPS is busted."

"It's not busted," Allen said. "It's brand new. It's a wedding gift."

"From Uncle Robert," I said, rolling my eyes.

"What's wrong with Uncle Robert?" Allen asked.

"Hello?" I said. "He's a cheapskate."

"He is not," Allen said, momentarily taking his eyes off the road to glare at me.

"What about the present he gave you for your birthday last year?" I asked.

"It was a cashmere sweater."

"It was used!"

"You don't know that."

"Allen, it was stained and smelled like cigars."

Allen didn't respond. We drove on in silence until the GPS chimed in again. "Turn left in five miles," it said cheerily. I lifted up my espadrille-clad foot and gave the GPS a hard kick. "Turn left in five miles," it repeated.

"Hey!" said Allen. You're gonna break it!"

"It's already broken!" I yelled, kicking it again.

"Turn left," said the GPS. Allen and I stared at it expectantly, then turned to each other.

"It didn't say 'in five miles,'" I whispered.

Allen shook his head and turned back to the road. "Guess we should turn left," he said.

Suddenly, Allen jerked the steering wheel sharply to the left. The car screeched angrily, flew around the corner onto a tiny side street, and slammed head-on into an SUV. At least, I think that's what it was. All I saw was the silhouette of its hulking form and two bright lights bearing down on us. A horn honked, and I think I screamed. Then I blacked out.

When I woke up, I was upside-down, suspended in the air by my seatbelt. Allen was halfway through the windshield. I felt warm, sticky liquid all over me, and I realized to my horror that it was blood. I unbuckled my seatbelt and dropped to the ceiling on my head but felt no pain.

"Allen!" I called. He didn't answer. I tugged on one of his legs, which were protruding through the windshield. "Allen!" I called again.

Allen's leg swung up and kicked me on the chin. My head flew back and my neck made a loud cracking sound, but again I felt no pain. Allen grunted and struggled to free himself from the windshield. "Violet! Help!" he cried.

I grabbed his legs and pulled as hard as I could. I heard glass fragments crackle and snap, but Allen didn't budge. I pulled hard again and he came tumbling into the car with most of the windshield still clinging around his waist like a glass tutu.

I opened the passenger side door and pulled Allen out onto the ground. Outside, the sun was shining brightly and birds were singing in the gently swaying trees. The sky was bright blue and the air was warm and light. I took a deep breath and smelled a combination of honeysuckle and burning metal.

I looked down at my dress. It was stained burgundy with blood. I felt surprisingly OK for someone who was just in a serious car accident. In fact, I felt nothing at all… except hunger. Suddenly I was very, very hungry. All I could think about was food. I was starving, craving an unfamiliar taste, something both salty and sweet, tangy and bitter, juicy with just the right amount of chewy. I licked my lips and tasted blood. I liked it.

A burger, that's what I wanted, a big, juicy hamburger. I thought I had seen a Wendy’s down the road before we crashed.

"Didn't I see a Wendy's back there?" Allen said, gingerly picking chunks of glass out of his arm.

"You read my mind," I said with a smile.

We stood up and started walking down the road. We must have walked for an hour before we finally reached the Wendy's, but I didn't feel tired at all. I just kept thinking about how delicious that big, juicy burger was going to taste the moment I bit into its soft, pink flesh… or something like that.

When we saw the familiar Wendy’s sign, we ran through the door and shoved our way to the counter.

"Brai—meat!" Allen shouted.

"Yes, meat," I agreed. The other customers turned to gape at us.

"Excuse me?" said the woman behind the counter.

"I mean burgers," said Allen, composing himself.

"Big ones," I said.

"I'll take four."

"Give me seven!"

"I want ten!"

The counter woman stared blankly at us. "Corey!" she called.

A tall, lanky man with greasy red hair came up behind her. His name tag read, "Corey, Assistant Manager." "How may I help you folks?" he asked pleasantly.

"Damn it, how hard is it to make 40 hamburgers?" Allen yelled, slamming his fist down on the counter.

"Please hurry," I hissed. "I'm starving."

Corey turned to a bored-looking young man in the back. "How many burgers we got, Morris?"

Morris counted on his fingers. "13," he said.

"We'll take them!" Allen and I shouted in unison. Allen dug his wallet out of his pocket and handed Corey his bloodstained debit card.

We had barely made it to a table before we were tearing off the foil wrappers and stuffing burgers into our mouths. I tossed a bun, lettuce, and pickles onto the floor and inhaled a meat patty. It was salty, juicy, and chewy, but somehow not as satisfying as I'd expected.

I looked at Allen. He was chewing his burger with an odd look on his face. I picked out another meat patty and smelled it. It had that same familiar burger smell, but it wasn’t as tempting as I thought it should be.

"Something's wrong," I said through a mouthful of meat.

Allen sniffed his burger. "Have these gone bad?" he asked.

I shook my head. "No, they're just… wrong."

Allen took another big bite of burger and grimaced.

"I want something else," I said, throwing a half-eaten meat patty back on the tray. Allen spat out his burger and stood up. We ran back out to the road and looked around. There was a steakhouse across from the Wendy's.

"Steak!" Allen said.

"Yeah!" I agreed. "That's it! Steak! I want a big, juicy—"

"Chewy, raw—"

"Steak!"

We grinned at each other, then darted across the road. When we entered the steakhouse, we were greeted by a bubbly hostess in a slinky black dress. "Hi there!" she said. "How many?"

"Brains!" I shouted. "I mean two." Allen gave me a quizzical look and I shrugged. I didn't know why I had said "brains." It had burst out of my mouth involuntarily like a cough.

The hostess looked momentarily confused but smiled brightly and led us to a table. "Your server will be right with you."

"Brains," said Allen. "I mean thank you." The hostess clicked away as fast as her four-inch sling-backs could carry her.

Allen and I exchanged puzzled looks. "Why did I just say 'brains?'" he asked me.

"Why did I say 'brains?'" I asked him.

At that moment, I noticed that Allen was looking very pale. He had some gashes on his face, and there were shards of glass in his hair. I turned to look at my reflection in the plate glass window. I didn't look much better than him. My bangs were matted to my forehead with blood, and my face was covered in scrapes and bruises.

"Jesus," I said. "We look awful."

Allen turned to look at his reflection. "You're not kidding," he said. "These people probably think we're crazy."

We surveyed the other steakhouse patrons. They were all gawking at us and whispering to each other. A group of kids were even snapping photos of us with their cell phones.

"Great," I said. "Tomorrow we'll be on Facebook." Allen and I looked at each other and burst into laughter.

"We look like friggin' psychos!" Allen said. We laughed louder.

"Braaaiins!" I said, wiggling my fingers in the air.

"Braaaiins!" Allen said in a deep voice.

We kept laughing until our waiter arrived. He was a peppy young man with freckles and large, white teeth. "What's so funny?" he asked, smiling so big that his oversized teeth looked like they might burst through his lips.

"We vant to eat your brains," Allen said in a Dracula accent. We erupted in a fresh burst of giggles.

"Yeah," I said. "Delicious, juicy—"

"Chewy, raw—"

"Brains."

Suddenly I realized that we had both stopped laughing and were staring hungrily at our waiter, at his large, round, balding head. I couldn't help but imagine what it would be like to bite into it, to rip off the soft flesh with my teeth and take a big bite of his—

"Brains," Allen said again. He stood up and stepped toward the waiter. I found myself doing the same. All I could think about was cracking open the waiter's skull and spooning out its contents onto a plate.

The waiter kept his polite smile plastered to his face. "Well, darn it, we're fresh out of brains," he said with a nervous laugh, "but we have some great specials today—"

Allen grabbed the waiter's head and yanked it toward his face. "Sir," the waiter said, attempting to free himself from Allen’s grip, “please don’t do that."

Allen dug his teeth into the waiter's head and blood oozed down his chin. I felt my mouth water.

The waiter screamed and pulled away, falling backward onto a table and sending steaks flying around the restaurant.

All hell broke loose. The other diners leapt from their seats and screamed. Other servers rushed over to help their co-worker.

"That psycho bit me!" our waiter shrieked, pointing a trembling finger at Allen.

Allen wiped some of the blood from his mouth with his hand, looked at it for a moment, then licked it. I felt a sudden urge to lick it too.

A man in a blue suit marched over to us. "Get out, or I'm calling the police," he ordered. I picked up my purse and headed for the exit with Allen in tow.

Once we were outside, I grabbed Allen's face and started licking off the remaining blood from his chin. It was deliciously sweet and salty and only made me more hungry for that unknown something I'd been craving since I woke up upside-down in our smashed Hyundai Accent.

"I'm still hungry," Allen said.

"Me too," I said. We stood in silence, staring down the road.

"I think I just tried to eat that guy's brain," Allen said, licking his lips.

"I think I wanted to eat it too," I said.

Allen ran a hand across his forehead. "What happened to us?" He asked.

"I don't know," I said. "The accident must have really screwed us up."

"We should probably go to a hospital."

"Yeah."

"But food first."

"Yeah."

We walked down the road for miles, holding hands and squinting in the bright sunlight. I didn't feel hot, tired, or thirsty, and Allen didn't seem to either. All I could think about was how hungry I was and how much I longed for that taste in my mouth. My stomach growled. "Brains," I whispered.

"What?" asked Allen.

"Nothing," I said.

A passing car slowed to a stop beside us. The driver was a plump woman with a puff of platinum blonde hair. She peered at us through large, red eyeglasses.

"You two alright?" she asked.

"Good question," I said. Allen laughed.

"Need a ride?" the woman asked.

Allen and I smiled at each other and climbed into the back of her car. She resumed driving down the road.

"Were you in an accident?" she asked, her face a picture of concern. "Do you need to go to a hospital?"

"We need to go to a buffet," said Allen. I nodded in agreement.

"If you're hungry, there's a cooler on the floor with some snacks," she said. "Help yourself."

We tore open the cooler to find it full of vegetables. "What's all this?" Allen demanded. "Where's the beef?"

The woman laughed. "Leafy greens," she said. "That's brain food."

Allen and I looked at each other with raised eyebrows. "Brain," I said.

"Food," said Allen.

We turned to the woman, who was now droning on about the benefits of raw vegetables. "I never cook vegetables. The only way to eat ‘em is raw. You see, cooking them kills all the vitamins."

I leaned forward and sniffed her head. It reeked of hairspray and cigarettes. I stared at it and imagined the skull inside, surrounding the chewy, juicy, delicious—

"Brains!" I shouted. I grasped the woman’s head, jerked it back, and bit into her scalp. She screamed and flailed her arms. Allen leapt from his seat and bit off her ear. The car swerved off the road crashed into a tree, sending the three of us lurching toward the windshield.

The woman kept shrieking and swinging at us as we tore at her head with our nails and teeth, biting and ripping her flesh. Allen grabbed a fistful of her puffy blonde hair and slammed her head against the window. The window cracked and the woman stopped screaming.

"Brains!" Allen yelled happily. He pulled apart her skull to reveal the soft, slimy gray matter inside. We both scooped at it eagerly, shoving handfuls into our mouths and laughing.

It was the most delicious, satisfying thing I had ever tasted, salty and sweet, tangy and bitter, juicy with just the right amount of chewy. This was the taste that I had been craving all day.

When all of the woman’s brains were gone, we licked the inside of her skull, hoping for one last decadent morsel.

"Brains!" said Allen, tearing through what was left of her head, but there were no more brains to be found.

We sighed and sat back in our seats, licking our fingers. Outside, the sun was setting on the horizon, turning the sky shades of plum and apricot. The first day of our honeymoon was coming to an end.

I watched Allen licking blood and brain fragments from his fingers in the dimming light. He was pale, bloody, and disheveled, but still as handsome as ever. I leaned forward and kissed him. He smiled. "You taste like brains," he said. We both giggled, then kissed again, trying to lick the brain residue off of each other’s teeth.

Suddenly, Allen pulled away, climbed into the front of the car, and pushed the blonde woman’s remains out of the driver’s side door. “I need more,” he said, turning the key in the ignition.

“Me too,” I said. I climbed into the passenger seat beside him. “Allen, do you think we died?”

Allen pulled the car out onto the deserted road. “Yeah,” he said. “I think we did.”

“It’s not as bad as I thought it would be,” I mused.

“No,” Allen agreed. “It’s alright.”

We smiled at each other and drove off into the sunset in search of more delicious, juicy, chewy, raw brains.

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