“Fat piece of cow!”
“Bag of lard!”
Mel McNuggen was used to it by now. The insipid name-calling used to reduce her to tears, but she’d learnt to cup her hands over her ears and run away from all the hate and spite of her fellow leaner peers.
Everyone loved making fun of Mel McNuggen. Her lumpy shapeless legs, her pot belly which drooped like cheese over the top of her skirt, her twenty chins. Whether you’d just failed an exam or been punched in the corridor, it didn’t matter! Just find the fat girl and try out that new insult you just saw online. ‘Oi, nugget! You’re so fat you got more rolls than a bakery!’ That’ll be sure to brighten up your day.
Just what Jason Thinpole needed. On the last day of the summer term, the soccer team captain got rejected by class babe Angela Skinners. And after getting an F on his math test, he knew his day had not gone well.
Jason and his group of five thugs, comprised of both trashy guys and sleazy girls, thundered down the corridors after class like a cackle of hyenas sniffing out their victim. The intermittent yet gradually emerging scent of cheeseburgers and sweaty socks signalled the arrival of their prey and they lay in wait in the shadows on the other side of the open bathroom door.
BAM! The door slammed shut and they surrounded her, howling and laughing. Mel cowered in fear and kept on walking, but Jason’s outstretched arms blocked her path.
“Where you goin’ fatass? You tryin’a run?” He puffed up his cheeks and leaned backwards, squatting around the place like a constipated chicken. The others burst out in laughter.
They closed in on her. Mel’s pace quickened until she was almost speed-walking. But then… the back of her head hit a wall. It was a dead end. She had nowhere to run now. Not that she would’ve gotten away had she anywhere to go, but at least she would’ve lived a few seconds longer.
Mel gulped and closed her eyes. She had lived a good life. One filled with shameful insults and acerbic weight related comments, but a good one nevertheless.
The band of wild animals began prodding and poking her in the stomach and armpits, giggling, spitting, grabbing and painfully twisting bits of fat rolls down her sides. The girls kicked and smacked her and unbuttoned her shirt. They ripped bits of it off, pulled her skirt down and tore her tights. Most of the guys took out their cell phones and happy-slapped. In their eyes she saw the fire of hell. Mel wondered if it was humanly possible to feel so ashamed. Christie Svelton grabbed her hair and pushed her head back against the wall.
“Jason, quick, do it! You got the marker?”
Jason pushed forwards and took out a permanent marker pen from his shirt pocket.
“Get off! Please, go away…”
“Shut up fatty!”
She felt the cold nib press down upon her forehead and squeezed her eyes shut. She couldn’t tell what he had written but everyone was pointing and howling with laughter. The blood stopped rushing to her face and she slid down the side of the wall as soon as Christie let go of her. The gang crowded to look at the pictures they’d snapped of Jason’s masterpiece and walked off.
Mel couldn’t believe it. How could they have done this to her? Stripped to her underwear, she ran sobbing uncontrollably into the bathroom and looked into the mirror.
‘I ate dog shit’ was plastered over her forehead.
And as she cried and scrubbed and scrubbed and cried, she wondered to herself… what if it didn’t have to be this way? What if she could be as popular as Christie someday? Or even Jason? Perhaps she could. Ever since she was young, there was a natural confidence to her, a burning desire to be the one at the centre of attention. The only thing getting in her way… was fat.
If she wanted to get out of this hellhole and become popular, the only way that would be possible was losing weight. But that train of thought would likely end there, as she knew where it was going. She’d tried it dozens of times before; exercising, cutting out junk, diet pills, you name it. But every time she lost ten pounds, she’d regain twenty. It was just too difficult.
But what if she stuck to it this time? What if she did everything possible to torch the fat off her body? What if she ate no food? Fasted.
Sure, her metabolism would probably drop to a crawl, but she’d heard accounts of people surviving months without food after being stranded at sea, probably eating nothing but a few bits of fish or seaweed. They’d emerged well and alive afterwards, just slimmer. Less fat. She stopped crying because she’d made up her mind. From that moment onwards, Mel McNuggen was not going to eat. She would return to school next year new and refreshed, as skinny as ever. And nobody would stop her.
When Mel returned home that night, she skipped dinner.
‘I feel ill,’ she told her mom. ‘I’m not hungry.’
Skipping meals, as you can imagine, became a regular occurrence. As the days went by, Mel began to feel weak and drained all the time. Her hands and feet were always cold, like a corpse’s. Naturally, her family became worried, so she began hiding food down her jumper and flushing it down the toilet to mask her fasting.
Soon, all she did was lie in bed all day. But no matter how sick she felt, she would not eat. She would kill that fat that had caused her such misery for so long. She could die herself, but that determination inside her to risk everything would never fade. Those rolls of lard had to go.
At the end of the summer break, if you asked Mel McNuggen a question, it would take three seconds for her brain to register the sound, five to process it, another three to formulate an answer and, if you were still there, you would receive some incomprehensible gibberish that probably didn’t make sense.
But nevertheless, she was skinny now. And that was all that mattered. On the morning before the new school year, Mel got up extra early. She looked at herself in the mirror and saw a beautiful, young, slim party princess staring back at her. Leaping on the bed and exclaiming in triumph, Mel was ecstatic. She’d done it. Enduring all that pain was worth it after all. She wondered what they would say now.
It took her a very long time to walk to school. Her blood sugar levels were so low she could barely stand, but a little help from the railings beside her allowed her to manage.
She was about half an hour early, and the classroom was empty all except for Jason Thinpole, desperately reading his math book. He looked up as she stumbled into the classroom.
The vision of beauty in front of his eyes astounded him.
Mel winked as she strolled over to his desk.
“When did you-“
“Just… did a little exercise over the holidays. To shape up.”
Jason had always terrified her, but now for some reason, he seemed so irresistibly attractive. Mel coughed. She felt as if there was something down her throat, pulling her tongue back. She clenched her fists and tried to resist some unknown urge. Jason’s eyes looked so shiny, like M&Ms. His cheeks glowed like freshly grilled beef. The ridges on his neck looked like a miniature set of barbeque ribs, moving up and down as he breathed. His golden hair hung low upon his brow, reminding her of the glazing on Krispy Kreme doughnuts. She felt moisture building up on her tongue.
“Uh, Mel, is that your name?”
"Yeah, look, I'm sorry about last time. It's just... we thought it would be a funny joke and-"
"It's alright Jason. No hard feelings."
She swallowed. His tongue twisted around in his mouth as he spoke, like a slice of bacon.
“I've been wanting to ask you something. Will you go out with me?”
“I thought you fancied Angela.”
“Well, yeah, but… she rejected my ass last year. But you’re like, wow… wait ‘till they all see you.”
“Thanks. Alright, I’ll go out with you.”
His open-mouthed smile reminded her of one of those faces on the custard cream sandwich biscuits. The ones with the jam in the centre.
Jason stood up and looked into Mel’s eyes. He lifted her chin and leaned in towards her, taking her hand. She could smell his strawberry scented perfume. The scent of strawberry jam. Suddenly, the urge inside Mel began to tie her stomach into knots, and drool began leaking out of her mouth uncontrollably. She wiped it away frantically with both hands.
“Getting excited, are we?” Jason whispered.
Mel laughed coyly, as her breathing quickened and her hands started to shake. The tiny rack of ribs moved closer towards her. So close.
She grabbed him and savagely tore out a chunk of his neck with her teeth. Before he could scream, she pinned him down onto a table and chewed out the eyes and cheeks of her prey, using sharp claws to strip the skin and flesh from the skull. His larynx having been sliced open, Jason was unable to yell out. His arms and legs waved about frantically as they knocked over surrounding pieces of furniture.
As the blood poured out of his head, so did memories of jam, apples, tomato sauce and sausage. She swallowed tendons like stringy spaghetti and the cartilage of his ears crunched like crisps, or well baked Yorkshire pudding covered in gravy. His skin peeled like that of roasted turkey and his brains reminded her of the perfect golden stuffing. Mel remembered when she’d strip away her portion of thigh down to the bone every Christmas, and that same satisfied feeling returned.
She sniffed the air. So fresh. So brilliant.
The sound of police sirens and people screaming woke Mel from her slumber. Next thing she knew, there was a bloodied skeleton on the table in front of her, and her vision didn’t seem blurry anymore.
Must’ve been that tempting cologne, thought her well-nourished brain.
Written by Rinskuro13