My grandmother made stew tonight.
It was tasty, for a change.
It had an interesting taste, but in a good way.
I actually finished the whole bowl, to her delight. This was a rare occurrence.
But when I went to put the bowl in the sink to clean it, I noticed a big bunch of . . . hair at the bottom.
It was jet black.
I mean, yeah, she was senile, but not that senile.
And . . . hair?
Where had it come from?
Who had it come from?
Shuddering again, I walked into the living room.
Where there was an overflowing bag of hair.
I tossed the bag in the rubbish bin. I didn’t want to think about it. I’d call . . . I’d call someone. In the morning. Yeah.
That night I couldn’t sleep. I couldn’t stop thinking about that news story I had just read. A family had gone missing in the area, and they had zero leads. Scary that that kind of thing could happen in my neighborhood.
The next morning, I woke up with a fearsome itch in the back of my head. I sat up, yawning, and noticed a pile of hair on my pillow. Black and curly.
“WHAT THE HECK!” I screeched. “HOW THE HECK DID THAT GET THERE!”
My grandmother was rushing into my room, awkwardly holding a baseball bat. “Whowhatsit! Whasamizzah!” She swung the bat around her head, causing my bobblehead collection to go crashing onto the ground.
“Grams! It’s okay! There’s no one here!” I calmed her. “It’s just, there’s MORE HECKING HAIR ON MY BED!” I jumped off the bed and landed on . . . more hair. I screeched. “WHOSE IS THIS!”
My grandmother looked away quickly, dropping the bat by her side. “Come down for breakfast, dear,” she chided, and walked away faster than I had ever seen her walk. She hadn’t answered my question.
That night, we had stew.
Again, it was delicious.
Again, there was a great big slimy wad of hair at the bottom.
Again, I asked her whose it was.
Again, she avoided the question.
At two in the morning, I awoke to the phone ringing and my grandmother’s voice. It was muffled, but I got the gist of what she was saying.
“Oh, Doreen! Mumble mumble gardening club mumble mumble? Mumble mumble book mumble.” Then she got quiet. “Mumble grandson? Mumble mumble worse. Mumble mumble mumble day mumble yesterday mumble mumble nasty mumble blood everywhere. Mumble mumble mumble stew, and the mumble mumble hair. Mumble mumble two weeks at best. Mumble mumble mumble mumble him off their hands, mumble mumble planning funeral. Mumble mumble.”
Then she hung up and I heard her make a very loud sound that was either a weird sob or a very creepy laugh.
Her phone conversation kept me awake thinking about it. It was just too odd.
From what I gathered, she wanted someone off her hands.
There was an incident? With . . . blood?
She was planning a funeral?
And . . . something started yesterday? What started yesterday?
Suddenly something clicked.
The disappearances in my area. The odd taste of the suddenly delicious stew that she had started serving two dinners ago.
The next evening, there was stew again.
But today I didn’t take a bite. I asked a question instead.
“Hey, Grams?” I tried to keep my voice steady and nonchalant. “Why don’t you try some of this stew too? You made it, after all.”
Her eyes widened. “Oh, no, dearest. I couldn’t. I made it just for you. To keep up your strength.”
I processed her refusal, then slammed the bowl down.
“What’s this stew made of?” I asked, my voice trembling.
“Oh, this and that.” She smiled at me. “I don’t remember exactly.”
“YOU MADE IT WITH HUMANS!” I SCREAMED. “THAT EXPLAINS THE HAIR! AND THE MISSING PEOPLE! AND THE ODD TASTE!”
She appeared concerned. “Oh, no, dearest! It’s not—well, you’ll excite yourself. You’re frail, darling, you must try and calm down!”
“Get away from me!” I screeched, and that’s the last thing I remember.
The local headlines the next day were unusually tragic.
AMNESIAC SUCCUMBS TO CANCER, CARETAKER SUFFERS HEART ATTACK FROM SHOCK
Jason Haines, age 12, lost his fight with cancer yesterday evening. The young boy had recently been hit by a car, causing a concussion and the loss of oddly specific memories of the past year.
“From what I know, he had forgotten all about his cancer diagnosis,” his aunt explains. “And not only that, but he had odd bouts of emotional outbursts. Each one seemed to make him weaker. We were told that one more of these outbursts would kill him. He was living with his grandmother because she alone seemed to be able to calm him. If we had known—” She was unable to continue. Haines had just started chemotherapy, and as a neighbor reports, the loss of his hair seemed to unsettle him. His grandmother is still in the hospital, and is unavailable for comment.