Bath Salts

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She woke to the taste of it on her tongue.

A bitter taste, of pennies in mud, with a hint of old coffee against the back of her throat. Her first instinct was to swallow, to push the taste down her throat and swish her tongue over her teeth, but her tongue felt coated, thick and gummy, a contrast to the grainy texture on her teeth.

That was the detail that sent her spiraling over the edge, rolling to her knees, half awake, retching at the grit and tang inside her mouth.

Something solid rose up her throat, clipping her teeth as if fell from her lips. The ground was cold and sticky beneath her palms, soaking through her jeans. She opened her eyes, the world a blur of rusted patches, her focus shifting and pock marked like an old timey film strip. When it finally settled she wished it hadn't. Her breath was a long thin inhale as she took in the pool of congealed blood beneath her, the dark stain seeping into her jeans. A few inches from her hand was a disembodied arm, the socket glistening in the bright sunlight, pouring through the windows. Her vision fuzzed and glitched at the edges, adding to the surreal scene.

She woke up next to an arm.

A human arm.

Her eyes lingered on it, more details penetrating the fog in her brain. The scalloped indents at the edge of each torn wound. Teeth marks. Parts of the arm were missing flesh to the red stained bones beneath, the individual fingers chewed on. The tip of the index finger was missing. After a long uncomprehending stare her eyes rolled to the pool of congealed blood beneath her, pausing at the chunk that flew from her throat. She reached for it, her arms painted red to the elbows, but not so much as a tremor. She held it up to the sunlight, a misshapen cube of rusted white, coming to a point. She'd coughed up a finger bone.

The bone slipped from her fingers, the panic starting to set in as her eyes widened, trying to take in more of the room, the blood everything, painting the eggshell walls in brilliant red splattered strips. Eventually she found the other parts, the legs behind the recliner, equally gnawed on as the hand, the other arm on the couch, blood seeping into the paisley print. The torso was in front of the television, on and muted for the morning news. The local weatherman was visible through a curtain of blood dripping down the screen.

The torso was ripped open, the stench of it hitting her nose as she became aware of it, all glistening pieces on grisly display. Her fingers kept the sticky carpet beneath her, as her breath came in short sharp pants. She should be screaming. Why wasn't she screaming? She shuffled, turning on her hands and knees.

The head was on the coffee table, expression caught in a final terrified grimace. A tremor went up her arms then.

"Brad?"

His sightless blue eyes brought the memory rushing back.

**

They wanted to get high.

"Come on Maddy, your parents are outta town all weekend," said Brad, nudging her with his shoulder, grinning. She'd do anything for that grin.

"I can get some pot from Nicky," she said, "She said she has some laced lollipops that send you off like a rocket."

Brad made a face. "Yeah, but that's boring. Let's see if we can score something that'll really fuck us up."

"Like what, shrooms?" Maddy let him spin her around, like a music box ballerina, her hair swishing behind her. He always made her feel graceful, half dancing with her down the hall. Her parents thought he was such a prince, blissfully unaware of their little adventures with various substances. Why not have fun while she could? After all, these were the best years of her life.

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