's 2014 Horror Write-off:

" Dry Socket "

Submitted by Authr

Iíve always picked at my teeth.

Okay, maybe it started in high school when I got a seed lodged between my molars and the pressure drove me crazy but I couldnít get it out. I picked with my fingers, a piece of paper, with a toothpick. Picked until my gums bled. Took me hours to get it out and left me paranoid. My dentist can never say I bleed because I donít floss. I bleed because I floss too much.

Today, the ritual starts like any other day. I stand in front of my bathroom mirror after brushing. Three minutes, twice a day. Then I go in with the little travel floss picks. Really dig down in there. I can still feel bits of food and plaque in there, though, so the next step is toothpicks. They hurt like hell, but I have to do it. When even that doesnít feel clean, I scrape at my gum line with my fingernails and dream about getting a dentistís scaling tool. As always, I overdo it and leave my gums lacerated and bleeding. I take a swig of mouthwash to sterilize everything, grin like a baboon at the mirror, and give up for the time being.

Itís not like Iím crazy or OCD. I only do it on weekends, so Iím actually improving. I donít do anything else to my teeth, I donít chew ice and never sucked my thumb. My teeth are healthy, itís just my gums that are bad.

Iím not crazy, just sensitive. Iíve got an apartment and a job and a car and a girlfriend and everything. I just donít like things sticking in my teeth.

I head out into the kitchen where Becka, my girlfriend, stands making toast. Kiss her on the cheek, grab the glass of milk sheíd left out for me and chug it. No coffee, no soda, no OJ. Nothing that can ever weaken the enamel of my teeth. She doesnít mind, except for when she tries to do lemon juice cleanses and I lecture her about acid erosion and she tells me to go fuck myself and my meth-addict gums.

I tell her Iíll be home around eleven and get in the car. I plug in my phone and set the radio to play my affirmation tapes. Becka tells me that if I repeat ďI am a successĒ enough times, Iíll eventually get promoted to district manager.

Iím in the middle of saying ďI WILL accomplish the goals I set for myselfĒ for the fifth time when the car in front of me slams on the breaks. I brake hard, but thereís not enough room. My shitty old Honda plows right into the back of the car and my head snaps forward, mouth colliding with the steering wheel.

As Iím sitting there dazed, the assfart driving the car ahead gets out and starts screaming at me. The exchange is kind of blurry. I call him a cumnozzle and throw my insurance papers at him, he threatens to fuck my ear hole, I tell him to make my day, it eventually gets worked out. Truth be told Iím not really focused on him.

When I faceplanted into the wheel, felt something get knocked around in my skull. When I press on my upper left incisor with my tongue, it wobbles. A lot. I can taste blood, too. I mustíve bitten down on my tongue.

By the time I get to work, Iím twenty minutes late and my mouth is a bloody mess. More so than usual. I clock in and explain to my manager that I was in a fender bender and ask for a minute to wash up. She lets me.

In the bathroom, I take a good look at myself, and see why the boss let me clean up. Itís not just my mouth thatís bloody, but my nose as well. I probably broke it, since my eyes are starting to blacken a little. I rinse my face off and gargle some water, then take a closer look at my tooth.

Itís not just loose. Thereís a visible crack along the enamel. Part of me is saying I should just ask for the day off, go to the doctor and a body shop. But itís a small part of me.

The rest of me is thinking about the pressure Iím feeling on that tooth. How it feels like something is lodged in there.

The picking is a ritual, and I think about it, but Iím not thinking right now. I feel compelled. That tooth needs to come out. Now.

I prod at it with my tongue. Maybe itís like a baby tooth and will come out on its own if I just wiggle it a little...

Nope. Thatís not going to do it. It has to come out, though.

I grasp it with my thumb and forefinger. My eyes start watering. The pressure is getting worse.

I pull.

The tooth comes off. Part of it, anyways.

Part of it, and something else.

I know there are veins in teeth. But they shouldnít be like this. I pull, and a pulpy, bloody, tendon-like thing comes out with the tooth. And just keeps coming. And coming. Until Iím standing there with this six-inch long bloody tube keeping this tooth attached to my head.

And it starts squirming.

The pulpy mass finally hits its end, snaps out of the remaining bit of tooth like an elastic band, and starts thrashing around like a worm on crack.

I scream. I admit it. The thing starts writhing around and I scream like a little girl. You would too, if a tooth-worm started trying to wrap itself around your wrist.

Still screaming, I flail my arm until it drops off, and desperately stamp at it like itís a roach. The feeling of it on my arm is one of the grossest things Iíve ever felt. Slimy, bloody, and weirdly muscular. Thing is strong.

And now itís dead. I hope. I hear the cracking under my Docs and tentatively lift my foot, preparing myself to be ready to slam it back down and kill the thing some more.

All thatís there are splinters of enamel. No worm. Not even a smear of tooth-worm guts. Maybe my mindís playing tricks on me.

Thereís a knock on the door and the nervous voice of a manager. He wants to make sure Iím okay. Canít blame him, it probably sounded like someone was getting murdered in here.

I crack open the door and he swears when he sees my face. I try to laugh it off, but heís creeped out, so I switch to honesty. Hey Hoss, I was in a crash on the way over, my tooth just fell out, and I think Iíve got PTSD or something. Can I go home?

Okay, not complete honesty, but Iíd rather not get tossed in the psych ward.

He takes pity on me and gives me tomorrow off, too, so I can try to deal with my car. Heís a good guy.

I know I need to go to the doctor and the dentist, but I want to be home. I want to start drinking at 3pm and forget about what I just saw in the bathroom.

The drive home is another blur, but one filled with touching my tongue to the busted tooth and wincing as I hit more nerve endings. Next thing I know, Iím in front of my bathroom mirror. Thank God Becka left for work already. I need time to figure this out, not have her coo over me and rush me to Urgent Care.

I open my mouth and twist my neck funny, trying to get a look at the broken tooth. Itís actually not too bad, I got most out of it when I pulled the worm out, it just looks like there are some fragments left.

Funny, since I thought I felt exposed nerves.

I wiggle the fragments with my tongue, then grab Beckaís tweezers and pull at the pieces.

Fuck. Okay. Definitely not just fragments. Too late to go back now, though. I yank out the roots of the tooth and pile them on the edge of the sink, next to the soap dispenser. Theyíre pretty long and covered in blood. I keep running my tongue over the holes they left.

My compulsion gets the better of me and I open wide again, fitting my thumb into the gap, scraping the gum with my nail.


A chill goes down my spine. I ignore it and scrape again.


This time I stop and turn around. I ask if anyone is there.

In here.

Iím starting to get freaked. First I saw things, now Iím hearing voices. My gum line starts to itch. I start to pick. One of my lower right premolars wiggles when I touch it.

Here, Tommy.

Thatís when my premolar rips itself out of my head, followed by a long worm, and I start screaming again and black out, bumping my head on the sink as I go down.

When I wake up, Iím sitting on top of the closed toilet. My mouth tastes like blood. I can immediately feel the two holes with my tongue. I blink, reach up to feel the bump on my forehead, and freeze.

The veins in my arm are bulging like a superheroís. Thatís not the bad part.

The bad part is how the veins twitch and writhe under the skin.

The bad part is how there are rows of teeth sticking out of my skin along the veins.

Hello, Tommy, the voice in my head says. I get on my feet even though I have no will to do so. Itís like my bodyís moving on its own.

Sorry to do this to you. We normally wait until we hit maturation, but since we have been discovered, we have to move fast.

I want to say something, but my mouth wonít move. I shut my eyes and reach out to grasp the sink as Iím piloted towards it.

We hope you do not mind. Your cooperation as a host body is appreciated.

I open my eyes and mouth at the same time, starting to ask whatís going on, have I been infected by aliens or something --

Thatís when I see my face. How rows of teeth have formed around my lips, on my brow, along my jawline.

As I try to speak, two worms poke out of the holes in my mouth and begin lifting themselves up. They make eye contact with me. Jesus Christ, they have beady little black eyes on their ends, like snails.

Just relax, Tommy, and we will make this as painless as possible. Try not to pick at it.

Thatís when my entire body starts to itch, and the teeth start poking out of my skin. It starts in my mouth, my palate covered in bumps that turn into sharp spikes, ripping open flesh as they form into teeth. Next come my knuckles, teeth spurting out, giving new meaning to the term ďknuckle sandwich.Ē Then my spine.

All the while those eyes are staring me down, the voice inside my head telling me to relax.