's 2016 Horror Write-off:

What Happened at Tallywackers

Submitted by Dandelion Steph


Hannah snapped back to reality, her stomach squirming. "Oh, right."

"So how's school?" her mother asked. "Um, fine, I guess," Hannah said distractedly. Scantily-clad waiters carried food to a table across the room. Hannah breathed out, sigh-like-not of desire, but of pain. Her stomachache was getting worse.

"Fine? Hannah, you got into UT Dallas! I want to know what kind of research you're doing."

Hannah's father hunched over the table, apprehensively drinking his iced tea and pointedly averting his eyes from the waiters. Hannah pressed her hand onto her abdomen, giving her some measure of relief. "Just lab tech stuff. Knowing the right temperatures, configuring the pipetting machines, that kind of stuff."

"Pipetting machines?" Her mother asked. "Oh, well, we used to pipette by hand, but now it's automated."

"No, I mean-pipetting. What's that?"

I can't believe you don't know what a pipette is, Hannah thought. "It's a-"

Just then, the bald-chested waiter arrived. "My name's Zachary. How's everyone doing?" he said, with an eye towards Hannah's appreciating mom.

"Oh, fine. Fine." Hannah's mom said, still gazing over his chiseled pectorals.

"I'll order a hamburger and a beer," Hannah's father said, laying down the menu and avoiding eye contact with the waiter. The waiter scribbled something down on a notepad in his flattering grey shorts. "Oh, I'll have just a salad." Hannah's mother said distractedly. Then she perked up, thinking of something. "And a margarita too."

"And you?" the waiter asked Hannah.

Hannah panted, both hands spread onto her abdomen. "I'll...I'll..." Hannah couldn't make her brain work the way it should. Finally she found a shortcut. She faced the waiter. "What do you recommend?"

"The chicken fingers are pretty good. I like them."

"Oh. Chicken fingers. I'll have those." Darn. So inarticulate, Hannah internally cursed.

With another scribble onto the notepad, the waiter left.

"So much better than Hooters, don't you agree, dear?" Hannah's mother said off-hand.

Hannah's father only harrumphed, crossing his arms and looking out the window.

Hannah couldn't keep track of time. The only thing she heard was a painful pulse from her abdomen. Mercifully, neither parent was very inclined to talk.

She didn't know how long they had been waiting by the time she glimpsed another waiter coming to serve them. Hannah opened her eyes, preparing to eat. But the hands of the waiter, leaving the table as he deposited the food, led her eyes elsewhere. Those hands had a good shape. No, an excellent shape. The hands of a statue, like the statue of David, not the coarse swollen knuckle-hands of a gorilla. And the chest...

Hannah gasped, crying out. From her abdomen came a sharp pain, and a wriggling feeling. Oh no.

"Yip yip yip!"

"Yap yap yap!"

Bubblegum-pink blobby creatures squirmed out, out from her belly button, leaping onto the perfect-chested waiter. The waiter stumbled, falling over backwards. The pink things' tails thrashed happily as they scrambled over his chest.

Hannah watched, mortified, frozen in embarrassment. Her parents were watching.

Then one of the pink things started to move towards his flattering grey skinny-shorts...

"Oh no. No no no." Hannah said. She hastily grabbed the loose, slippery thing, stuffing it back into her belly button. "And you too," she said to the remaining thing. It whimpered as she picked it up and, with both hands, pressed it back into her abdomen.

The waiter watched motionlessly with bugged-out eyes. "Sorry. Sorry sorry sorry," Hannah muttered.

Gritting her teeth, Hannah faced her parents. Her father looked worried. Her mother looked piercingly at her margarita, puzzled and disbelieving. Her mother broke the silence. "I asked for a margarita. This is a tequila. It is too strong." Her mother pressed a hand to her forehead and closed her eyes. "I'm hallucinating."

"No more beer," her father said pithily.

The waiter, lying prone on the floor, blinked. "What just happened?!"

"Customers disapproved of your alcohol," Hannah said, improvising. "It's a good thing people don't come here for the alcohol."

"Now could you give us a box to go?"