His skin, which once bore a shimmering hue of golden brown, flashed turquoise, violet, fuchsia, and cherry red, in accordance with the LED lights that had been plastered along the length of his apartment bedroom. They were fastened with clear tape, which had peeled at the corners and bordered the curtained shutters. The battery hummed as the lights resumed in its cyclicality. A soft tune faded to instrumentals, eliciting an upward glance from the young woman as she shifted in position from the crook in the man’s arm to a resting position above his bare chest.
“I gotta tell you something,” she said.
His eyes were a tired, muddy brown. Obscured by the dimmed lighting, his brows furrowed with concern. He smelled faintly of lavender incense, tinged with metallic undertones.
“I feel like maybe I’m in love with you,” she paused. “You feel me, yes or no?”
“Headass,” he said.
“What the fuck?” She asked, wrenching her knees beneath her into a sitting position. Dressed in striped fuzzy socks and an overwhelmingly large t-shirt, she yanked it over her exposed thighs. She lowered her gaze to the patterned sheets and a mop of thick, blue-dyed curls fell before her eyes.
“Shut up, dramatic ass.” He laughed, a low and pleasant rumble, and pulled her in for a kiss. “I feel like I’m in love with you too, Mia.” He rocked her in his arms and kissed her cheeks dramatically, an audible squish of his full lips against her skin. “I love you, I love you, I love you.” A cursory glimpse from the young man revealed that Mia’s rather brown skin had tinged an amusing shade of pink.
“Baby, I’d kill for you” he sung.
“Headass,” she repeated, and pinched his freckled nose.
“A headass you love, so shut up.” He rolled her over, crinkling dog-eared copies of human anatomy textbooks and eliciting an emphatic squeak from his girlfriend.
“Shit, Noah these are rentals.” Mia said and stacked the books loudly against the foot of the bed. “I wasn’t even finished studying,” she huffed.
A rusted tire iron, flanked by a bottle of chloroform, peered back at Mia. She nudged them further below the bed.
Noah stood before a large canvas, his brows furrowed. “How much do you think I could get for this?” Propped up against the shadow of a blank wall, the portrait boasted impassioned swirls of red, purple, and black; its artistry augmented by the impending flicker of color changing lights.
“You can’t keep painting these people.” She said, gesturing toward a hauntingly violent portrait of the musician he’d painted. It bore a familiar face the couple had once encountered, a sheepish grin bludgeoned into a frightened ‘O.’ “It’s beautiful, of course, I just,” she paused. “You’re gonna get us caught if you don’t stop.”
Noah moved toward his girlfriend and smiled suggestively, his fingers climbing the length of her torso. “No one knows who they are, but us. It’s fine, baby, stop worrying.” He stood up once more.
Mia watched him carefully turn the portrait over, her eyes trailing the silhouette of his backside and landing upon a jug of Clorox Bleach, its label cloaked beneath a cloth permanently stained a rusted brown. The curtains had been drawn shut, and Noah’s long-limbed shadow extended its embrace towards her. Mia crossed her arms over her chest. “Noah, forreal you gotta stop painting this stuff.”
“Says me, headass.”
“Uh, okay, and?”
“Don’t, ‘uh-okay-and,’ me. We have paintings of missing people in our apartment.” Mia huffed and pressed two fingers against her temples. “I don’t wanna lose your dumbass.”
“Nuh uh, I’m not going anywhere.”
“Bitch, if you don’t sit your ass down and listen to me,” she said.
“Bitch.” Noah repeated.
“Don’t say bitch to me, bitch.”
“Shut up.” Noah clasped Mia’s hands between his own and kissed her nose. “Besides, you love my art. I just wanna sell a few; they’re so much more inspired than my other stuff, you know?”
“You’re hard headed.”
“Hard headed with student loans.”
Mia placed her hand against her forehead dramatically and slumped against the headboard. “I give up. Let’s feed me.”
“Hell yeah,” she said. “But not like fast food.” Mia gestured towards a crinkled Chick-Fil-A bag perched atop a wooden side table, and a collection of unused napkins displayed alongside it. She shook her head. “Nah, I want food food, fun food, you feel me?”
Noah rolled his eyes. “Food food, fun food.” He repeated.
“Quit copying me, loser.”
“I think we still have some left over from the other night.” Noah peered into a dank mini fridge, it’s contents pungent and encased in a clear boxy container of dark liquid. The plastic lid popped audibly, releasing the foul odor. “Mia, what the fuck?”
It was a roughly severed head of jagged human flesh, limp and tinged purple beneath a jaw whose teeth had been harshly plucked from its gums. It’s sockets were devoid of eye balls, having swelled into puckered folds of skin colored in black crust and plum bruising. “Oh damn, I forgot I put that in there. We finished all the fun parts.” Mia shrugged and scooted forward.
“Baby, stop playing with our food. That’s nasty as hell.” Noah scrunched his nose.
“So, are you gonna head out now or...” Mia said, and laughed. “Head out, get it?”
“Alright, headass.” Noah placed the lid onto the container and gazed absently into the folds of the disfigured head.
“I’ll be ready for you when you come back.” She reached beneath the bed, retrieving the chloroform and tire iron. “You got this, boo boo. Pick someone. Bring their ass here. We kill them together. 1, 2, 3.”
“Forreal, you’re not coming?”
Mia frowned and poked her boyfriend’s cheek. “Hell nah, I got an exam tomorrow.”
“Or, maybe we should stop like you said.”
“I never said we had to stop, I said stop painting the people we’re eating, dumbass.”
“I was thinking,” Noah paused and retrieved a large aluminum briefcase. “Maybe we could use these instead.” The inlets of the case stored miscellaneous sharp objects and a compartment specifically for knives.
Mia tapped her chin attentively. “Those are some boujee ass knives. Let’s do it.”