All I remember is the room stunk of stale butterscotch popcorn and Minnie had been bad and then he clapped those fuzzy paws together and squealed, “Let’s have some fun!”
A boy in a wolf mask is telling a girl in a raven mask a story as the winter sun commits suicide behind them, falling into the thorny trees
Not Halloween for weeks — rotten summer twilight, actually. The masks are for their protection.
The Boy says, “There are these two demons who are madly in love, OK? But they’re bad for each other.”
The Girl likes it when the Boy tells her tales: they drool over her brain like honey. The Boy wishes he could pay cash to appear in the Girl’s dreams.
“Demons like what?” she says, eager to play.
“Demons like something evil, horns and fur and black tongues and shiny tails,” he says.
“Very extremely creepy.”
“Uh-huh. And they run around together and eat each other’s faces when they smooch and they live off McDonalds.”
“Their cum is, like, pink goo with glitter in it.”
“Aw. Unicorn. But…” says the Girl, studying the Boy, “you said ‘bad.’ Bad for each other how?”
“Cuz they love that evil medicine: needles in the morning; needles at night. They fell in love through their veins. And the Girl Demon’s got a big dark secret frying in her belly, too.”
“Oooh, B-A-D,” says the Girl.
“But they love each other so much, they would smooch each other’s skin even if there was nobody inside it, ﬂayed, hung on the door like coats,” says the Boy.
“True love,” says the Girl, “What’s his thing like? Does a demon have a thing?”
“Def, it’s like a jellyﬁsh, it glows.”
“Does the Girl Demon have teats?”
“Uh-huh, full of dreamy milk, he suckles like a sick pup.”
“Can’t get enough of the oblivion teat.”
The Boy stares at the Girl’s eyes glittering inside her mask like stolen jewels while the Girl thinks about leeching blood from his neck. Twilight sneaks across the park like a virus.
“Now,” the Girl Demon whispers to the Boy Demon late at night, wicked heads on the pillow, their tails tickling each other, “I’ve got a big confession to make, sweetheart,” licking her chops, all Yum and honey. The Boy Demon is like, “Huh?”
“She’s gonna bring out a dead dog full of bugs?”
“Nope,” she says, “I love ﬁreworks,” hissing like a Catherine wheel. And the Boy Demon knows what kind of love she means.
“Sticky,” the Girl says, nodding.
“They make me feel magic,” says the Boy doing the Girl Demon’s spooky voice through his mask, “even more than the bad medicine…”
The Boy stares at the Girl’s tongue in her mouth: a neon snake purpled by bubblegum, juicy.
“So the Boy Demon, he steals ﬁreworks galore cuz he wants his true love to feel the magic.”
“And he wants her to waggle his thing,’’ the Girl says.
“Forever,” the Boy says, “And on her birthday in some swampy park watched over by birds, he arranges the ﬁreworks like a big multicoloured feast—”
“Oooh,” the Girl says.
“She watches, sick with delight, feeling the stickiness spread its wings inside her. But when he lights them up—”
“Don’t be so cruel!”
“— Flames bite his fur. And pretty soon, he’s all screaming ﬂame. But before she even thinks to even call the ambulance she feels something, something like a wicked little shiver, watching him burn.”
“Ambulance man comes, celebrated with lights and sirens—”
“Like a WWF hero.”
“And the Girl Demon kisses her dead beloved, slo-mo, squishy: even if he is dead, she still craves his taste.”
“Cuz love never dies.”
“And the ambulance man gasps, feeling the grass beneath him go like jelly and the evening swirl.”
“If only they could still feed each other.”
“And for her next trick, the Girl Demon, she howls with grief and explodes into ﬂames, too.”
“Oh,” the Girl says.
“And the birds all quit their trees,” the Boy says, “and the two demons are together forever, their ashes glowing.”
Very, very quiet now. Moonlight oozes over the Boy and the Girl like a fever. The Girl says, “I have funny dreams, too… sometimes.”
And the Boy and the Girl sit still in the moonlight, their skins on ﬁre.
This beautiful girl, aged seven, is obsessed with a witch on TV. She watches the witch all the time. She needs the witch on demand. She doesn’t care about her twirling contests or Taylor Swift or her teeth anymore. She ignores the cat, the silky beast, who was her best friend. Her parents are afraid. If the witch with her magnificent green ﬂesh and mirror ball eyes asked me to die, I would say “Yes,” she thinks.
“Stop watching the TV,” her parents beg.
“Please get out of those pyjamas,” they beg.
But she won’t get out of the pyjamas because they’ve been touched by the witch’s special glow. And the pyjamas are encrusted with peanut butter fur and splotched with strawberry milkshake drool. (And she eats a lot because she brings food for the witch, who can’t eat because she lives in the TV.)
Maybe we could drag her away from the screen by the hair she used to love, her parents think. But if we drag her away, she will scream for hours. It will hurt so much. They only see her while wearing masks like plague doctors so they can’t detect her smell. Filthy baby. Daddy calls a real doctor. He comes (masked), shakes his head, and disappears.
The beautiful girl bandages up her eyes with gauze at night when they’re sore and falls asleep with the witch whispering to her. When she thinks about the witch she feels like she’s covered in glitter, blood bubbling like fantastic slop in a cauldron. At the end of a new episode, the witch laughs so the beautiful girl laughs too — a high, sugary cackle — but she can’t stop and suddenly her body feels very wrong. How could the witch do this to her? Her parents listen on the other side of the door as the cackle mutates into something awful, wondering who will puke ﬁrst.
Charlie Fox is a writer and artist who lives in London. His work has appeared in many publications including Artforum, DAZED and The New York Times. His collection of essays in This Young Monster was published by Fitzcarraldo Editions in 2017. He curated the twin shows Dracula’s Wedding for RODEO, London and My Head is a Haunted House for Sadie Coles HQ, London in 2019.