That was how my hot juicy steak tasted. No accoutrements, no sauce, no pageantry, just beautiful, bought-with-my-friend’s-money steak. Hardly cooked, just seared crispy, caramelized, swimming in butter and rendered fat. I made sure to exaggerate each unctuous, toothsome bite with a moaning chew as to properly gloat in my friend’s face.
Yes, it was a hard won steak, the prize for our fantasy football league, and he, well, he was the loser.
My friend, Jay, looked at me with a vacant and properly disgusted expression. His blue eyes were unfocused and as glazed over as the donuts I’d be having after this dinner. He had hardly touched his steak.
“Phaa… Wha’s-amadder, Jay?” The words shuffled out of my mouth like they were trying to squeeze out of a crowded train for their stop. “Don’ be so upse’ abou’ ihh.” I swallowed in a way to emphasize what a huge wad of meat I just enjoyed, “There’s always next year, pal. This year just wasn’t it. A lotta bad breaks. Lotta bad breaks.”
He didn’t really react. I leaned forward a bit. He wasn’t even looking at me at all, gazing over my shoulder.
He jostled upright again and shook his head.
“Oh, what? Sorry, man. Yeah, yeah. Dude, take a look at this guy behind you.”
I smacked my lips and turned around.
There was a guy seated at a table with several plates of steaks. He was a large man, well, not just large, but enormous. The table and chair looked like a child’s tea party playset compared to his outrageous girth. He was housing steaks, horfing them down with a systematic ferocity, a sort of carnivorous violence reserved for only the most deadly predators. With each steak thoroughly masticated and empathically bellied, he’d stack his empty, dripping plate on a pile with some others. Almost on cue, a server would bring out another piping hot steak while he had already moved on to one of the other waiting ones.
I was aghast and amazed.
“Jeez, how long has he been at it? Are these, like, off menu steaks or something? They’re huge.” I asked Jay without taking my eyes off the steak eater.
“He’s been at it at least since we got our drinks. Look at those plates. How many steaks can this guy eat? He’s had to have eaten several pounds already.” Jay’s tone was low, reverent. We were captivated by the man.
The steak eater stood up slowly, but with tremendous force, the mass of a freight train effortlessly pulling a thousand fully loaded cars. The table shoved aside and almost tipped over, but that guy caught it with his gargantuan hand. His other hand was at his mouth still chewing up a steak.
Now, I was able to see how tall he actually was. Well over seven feet, maybe even eight. I don’t think I had ever seen someone even close to tall as this man, the attentive servers only coming up to about his belly button, which I was able to clearly see. His opened button shirt clung to him like the plastic wrap, stuck to all the sweat and meat juices glistening on his burly frame.
He growled and snarled through his steaks, grunting, breathing sharply. Two steaks, now, he was eating two steaks at a time, and the servers never stopped. They didn’t even look scared, just panicked. They hustled out each steaming steak, each one seemingly less cooked than the last.
Jay opened his mouth to comment, but all that came out was a simple, weak stutter. Likewise, I had nothing to say. My own steak looked much, much less appetizing.
Still, the steak eater ate the steaks, and these steaks were completely raw at this point. The poor chef in the back must have not been able to keep up with the demand, or maybe he was passed out from overwork. Or maybe that’s just how the steak eater wanted them.
His giant fat lips smacked and slapped, splashing pools of saliva and meat juicy. Morsels of half-chewed steak flung through the air, creating a pink meat mist. The servers were peppered with the particles, but they didn’t show any signs of slowing down.
“Jay, man… Should we leave? This is… I mean, this is disgusting.” My stomach turned, my appetite gone. My own steak, my perfectly cooked and perfectly delicious steak, now churned and writhed in my stomach like a restless insomniac in an uncomfortable bed. We couldn’t stay to watch this could we?
“C’mon, Jay. Let’s try to get one of those servers to get the check for us. Jay?”
Jay only averted his gaze briefly and looked at me like I was the stupidest person he had ever seen, like he couldn’t believe I just said what I said. Beads of sweat were collecting on Jay’s forehead, but he didn’t bother wiping them away. He shook his head at me. He was staying and he was going to watch the steak eater keep eating.
I’ll admit, I was only half serious about leaving. My chair was already turned sideways so that I could better gawk at the freak cramming steaks down his gullet. It was like a circus sideshow. He had eaten so, so, so many steaks. How many more could he possibly ingest?
A server jogged up to him with a hefty, pink steak in her bare hands. The steak eater grabbed the server by the wrist and slurped the steak right out of her palm, wadding it in his cheek like bubble gum. Not letting go, the steak eater leaned forward again and sucked and nibbled on the server’s hand. Her eyes rolled into the back of her head. Her knees got shaky.
Then I heard it. Crunching bones.
The steak eater pulled the server’s hand from his mouth with a noisy, unsuctioning pop. Her hand was a ragged, bloody mess. She didn’t scream, she wasn’t scared. She just nodded vigorously, appreciatively, almost awe struck by how lucky she was. She scurried back to the kitchen and another server quickly replaced her in front of the steak eater.
I was shocked.
“Holy—! Her hand! That dude just ate her hand! What, I uh, is she gonna be okay?! I mean, her hand’s gone, but, what?! What is he doing?!”
I tried to stand up to leave. I couldn’t watch anymore, but Jay grabbed my arm and jerked me down. I couldn’t tell if he was too scared or too enamored by the sight. I say that, but I was too afraid to admit to knowing which it really was.
The next server willingly presented his arms, rolling up his sleeves and everything. Still gnawing on the meat and viscera of the server before, the steak eater effortlessly lifted the man up by his arm and tore through the flesh with his giant teeth. He jerked his thick neck back and forth until he finally pulled away from the server’s arm. Long strings of tendons and sinew snapped like rubber bands, flicking blood into the server’s face. The tissue gave way, and the server dropped to the ground. His arm was in bloody ribbons from the elbow down, but he didn’t care. He sat down cross-legged and watched the steak eater eat his arm.
I cringed and tried not to watch, but I couldn’t. It was all right there in front of me, so grotesque, so visceral. I could feel the snapping and grinding of those arm bones in my soul, grating in my marrow, scraping along my skull.
The other patrons, the other people eating at the restaurant hadn’t left either. Worse. A few carried their plates over to the steak eater as if he was an altar and their food an offering.
The table was completely upturned now, and the steak eater towered over his flock. No more food was necessary, only human meat sufficed now. He went from person to person, not slowly, not discerningly, but with intent and passion. He bit down on shoulders, necks, arms, faces, bellies, anything he saw fit.
They moaned, ahh how they moaned! This was a diving experience, a ritualistic offering of their bodies to some meat god.
I wrenched my arm away from Jay’s grasp and bolted behind him. He was in a trance like the rest. I shoved my elbows under his armpits and tried to lift him out of his chair, but he was complete dead weight. I tugged and we both tipped over and fell. He landed like a sandbag.
I looked around to find any sanity in the madness. A few people stood around terrified, paralyzed, watching as their loved ones, dates, or friends gave their flesh to the steak eater.
The air in the steakhouse was thick and humid at this point, almost foggy. I tried not to think about how every breath I took was aerosolized meat.
I whistled, then shouted, “Hey!” I ran over to some of the others. I had to yell over the cacophony of bone crunching, chewing, moaning, grunting, belching, and squelching. “C’mon! Snap out of it. We have to help that guy over there!” I was shaking some girl by the shoulders, “Hey, listen! We have to help my friend! We gotta get out of here!”
Her attention couldn’t break away from the mass consumption. The steak eater was absolutely covered in blood and he was larger than before. His girth grotesquely bulged in uneven blobs, spilling from his shirt, his pants. His form was more amorphous, but his hands and jaws were just as precise and decisive. The people remained standing before the steak eater, swaying and moaning with exuberance. Many had their arms completely gone, their ribs completely exposed, the necks open. Some bodies stood even without heads.
“Don’t look at that! Look at me!”
She finally snapped out of it and looked at me. Maybe a rush of realization hit, because when she looked me in the eyes, she screamed. It was a wail of abject terror and despair. She collapsed to the ground. She couldn’t be saved.
I ran back to Jay. He was slowly getting up, slowly reaching for our plates.
“No, Jay, whoa! Stop! Stop!”
I smacked our food out of his hands.
“What are you doing? We gotta get out of here, man!” I was tugging on his arm.
“No… I think… I think I’m going to go get eaten.” He said it gently with a certain joy. He said it like a man who’s found true happiness, like all the anxiety of modern life has washed away, like his life has meaning and purpose, fulfilling, rewarding. Fantasy football didn’t matter anymore, no trivial aspect of modern society did.
“C’mon, stop it. What are you saying? Everyone’s gone crazy in here! Don’t go with them! Jay! Don’t feed yourself to that freak!”
The steak eater’s chin split open vertically, peeling open his neck like a huge set of lips parting. Inside were rows of teeth undulating and grinding a never ending stream of flesh and bone.
In this gruesome moment, Jay pulled his arm away from me, taking his shirt off in short order. Lunging from me, he was desperate to congregate with the rest. I couldn’t stop him, I didn’t want to get any closer to the steak eater, and I’m glad I didn’t. Those long arms of that freak whipped out at Jay, ensnaring him, bringing him to the agape maw, and pressing Jay’s naked torso against the neck of teeth. Jay was being chewed with glee.
I had to leave him, leave them all.
My hair was matted to my forehead, my clothes damp, there was so much wet, fleshy mist in the air.
I made my way for the door. What other option was there? I tried to find and drag the collapsed woman with me, but she was convulsing on the ground. When I grabbed her, she threw a tantrum like a toddler, screeching about how she didn’t want to go, how she wanted to stay with her husband.
Fair enough. I couldn’t argue. I couldn’t care. I left her. I left the others, as well, who were too scared to do anything about it. I left Jay. Poor Jay, though the expression on his flopped backward head didn’t show it.
The front door to the restaurant was sticky. It took a few shoulder barges to budge it open. All the while Jay stared at me with a little smile on his upside-down face. The steak eater, sitting now but still nearly as tall as the ceiling, scooped and gathered in the bodies and meat with his legs, sweeping everything into a disgusting pile beneath Jay’s dangling feet.
I pried the door open and looked back one more time. Jay waved goodbye with a fingerless hand.
Then I was gone.
Who do I even tell this to? How can this make sense? Who can have it make sense? I don’t know how to explain what the steak eating freak was in a way that makes sense to anyone who wasn’t there, in a way that is believable. I feel like it’s my responsibility to tell Jay’s family that he’s gone, but that final image… I just can’t bring myself to tell them.
I mustered up enough courage to revisit the steakhouse to see if any authority or agency was working on it, whatever that might consist of. All I saw was an empty interior, clean, and a piece of paper taped to the door advertising the open space available for lease.
I couldn’t tell if that’s a good sign or not, and that closure was hardly satisfying.
The wet smacking and gnashing of meat gnaws away in my brain. I have to pursue this. It haunts me. I need to know what happened. I need to know what this steak eating freak thing was that ate Jay.Recommended1 Simily SnapPublished in