Delta Child

Edited by Brian J. White

September 2016

As long as I eat, I heal. Today, it’s my rotted right arm that needs it. I can smell her through the door. Cocoa butter. Jojoba oil. Jasmine. Both her and the flower.

I don’t know how this shit works. I don’t know how my body decides which part or organ to regenerate. But no matter my how fucked up and decayed I get, my stomach is always intact, in working order, digesting flesh. Fresh human meat gets the best results.

There’s a lot of shit out there about us. A bullet through the forehead is best. Separate the head from the body with an axe then bury it. If we devour a six-month-old baby whole, we’ll be completely healed for six months. No decay, no smell, no nothing.

Yesterday, that last one was just bullshit to me.

Today, I’m knocking on the door of my baby mama house.

Jasmine opens it. I can smell traces of breast milk on her nipples. It smells fucking delicious.

She crosses her arms. “Took your raggedy ass long enough to come see your son,” she says. Those dark, lovely, full lips of hers are set hard. I haven’t seen them do that since I told her I rot nasty as fuck, but I heal sweet as hell. They complement the I’m-sick-and-tired-of-your-everlasting-bullshit look that’s on her face quite well.

The last time I saw Jasmine was at the hospital. She was still blowed from the epidural. Yeah, I’m an asshole. But at least I admit it. I suppose that don’t make it better, though.

I give her a hug. Jasmine doesn’t hug me back. My nostrils flare. My saliva glands start going. Not from her. The baby is in the back somewhere, sleeping.

“Can I see him?” I ask Jasmine.

She kisses her teeth. “He’s in the bedroom.”

I walk down the hall and pause outside the half-shut bedroom door, thinking, I can’t do this. But my son smells so good.

When my moms was two months pregnant with me, she needed some extra scratch because she had kicked my pops out the house for being an asshole, and the Maids, Cleaners, and Launderers Guild only paid so much. He had been bonin’ some chick from work, so my moms answered an ad in the back of the Chicago Sun Times looking for paid volunteers to take an experimental prenatal supplement at Great Lakes Naval Hospital in Chicago.

She should have known better, but the scratch from the experiment alone was putting food on the table, clothes on her back, and the rent under her landlady’s door. Even after my moms found out twenty women had miscarried and another twenty dropped their shorties prematurely, she kept taking the drug. For the first time in her life, she had some mattress money. And it was worth it. She could take care me all by herself.

My moms always said I had a blessed birth. No complications. No unexpected developments. I was her special little man.

But every night, my moms prayed I would be normal, stay normal, and the drug wouldn’t fuck me up. For sixteen years it didn’t. And then one day, the smell came. Three weeks later, I ate her.

The researchers at the Great Lakes Naval Hospital called those shorties who were never born alpha children, the premature group beta children, and the normal group, my group, gamma children. Until we turned sixteen and half of us started to smell like shit. Then they called us delta children.

That tickled my moms, a girl born in the Mississippi Delta. I was her delta child.

It wasn’t just the smell that was bad. There was joint pain. Weakness. Some days, I couldn’t move. Some days, I couldn’t get out of bed.

Back then, I’d been starting tailback for Chicago Vocational, so when I got a scrape, a cut, a contusion, it didn’t heal. Ever. And the smell wafting from me, coming out of my pores, got stronger.

My moms took me to a slew of doctors, but they didn’t know what was wrong with me. It didn’t matter. Word got back to the researchers.

These dudes with guns and cool as hell black biohazard suits came for me in the middle of the night. Took me to some super-secret government facility. Put me in a wing with the rest of the delta children. They should have put us in one of those bare, steel-walled maximum security rooms instead.

We ate them all. Every last one of them. Guards, researchers, janitors. My doctor tasted like the salsa and chips she had for lunch.

My moms tasted like the collard greens and peach cobbler she had for dinner.

I had to go back home. I had to see my moms. I mean, she was my moms. I didn’t think the hunger was that strong back then. I thought my love for my moms would quell it. Keep it at bay. Snatch my shit.

First thing I did when my moms hugged me was tear out her intestines with my bare hands and get my eat on. I ate her all up. Her delta child.

Tears come to my eyes, as I stand in front of the door to my baby boy’s bedroom, but I shake them away. I ain’t no punk. I push open the door. Something hits me in the back of the head. The world fades to black.

When I wake up, the world is still black. It doesn’t take me long to realize Jasmine chopped off my head and buried it. Fucking Wikipedia. But what she doesn’t know is the hunger is in every cell of my body.

She should have nuked it. Dropped my body in one of those industrial incinerators. Even now, I can feel my hands clawing at the heavy earth. It’s just a matter of time before I break the surface and find my head.

And when I do, I’m getting my eat on. I’m gon’ gorge like a motherfucker.

But I’m staying the fuck away from Jasmine. And my baby boy.

She don’t play. Not when it comes to her baby boy. Our baby boy. She for damn sure will snatch my shit.

And there won’t be no coming back from that.

About the Author

Malon Edwards was born and raised on the South Side of Chicago, but now lives in the Greater Toronto Area, where he was lured by his beautiful Canadian wife. Many of his short stories are set in an alternate Chicago and feature people of color. Malon also serves as Managing Director and Grants Administrator for the Speculative Literature Foundation, which provides a number of grants for writers of speculative literature. You can find him online at malonedwards.com and on Twitter @MalonLouis.

© 2016 Malon Edwards