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Suppertime

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"I don't know anyone that deserves to get chopped up and fed to a hungry plant!"

He should have known those words would come back to bite him eventually.

As much as it bothered him to admit it, it really wasn't the "fed to a hungry plant" part that he was concerned about. What mattered at this moment was "chopped up." When he had said it, he hadn't been truly thinking that he would have to cut up the body. The less time spent with it, the better. He was hoping he could just throw the body into the plant's… mouth? Trap? Thing?... and shield his eyes and pretend the whole affair had never happened. It turned out the plant itself had other ideas.

He hadn't so much as turned on the lights as he stepped through the door, struggling to lug the dentist's heavy body along with him as surreptitiously as possible, when the room was rocked by an earth-shaking "FEED ME!" He'd jumped and fumbled for the light switch, losing his grip on the body in the process. It fell to the floor as the lights went on, illuminating everything… the flowers on the shelves, Audrey Two in the corner… and the body of Orin Scrivello, DDS, lying at his feet. He had tried not to look at the body or really think about what he had done on the way back from the dentist's office, but now the crime was here in plain sight, lying right before him. He felt exposed in the light, as if everyone was staring at him. As if everyone knew what he had done.

"Mmm!" Audrey Two moaned, oblivious to Seymour's discomfort. "I see you took my suggestion! Now that's the kind of food I'm talking about!" A long red… tongue? It looked so much like one that it had to be one… appeared from the plant's jaws, licking the corners of its mouth-thing in anticipation. He felt that if it had lips, they would have been smacking.

"I hope you're happy," he muttered, pushing his glasses up his nose. Because I'm not. He stooped to lift up the body again, his eyes lighting on the empty features of Orin's face. Dead- well, no, he looked like he could have been asleep, really- Orin didn't seem like such a threat as he had when he was alive. For a moment it was all Seymour could do to remind himself that out of all the people he knew, this man deserved more than anyone to die. However, it was hard to get a clear picture in his head of what exactly Orin had done.

Shaking the thoughts away, he lifted his head and took a step towards the plant. "Let's just get this over with."

But the plant disagreed with the vocal equivalent of a head shake. "Nuh-uh, Krelborn! Do you expect a little plant like me to eat that whole motorcycle-dentist at once? You got to cut it up first! I need small bites."

"Little?!" he blurted, staring in disbelief at Audrey Two. The plant was only a little bit smaller than a human! Personally he was surprised it had ever gotten that big before it started asking for more blood. The surprise of the plant's statement was soon replaced by, "Wait. Cut it up?!" He looked down at the body again, and horror chilled him for the core. The idea of shooting him had been bad enough, but now he had to dismember the body?

"Just make it quick!" Audrey Two demanded. "I'm starving!"

"But I don't know how to…"

"Then learn, ya punk!" And that was the last that the plant had to say on the subject. Although it had no eyes, at least none as far as he could see, he got the feeling that it was watching his every move.

The body slipped from his arms again- it was killing him to hold it up for so long- and fell with a thunk onto the linoleum. For a second, before rational thought set in, Seymour nearly jumped back and asked if it was okay. But the dentist was dead. No fall would hurt him now.

Stepping carefully around the body, he entered the back room and took a moment to replace the gun in its box for safekeeping. Turning around, his eyes fell on the machete hanging up on the wall before him. He had never understood why Mr. Mushnik kept a machete around in the inventory. Maybe it was one of his weird relics from... where was it Mushnik said he was from? Czechoslovakia? At once he realized how useful the weapon could be, at least in his current position, and rushed over to take it down from the wall.

Now he sat on the floor of the main room, his back turned to the plant, machete in hand, wondering how he should make the first cut. He had to face facts- he had never even finished elementary school, and so knew nothing about human anatomy except what he could discern from his own body. What would be the best place to start out with? Well, first things first- remove the clothes. Audrey Two had already loudly expressed that it didn't want to have to chew through fabric just to get to the meat, "and risk indigestion? No way." He leaned over the body and undressed it without thinking much about the action. Now it lay bare on the floor, ready to be sliced and diced and served as a meal. His fingers tightened around the handle of the machete, and he brought it down on the body's chest. Blood welled up in the crevice he had just created, and the plant moaned in ecstasy, as if it could smell the oncoming supper. "Feed me!"

"I will, Two-y. Just give me a sec." He was surprised at how steady his voice sounded, when the sight of the blood had sent his mind into a panicky turmoil. Taking a deep breath, he forced himself to continue the dirty work. The machete sawed through bone and muscle, and Seymour felt somewhat sick as he stared into the rib cage, observed the heart that would never beat again, in contrast to his own, which was pounding away inside of him. As he continued to hack away, he found himself looking back on the person Orin had been when he was alive.

He'd only ever met the motorcycle-dentist two times before he had gone in to kill him, and those two times he had found him loud, abrasive, overbearing, and generally unpleasant to be around. Anger stirred in his chest and coated his throat with a hot, metallic flavor as he remembered the way Orin had treated his girlfriend, the girl Seymour loved, forcing her into situations that made her uncomfortable and hurting her when she tried to disagree. Her panicked voice, loud and shrill and full of stifled fear, seemed to still resound in his head- "I'm sorry, Doctor. I'm sorry, Doctor!" And then the way Orin had struck her right in front of Seymour as if he wasn't even there, rage etched on his face, either drunk or high out of his mind on laughing gas, all because of some stupid, insignificant sweater… It was this image of the dentist that he relied on now to help him finish the mutilation of his body.

And yet, even as he bent over the body with Mushnik's machete, even as he reached inside of the opened chest with trembling fingers, disgusted with himself but knowing he had to do it, and plucked out as many organs as would come loose in his hand, the awful image of his victim yelling at Audrey transformed into a vision of the last time Seymour had seen him alive, just a few short hours ago… He'd been sitting in that terrifying dentist chair, his head turned away as the dentist clutched at his pants leg, tugged weakly at his arms and choked out between gasps of nitrous oxide, "Are you dumb or hard of hearing? Or relieved my end is nearing?" Try as he might to look away and ignore the inevitable, he had to cheat at least once, and glanced over his shoulder as Orin, his body weakening, slumped to the floor, hands still reaching towards Seymour, imploring him desperately to help remove the stupid gas mask. His voice came tinny-sounding through the glass, anger and harshness filling it, but his eyes contained an emotion other than anger for once. Orin was clearly terrified, probably for the first time in his life. But the words he spat out came as clearly and strongly as he could make them, without any kind of tremor.

"Are you satisfied? I've laughed myself to…"

He suddenly seemed to lose his ability to sit up, and slid onto the floor, his body twitching all over, the one hand still stretched out towards Seymour, still begging for him to respond. He had peered carefully down at the dentist's body, apprehension creeping over him, the weight of what he had done starting to settle on his shoulders.

"Death?" he whispered to himself, and his voice sounded as loud as a gunshot in the silence.

As if in response, the dentist's hand went limp, and his body stopped twitching at once.

Seymour emerged suddenly from this memory to find that he was sweating. His hands were stained with blood, and the pile of organs from the dentist's body sat beside him. The body was carved out entirely, leaving the bones exposed, and the plant nearby was rumbling in that low voice of its. "Feed me, Krelborn! Feed me now!"

He should have obeyed the plant, should have paid attention to its voice, but his body was immobile, his breath coming in short gasps just as the dentist's had when he suffocated on the gas. All he could see before his eyes was that murderous glare of Orin's; all he could hear was his accusation, "Are you satisfied?!" He had expected that killing the dentist would bring relief- his girlfriend would never be hurt again, and the plant would survive. But instead, all it brought was a sense of foreboding and… guilt. Yes, guilt was that feeling welling in his chest right now. Even though Orin had appeared to be such a cruel-hearted person, had he really deserved to die? His behavior could have been a product of a bad home life, or his unusual addiction to nitrous oxide, or simply the fact that he was living in Hell on Skid Row like everyone else. He didn't have to…

But just as Seymour thought this, he reminded himself that he himself had been brought up on Skid Row just like the dentist. He had been treated poorly by Mr. Mushnik in the early days and had to live with the constant pain of knowing that no matter how much he loved Audrey, she would never feel the same way towards him. He had struggled by himself for most of his life and dreamed constantly of ways to get out of poverty. And nothing in this poor environment had turned him into a cynic. He wasn't the type of person who would hurt a woman out of pleasure. In fact, he would never hurt anyone on purpose- up until the dentist, of course… He most certainly did not deserve to die. The three street urchins who hung out by the flower shop had had hard lives too, but they were still good-mannered, though not quite so refined. None of them deserved to die. The drunkards lying on the street outside of the flower shop every single day might have had hard lives that forced them to turn to alcohol to kill the pain, but they weren't cruel people either. But Orin Scrivello, DDS, had been another matter. He had beaten up his own girlfriend more than once and forced her to stay with him. He wasn't a product of Skid Row life- no, there had merely been something dreadfully wrong with the dentist, something in him that caused him to enjoy pain and suffering. Yes, Orin had deserved to die. One flashback to the way he had treated his girlfriend in front of Seymour confirmed this.

Confident in his abilities once more, he turned towards the plant, fingering the squishy texture of the pile of guts beneath his fingertips. "All right, Two-y. Bottoms up." He had lingered here in the flower shop for much too long- if anyone came by and saw the light on inside, they might investigate and he would be a goner. The plant sighed in pleasure- "Finally! Feed me!"- and opened up its great maw, the red tongue moving around its lips. His stomach turned as he picked up the grisly intestines and tossed them into the plant's mouth, but he steeled himself, telling himself it was no worse than taking a knife and cutting his fingers open to feed the plant. Next came the heart, and the plant moaned as it gobbled down its meal- "More, more!" He didn't stop feeding Audrey Two until the entire body had been disposed of. Then he stood up, looking down at his feet in despair. The floor was stained with Orin's blood. There was no time to take a mop and clean up the mess- instead, he was more concerned with getting rid of the bloody dentist's uniform that lay on the floor. He bent over and picked it up, suddenly frightened, and went out the door, turning the lights off behind him. Outside he shoved the uniform deep into the nearest trash can he saw, and then turned towards home, ready to go to bed and forget everything that had just happened.

He was evil, Seymour's mind tried to justify his crime. Now Orin won't hurt anyone again. I did it for Audrey.

But which Audrey?