By Casey Douglass
as part of #fridayflash
His jaw really is slack, that’s why we call him Slackjaw. He’s not a person, not really, he’s more a nightmare given form. His jaw hangs down so low that it dangles like a dewdrop enveloped in taut skin, his chin half way down his chest. The rest of the head looks human enough, but old, really old, and the skin is mottled and red. Oh and his eyes are grey, vacant and dull, as if his mind fled such a vessel many moons ago.
Nobody can remember when we first started seeing him. Early sightings were confused and vague and spoke of him flickering and fading from view. People took more of an interest when the murders started though, each body found with its mouth hung low, signs of force on the cheeks making it appear that it was wrenched down by great violence.
What was a strange and almost pitiful creature became the devil over night, the manner of his appearances making it plain that there was no way to keep him out, no barricade or lock, no hidey hole or strongroom.
He worked his way through the town, the newly dead found almost every day. Then it was my turn.
I was struggling to eat my breakfast one morning, a softball to the chin having broken my jaw a week previous. Curved prongs of metal wired it shut so that the bones could set. It wasn’t conducive to eating cereal though.
I remember pushing the bowl away, pain flaring across my face. A movement at the window caught my eye and there he was, Slackjaw come for me. I tried to shout but all that escaped my dental prison was a shrieking mumbling noise like a cat caught in a lawnmower.
He pressed his face to the glass and seemed to push into it without breaking it, his teeth somehow clacking as they passed through.
I was on my feet now, my back planted firmly to the opposite wall.
He seemed to sniff the air, looking left and right and then back at me. He snorted, saliva bubbling from somewhere deep inside him and erupting like a frothy white volcano from the folds of his cheeks.
I closed my eyes and trembled. I waited. I waited for what felt like a long time but in reality I am sure it could only have been seconds. I waited and nothing happened.
When I opened my eyes again, I found myself alone, the sounds of the world outside of the house seeming normal, comforting. I ran to my neighbours and collapsed on their doorstep after I rang the bell.
We never did catch Slackjaw. I’m not sure he is even catchable. My story soon spread and people came up with a solution. Everyone in town, all four and a bit thousand of us now have our jaws wired shut, have had them that way for the last year. It was reckoned that he saw my metal contraption and figured I was too much bother to take on. It worked, we haven’t seen Slackjaw since.
I sometimes don’t know what’s worse though, the threat of him coming back one day, or a town without a voice.