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I've Got A Secret

Something Is Gnawing at Me

By Dennis HumphreysPublished about a year ago 21 min read

by: D.R. Humphreys (the DreamWriter)

Secrets can destroy a relationship... or so they say. Some are better left unspoken, while others are so devastatingly destructive, they must be dealt with.

Tyler Benning was twenty-five years old, four years out of college, graduating in the top ten out of four hundred twenty-three people. A good job offer resulted at a toxic waste removal company in Hunt Valley. It made use of his microbiology degree. Having turned twenty-one the week he graduated, he and two friends decided to celebrate. The Flaming Pit, a local sports bar that also served great food, became their destination. Unknowingly, he sat beside a young woman about to become his future. She turned from her conversation, to see what ass-hole sat next to her that would make her listen to whatever pick-up line was forced on her.

Tyler was too engrossed in conversation with his friends, laughing about the various antics they were involved with during their four years of college. He hadn't even noticed the young woman sitting to his left. Her name was Lydia, and Lydia was used to men, of all ages, hitting on her, no matter where she went. Suddenly she felt dejected. Lydia flipped her long hair a few times so that it fell across Tyler's face, but he brushed it away. Now the young girl became annoyed with the inattention, so she began accidentally bumping into Tyler's arm as he talked and drank his beer. Tyler ignored her, glancing her way briefly, when she apologized.

"That's OK," he responded.

"It's crowded in here tonight," she commented to him.

"Yes, it is," Tyler admitted, not giving her any recognition whatsoever.

As Tyler reentered his conversation, Lydia rolled her eyes to her two friends that accompanied her. It was then, a young man approached the bar where she sat, motioning to the bartender to place his order. Lydia knew what was coming next. He had positioned himself by her to order a drink so he could wait there and talk to her, attempting to interest her. He looked down at Lydia and smiled.

"Hi...I'm Jerry..." he told her, getting cut off before he could say anything else.

"That's nice. I don't date guys by the name of Jerry," she announced. The bartender gave him his beer just then, and Jerry began walking away. He said something derogatory... audible to the several people sitting around.

"Cunt!" he said unceremoniously.

"Whoaa... Jerry. That isn't anyway to talk to a lady. You'd better apologize, or you may have an unfortunate accident...karma and all," Tyler alerted him, as both his friends straightened up to their full height, signaling the guy they had Tyler's back. Jerry looked at both of them and decided to practice sound judgment.

"Yeah... I'm sorry. I shouldn't have said that," Jerry apologized, disappearing quickly into the crowd, deflated.

"You were listening! Thank you," said Lydia.

"I couldn't help it. I sort of tuned in when he hit on you," Tyler told her. He realized then, what he had been missing. The young woman was incredible looking. She had long black hair and intense blue eyes... and lips you only fantasized about when you were alone.

"I'm Lydia Zarfoss," she introduced herself.

"God... I'd have to search the entire alphabet for you! I'm Tyler Benning," he told her.

"Hmmm... the opposite end of the alphabet. These are my two dear friends, Mandy and Mindy," she told Tyler. The intro caused Tyler to snicker, but he didn't want to make light of the intro, not knowing how any of them, especially Lydia, would take it. Alienating her right away was out of the question.

"These are my friends, Chap and Trevor," Tyler introduced his two sidekicks.

"I told my friends I was going to find them a couple of good-looking men tonight, I just didn't plan on finding one for myself," she cajoled Tyler, flattering him.

Both his friends took their positions with Lydia's friends, while Tyler and Lydia proceeded discovering all they could about each other.

Within a few days, all three men were dating all three women.

Tyler began work at the toxic waste removal company. Government requirements assured him of a good job, and now that he could afford an apartment, he and his two buddies decided to rent one in nearby Cockeysville. Every weekend then, was a full house, visited by the three girls.

After dating some time, Tyler and Lydia decided to find their own place. The one they found, wasn't far from their friends, just a mile or so down the road. It was a next step in doing their own thing, giving them privacy for greater intimacy. They spent plenty of time with their friends but there was more than enough to spend with each other.

“I have to go out of town for a few days. We're opening a satellite operation in Boston. I'll be training the new hires up there in different protocols,” Tyler told Lydia, one evening after getting home from work.

“Bummer. When are you going?” Lydia asked her boyfriend.

“I'll fly up there next Sunday afternoon and come back Thursday morning, early,” Tyler told her.

“What am going to do without you?” she asked.

“I'm sure you'll stay busy,” Tyler answered.

Boston was interesting. Tyler had never been there and the three people he found himself training, were more than willing to show him local hotspots after work. They were a good group... two women and one man. They were all very intelligent and easy to teach. Each night, true to his promise, Tyler called Lydia, who seemed to be having serious Tyler withdraws, being out of town.

“How was your trip?” Lydia asked, picking him up at the airport, planting the kind of welcome kiss on him that caused people at the airport to stare.

“It was good. In fact, I'll be going up there once a month... sort of be a remote manager. The good news is, I'm getting a raise,” Tyler informed his girlfriend. "How did you do while I was gone? Did you keep busy?”

“I did. I ran around with Mindy and Mandy. Mindy's been complaining because Chap's disappeared on her,” Lydia told him.

“What do you mean... disappeared?” Tyler asked from the passenger seat of their Jeep.

“Just that. She hasn't seen or heard from him since Monday,” Lydia told him, but moved on to talk about her work. Tyler wanted to know more, but not about her work.

“He left without any warning... did they have a fight or something?” he asked Lydia. “ Chap never before, just disappeared.”

“I don't know. You'll have to ask Mindy,” Lydia suggested.

“I will. I hope something hasn't happened to him,” Tyler commented, dialing her number. “Mindy, it's Tyler. Lydia tells me Chap disappeared and you haven't seen or heard from him since Monday. Did you two fight or something?” Tyler asked, but it was a stupid question. Even if they had fought, someone would have heard from him. He wouldn't just completely disappear.

“He headed over to your place to borrow your baseball glove to play an office game Monday evening, but he never got there. He was the catcher, so it really caused a ruckus,” she explained. “I'm worried. He's never done this before, so I called the police. They didn't seem to take it too seriously”

“Let me know if you hear from him and I'll do the same. I'm sure he's fine,” Tyler assured her, as he disconnected his call. “Why didn't you tell me he was coming over to our place to borrow my baseball glove and never got there?”

“I didn't think it was important,” Lydia told him.

“Mindy filed a missing person's report, so I'm sure we'll get a visit from a detective. It's a pretty important piece of information to tell the police, disappearing in the course of coming the two miles from his place to ours,” Tyler told her, a little peeved.

“I'm sorry I didn't mean to make light of it,” she assured him, as she pulled out of the airport parking lot.

Morning traffic was already bad on the beltway as they headed towards their home to pick up his car to drive to work. He could have driven himself to the airport and parked there, but he disliked paying the high rates. It was cheaper to have Lydia drive him and pick him up.

“Hi Trevor. How's it going? Listen, I understand Chap's disappeared. What do you make of it?” Tyler asked his friend.

“I don't know. It's weird. Everything seemed fine. He never showed up at our game Monday night, so everyone started calling around to the hospitals and what not. His glove came apart without time to repair it, so he went over to your place to borrow yours. He never got there,” explained Trevor.

“That worries me. It's two miles from your place to ours... what's that, a ten-minute drive, and he disappears? They haven't even found his car?” Tyler questioned.

“'s odd,” Trevor commented.

“Let me know if you hear anything,” Tyler insisted.

Friday night, there was a knock on the door. Tyler looked through the peephole in the door, failing to recognize the two men standing there. The one was staring at the peephole from the other side, as if he knew he was being watched.

“Yeah... can I help you?” Tyler asked through the door. On cue, the man staring at the peephole, raised his badge.

“Police... we have questions concerning a missing Chap Finnegan,” the man announced. As Tyler opened the door and the two men walked in, the one asked, "you Tyler Benning?”

“Yes we are... I mean yes, I am. That's my girlfriend Lydia Steele,” Tyler told them, as she came walking into the room.

“Pleased to meet you. I'm officer Barth Bradley and this is my associate, officer Don Hafner, "the detective explained, as they took the seats that Tyler directed both of them to take.

“Did your friend Chap Finnegan and his girlfriend, this Mandy person, get along? he asked Tyler.

“Very well. I never saw them fight,” Tyler told the officer.

“How about you Ms. Steele... girl talk and all,” he asked.

“She did tell me they had few fights... one just last week,” she told him. Tyler looked at her since it was the first time, he had ever heard anything like this from anyone. All Lydia did was look back at him and say, “girl talk... like the officer said.”

“How long did you know your friend?” the officer asked, while the other man just jotted notes.

The officers stayed about ten minutes or so, before getting up to leave, finished with their questions.

“Detective Bradley, my friend drove over here from his place two miles away. Did you find his car?” Tyler asked, since the detectives hadn't offered that information.

“Well, as a matter of fact we did. It was pretty beat up and half submerged in Loch Raven Reservoir. Funny thing, there was still a sign on it that said, 'Free... keys in ignition.' What do you make of that?” the officer asked, as if he was waiting for the right moment.

“Shit. I have no idea. What do you think?” Tyler asked the detective.

“I'm not sure yet, but it's not good,” he answered honestly.

Tyler let the men out and closed the door. He stood for a moment thinking.

“Who would want to do anything to Chap?” Tyler asked rhetorically.

“Oh, he's probably just on some extended drunk,” Lydia cited, knowing better than that.

“Contrary to his name being Irish, Chap wasn't a heavy drinker,” Tyler answered. “Why is this the first time you mentioned them fighting?”

“I've talked to Mandy since. Let's have an impromptu barbecue Saturday... BYOB. We can talk about things... maybe come up with something,” Lydia recommended.

“Good idea. I'll go get some ground beef to make burgers, and pick up some hot dogs,” Tyler answered.

“There's hot dogs in the freezer, and I already have plenty of ground beef I got on sale,” Lydia told him. “Everyone can bring a plate of whatever they want.”

Saturday was hot and muggy. The beer flowed freely among the twenty or so people that showed up, impromptu. It's funny how many people show up with an impromptu get together, yet when you plan something two months in advance, half the people that say they are coming, back out at the last minute.

“Does anyone have an idea, maybe something Chap said in the past couple of weeks that might have indicated his state of mind or give him a reason to disappear?” Tyler asked, as they all grabbed their food and sat down.

One of the people Chap had hired a year or so ago, Barry, was the first to speak and offer an opinion.

“He was happier than shit, excuse the French. In fact, he was asking me where I had gotten my engagement ring for Vanessa,” he enlightened everyone, but which sent Mindy into a tailspin of crying. That was unexpected. Suddenly, Barry was sorry he mentioned it.

“I heard they found his car in the reservoir. That's, what... ten miles away or so?” Louisa mentioned.

“Yeah, the officer told me there was a sign on it that said, 'Free... keys in ignition,' Tyler told everyone.

“That was just a ploy to get the car away from the area and redirect suspicion,” Trevor imparted.

“The answer is probably right under our noses if we open our eyes,” Mandy added.

Nothing came of the barbecue. There was no additional information, however, there were a lot of ideas as to what happened. It was all conjecture.

“That was a good barbecue. Unfortunately, nothing came of it. You said Chap and Mindy had a fight. It couldn't have been anything serious, if he was talking engagement,” Tyler remarked to Lydia as she began washing dishes.

“Hey, I only repeated what she told me. I have no idea what was going on at their place,” she told Tyler as she went about cleaning things.

A month had passed and there was nothing new on Chap's disappearance. The police had nothing. Their conclusion of foul play was nothing earth shattering. They did locate the kids who took the car, but they picked it up, as it was, even further away, along the main bus route. They surmised it was dropped there, by the perpetrator, so they could board a bus to go where they wanted, confusing an investigation.

“I'll see you Thursday morning. But I'll call every day while I'm in Boston,” Tyler promised as Lydia dropped her boyfriend off outside of the United counter.

This was Tyler's second trip to Boston and going there as a nice break from the norm. Tyler had begun thinking of marriage but wasn't sure how Lydia might react if he asked. Things seemed to be going well. Maybe asking would just rock the boat. He tried hinting around a bit but decided she was either avoiding the question, or she was just being dense. For a smart woman she did act distracted at times. Even detached. There were times she almost seemed catatonic with her brief moments of detachment. He might have to raise his voice or say her name loudly after unsuccessfully trying to get her attention. He was only concerned with her driving safely.

“Hi honey. I just landed a few minutes ago. The flight was a little late landing. We had to circle for almost an hour because of some incident on the runway. You got home alright?” Tyler asked his lover.

“No problems. I'm just cooking dinner for myself,” she told him, as she dropped a freshly cut piece of meat on a broiler pan, after rubbing it with spices.

“It's a little noisy there... what's happening?” Tyler asked.

“I have the television on,” she told him. “I bought some meat today and I'm going to grind it into hamburger meat later.

“However, you did those hamburgers last month for our barbecue, do it again. They were great,” Tyler told her.

“I plan to. How about me putting the word out for another barbecue this Saturday?” she asked.

“That' would be great, honey. I love you. I have to get going. Talk to you tomorrow,” Tyler ended.

“Bye honey,” she replied.

Strangely, Lydia was naked and covered in blood. She went to the bathroom carrying a tray with a large knife and a cleaver on it. When she opened the door there was young boy, also naked, missing large portions of his leg muscle. Fear streamed from his eyes as she entered. The tub was full of blood. His arms and ankles were tied together, and he was gagged. It didn't stop him from making loud noises or beating the side of the tub with his head and legs, attempting to attract attention from the outside world. That was futile. These townhouse apartments were older, and well insulated against sound.

“Now to finish the job,” she said. “You're the main guest... and dish at Saturday's barbecue.”

Once again, the barbecue was a success. The main topic was still Chap. Mindy did not appear this time. It was probably too upsetting for her. Nothing was resolved, and sometimes that makes things worse. By now, everyone assumed he was murdered and those present spoke openly about it. It might have been unbearable for Mindy to be there but then it probably wouldn't have been so openly discussed if she were.

“It's those Satanists,” a few voiced. “There's more and more of them around practicing it since the government says it's alright. That's where all these people and kids are disappearing to.”

“You could be right. I was reading about them the other day and their numbers are rising. The real serious ones are practicing some really nasty stuff,” Tyler informed them.

Orthodox Satanists had serious issues and thought nothing of animal or human sacrifice, considering it well within the rights of their religious freedom.

“I hope this is a monthly thing, until cold weather,” one of the guests remarked as he left.

Labor Day was coming. Tyler and Lydia planned a large barbecue in advance. Since it required more than just normal fare Lydia announced she was going shopping, a few days before, at the grocery. She gave Tyler instructions, chopping the necessary vegetables for a salad, while she was gone.

“Unless you want to go shopping with me. I'd love your company,” she invited him alternatively.

While Tyler wasn't much of a cook, he liked shopping less, opting out. He disliked shopping in crowds.

“Let's see. Her directions involve cutting up a hell of a lot of vegetables. This will take me all day. We have a food processor somewhere. It has to be in the basement,” he realized since it wasn't being used in the kitchen.

Turning on the light to downstairs, he realized it wasn't much of one... only about sixty watts, so he grabbed an LED flashlight, and returned to the steps.

“I've been down here once since we moved here. I hope I don't run into rats. I hate rats,” he mumbled, carefully going down the steps, shinning the light around the boxes loaded on pallets. Other things were on the several shelves Tyler bought and used for storage. He spotted the food processor, halfway down the stairs. It wasn't a large basement in these townhouses and theirs was organized. When he got to the concrete floor, he noticed a mid-size freezer.

“A freezer! I don' remember Lydia having one. I never did. Why did she buy it and never say anything?” he wondered. As he moved towards it, he remarked. “I guess she stores all that hamburger meat here, she makes for the barbecues.”

Opening the freezer, he shone the light inside. It was packed half full of plastic wrapped items frosted over the outside, making the insides, indiscernible He wiped off a bag, shinning the light on it. It took a moment for his eyes to focus, but then a shocking awareness exploded in his head, directly behind his eyes, as he recognized a human hand. He dropped it there, back inside the freezer and grabbed a parchment wrapped object. Tearing it open, he came face to face with his boyhood friend... Chad. Now he knew what happened to Chad. He realized that's what they had all been eating, as well as the meals she cooked for him. He became violently sick and puked at the thought, in front of the freezer, on the floor. Tyler couldn't stop and continued until it was just a series of dry heaves. His stomach felt like it had been used by some professional boxer for the past two hours.

“That fucking bitch is a cannibal. Probably some demonic cannibal at that... I had no idea,” he groaned to himself. What is it they say? Sometimes reality if worse than fantasy. Denial wasn't in the cards because the freezer was full of suspended evidence. Calling Detective Bradley almost seemed short of the justice that would ensue. How many others were there? How long had this been going on ? How many meals had he eaten as an unsuspecting cannibal? What divine retribution would there be in store for him? Now he was thinking about all the meals she had prepared since they had been together and he began dry heaving again. The pain in his stomach was terrible.

It was certain, things would be resolved before Labor Day's barbecue. Tyler put everything back into its place. He scrubbed up the vomit, so Lydia wouldn't know anyone was there. He decided to hand cut the vegetables and leave the food processor where it was, so she had no idea he was in the basement. Otherwise, he might be the main course at Labor Day's barbecue.

He and Lydia had an active sex life, but for some reason that possibility now faded into the background. He couldn't see doing anything intimate with someone who had eaten someone else's body parts. He would have to do something quickly, or she might become suspect, sensing his anxiety around her.

He settled at the kitchen table, mincing vegetables the way she instructed him. As he imagined, it was a slow process not using the food processor. He didn't mind it now. It gave him plenty of time to think. Tyler was still mincing vegetables when Lydia came home.

“Hi honey... just where I left you. Such a good little boy. I'll have a special treat for you tonight,” she taunted, sending something other than an amorous response to his gut. “I also have a car full of goodies for the Labor Day weekend!”

“I'll go help carry them in for you,” he offered quickly. Just as quickly, she responded.

“No, that's fine. I'll get everything in myself. You just sit there and finish,” she seemed to demand.

What was in the car that she didn't want him to see? Was there more in the trunk than what normal people might eat at a holiday celebration? Where did she stop along the way? Were hitchhikers on her menu? All sorts of thoughts ran through his mind now. Copious, unwanted thoughts materialized, the things nightmares were made of, even within demented minds. What if he had found out about this madness after they were married? Actually, what difference would it make? It couldn't be any better... or any worse. Ha! For better or worse as the matrimonial phrase goes. This certainly was as 'worse' as you could get.

“I ordered this really sexy outfit that came into the post office today. I am going to put it on after cooking you a really incredible dinner. I plan on you eating me for an hour before we fuck,” she described blatantly to him.

Wrong choice of words. All kinds of images began pouring into his head and they were better than a cold shower.

“What's the matter Tyler, baby? You look a little sick,” she observed, and probably closer to the truth than she could imagine.

“I am feeling a little woozy. It started earlier and it hasn't let up at all,” Tyler complained.

“Honey, you have to feel better tonight for what I have planned. You go and slip into a nice hot tub of water. I'll bring the groceries in and finish the salad. You almost have it all done anyway... and perfectly may I add,” she complimented him. Somehow, and maybe it was just paranoia, he thought he could sense she knew, he knew.

He took the suggestion. Tyler didn't want to be in the same room with her. He had to do something quickly to put an end to all this. Her suspicions would get the best of her all too soon if he continued to feel this way. And there was no way of overcoming this sense of disgust.

Tyler soaked in the tub for some time. He got out, climbing into bed with his laptop. He could hear Lydia working in the kitchen and singing out loud to herself as she often did. He decided to research cannibalism and serial killers. Weren't they similar? Weren't a lot of serial killers often cannibals? Perhaps not regularly, but he thought he read somewhere, they would often take a body part of their victim and consume it in some kind of ritualistic manner. Often, there was some kind of sexual pleasure too, associated with the act.

There were footsteps on the stairs. Tyler shoved the computer under the covers and laid flat, pretending he was asleep. His eyes were closed, but he knew Lydia was in the room watching him.

“I can tell by your breathing you aren't asleep. Are you feeling any better?” she asked standing over him, running her hand over his crotch.

“A little. I thought if I could catch a nap I might do better,” Tyler told her.

“Poor baby isn't even getting hard. You must not feel well. What can I do for you?” she muttered. “I want tonight to be special.”

Tyler wondered to himself... why? Why should tonight be so special above other nights? Did she have something planned other than normal? Maybe he had an over-active imagination, but he was suspicious. He pictured his friend's face frozen in the chest freezer in the basement... a hauntingly eternal picture embedded in his mind. If he turned her into the authorities, what would guarantee she would spend the rest of her life in an institution where she belonged. She was smart enough to convince them after a while, she was rehabilitated. They might let her go, only to repeat herself. People like her couldn't be rehabilitated, he believed it was a genetic disorder passed down over the ages. She did not fit into society... society's standards did not apply. People would suffer under her own set of rules. He decided what he needed to do.

Lydia entered the room Tyler darkened to reflect one of sensuality. Music played softly, and erotically. He had told her to put on her sexy outfit she promised. As she entered, he threw her to the bed, and climbed on top of her. Was she expecting something different than what he planned... maybe not, for her reaction was unexpected, when he placed his hands around her neck and squeezed tightly until her face began changing colors. She laughed a maniacal laugh and her body heaved in orgasm. The look on her face was intensely demonic as it deepened in color to a purplish tone and her attempted breathing was forestalled. Finally, her erratic flailing subsided. Tyler had squeezed the life from her body.

Climbing from the bed, he dressed and went downstairs to the kitchen, looking on the bulletin board for Detective Bradley's card.

“Hello... Detective Bradley? This is Tyler Benning. I found out who killed my friend Chad, and at least one other person. It was my girlfriend, Lydia. I discovered she was a practicing cannibal as well,” he told the detective. “I just killed her so she couldn't escape punishment.”

“Are you at home? Stay where you are,” the detective instructed.

It wasn't long before the detective and his partner appeared at his front door. Ringing the doorbell, Tyler opened it sheepishly.

“Where is she?” Bradley asked.

“Upstairs in the bedroom... on the bed,” Tyler confessed. Detective Bradley motioned for his younger partner to go up and check. A minute later he came down the stairs and announced that no one was there, or anywhere on the second floor.

The older detective scrutinized Tyler who then announced the contents of the freezer in the basement.

“She has body parts in the freezer downstairs. Go see,” Tyler insisted.

Once again the younger detective followed his partner's direction and went to the basement.

“It's like he said. It looks like the remains of two people down there,” Hafner concluded after returning.

“Turn around scum bag... you have the right to remain silent... “he verbalized Tyler's rights as he handcuffed him.

“What the fuck are you doing? "Tyler cried.

“Arresting you for the murder of the two people downstairs, and the suspicion of Lydia Steele's murder, you sick fuck. Now where did you put her body,” the detective asked?


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