Jealousy can leave a bitter taste in your mouth... but revenge in delicious.
“Wow! Another first place finish for you! What’s your secret?” The reporter gazed at Larsa, her eyes twinkling as if she were speaking to a 7-time Olympic champion instead of a local high school track star. A pen perched over the page of a small red spiral-bound notebook—the reporter went old school—positively twitching in the reporter’s fingers as she readied herself for Larsa’s earth shattering truth.
Larsa preened, and I watched her chest puff up with self-importance. “Well… I have to thank Mom and Dad for passing along some great genes. I couldn’t have done it without you!”
I imagined Larsa’s dour parents fucking; he donned in suspenders paired with a white-collared shirt and a pocket protector packed with pens and her mom wearing nothing at all—other than an expression of pinched boredom, as if she couldn’t wait to chug a dirty Martini.
The reporter tittered and her pen flew across the notebook paper with audible scratches.
I rolled my eyes. This reporter acted like she was talking to Flo-Jo and she’d just spilled some news shattering fact.
“But really, I credit my coach for his excellent training program and—” Larsa peered about, pausing for effect, really building up suspense. I inwardly gagged and fingered my 7th place ribbon… they don’t give medals to the losers in the back.
God, I hated that bitch.
Larsa leaned in and the reporter mirrored her movement, their heads nearly conking together audibly like coconuts. A small smirk curved my lips, concussing each other would have made watching this whole encounter bearable.
“My diet is very important to me. I believe in the adage of ‘you are what you eat’.”
“Oh, so like, clean eating?” asked the reporter. Light blue eyes widened behind Coke-bottle glasses, reminding me of a geriatric, bashful doe… right before the hunter blasted her. I suppressed a mean-spirited giggle, picturing the silver-haired reporter trussed up and twirling on a spit roast over a roaring fire.
“Sure. Lots of leafy greens, fruits, plenty of that calcium packed dairy. But… I eat a lot of meat. I have to give my muscles the adequate fuel, strengthen them. One of my idols said the same thing. He ate tons of animals, all of them quick on their feet, and he swore he became endowed with their abilities. My dad buys product from hunters selling off their meat. Elk, deer, antelope, even the odd rabbit! Stuff like that.”
“Is chicken or fish on the menu? How about beef?”
Larsa flapped her hand dismissively. “Beef is far too slow. Cows can move fast if they absolutely have to, but they’re not exactly known for their speed. Chicken is better, lean and those little buggers can haul buns if they need to. Fish is great, especially tuna. Have you ever seen a school of tuna evade a predator? Quick!”
The reporter opened her mouth, ready to ask another imbecilic question. I turned and headed off in the opposite direction. That was enough happy horseshit for me. I glanced back and a glint from Larsa’s chest—her gold medal, puke—momentarily blinded me and I blinked owlishly, rubbing my eyes with the heel of my hand. At least I didn’t suffer that issue with my ribbons; they sure didn’t cause blindness, and they came in a variety of hideous colors: puke green, baby-shit brown, and asphyxiation purple.
I weaved through throngs of spectators, all intently watching the pole vaulters on the north end of the track. Several runners in singlets and thin shorts lay in various positions in the grass—either cooling down from an event or warming up for an upcoming race. My races for the day were donzo. Normally, I ran in the last race of the meet, the 4x400m relay.
Coach evicted me from the relay after Larsa and I got into an argument during practice last week. Argument escalated into a screaming match, the incident ending with Larsa calling me an asshole and my slinging a spicy retort of ‘cunt’ back at her. Unfortunately for me… my coach heard me lob the c-word around, heard me calling his star athlete a cunt and that was it for me. Evidently, he didn’t hear his precious Larsa call me an asshole. So… naturally, he pulled me off the relay. Not a tremendous surprise if I was being honest with myself—I was the weakest link on the relay and he’d promptly filled my space with a rookie freshman who barely knew a baton from her—
Well—asshole. You know, the word Coach didn’t hear Larsa call me? Supposedly. I had a sneaking suspicion he’d heard the whole thing but wanted to pretend his darling, future Division I NCAA athlete, was perfect.
God, I hated that cunt.
With my head down, I walked to the locker room, padding along in my sweaty socks. I slung my maroon and white racing spikes around my neck and the oddly comforting odor of my own feet stink permeated the surrounding air. I started towards the row of showers but stopped short on glimpsing myself in the full-length mirror.
My dull brown hair was plastered to my forehead in greasy strands. Errant pieces in the back stuck out, making me look as if I’d stuck my tongue in an electrical outlet and sustained a nasty shock. My arms and legs were tanned—a souvenir of long afternoon practices—but they didn’t have sharp lines of muscle like Larsa’s. Her legs looked like a sculptor had painstakingly molded each muscle group and etched it to perfection.
Nothing about me was like Larsa.
She stood about five inches taller than me, a massive advantage since we had to run the same distance around the track. Six of my steps were only four of hers… that shit adds up fast. Not to mention my weight—nothing crazy, mind you. I wasn’t about to be cast on the next season of ‘My 600-lb Life—but I weighed at least fifteen pounds more than Larsa. I’d gone through puberty and started my period, unlike certain star athletes I knew about. At least people always said I had nice tits. Larsa was flatter than Flat-Earth or a can of soda opened last century.
It was no wonder she was better than me! Racking up gold after gold while I slogged in towards the back, lucky if I netted one of the shitty ribbons the color of a dingy pail of mop water.
Oh, she was better than me alright—a fact my mother never let me forget.
Why can’t you run as fast as Larsa? You just have to try a little more and you can beat her!
Larsa is getting full-ride scholarships to college, won’t have to pay a dime! If you ran as fast as her, that could be you!
Always the unspoken, hey, you’re a real piece of shit! Why did I get stuck with a failure daughter like you when I could have a State Champion like Larsa?
Not that she ever came out and said it out loud but… when your own mother flocks to Larsa after a race to congratulate her, not even waiting for her own daughter to finish?
It’s not that hard to read the writing on the wall.
I felt like Jan from The Brady Bunch, except instead of Marsha, Marsha, Marsha it was Larsa, Larsa, Larsa.
God, I hated that bitch.
The next morning, I nuked a bowl of oatmeal—the kind with candy dinosaurs’ eggs that ‘melt’ to reveal full grown raptors, stegosaurus, and T-rexes—and opened the newspaper, curious if my name made it in the article about the meet. I anxiously leafed through the pages, passing finance, letters to the editor, comics, and—
The sports page.
The headline screamed, “LARSA TAKES HOME GOLDS AGAIN!” Under the obscene, masturbatory headline was a black-and-white photo of Larsa standing on the podium, her arms thrust upwards towards the heavens. My stomach clenched, suddenly nauseous, and I suppressed the urge to upchuck the few bites of oatmeal I’d eaten.
Always with the Larsa shit.
I scanned the article. Not one mention of the other races. The entire article was about Larsa.
Her hopes (qualify for The Olympics), her dreams (win a gold at the Olympics), plans for college (whore herself out to some Division I school for free education), her stupid fucking diet—
I stopped short.
Her voice entered my head, high pitched and annoying as always, “You are what you eat!”
What did she eat?
Fast animals, she said so herself. Rabbits, deer, antelope, probably the fucking road runner from Looney Tunes for all I knew.
The solution was so obvious! How hadn’t I seen it before?
I closed the newspaper, folding it over, hiding that stupid headline from sight.
My spirits lifted, and for the first time in a while, I smiled a genuine smile.
Larsa squinted. She shaded her eyes with her hand—pink, perfectly manicured fingernails on full display. “So, what was so important it couldn’t wait until practice tomorrow?” Her tone came out snooty, as she thought her time was so important compared to mine. Some real Downton Abbey snoot-fest shit.
I motioned for her to follow me. “I found a nice trail we can use for long runs. It’s very remote. We’d have it to ourselves! I wanted to show you before mentioning it to Coach. I… really trust your opinion.” My face muscles twitched, and I fought to keep a straight face. Just saying those words ‘I trust you’ and catering to her ego made me want to pull my intestines out of my ass.
She gave a subtle eye roll, but I saw her chest puff up in her standard self-important manner and I knew I had her.
Wisp, wisp, went her bright yellow running shorts as she trailed behind me, walking much slower than her personal records would indicate.
Who’s moving slow now, bitch?
I’d scouted the trail yesterday. Previously, a large KEEP OUT sign had hung at the trailhead. A quick Internet search revealed a steep drop off that had claimed the lives of multiple hapless hikers. Rather than shilling out the cash to fence off the cliff, the city slapped a ‘dangerous’ label on the trail, taking the stance that anyone who hiked it did so at their own risk and any injury they incurred was their own damn fault. I’d removed the sign, hiding it behind a massive oak tree trunk, and hoped Larsa was none the wiser.
She grumbled, “I sure hope this is worth it. I canceled a massage to come here. And you wouldn’t know anything about this—slow as you are—but running like I do is exhausting. My muscles are packed with lactic acid.”
I ignored the barb and plastered a saccharine grin on my face.
I bowed, extending my hand down the trail. “Age before beauty, after you.”
She shot me a frown, then started on the dirt path.
“Just up here is a spot to rest, right at the—” I stopped myself from saying ‘drop off,’ and continued, “the… uh… scenic view.”
Larsa sniffed, “It better be some view because so far, this trail is a waste of time.”
I nodded. “The view is fantastic! Breathtaking, heart-stopping, all that!”
We came up to a small circular clearing right off of the trail, lined by pine trees. A stone lined fire pit sat in the middle of the clearing—already packed with fresh firewood. Two benches, composed of pine trees cut in half, surrounded the fire pit.
I reached around my back and unlatched my pack. I removed two Saran-wrapped sandwiches and two Capri Suns. Sitting down, I patted the bench next to me. “A little snack before we see the view?”
She eyed the sandwiches, curling up her lip in disgust. “Ew, no thanks. That’s disgusting.”
I shrugged, “It’s your funeral.”
Larsa rolled her eyes and turned her back to me, “That’s why you’re slow, you eat that shit. Your body is a temple and you treat it like a Chuckie Cheese’s. I don’t know why you even try; you’ll never make running anything more than an activity to keep the weight off.” She sniffed, “If you’re lucky.”
I put the sandwich down and reached into my pack.
My fingers kissed the icy edge of the knife’s handle.
With my eyes planted on the space between her shoulder blades, I lunged forward.
Moving fast as hell, if I say so myself.
Humming “Eye of the Tiger”, I rinsed my hands in the glacial water of the stream just in walking distance of the clearing. In middle school, we used to blast the song from a boom box in the back of the van before cross-country meets. Back when things were simpler, and Larsa hadn’t yet grown into such an unbearable cunt. Rivulets of red ran down my fingers, staining the burbling water a foamy crimson further downstream. Caked-on blood clung to my nails, lodged underneath the thin white crescents. I’d have to pay some attention to them when I returned home.
After dinner, of course.
My dearest Mother always admonished me to wash my hands before dinner.
I scrubbed at my right wrist and small hunks of tissue and meat floated off. An open-mouthed trout sucked in one chunk and, with a flick of its tail, disappeared from view.
Honestly, it came as a surprise that I wasn’t more of a mess. The YouTube videos that detailed step by step how to gut and clean a deer had proven remarkably helpful. It wasn’t like I could look up how to prepare a human! That shit got you on government watch lists!
The screaming… that I hadn’t expected. Sure, the shrill shriek that Larsa let out when I plunged the knife in between her shoulder blades, I’d figured on that. But the subsequent cries? How the foamy blood flecked in the corners of her mouth and each time I stuck the knife in her chest—punching through her delicate, spongy lung tissue—a fine crimson sprayed outwards from her lips? Hadn’t expected all that.
She certainly had the lung capacity of a star athlete… I couldn’t argue that.
Just another example of how she was always better than me.
And I’d be lying if I said I didn’t enjoy the look in her eyes.
Fear, terror, and… a sort of resignation?
Finally, I was the one in charge, the better woman!
Never the better athlete, but… that could change.
The air around us felt super-heated, as if someone had left a kettle on the stove, and hissing, scalding water vapor escaped into the surrounding atmosphere. Initially, she’d slapped at me, hoping I’d drop the knife or change my mind about the whole murder thing. But… her movements became jerky and erratic, slowed as if she’d been stuck in a vat of molasses. Her eyes became shiny, filmed over with tears, and her pupils dilated so much I could barely make out her ice blue irises. Like looking into a mirror, I watched my reflection in her pupils, watched my arm plunge down again and again, a massive grin contorting my face—growing wider with every wound I inflicted.
The pleading look dropped from her face, transforming her features into a mask of sorrow. Her expression froze like that: eyes half lidded; mouth slightly gaped open, with a strawberry bloom of blood lingering on her lips. I pressed my fingers against her neck, feeling for a pulse that never came. It should have been obvious that she’d died. No longer did blood spurt from the holes I’d punched in her chest like a heartbeat and she’d finally shut the fuck up.
Remembering the steps in the video, I gutted her and skinned her—deer and humans really weren’t that different. I’d always thought I had a strong stomach but pulling her dusky sausage linked intestines from her abdomen made me slightly nauseated. A faint reek of shit permeated the air—by products of all the poor little animals she’d eaten in the last few days—and I tossed her entrails into the woods. I knew a hungry predator or scavenger would make a meal of them later.
Deciding which part to eat was difficult. Larsa barely had an ounce of fat on her and while I wasn’t expecting anything as scrumptious as veal; I hoped I at least enjoyed my meal. I decided the butt was my best bet; she had a small padding of fat over sinewy muscle. Reaching into my pack, I removed a ziplocked plastic baggie and sprinkled a liberal dusting of salt, pepper, and other spices over the rump and skewered it, setting it gently over the fresh firewood I’d placed there earlier. Calling on all my Wilderness Summer Camp experience as a young girl, I coaxed a fire to life and watched the flames greedily lick my dinner.
I watched the sun dip into the horizon and twinkling stars dotted the night sky, more and more appearing each second. Snuffling noises in the woods prickled at my ears, probably some lucky animal inhaling Larsa’s intestines. Half my attention was on the fire, making sure I didn’t burn dinner, but my mind wandered.
First place finishes, someone looping a gold medal around my neck, reporters asking me what my secret was! Me sitting at a folding table surrounded by friends and family, putting ink on a letter of intent to run for the Colorado University Buffalos, endorsement deals for Nike and Gatorade, bringing home Olympic gold. The possibilities were endless!
“What’s your secret?” they’d ask.
A greedy eagerness flooded me, and I reached out to my meal, excitement overwhelming my good sense.
I winced. Damn, the meat was hot as hell! I stuck my burnt fingertips in my mouth. Forcing myself to wait a few minutes, letting my dinner cool, I thought of what I’d tell them.
“Well, it’s simple. I make sure to only eat fast food. No, not McDonald’s, silly! Fast mammals!”
Certain the meat had cooled enough, I bit into it. Hot grease dripped down my chin, reminding me of biting into a ripe peach except… this was much better. An explosion of flavors greeted my taste buds; salty, savory, juicy. Tasted more like pork than anything else. Saliva spurted into my mouth and I chewed, my molars tearing through the meat. It was smooth, like butter.
A bloom of heat radiated upward from my stomach, and the large muscles of my thighs twitched. The lingering fatigue etched into every muscle fiber from the recent meet melted away, leaving me feeling rejuvenated.
Already I was stronger, faster.
I felt… superhuman.
I leapt to my feet, still clutching my rump roast, and jogged around the clearing. My feet floated over the hard packed dirt, barely disturbing the pine needles littering the ground. I took another bite and swallowed. Peering down, I gazed at my quadriceps and calves, admiring the new bulge they made in my running tights.
This weekend, I was going to give the competition a run for their money.
Author's note-When I was in school, I had a completely unhealthy obsession/rivalry with my friend/arch nemesis. We both ran the same events in track and the fact of the matter was: she was better than me. I channeled my high school jealousy and came up with this story.
About the Creator
Howdy! I’m an ER doc who loves horror, especially with a medical bent. Voted most witty in high school so I’m like, super funny. First novel coming out in Fall 2023! Follow me on Twitter @DrSpooky_ER.
Very well written. Keep up the good work!
Compelling and original writing
Creative use of language & vocab
Easy to read and follow
Well-structured & engaging content
Original narrative & well developed characters
HOLLAAYYY. Love love love this! This also reminds me of the old horror stories that were told to me when I was a kid - there were people who used to eat others so they can receive the same gifts