4,300 Words


Sun, Dec. 1, 08:57

Want to meet me at Lawson’s?

Kasumi’s funeral is today.

Oh, sorry, Yukiko. I forgot.

How about tomorrow?

I can’t think about that now!
My best friend just died!

Sun, Dec. 1, 11:34

Kasumi was nice. A little

weird, but nice. Come on,

Yukiko. You need to take your

mind off it all.

I can’t.

Sun, Dec. 1, 13:56

We’ll get some peach chuu-hai

and go for a walk on Momochi


You’re not going to bring porn manga again are you?

Why not?

I guess it’s OK.



Mon, Dec. 2, 18:42

Where are you, Yukiko?

Nowhere. I just need some time alone.

We miss you. Please come home


I’ll think about it.

We know how hard this is on


Sorry, mom. You really don’t.

Kasumi is gone, and it’s my fault.

Please come home.

Mon, Dec. 2, 19:12

I saw you yesterday, sitting

by the lake, petting that

stray dog. It looked like you

had been there for hours.

I cried so hard for you.

Oh, I HATE this texting.

Can’t we just talk? At least

call me please!

Are you there?

Mon, Dec. 2, 21:45

We miss you.


Transcript of letter between Yukiko and Kasumi

Tuesday, Dec. 3, 01:15

Dear Kasumi,

I haven’t slept since Saturday.

I’m sorry. I read somewhere that this was supposed to help, so I’m writing you an email to explain.

I hope you will forgive me, wherever you are. I should have gone with you.

At the last moment, something held me back. I was afraid.

I thought about my parents. They’re lifeless zombies, dad the perfect salary man, mom the perfect wife.

Dad doesn’t know I know his phone code. There are manko shots from three different women on his phone, and the awful shit he sent back. Daughters should never see their dad’s erection. He disgusts me. I sent each of those women a shot of my manko, then erased my messages.

I think mom is fucking an American, her English conversation teacher. She practically glows when she comes home.

I didn’t stay for my parents.

I thought about Hiro. I don’t think I stayed for him either. I don’t know if he really likes me or just wants me to be his little porn princess. He jacks off so often he can’t even come when we have sex. I’m not enough for him. I never will be.

So why did I flinch? I wish I knew. But I’m sorry.

Without you life is more black than it ever was. It’s like I am in a deep, black well, staring up at a tiny circle of starry sky, and the moon is up there, and I will never reach it. You were my moon and the stars in my sky.

I will miss you forever.




Shiomi Nishihara

This blows my mind! Did you see this story? How the hell does something like this happen? I mean, how does someone’s entire mouth just disappear? Didn’t you know this guy, Yukiko Abe?

[Content has been removed.]

Wednesday, December 4, 8:14 p.m.

10 people like this.

Yukiko Abe what guy i don’t see anything.

Shiomi Nishihara Hmm, someone must have pulled the article. It was about this guy named Kenta Suzuki who showed up at a hospital WITH NO MOUTH! Didn’t you know a guy with that name?

Yukiko Abe yeah, my friend kasumi was in love with him how does a mouth disappear

Shiomi Nishihara That’s what the article said!!! tOtAlly freaked me out!!

Shiomi Nishihara =3=3=3

Yukiko Abe are you sure it was for real

Shiomi Nishihara It was a Japan Times article. But it’s gone now….?

David Kobayashi I was in the middle of reading it. I clicked on the photo and the whole article disappeared. But I DID SEE it. He was examined at the hospital, and his lips were gone, sealed up. Like he was born that way.

Yukiko Abe what hospital

David Kobayashi I don’t remember. how do you like my kaomoji emoticon? I’m still learning the Japanese ones. Hard to get used to them not being sideways.
😉 <– American style wink.

Shiomi Nishihara Ha ha! It’s very nice.



Wed, Dec. 4, 22:40

How are you, Yukiko?


I am very sorry about Kasumi.

Me too.

You haven’t been to class

this week. I’m keeping notes

for you.


Are you coming back next

week? There’s an exam…

I don’t know.

Hang in there. I know it

hurts. You two were really


I feel like getting up on a chair in the middle of class or maybe even Hakata Station and Screaming until I can’t anymore. And then taking a scissors and hacking off all my hair. Do you ever feel that way?

Thurs., Dec. 5, 01:29

I guess not.


Transcript of letter between Yukiko and Kasumi

Thursday, Dec. 5, 03:17


I felt a little better after my last message like this, at least for a little while, so I have to do it again.

Since the funeral, life has been a dead, cold, white fog. I don’t eat. I don’t sleep. I had to make a new notch on my belt. Any other time I would be ecstatic about that. But all I can do is think about what a coward I was to hold myself back at the last second when I heard that train coming.

Your mom came by today. The look on her face when she saw me…She asked me if I knew any of your passwords. They want to go through your phone and your computer, to see if they can find out why you did it.

I lied. None of it is any of their business. They don’t understand. They will never understand what it’s like, living in a world that crushes you from all directions at once, like a tsunami that you can’t get away from, like Fukushima radiation that gets into everything and will last for 50,000 years.

Something strange happened today, some news story about Kenta suddenly having no mouth. I searched for any news stories for over an hour, but couldn’t find anything. I don’t feel bad for him, after hurting you so badly. I wish you had told me what happened between you. The mystery hurts worse. What was so awful?

I love you.



Three Local People Admitted to Hospital with Facial Mutilation

Friday, December 6

Fukuoka—Witnesses claim to have seen two local residents admitted to Fukuoka Memorial Hospital, appearing to have suffered bizarre facial mutilation, the nature of which has been withheld by hospital officials. The victims, a couple residing in Chuo Ward, refused to be identified.

Doctors have declined to discuss the nature of the mutilation. As for the victims, the doctors will say only that the patients’ condition is stable, but they must be fed intravenously for the foreseeable future. The victims are unable to communicate what happened to them.

Another victim with a similar mutilation was admitted two days prior. His family has requested his name be withheld. He has been under sedation since being admitted, due to the extreme stress of his condition, as plastic surgeons from across the country have been called in to consult in this unique case.

Police have neither offered any sort of comment nor launched an official investigation.



Fri, Dec. 6, 15:01

Doing anything tonight? I got

a new toy!

I can’t meet you tonight.

Why? Come on! You’ll LIKE

this one…

Are you talking about a new sex toy?


Not tonight.Play with yourself.

Are you still whining about

Kasumi? It was a terrible

pity, but let it go! Have

some fun! Maybe some playtime

will take your mind off


Not tonight, all right? Please leave me alone. I’ll call you tomorrow.

I’ve had enough of your

uptight, ungrateful bullshit.

I got this just for you.

I didn’t ask you to.

You don’t know what you want.

You’re too dark-spirited to

have any fun.

Fri, Dec. 6, 18:13

OK, I’ll come over.

Forget it.

What do you mean forget it? I rearranged my whole schedule!

I have other plans now.

You’ve been watching porn all Day haven’t you.

Shut up.

The well is dry.

Fuck you.

You limp-dick piece of shit.

Fuck you, you crazy bitch!

We’re through. At least porn

doesn’t sulk for weeks at a




Sat., Dec. 7, 03:22

You’re late. You were

supposed to be here an hour



Transcript of letter between Yukiko and Kasumi

Saturday, Dec. 7, 03:35


Hiro broke up with me today. I feel so awful, like someone just ripped out my guts with a gardening sickle. I’m not even good enough for a guy like him, and he’s such a loser. He didn’t elaborate, but he got some kinky new sex toy that he wanted to try on me. When I refused, he got angry. I should have just gone, maybe the sex would numb the pain of losing you, but when he brought it up, I just couldn’t think about that.

There’s a stray dog that lives near Gokoku Shrine. I think someone feeds it, or maybe it steals rice balls from the offerings. It’s a mangy thing, but it has such kind eyes and a wise smile. He likes onigiri with tuna in them. He follows me sometimes. Somehow, petting him makes my heart less heavy.

The weirdest thing just happened, and I didn’t know what to do. I was in the middle of writing this email and I just got a text from you. A terrible chill just went down my spine. Of course it couldn’t be from you. It’s got to be some sort of weird Vodafone glitch. Or they already gave your number to someone else. I’m going to visit your parents tomorrow and see if they’ve done anything with your phone.

I miss you. Without Hiro, I have no friends left at all. Is it better where you are?




Sat., Dec. 7, 04:00

Sat., Dec. 7, 05:00

Sat., Dec. 7, 06:00

I think you have the wrong number.

Sat., Dec. 7, 07:00

Who is this?? Stop sending me messages!



Sun., Dec. 7, 00:03

I’m sorry, Yukiko! Please

make her take it back! I’m

sorry! I’m sorry!

Sun., Dec. 7, 00:32

What do you want, Hiro?

Sun., Dec. 7, 06:40

In the hospital. Its my

mouth. Plz ask her take it

back. I sorry for all those

terrible things.

What are you talking about?

Kasumi. I cant type. Fingers

shacking. Mouth gone.

Here is photo of my face.

Hiro! Oh my god! What hospital? I’m coming!

Sun., Dec. 7, 08:04

Tell me what hospital! I’m going crazy!



Sat, Dec. 7, 10:46

Where are you? You left so


A friend got hurt last night.

I’m visiting him in the hospital.

That’s so kind of you. Is

this a boyfriend?


It’s okay if it is. I would

love to meet him. We know

you’ve been seeing someone.

He’s not my boyfriend. And I wouldn’t introduce him to you anyway.

Rude! I’m just worried about


Why start now? I’ll be fine.



You asked me to tell you what happened so here goes. I’m going to write it in this notebook. I hope you can read my handwriting, my hands are shaking so bad. I need to be thorough. I have to tell you everything. I have to tell you the truth. If I tell you the truth, maybe she’ll remove the curse. You can see what I look like now. Just blank skin from my nose to my throat. My mouth is not just closed, it’s gone like it never existed at all. I have no vocal cords. I have no teeth, no jaw, no tongue. Please, she was your friend. If you ask her to remove the curse, maybe she will.

She’s a hungry ghost now, and it’s partly my fault. But it was Kenta’s idea. I just wanted to try it.

I’m sorry, my hand is shaking. I need to slow down, get it all in there.

Kenta knew Kasumi was in love with him, the way she followed him around, the way she looked at him. She was a nice girl, too nice, and not very cute. But she followed him.

Finally he was feeling horny one night and she happened to text him. He sexted her back, and the next thing he knew, she showed up at his place all moony-eyed. His parents were out of town, and he kicked his sister out. Then he called me and asked if I wanted to get a little kinky. I said sure, so I went over there, and there was Kasumi, half-drunk on beer and chuu-hai, looking at Kenta like he was a movie star. I could tell she was nervous, and she got confused when I showed up. When he told her we were going to have a party, her face got all red, but she didn’t leave. He sat down beside her and put his arm around her. She practically melted into the tatami.

So after a while they started kissing, making out. In the breaks, he told me to start snapping photos. He had this awesome new camera he wanted to try out.

My hand is getting so tired. Starting to cramp up. Not used to writing by hand. Please be patient with me.

So I took some pictures of us drinking and having fun, and she was just eating it up. She kept saying she’d never dreamed something like this would happen to her. Kenta just smiled and winked at me.

We all got pretty drunk.

They kept making out. Things started to get hotter. Kenta laid out a futon and she stretched out on it. She was moaning and making all kinds of noises. We were all getting really turned on. I kept taking pictures. There must have been three hundred by the time we were through. No, I don’t know what happened to them. They’re still on Kenta’s micro-media card for all I know.

She was getting drunk. We all were. Clothes started coming off. She was really shy about me being there, but Kenta kept telling her not to worry. That guy was a master. Everything he did, she just moaned louder and louder. I’m not a homo, but he’s got this amazing body. He looks like he stepped out of an anime.

The next thing I know, he pulled out some fuzzy handcuffs and snapped them on her wrists. She was shocked by this, but he’s a silver-tongued fox, that guy, or at least he used to be. She was scared, but going along with things. That’s when he told me to get involved. So I did. I was so hard. She was a lot cuter when you’re really horny.

She didn’t try to get away, or fight back. She just kept looking at Kenta like he was some teen idol, this look of terror and wonder, like she would do anything—absolutely anything—he wanted her to do. Kenta just kept looking at me. “Can you believe this? Can you believe this?”

When we were done with her mouth, he put his weird gag in her mouth he had gotten at a sex store, a ball gag. She didn’t like it. She started crying, but by that time he was having sex with her and wasn’t paying attention anymore. She started choking on the gag, panicking. He didn’t stop. I told him about the gag, but he kept going until he was finished. Then it was my turn, and by then she had settled down.

I saw some blood and realized she was a virgin. Something there didn’t feel right, but I was too far gone to care.

I have to tell the truth, right? If I tell the truth, you’ll help me, right? Won’t you, Yukiko? Please!

Kenta told me to do her ass, so I did. She didn’t like that either. That was my first time with the ass. I don’t blame you for saying no all those times. It wasn’t as good as I thought it would be. When we were done, we took out the ball gag, and drank some beers, but she just lay there with the handcuffs on, drooling a little and staring at the wall. When she finally sat up, we took off the handcuffs and offered her a beer, but she didn’t want any. Her face was blank, like a Noh mask.

She had pretty breasts.

We kept asking her if she had enjoyed it, and her eyes just had this spacey look. Kenta and I kept drinking until we fell asleep, and she just sat there, naked, wringing her hands, staring at the tatami. When I woke up, she had left.

Over the next few days, Kenta said he texted her a couple of times to ask if she wanted to do it again, but she never answered.

Then she was dead.

I can see the way you’re looking at me. I don’t blame you. Do you think she did it because of what happened? It wasn’t rape or anything. Maybe she didn’t like everything, but she was on board.

No, I didn’t hear about Kasumi’s parents. This happened to them, too?

Yes, I heard about Kenta. He sent me one crazy text from the hospital. He told me to run, to get out of Fukuoka, get away from Kyushu, go all the way to Hokkaido if I had to. But I didn’t know what he was talking about. And then they must have taken his phone away. I heard from his sister he tried to slash his wrists with his IV needle.



Sat., Dec. 7, 12:00

Where are you? Why don’t you

answer me???


Did you get just a weird text or something? Your face just turned the color of milk.

So what happened to me? Let me rest my hand for a while.

I was asleep in my room last night, having this bizarre dream where someone was trying to make me eat an apple that was too big, and a worm from it was trying to bite off my dick. I woke up suddenly, feeling like someone was there. Like there was this black pressure at the foot of my futon, crawling up my feet, pressing them down, squeezing them. I couldn’t move, didn’t dare to, like if I moved I would get its attention. I was shaking all over, sweating. My balls shrunk up like cold marbles.

And then I smelled her, the way she had smelled that night, the same perfume, the same shampoo, all fresh and sweet, and I said, “Kasumi?”

Then the pressure gushed up toward my head and grabbed me like two huge hands wadding up a scrap of paper. The blackness fell into my eyes, into my brain, swallowed me up like a bottomless well.

She said something to me, this is what she said in this hoarse whisper. “Shhhhh…”

And then I could see again, and this is how I was.

I couldn’t even scream.



Sat, Dec. 7, 14:04

Do you believe in hungry ghosts?

Yuurei? Seriously? In this

day and age?

Yes, seriously!

What’s gotten into you?

Something terrible is happening! Please call me! I already left a voice mail.

Sat, Dec. 7, 16:28

Sorry, I had English

conversation class. What’s

going on? Your voice mail

didn’t make any sense.

I went to see a sometime Boyfriend today, and he’s Been cursed. Or something. I can’t explain it, but his mouth has been taken away. Here’s a photo!

Don’t play with me this way,

Yukiko. It’s cruel. That is

one of the most grotesque

things I have ever seen. Why

would you show me that?

It’s real! I just saw him in The hospital. If you don’t believe me, there’s an article in the newspaper! This is a guy I know.

I’m afraid it’s Kasumi! This is so scary.

What about Kasumi?

Kasumi did this to him. And she did it to her parents, too! And a boy named Kenta.

This is one of the meanest,

sickest things you have ever

done. You are such an evil

child. I don’t want to talk

to you anymore.

Sat, Dec. 7, 20:42

After five phone calls, I may

as well text you. I’m sorry

for what I said, Yukiko. I

saw the article in the

newspaper. And I visited

Kasumi’s parents, but they’re

not home. A neighbor told me

they were taken to the


I’m sorry I didn’t believe

you. It’s just so crazy. When

your father comes home, I’ll

talk to him about it.

Sat, Dec. 7, 22:39

Where are you?


Transcript of letter between Yukiko and Kasumi

Saturday, Dec. 7, 23:01

Dear Kasumi,

Is it you? What’s happened? Did you do that to them, your parents? Kenta? Hiro told me what happened, what they did to you. Why didn’t you tell me?

I’ve been walking around the lake in O-Hori Park all day, trying to think about what to do. The dog followed me. I must have made fifty circles around the lake.

Are you angry with me? Are those strange texts really from you? If you can send a text, can you send me an email?

Please answer me. I’m so scared.



Sunday, Dec. 8, 00:00



Sunday, Dec. 8, 00:05

Please Kasumi no! I’ll come with you, I promise!!

I’m sorry! I’m sorry!

If I come with you, will you stop? Don’t hurt anyone else! Please.


Sunday, Dec. 8, 00:06



Sunday, Dec. 8, 00:07

I’ll be your voice, Kasumi! I’ll tell the world what those boys did to you! They’ll be punished! The world will know what it did to one poor girl.

I swear it.


Sunday, Dec. 8, 00:06








Sun, Dec. 8, 03:17

I’m in the hospital. Fukuoka Memorial.

It happened to me.


Epidemic of Bizarre Facial Mutilation Worries Police

Monday, December 9

Fukuoka—A wave of unexplained facial mutilations is terrifying wards through Fukuoka City. Since it all began last week with a case in Chuo Ward, a total of fifteen people have been admitted to area hospitals, having been stripped of their mouths by some manner unknown to medical science. Interviews with the victims offer no clues about what has happened to them.

Doctors and surgeons from across the country are meeting to determine possible causes and courses of action, but as yet there is only one conclusion. The possibility that any of them will ever be able to eat, drink, or speak normally again is almost nonexistent. All of them will have to be fed intravenously for the rest of their lives.

The first victim has been placed in a psychiatric ward after numerous suicide attempts. All of the victims remain on suicide watch due to the extreme nature of their affliction.

The Fukuoka City Police Commissioner has been in contact with the prefectural government and National Police Agency asking for assistance in finding the source of the mutilations. Investigations are on-going.



Monday, December 9

I have no other way to communicate now, except sign language and writing. I’m afraid to write any more emails. Kasumi is gone now, I think, or there’s not enough left of her to communicate with.

My mouth is gone. I have tried a hundred times to scream, but all that happens is air coming out of my nose. I have no vocal cords.

And it’s my fault.

I can no longer tell when I am thirsty.

I will never taste food again.

I will never kiss, or be kissed.

I will never speak again. No one will ever hear my voice again.

The first time I get the chance, I will join Kasumi. I am trapped here by these people who so desperately want to keep me alive.

Mom is asleep in a chair. Dad comes to visit me after work. The fear and loathing on his face makes me sick. And the bitter shame, so thick and sticky it crawls over everything like slime. They shower it upon me like a silent rain, all without ever saying the words. I brought this on myself for
being such a horrible daughter.

I wonder what would happen to me if my stomach decided to cut loose? Would it spew out of my nose and eyes like a geyser? Would it drown me?



Thursday, December 12

Kenta finally managed it. Tore out his carotid artery with a splintered chopstick, according to the Internet rumors. The story is all over the world now, and it’s spreading. So is the curse. Two of Kasumi’s high school teachers. The school principal. But the list of victims has gone beyond those people Kasumi knew. Kenta’s grandmother. Kasumi’s Dad’s supervisor at the office. Then that guy’s wife. I get all this information by surfing social media and drawing connections.

They’re all connected, like filaments in a spider web, and in the center, the shiny, black spider that Kasumi has become. But she’s not making the web any more. The web is making itself.

Some of them are killing themselves rather than going to the hospital. There’s nothing the doctors can do anyway, except feed us with needles and tubes.

Voices snuffed, stolen, lost.

Maybe I’ll try Kenta’s method.

Mom knows what I’m thinking. I think she reads this journal while I’m sleeping. She reads the newspaper and watches the news on TV. As the list of victims grows, she looks at me, and she’s terrified.

Freelance writer, novelist, award-winning screenwriter, editor, poker player, poet, biker, roustabout, Travis Heermann is a graduate of the Odyssey Writing Workshop and the author of Death Wind, co-authored with Jim Pinto, plus The Ronin Trilogy, The Wild Boys, and Rogues of the Black Fury. His short fiction pieces has or soon will appear in anthologies and magazines such as Alembical, the Fiction River anthology series, A Game of Horns, Historical Lovecraft, and Cemetery Dance’s Shivers VII. As a freelance writer, he has produced a metric ton of role-playing game work both in print and online, including the Firefly Roleplaying Game, Legend of Five Rings, d20 System, and the MMORPG, EVE Online.

He enjoys cycling, martial arts, torturing young minds with otherworldly ideas, and zombies. He has three long-cherished dreams: a produced screenplay, a NYT best-seller, and a seat in the World Series of Poker.

1 Comment

  1. Incredible. The different voices of each character are subtle and wonderful; the fear and grief and loss and horror play off one another and build into something sublime. Fantastic read!


  1. ICYMI 2016 Edition – Stories I’ve Read (and you may like too) – All These Stars - […] “Screaming Without a Mouth” (Apex, March 2016) […]

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