2011 // by Katrin Alvarez

He awoke one morning to discover a half-opened mouth in his right hand. He carefully held his fingers apart, not wanting to harm its faintly pulsating lips.

How gross! But what a story! What journalist wouldn't rub his hands at this opportunity? He grinned broadly at the inapt metaphor. This really was something strange – much bigger than anything in his sleazy little gossip column. It was a scoop, a sensation, definitely a headline grabber.

Maybe the police had long been notified. Maybe as search had begun. It looked like a man's mouth: thin-lipped, a cynical curl at the corners, with the yellowed teeth of a smoker.

Overcoming his initial fear, he went to touch it with his left hand across. Holding the index finger in front of the mouth, he half expecting it to bite. But the mouth just tightened scornfully.

He withdrew his hand, reached for the phone and called the news desk. "Hi, it's me. Listen! I've got a totally weird story here. Just imagine what's stuck here this morning on my ... Hey, are you listening to me?!". His colleague on the other end was shouting "Hello? Hello? Another idiot who's sold his tongue." The colleague hung up.

Cursing, he redialled at once. But again it seemed that nobody in the office could hear him.

Agitated and angry, he went to run his free hand across his face. Suddenly he froze in mid-movement.

He no longer had a mouth.