The night the moon disappeared, Lucille and Douglas French were having meatloaf and veggies. It only happened for an instant, right as the couple were finishing. They ate in silence, as always, the dinner table a faint soundscape of chewing, scraping forks, and the occasional throaty cough. Lucille stared at her husband between bites, the food turning to wet cotton in her mouth. Douglas stared down at his rapidly clearing plate. He barely remembered eating, tasting, or smelling any of it. It was as though he looked at a morsel, then watched it disappear a bite at a time like some frustrating magic trick. He burped.
Overhead, the night sky sizzled bright white, then dissolved back into shimmering black ink. Everything was exactly as it was, except for the sudden glaring absence of the moon. If the Frenches had been outside, they might have seen the small orb of cerulean light float down into their backyard. They might've seen its shimmering, viscous, intangible tendrils filter in through the sliding glass of the patio door and onto their faces. But they were inside, the overhead bulbs burning too bright to see it. They were eating a dinner neither one of them had much appetite for, and so the light dimmed and faded without their notice.
Lucille was about to say something, then stopped. The burping, one of Douglas' less attractive qualities, would normally set her blood to boiling, but tonight, something about the burp intrigued her. She giggled.
"Do it again," she said.
"Do what again?" Douglas said, his mouth partially full of the last floret of broccoli on his plate.
"Burp," she said.
Douglas narrowed his eyes. It was likely a trap to start another of their fights, but something in his wife's voice seemed so earnest. He took a sip of his beer, swallowed air, and loosed something strange and foul into the air. Lucille clapped her hands before gripping the table and replying with a burp of her own. Before long, they were trading trumpetous belches and chasing each other around the dinner table.
Douglas sped up to catch his wife but slipped on his fallen napkin and fell with a thunderous crash and a penetrating, whip-like crack. Lucille, still laughing, walked over to him.
"Are you okay?" she asked, traces of laughter quieting in her voice like children in an unruly classroom after the teacher’s return.
Douglas looked up at her from the floor and held up his left hand. The first digit of the thumb snarled out puzzlingly at a wrong angle. Douglas pushed the offending appendage towards her, seemingly in shock. "I think...I think it's broken," he said weakly.
"Yes. It is," Lucille said. "Are you...in pain?" Her eyes were glued to the injury, before they drifted to her own hand, comparing the difference.
"It's agony," he said. His voice was flat. Emotionless. "I might pass out."
Lucille descended to her husband's eye level before reaching out for his thumb. He let out a small involuntary whimper before she held it fast and snapped it back into place with a sickening crunch. Douglas' eyes watered, but he didn't make a sound.
"Better?" she said, raising an eyebrow.
"Much," he said, turning to smile at her.
"Try to grip something, see if you can," she said.
Douglas' eyes darted around the room for something to grab before wrapping his newly-healed hands around his wife's throat. He squeezed as he brought both of them to their feet. Her hands didn't move.
"What are you doing?" Lucille asked in a rising, wheezing tone, more curious than afraid. She had long since stopped being afraid of her husband, nothing he ever did surprised her.
"What do you feel?" he asked. As he squeezed, something electric and vital passed from his grip to her skin. He felt something activate inside of him. Before he could respond, he felt her manicured nails dig into either side of his windpipe.
"I don't really know. I think...I like it, but also it hurts. It's an interesting feeling," Lucille said, her voice compressed into a weakening rasp. She tightened her grip as Douglas loosened his own. Both of their faces were turning purple.
"It is. I...I'm worried I might die," he said, a thin line of dribble bursting from the corner of his tightening mouth.
"You won't," Lucille said, confidently.
They held each other like that for a moment, a brief pause before releasing each other. As the blood rushed back to their heads the Frenches looked at each other, blinking in disbelief. They knew they were choking each other, but it felt distant, observed. Douglas launched himself at Lucille, who kicked off her back leg to meet him.
Both of them, their adrenaline enflamed by their injuries, collided mid-stride. They thrashed and grappled with each other, teeth snapping like gators. The force of their fight pushed them up against the table, then the counter, then the wall, knocking over the picture of their long-dead golden retriever, Montgomery. Douglas grabbed both of his wife's wrists and pinned them against the wall. As his face neared her in a victorious smirk, Lucille grinned and buried her teeth into his neck.
Douglas let out an inhuman scream as Lucille yanked something away from his body. She swallowed the piece of him with a forceful gulp. His hand flew to the open wound in his throat. The thing inside him seemed to swell and spark at the pain of it. He looked at his wife's now-bloody mouth and, surprising himself, licked it. His own blood tasted thin and coppery, mingling with his wife's sweat. He became insatiable. He wanted to understand it. He wanted to put it back in his body. His neck wound sprayed with the exertion as he pressed into Lucille.
She dove back into his neck, tearing another piece of him away between her teeth. In response, Douglas ripped into his wife’s abdomen, rending her shirt and leaving long, wearing gashes in her skin. The two were finding new ways to hurt each other with each passing moment, tearing away at each other's clothes, each other's flesh. As they ripped at each other, a high giggle burst from their mouths like a released balloon. They had not been this close in years.
The more they hurt each other, the more their savage curiosity eluded their satisfaction. Their wounds opened seething red portals to more depravity, more pain, more discovery. They bit and scratched and wrenched at each other like fussy children with a stubborn peanut butter jar. Their hungry blood scattered all over the dining room and their skin seemed to bubble as something rose to the surface in each of them.
A wet, thickly organic crunch erupted from the couple as their skins peeled away from their abdomens. The heat, the adrenaline, the electrical signals of pain from their violence coalescing into the exact, perfect conditions to incubate their suddenly visible dinner guests. As the human husks of Lucille and Douglas sloughed to the floor, the spidery, chitinous legs of two creatures crawled from the red bloomed wounds of their throats. The creatures’ flexible bodies expanded as they rose to their full height.
The aliens turned to the couple, famished from their light-years-long journey, and began eating. Side by side, they devoured the Frenches. After the last piece of Douglas disappeared past their mandibles, one of the creatures reared back and burped.
The other one giggled.