Diane was late as usual. Bob had tried to adapt, but she had some special womanly intuition that made her late to every appointment and date no matter what Bob did.

She wandered into the restaurant, her hips swaying to some imaginary music, gliding between the other patrons until she reached their usual table. She accomplished this feat without looking away from her smartphone, held tightly in her left hand.

“Hi, Hon,” she purred.

Bob just grunted hello, and she sat down in her familiar chair. She wore a tight leather vest for a shirt, with most of her spilling out of the top. Normally, this would make Bob forget her perpetual lateness, but he’d seen enough of her to build up a natural immunity.

She didn’t appear to notice.

“I took the liberty to order your usual dish,” Bob said, picking up the menu and looking at the alcohol menu. It was going to be one of those nights.

“Thank you, Hon.” Her smartphone made little pecking noises as she typed, punctuated by a swirling musical tone that indicated an incoming message. Bob learned to hate that noise.

“We need to talk, Diane.”

Her focus still on her smartphone, she smiled and said, “We are talking, silly.”

“No, I’m talking to you. You’re talking to your goddamn phone.”

She sighed, although her eyes never left the screen. “Don’t be melodramatic. This is important. I’m talking to Melissa about her boyfriend’s erectile troubles while I Facebook chat with Kelly about her husband cheating on her.”

“This is bullshit. I want to talk to you without any interference from your friends,” said Bob. “I’m about to walk out on you if you don’t start paying attention to me.”

Diane just smiled and typed.

Bob reached out and grabbed Diane’s arm. Normally, this would elicit a string of curses in several languages. She just moved her upper torso so she could continue to type. Her pupils were so wide, it made her look like she had black glossy spots for eyes.

“Look, Diane, are you on something? Do you need help? Because we can go, right now, to a rehab clinic.” Bob now noticed how pale and cold her skin was, like frosted aluminum. “Come on, let’s go. I’ll stick with you through rehab.”

“You’re being ridiculous. I’m hungry, and we just ordered.”

Bob tried to yank the smartphone from her hand, but found he couldn’t. The phone had merged somehow with her skin, and the bones made a mesh around the screen like an organic case.

“I’m hungry, Bob.”

He caught glimpses of symbols on the screen, and they weren’t taught in any school he went to. Diane’s arm started melting into the phone, mutating and crawling in little waves of flesh.

“I’m so very hungry, BobbrrrrrAPPPPPPPPPP!” Her voice changed to a loud, screeching sound like a fax trying to connect to a regular telephone. Her pupils shrank until they were just pinpoints in her pale blue-grey eyes, and her eyebrows pushed so far upwards that it actually made the skin on her forehead split and bleed.

The absorption went faster as more was assimilated. In the end, she was yanked so hard out of her strapless heels that one went flying towards the kitchen and the other one hit Bob dead square in his testicles. He doubled over in pain, but he never looked away from his girlfriend until there was nothing left but a blinking smartphone on the table.

The other patrons in the restaurant babbled at each other, never even glancing in the direction of the commotion.

He heard the familiar sweeping tone he had hated for so long. Cautiously, he peered at the screen.

“Are you there, Bob? Can you hear me?”

He just stared at the phone. He had never seen anyone absorbed in person. Another message arrived.

“Bob, I’m still hungry. I need you to answer me, right now. Or else.”

He tentatively reached out a fingertip to swipe the unlock bar. The normal screen appeared with his favorite picture of when he went reef diving in Australia.

“Hi, baby.”

Bob’s brain whirled furiously for a moment. His three o’clock date, and her name was…was…

“Serena! Hi, Serena,” said Bob with a forced smile. “Sorry, I was distracted. Here’s that phone I said you can borrow until yours is fixed.”

Serena was dressed in a tight clingy red dress that accentuated her Spanish curves and contrasted with her flowing black hair. She picked up the smartphone and smiled. “Your picture, it is so cute!”

“You’re too kind. I set up your Facebook app and had them transfer your contacts over at the shop.”

Serena poked at the screen. “You are so astuto! I always wanted one of these, but I could not afford one.” She looked up at Bob, her pupils already noticeably wider. She half-stood and kissed Bob, her tongue wrapping itself around his and she moaned. “I will so make you happy tonight, yeguada!”

Bob blushed. “I took the liberty of ordering your dinner. It’s one of my favorites, and I think you’ll like it.”

Serena didn’t even look up from her new phone. “You’re such a wonderful man. Thank you, Hon.”

Bob just smiled and waited for the meal to arrive. He was starting to get hungry, too.

No More Room in Hell: The 2014 Halloween Horrorquest nodeshell rescue