Skip to content

Tooth Appointment

Ben Larned


You don’t remember your last visit to the dentist. It’s been two years, maybe three. All the way here your gums itch.

The waiting room has a sickly hue, a chemical smell that reminds you of metal scraping and drills whirring. If it weren’t for your throbbing jaw, you wouldn’t stay here.

You wait in this pallid space for a half hour, and spend the time drawing. You’ve got a knack for it, letting your mind go blank and seeing what the pencil creates. This time the graphite turns into a long man in a doctor’s gown. He has a huge bald skull, long fingers and teeth to match. As you begin to shade his eyes, you drop your pencil. Startled, you reach down, but another hand beats you to it.

The hand is long, attached to a longer body. A strange man, bald and wide-eyed, grins up at you. He has too many teeth. At least it seems that way in the fluorescent light.

“Dropped this,” the man states in a dusty voice, his too-many teeth clacking against one another. He wears an overcoat, not quite a doctor’s gown, but otherwise he looks just like your drawing. His eyes seem distant and hazy, like they are unfinished.

The man holds up your pencil in his long swollen digits. You take it back, avoiding his skin. His fingers release the pencil with a click.

“Enjoy your appointment,” the man says, stretching to his full length. He clacks his teeth as if displeased.

You put the pencil away and close your sketchbook. The waiting room feels sicklier now. Finally, the assistant calls your name. You go quickly to the chair, as if someone is watching.

A sound wakes you in the night. Still puffy and aching from the novacaine, you don’t notice at first, until it gets louder.

You recognize the sound instantly. Teeth biting a pencil.

You shoot off the bed and look about the dark room. The streetlights filter through the windows, cold and wrong, falling onto your desk. Your sketchbook rests on it, open to the drawing of the man with long teeth. The background of the drawing is filled in, and looks just like the room you stand in now. The man lurks behind the depiction of your bed. His head stretches toward the ceiling, crooked and bent. He’s grown more teeth.

Your pencil rolls off the desk. You reach down to pick it up, but drop it with a yelp. The wood of the pencil is viscous with saliva, indented with the marks of several rows of teeth, each sharper and smaller than the last.

You don’t have to turn to see. You hear him behind you, teeth clacking, swollen fingers creaking open, reaching to end your appointment.


Ben Larned (he/they) is a queer horror writer, filmmaker and educator. His work is featured or forthcoming in Vastarien, Creepy Podcast, and Seize the Press, among others. “What Scares a Ghost?”, his story in Coffin Bell, was nominated for the Best Small Fictions 2023. His short film “Payment” is streaming on ALTER. He holds an MFA from The New School.