5: A Cathedral of Death

He covered in a shelter built from frozen bodies piled on top of each other with their backs facing the pale sun. From the outside, it resembled a pyramid of grey flesh overseeing the crater. With great care, he had situated the dead with their faces against each other inside the walls. Unintended he had created a geometrical orgy of dead embraced in a kiss. All held together by his frozen excrement. He had built a monument to the perverse through his attempts at revering the dead while still escaping their judging gaze. It would have been easier to remove their eyes, and at first, he had tried despite the sacrilege. The laborious task of hollowing them out from their frozen lobes did nothing but expand the soulless holes watching him.

Inside the cathedral of death, in the faint light of the fire fueled with dung, he removed the marrow from a long and thin bone. While inspecting the sharp points and edges with his thumb, he warmed himself before the foraging. He rose with his tool in hand and urinated on the fire until it died. He stopped in the opening of the hut and let his eyes adjust to the brighter outside. In his free hand, he took a staff from where it leaned against the wall and made way into the crater. He poked at the bodies with it as he walked by them. Giving extra attention to those not yet by the sun and cold turned into gray leather stretched over bones.

The stick sunk into the belly of a still pink specimen lying by his feet. He crouched beside it and with the tool he punctured its stomach into the bladder. With his lips around the other end, he sucked and drank the golden water in delight until it was empty. Frowning he picked up a shard from the ground and hurried to cut open the belly of the closest frozen body. Alternating between cutting and scraping he made his way deeper into the guts. There he isolated the bladder, frozen as the rest of it, and took it out and weighed it in his hand. He brought it with him into the shelter where he lay it on the still warm obsidian around the extinguished fire. Then he returned into the field in search for sustenance.

He wandered around with a skinsack slung over his shoulder and collected hair from the dead. One hand around a chunk of hair and one foot on the neck or face and then he pulled. Often the strands broke into a fistful of hair that he stuffed into the bag. Sometimes if the body was old and its skin had turned into parchment, or he took hold of too much hair, the scalp came off accompanied by a tearing sound. Then he ripped out the hair with both hands until only a naked flap of skin remained. If despite the body being fresh the scalp came off, he bit into it and pulled out the hairs. He used a bone comb to straitened the strands, and with a spinning wheel of the same material, he spun yarn on a bone bobbin. With that he could weave textiles on a loom he assembled from more bones held together by sinews. For years he tried using his technological achievements for making clothes and blankets to no avail.

Maybe it felt less intrusive in some twisted way to carry the hair of the dead over his back, than their skin through which their blood had streamed. One had been dead already when the other lived. But with time the cruder method of saving the scalps with their hair intact and sewing them together with sinews as a patchwork proved to create superior clothes and sleeping bags. With time the bodies seized to be human remains to him. Instead, they became material for survival.