6: Swallow Your Pride

A group of people moved down by the Vessel. The Obsidian Fields had not seen such a large party for centuries. From his vantage point, they seemed to concise of around six to nine people, men, and women. He saw the Woman in White walking toward them. They met in front of the Vessel. The wraith’s silhouette seemed to melt into it. There they stood talking for a while, gesturing. Then the Woman in White turned toward him and pointed. The gaze of the group followed her finger, and a moment later they started walking into his direction.

He put the Sphere in his mouth and gulping he tried swallowing it in vain. Gagging it came up again as soon as it entered the back of his throat. He spat it out into his hand and looked at it in dismay that soon turned into anger. A moment later he broke the thigh bone off a body on the ground and cleaned it with his hand. Then he put the Sphere back into his mouth and followed it with the bone. He pushed and jammed it into his bulging throat. Choked and gagged. His eyes filled with tears and his gaze turned dead. Vomit made it past the object and spurted out his mouth and nose. He grasped the bone in both hands and rammed it into the Sphere. The bulge in his throat disappeared accompanied by a wet sound. He fell onto his knees and hands. Vomiting a mixture of acid and blood while hyperventilating. Sucking it down into his lungs. He coughed.

The party waved at him, and he waved back from where he stood on all fours. When they came closer, he saw that there were seven. Five men and two women. All of which looked emaciated under the skins over their skin. Flayed from people not in need of them anymore. He got up and greeted them as they came within hearing distance.

We’ve not seen you around here before, A man taller than all the others said. How long since your reincarnation?

He hesitated before saying, A couple of months, maybe three.

What’s your name?

Nihil, He blurted.

You’ve built that, thing, in a couple of months? The man said pointing at the pyramid of dead behind the Devourer.

Yes.

An ambitious project for one man to undertake.

How long have you people been around? How did you survive? The Devourer asked.

We found that ominous building of your’s months ago, The tall man continued while ignoring the questions, But we haven’t seen you around here before now. And that white wench wouldn’t tell us what you’ve been up to.

Please try looking past our inquisitiveness, One of the women said interrupting the man. As you know, there’s a cruel world out there, populated by cruel people. One can’t be too careful. My name is Lemita.

Nice meeting you, The Devourer said and continued, I’ve been wandering the glass fields, searching for better lands.

Better lands? The tall man scoffed. It’s hard to imagine a land worse than this. What did you find?

Nothing. It’s the same for months. Maybe this is the world. Perhaps it’s all there is.

Months, The man said, What did you eat? What did you drink? How did you avoid the storms?

Bladders, I brought many bladders with me, the Devourer scrambled to say. On a sled of bones. And fat, and meat I brought with me. For the storms, I was lucky.

The tall man turned to one of the other men and said, Should we take him in, Ressa?

More mouths to feed. Is that what we need? Ressa said, Especially now when the days become shorter? Soon the sun will disappear completely, I tell you. And then there will only be night.

He seems resourceful. What do you guys think? Lemita said and turned to the others of the company, those that had been quiet. They seemed indifferent. Shrugging their shoulders and kicking the shards on the ground. Hey! Speak out, She continued, We didn’t elect Tamit or Ressa as some almighty government. You have as much say as they’ve.

If no one is speaking up against the decision, we’ll go with it! Tamit said while drawing his bow of bone and sinew, grinning. Speak now or shut up.

What the fuck, Lemita said. Let him be!

Anyone? Tamit continued.

Nope, Ressa said and grabbed his hatchet of bone and obsidian also it held together by sinews.

Oh well, Lemita sighed. Can I have the skin? He has nice skin. Beautiful. It’s like velvet.

The Devourer ran, but Tamit’s arrow hit him in the back and punctured his lung. Yet he continued running as with every breath the air hissed and bubbled out the bloody hole. Despite mustering all his remaining strength, he could not get away from the party walking behind.

Just give up! You would’ve died anyway, Tamit shouted. Now you can feed us. Do some good, you know.

Ressa sprinted after him and embedded the hatchet in the Devourer’s hip. He fell to the ground, and Ressa pulled it out again. The next blow connected with the Devourer’s arm as he tried to defend his face. Another swing broke the arm, and it flopped around as he tried hiding behind it. With the next swing, the hatchet lodged itself in the the Devourer’s chest. Ressa stepped on the Devourer’s stomach, grabbed the handle with both hands and pulled out the hatchet, lifted it again.

No! Stop, I’ll die! The Devourer groaned wide-eyed.

Hey! Stop, Tamit said, You’re fucking up the skin. He pulled out his knife and kneeled over the Devourer. Took hold of his hair with one hand and pulled back his head, exposing the throat. He cut and sawed through flesh and cartridge. Hacked at his larynx and spine as the Devourer thrashed and convulsed. His wheezing breath became weaker and wetter. Then it stopped altogether. As Tamit continued separating the head from the torso, the Devourer’s blood-splattered flesh jiggled with the impacts of the knife. Then he started moving again. His chest heaved. His throat sucked in and expelled the blood in cycles as the arteries in his neck spewed out more. Tamit gave up when his knife shattered. He rose to his feet. Arms and lap covered in blood. Ressa swung his hatchet and decapitated the body that twitched and went limp. The blood still trickled.

Does anyone want the stomach? Tamit said as he pulled it out from its cavity.

No, not really, An unnamed man said.

Nope, Said another. Too chewy for me.

Could we boil it? Said the unnamed woman.

Aaah, don’t know about that, Ressa said. We’re low on fuel.

I’ll throw it, Tamit said and threw it into the pile, and the intestines followed like a slithering pink snake. After the Devourer was skinned and cut into pieces, they threw his discarded parts into a latrine dug in the glass. They ate all the rest of him boiled, roasted and dried. Arms, legs, torso, cheeks. All of them.

A couple of days later they sprinkled what had not been absorbed by their bodies over his discarded parts in the latrine. As millions of small indigestible bits and pieces, his machines marched and gathered the building blocks of life like ants toward the hill of his reanimating corpse. Cell after cell they reassembled him into what he once was. A constellation of hatred and pain. Between shit and piss, he would once again be reborn to inhale fear and exhale anger.

Of those that consumed him became a far worse fate. With their bodies littered with tumors, eyes turned green and yellow with vision lost to cataracts, they spent their last days crawling over the shards in search for sustenance. Shitting and vomiting blood, as they one after another succumbed before the long night came and swallowed them all.

Advertisements