|Rating||Teen (some graphic content)|
The wind blowing in the late dregs of twilight would have been soothing, save for the branch’s pitching back and forth as it scratched against a high window. The current had a low whistling quality that hummed along the floorboards and reminded me of the clamor and gaiety of my parents’ parties when I was younger, and was just loud enough to exceed the guttural snoring of the body next to me.
But there are no more parties. No time for celebration or frivolities, and dancing and music has now become part of strategy. The smile I wear from the beginning of the evening in the crowded warehouse until the moment he drifts off in exhaustion in this creaky wooden cabin is seductive and contrived.
The clashing sounds are too much to even consider sleep: I slowly shift my weight sideways, sliding from the covers and allowing my bare feet to touch the wooden panels. Moving lightly to the door, I grab my black jacket and slip it over my shoulders on the way out.
The sky is fairly clear tonight, the sparse clouds visible as they drift past the full moon. I move quietly and carefully down the hill, treading softly on the dirt road as I keep a wary ear for cars or Gray Coats. When I reach a stream, barely trickling due to the drought, I stop and squat next to it, running a hand lightly over the damp rocks that shine in the moonlight.
A shadow captures my attention and my breath catches as I freeze in place. After a few moments I realize I haven’t been discovered, however, and take a second look at the form that caught my eye. It’s still, hunched in a half standing position, and after taking a few steps closer into the wood, I realize it’s a dog. A large racing dog, or recently retired from the age in its joints, with sleek, smooth fur and a strong frame while it lived. It seemed to have caught itself in the eternal barbed wire and bramble, effectively cutting off the creature’s air and leaving it here to die alone and unnoticed by its owners or even scavengers.
I reach out to stroke the animal, my fingers gently tracing its soft ears and curling around a perfectly bred jaw. I lift her chin slightly to stare into the glassy eyes that while vacant, still stare out in terror from its final moments.
What comes over me next is a flurry of emotion so diverse and intense I can’t understand or explain it. I barely recognize myself as I am suddenly spurred into action; heaving the animal onto the ground and pulling out a small knife from a constructed pocket in my coat before wrenching the garment from my body and throwing it over a tree branch, leaving myself naked and exposed to the wilderness.
I push my hair away from my face and dig the blade into the animal’s diaphragm, barely attempting to avoid any organs as I create a jagged incision up into the sternum to down below her belly. The girl’s blood is still warm and washes over my hands as it gently spills out of the creature, but I continue my work. I reach deep into her abdomen and feel around for the intestines, pulling them out slowly and gingerly moving them to the side of her coat until I find the stomach. I continue my journey upwards, slowly slicing free every organ from the tissue holding it to the meat sack on the ground. When the ribs get in the way, I almost crack my knife breaking through them in order to continue my work. Sweat, blood, dirt, and other muck that I can’t identify are mixing together in my hands and hair as I continually push the locks stubbornly drifting back over my eyes, and I’m certain that I’m beyond recognizable in this form, except possibly as some wild savage that needs to be tagged and studied.
I finish my work as I slice up the girl’s throat, able to remove her tongue and safely collect all of the organs from their place just outside of the shell. I start to stand, reaching out for my jacket, before taking pause. Wiping my bloodied hands against my breasts, I sit back on the ground and reconsider. I take my knife and dig again into the dog, sliding the blade through the fat and separating the skin from the muscle along the backside against her ribs and spine. When I reach a decent size, I roughly cut away the skin from the animal, and carefully place the innards onto the hide.
Standing, I cradle my package as I walk away from the mangled corpse and farther down the stream until I find a safer path into the woods. An evergreen appears, aged and brown but still tall, and I slowly kneel to the ground, laying my package beside me. I dig through the needles and into the soft dirt, browning my reddened nails and scratching my skin until I feel satisfied in the pocket I’ve made in the earth.
I pull some dry needles into the cavity, then reach for my cargo, placing each piece carefully into the hole: heart, lungs, liver, intestines. All of the pieces that made the beautiful creature alive I put down into the trench, and then filled it again with another layer of needles.
I look at the grave I’ve made unhappily, feeling unresolved. Before I realize why I’m doing, I put out my hand and use the knife in the other to slice it open. I watch as warm blood mixes with the earth for a few moments until the cold of the wind finally spurs me to stand and make my way back to the stream.
There’s not enough water to really wash away the blood and grime, and I’m not quite sure I really want to. I spend a few minutes collecting damp in my hands and rubbing my knife clean before I stand and grab my coat.
As I make to leave for the road, I take one last look at the marred pet that I am abandoning. I stare again into her glassy eyes before reaching my hand out to close them, and then I make my way back up to the cabin.