By A. R. Gwydeon
Lying on the ground, I gasped for air, fighting against the pain. The rhythm of my heartbeat started to slow and I was nearing my last breath. Eyes watering and jaw clenching, I stubbornly tried to hold on. I’m not ready to be food. The battlefield around me had gone quiet, littered with my fallen comrades. Just when I started accepting all hope was lost, a shadow approached from the side. A horrifying creature reached out to me, rotting flesh barely clinging to its rickety frame. It stopped only a few feet away from me, terrifying black eyes glaring as a hissing sound gurgled from its mouth. A gaping hole filled the space where its stomach should have been and a rat was nestled in a pile of intestine, loops spilling out and draping over its torn uniform. Another rat emerged from a hole in the creature’s neck and then a third escaped from a leg.
More rats exited the body and soon a group was racing towards me. Fear had a new name, as tiny, sharp teeth cut into my skin. Only minutes ago, death had been a horrifying prospect. Now I longed for it as the rats burrowed into me. First they feasted on my liver and kidneys, then moved passed the lungs to reach my heart, the sweetest treat. Finally, they attacked the soft tissue at the back of my neck and chewing through bone, tunneled to my brain. Consciousness slipped away with each nibble, peace would soon be mine. Then the lights went out in my eyes and my lips quivered as my final breath drifted over them. Then I was floating over my body, over the field; the clouds never felt so close! The feeling of absolute weightlessness washed over me and a soothing light called out to me ahead, but before I could reach it, an invisible force dragged me back to my half eaten mind.
My eyes fluttered open, awake to the world anew. Everything looked gray and the rats continued to feed inside me but this no longer mattered. A new hunger welled up inside me . A cry pierced the air and I rose to find the source. Clumsily, I trudged through the mud, my weak legs strengthening with each step. A sweet smell greeted my nose, enticing and promising to feed the new ache inside. More screams echoed and then I saw it, a warm body lying out, helpless. I knelt down, pushing aside the protests of swinging arms and bit deeply into the living flesh; it was intoxicating. Blood ran down the sides of my mouth as I continued to feed. Around me, a new army was rising from the dead, driven by hunger and not greed.
A. R. Gwydeon works in an old fashioned butcher shop and studies Celtic and Norse mythology. She lives a chaotic neutral life with her husband and two black cats in Portland, OR. This is her first published story.