Tongue-tied

By Shannon Bell

He is laid upon the altar. His heart beats. Fast and hard. Faster and harder. The more it accelerates, the quicker his time on this world draws to a close. He has seconds left. His lips part in a final whisper of farewell. He is no more.

My tongue touches the back of my lips. Eager. Questing. Demanding.

The pain and sadness of his death lingers in the air. I taste it. I breathe it in. The subtle power of it nourishes my soul and extends my life.

She is laid upon the altar. Her heart beats. Fast and hard. Faster and harder. The more it accelerates, the quicker her time on this world draws to a close. She has seconds left. Her chin lifts in defiance. Her eyes fill with anger. She is no more.

My tongue darts from my mouth. Arrogant. Disobedient. Stubborn.

The air around her crackles with the energy of her small defiance. It settles on my skin. The fierce power of it soothes me and energises me.

Hundreds of voices cry and beg. I look at them huddled in their holding pens. Their fate is sealed. When I consume their flesh, it will make me younger. They know what awaits them and their fear hangs thick in the room.

My tongue dances across the roof of my mouth. I clamp it firmly between my teeth. “Not yet my wayward friend. But soon. Very soon.”


Author Bio: Shannon Bell is addicted to words. You will find him madly writing away in the spare time he has available between holding down a full-time job, being part of a dysfunctional family and looking after his attention seeking dog. His stories have been published in Dark Edifice, Short & Twisted, 101 Fiction and strippedlit500. You can follow Shannon at @ShannonBell1967

COWardly

By Shannon Bell

The cow watched me and chewed its cud.

“Stupid fuckin’ animal.” I gave it the finger.

“You’re lumpy as fuck,” it said. “Tragically lost in the void between younger and older, yet to figure out which tribe owes you a badge.”

That’s not possible. A talking cow? And how could a creature renowned for been dumb see straight to my core, voicing feelings I kept hidden in the basement of my soul?

I stormed across the paddock. The cow laughed as I walked away.

###

I looked at the ‘Free Meat Tonight’ sign in the window, stepped into my restaurant, and checked that every person had a platter of thick, juicy steaks in front of them.

“I’m lumpy as fuck,” I said into the microphone. “Tragically lost in the void between younger and older, yet to figure out which tribe owes me a badge.” They all stared at me, confusion written on every face. “It’s ‘all the meat you can eat’ night, so dig in.”

The cow wasn’t laughing now. Oh no. Right now, most of the cow was steaming on plates in front of my diners.

I popped one of its eyes into my mouth and chewed with relish. Its heart and brain were placed before me, swimming in a rich sauce. Yes, it was rude to do it in a room full of customers, but I licked the bowl clean.

A long, low “moo” ripped up my throat, bolted past my lips and echoed through the restaurant. Heads turned, followed by gasps and screams.

Furry ears and blunt horns protruded from my head. A large, pendulous udder bulged out from my stomach and I felt my feet thickening into hooves. My nostrils flared, large and wet and dripping bovine snot onto the tablecloth.

The cow laughed, its mirth ringing through my mind.


Author Bio: Shannon Bell is addicted to words. You will find him madly writing away in the spare time he has available between holding down a full-time job, being part of a dysfunctional family and looking after his attention seeking dog. His stories have been published in three issues of Dark Edifice magazine, two Short & Twisted anthologies and three issues of 101 Fiction. You can follow Shannon at @ShannonBell1967.

Meat

By John Xero

In the end, aren’t we all just meat and bone and guts all piled into a greasy sack?

“You gonna eat that?” Benny asked through a mouthful of hash brown, waving his fork at the last sausage on Mitch’s plate.

Mitch looked blankly back at him.

There’s machinery in there as well. Bits of gristle and flesh that make things go up and down and wave around. Flapping things. Springy things.

“Earth to Mitch. You home, buddy?”

Bits of potato sprayed from Benny’s flapping mouth hole.
There is something else, call it a spirit or a spark. Hesitate, perhaps, to call it intelligence. Something that coordinates, and something that rises above even that, something that defines an individual.

Mitch shrugged loosely, “Sure. Have the sausage.”

Benny didn’t hesitate. His fork leapt the Formica tabletop
and speared the sausage. To his credit he did pause, a moment, before biting it in half.

Long enough to speak.

“You don’t look right. You’re thinking.”

Outside the café the world scrolled onwards. Meat sacks in their tin cans. Meat sacks taking smaller meat bags for walks on bits of string. Meat sacks hanging on to each other as if they might suddenly fall off, or fall apart.

Benny shoved the last piece of greasy breakfast into his toothy hole. The ground pork went round and round in his mouth, and his tongue flapped words at Mitch, meat in meat in meat in meat, “What’s up, buddy? The job getting to you? I seen it before, grave digging ain’t for everybody, most people don’t like to think too much about death, you know, about what happens to our bodies afterwards, just dropped in a hole. I mean, sure there’s all that serious business, pomp and whatchamacallit circumstance, but that’s more for the living, ain’t it? Or is it Jeanine again? It is, ain’t it? Jeanine. I thought we were over that. She’s old news, and we’re better off without her. She was never good enough for you, buddy.”

Bits of meat, doing meat things, making more meat to do meat things all over again.
Mitch sighed and focussed on Benny, “She was too good for me, Benny. We both know that.”

“Hey, I’m trying to cheer you up here. Besides, you’re a thinker, look at you, thinking away, and let’s face it, she… well, she wasn’t, was she?”

And inside the meat some brightness you might call a person. Some shine that makes them special. Except, get rid of all the flesh and guts and bones and bits and there is no spark, no spirit, there’s nothing, at all, just blood stains and scratch marks.
Time and bleach gets rid of even those.

“Listen, buddy, what say I fix you up on a date. There’s this friend of Sally’s; she’s not, well, she ain’t the prettiest, but she’s proper clever, and funny. You gotta get over Jeanine. She left you. Walked out of your life. Vanished. You gotta stop waiting on her to come back.”


Author Bio: John Xero has been publishing flash fiction on the internet for a decade and a half. Fiction of all lengths is the *legal* way you strip away all the fleshy bits and expose the monsters within.

He is the editor at 101fiction.com. He will almost definitely one day maybe tweet more @xeroverse