Wednesday, October 8, 2014

Nightmare Fuel, Day the seventh. Consume All the Flesh!

Here is today's Nightmare Fuel entry, with notes to follow: 

The Dutchman and the Mouse both got it wrong, as did most others between them. The Mouse... well, mice have become too tame, living in the nooks and corners of the world of men and  feeding off tablescraps for so long that scraps are all they understand. They're like the stunt-growthed goldfish in tiny glass pockets far from the sea; a mockery of the clever beast they once were and could be. I'm not surprised that the mouse got it wrong, and the Dutchman... well, his eyes were always cast upward to an unseeable heaven past his world. That must be why I liked him; we both looked up and out of our worlds. I didn't realize until he mangled the story that I was looking towards his and he was looking away from mine. It's easy to read the current after you've crossed it.

Anyway, they were right in some ways, wrong in more. It hurt. That's the part that they don't tell. "Took her voice" they said. The mouse prettied it up more, made it look like a thing to pass back and forth. That's not it, of course. It's a sacrifice, a price. I didn't understand at the time, but she always said there were rules. And there are. You get a new opening -legs, and what comes between them - an old one gets sewn shut. Or your soul leaks out or something.

Yes, I said sewn. Sewn with a sharp bone-needle from an airbreathing dolphin. I wrestled that dolphin myself, held the interloper down at the body of the sea until it drowned. It drowned. Nothing that belongs in the seacan die of drowning. Its flesh was still warm with the sunlight it swallows on its trips to the surface. Swallowed. Airbreathers always swallow a bit of sunlight, always taste of heat and light.

It didn't hurt when the thing panicked and fought me, battering my body against the seafloor. It didn't hurt when I  spit out the tiny sharp bones from its fin. It's hard inside. Like a whale. Like a human.

I didn't know it would hurt when I came to her with the hard-won needle, with my voice. The knife hurt. Yes, she used a knife, a jagged bone-thing honed on dead coral. First a long, slow draw of the sharpened edge from tailfin nearly to my belly, teasing clouds of red blood into the water. My own scent drove me mad with hunger, mad enough that I'd have to feed and would have but then the blade bit deep clouds of blood such exquisite, terrible, wonderful pain. I died a little, would face that death again. WHere there once was one thick, strong tail now stretched two rubbery manlegs, I'd see later that they'd hold me but it would always hurt.

And, of course, the price. That damned needle, threaded with some kind of gut, thrust into my lip like the barbs men use to hook fish. ANd through, and in, and through. THAT is how a voice is stolen.

THAT is how you perform a sacrifice.

Of course it was foolish. I was young. Impossible young, young enough to see my scraps of learning for wisdom. I knew what men wanted from women, up on the surface. I knew that a voice was the last of it, so I reasoned. I reasoned I could approach, silenced and willing, that I could have my pick. That they'd look past the sewn-shut lips, the pained wince as rubbery fin-legs struggled to support my body, grown heavy in the air. That my eyes, clear and white from years far beneath the surface, would be far lovlier than the sun-stained orbs of human women.

I didn't expect their scorn, their fear, their loathing for anything not half sun-rotted and half ruined.
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I didn't expect the hunger.

In my memory I could taste the sweetcool flesh of tiny silver fish, the potentthick muscles of the shark, even the sun-rotted meat of the dolphin. Pain aside, I'm sure I'd have won the bet had I been able to try a bit more, a bit farther, but I hungered. Greatly.

Enough to go back to her, to steel her knife and slice the threads off of my lips. To taste my own blood when the knife slipped.

Hungry enough to devour her, and all that she was. It was delicious.

Don't worry, my hunger is, for now, satisfied. I find ways to eat, be it bits of the sun or bits of the sea.

So now you know the parts of the story the Dutchman and the Mouse got wrong.  But you'd have guessed. You're smarter than that girl I was, so many years ago. You're smart and you're clever, and you want something. THat's the only reason anyone comes here.

So... do you want to make a deal?   
A closing note: I love fairy-tales, but don't much care for Disney. Why? Because Disney takes old, interesting stories holding a measure of truth and strips them of context, of meaning, and of much of what makes them interesting. Hans Christian Andersen's "Little Mermaid" might be too much a Christian allegory (and, truth be told, end with too nice a coda), but it has meaning, emotion, and whatever promise of happiness there is comes with a price. That price - the hint of darkness, the warning, the cost of enlightenment - is too often missing from Disney fairytales, leaving them like Disneyland itself: a pretty thing to be sure, but all artifice with no art. Scratch the surface and you'll find that you stand on a gaily painted shell, a purely artificial and created thing.

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