Late at night, Katherine and I sat up outside of her tent, talking over dinner. We were eating freshly caught wild boar.
“Why don’t you ever eat with me?” she asked, as she had many times before.
Taking a big bite of the boar, I forced it down. The taste of burnt animal flesh alone was enough to make me gag, but I forced myself to eat it. My wine was left untouched. “I prefer to eat alone. I like to read letters from back home while I enjoy my meal, and like my privacy. Why do you ask? Do you prefer to watch people eat?”
“It’s nothing like that. I only wondered, that’s all.”
Even cutting the meat with my fork was disgusting. Long ago, I had forgotten how barbaric men were, destroying the world around them – not seeing that they were the cancer. They were the uncivilized ones. Part of the meal felt like it stuck to the back of my throat uncomfortably, like eating a spoonful of peanut butter.
Crickets chirped in the background as we watched the workers drink and talk, laughing over a campfire as they all told ghost stories.
“Do you ever believe them?” Katherine asked, referring to the tales they told.
“No…they make up stories for whatever they don’t understand. But to see monsters, we only have to look at ourselves.”
“How can you be sure? We lose a lot of men. Where do they all go?”
“Back to their villages, maybe to another one. Who can be certain?”
Katherine took another sip of her wine, asking “Why though?”
“Maybe they don’t like picking leaves for a pale-face. When we went to one town, looking for some new workers, I ran into one who had left and asked him.”
“You did?” Katherine asked, sitting up in her chair. She had finished her glass and I poured her another. “Why didn’t you tell me?”
“Nothing to tell. He said that he had enough money to live a year in happiness, and for that he was grateful, but he didn’t want to take all the work. He said others should have a chance to make so much for doing so little. He said he couldn’t stay and collect our money, knowing his family no longer had him there.”
“Really? He said all that?” she asked, eying me suspiciously.
“He did. I suspect many are like that man. Others may not like the work. The rest…”
“Are probably scared of those stupid ghost stories.”
“Probably,” I said, grabbing my plate and putting it in a sink full of dishes, outside the main kitchen’s tent. Katherine did the same. “You should get some sleep. We have a lot to do tomorrow.”
“We always do,” she said, a little tipsy. She kissed my cheek and turned away, leaving me to want her more.
“Goodnight,” she called, going into her tent and stumbling over something with a thud.
As soon as she left, I gagged and vomited up the entire contents of my stomach. Everything I had eaten came out in a disgusting mixture. Wiping my lips with a sleeve, I went to find which worker would be the first to leave their campsite alone.
There he was, the first man to leave the campsite. He was tall, with very dark skin, and muscular. From the shadows, I watched him stumble to and fro. The moonlight shined down through the trees with a soft glow. I moved closer, gliding over the leaves without a sound. As he pulled out his member to relieve himself, I pounced.
He didn’t stand a chance.
Tackling him to the ground was the easy part. My jaw unhinged without trying, until my mouth opened twice as wide as a man. My teeth grew like long, white diamonds. Ripping him apart, I tore into the flesh of his neck, lapping up his life and filling my nauseated stomach.
I bent my body over him, taking in the aroma of rusty nails and savoring the taste of copper. His life tasted delicious – filled with the richness of youth that I enjoyed tasting. Red pooled below his head, sticking with the sand in a muddy, bloody mixture. His arms twitched as he took his last breath.
Satisfied, I pulled his body into the forest and dumped it in the river.
Just then, some people saw me. They screamed. My senses are very acute, so I could smell their fear as they turned to run. There were four of them, dashing to the camp and yelling.
What could I do?
“Lady Katherine! Lady! The monster comes!” they yelled. “The monster comes!”
And indeed, the monster did come, for I have yet to forgive myself for what happened next.