It could be the grey. It could be the dull interior, the dying trees and the cast-iron tools which break the serenity of thought at every turn. It emphasises the sense that something sinister is stalking me in every shadow. Yet, there’s always nothing, which aggravates more than soothes my troubled mind. I would rather live in a place of colour, troubled by reality than exist in a monochrome limbo haunted by imagination.
I broke the earth with my shovel, the weight and rough edge making the experience painful, as well as frustrating. Yet, with a mixture of unwavering energy and fear, I kept digging until I hit the black box. The tip of the shovel sparked against its surface, leaving a noticeable dent, which made my heart drop. Upon closer inspection, I saw the box was not pierced, the slits still bound tightly.
I had hoped that what would be contained was perfectly preserved, but no matter how hard one tries, all meat will eventually spoil. It had been days since the village came and tore up my home in search of it, or something like it, but found nothing. I watched a young boy who stuck his nose into my business hang from the window of the windmill, smiling as I stared down at the earth where I buried the last one.
The last visitor.
Now, I broke the seal once I was sure there would be no dirt slipping in. Before I could even glance at the morsel that remained, I closed the box quickly and ran inside. I placed the box on my rickety, grey dining table. I started a fire quickly, preparing all manner of instruments to clean the meat if it had spoiled.
Once everything was ready, I opened the box again, only to be disappointed. Inside were dead maggots and meat that rotten away into a dark, unappetizing lump. I had failed, another bitter disappointment. I threw the box into the corner, where it clattered and silence followed. I didn’t notice my heart was beating in my eardrums until it stopped. Now, I heard nothing.
The greyness of my usual life returned, the sanguine memories of that forbidden taste fading in my mind quicker than I would like. I watched that boy swing in the wind until his corpse was cut down and buried far away. For only a moment did I consider it, but I had done this long enough to know better. He was rotten to the core. Rot. That’s all that I had.
The decaying walls, the old clothes and my own emotional rot, weakening me from the inside out. My misery coaxed pity from the other villagers. Each one saw me as an old man who had been insulted, disgraced by the deceased child who claimed I ate his sister. Many saw to cheer me up as I purchased food that tastes like grass. I was offered wine, bread and even a new shovel to use for my farming.
I refused all, which only served to add to the pity. In reality, all that they offered disgusted me more than the rot. The redness of the wine only coaxed visions of the blood, the bread that served to collect the juices of a morbid stew and I hated farming. The carrots that I grew I only chewed bitterly, giving the rest away to the people who would only compliment their outstanding growth, asking what I used as fertilizer.
I lived only for the next meal. A thought that only made me more bitter.
Drystan. A voice called my name from my doorway. I had been staring at the wall again. The voice called my name again. I turned to a young man, who held his hat in his hands. His mouth moved, asking me if I would hire him as farmhand. I felt all logical reasons slip from my being, like cold water sliding from my body. I beckoned him in.
We discussed money, but only for a moment. I questioned his skills, his origin and when my mind considered it, his name. I didn’t listen and as such I didn’t learn much. He was calm, comfortable and that’s when I struck with the shovel. I learnt much about the strength of humanity, you need to ensure they have no opportunity to oppose you, or they will.
I was relentless, until the body was butched and unmoving.
I waited till nightfall to begin the bloody business. I cut and severed, cleaning every moment. The body was drained, the meat collected and his inedible remains crushed, mashed and mixed into the mulch outside my home. I began the process of salting and seasoning. Once finished, I wiped away the sweat and tried to relax. It didn’t work, as soon as I stopped I began to shake and my stomach began to ache.
A hunger more painful than any other began to plague me. I started a blazing fire, collected meat and in a rapid panic I prepared the meat. A meal, a meal that I so longed for, was at last finished. As I sat to dine, to feast, I was immediately disturbed by the entire village. I heard their steps, their whispered conversations. I marched to the door, opening to see a collection of smiling faces, young and old.
The people sang praises to me, admiring my qualities, while I stood there pale and terrified. Most left for town, while a group of three revealed their food and requested they join me for a meal. I couldn’t well refuse them, as one had already slipped past me and into the windmill. I nodded, regretting every moment I didn’t stop them.
We ate. Ate till our stomachs swelled and we were happy. I had acquired the hiccups from the speed in which I ate, but I didn’t care. I was satisfied, lazy and comfortable. In short, I was at my weakest, my most vulnerable. The others explored my home, complimenting every broken piece of furniture and even the creek of the windmill’s turn.
Once their attempts to cheer me up had finished, I walked them to the door and bid them a goodnight. All felt well, until they questioned me. One asked me where I got the meat. Another asked where their brother was, as he did not return to the. The third asked if I could smell the blood.
Unable to answer, I simply walked to my foodstore, opening a compartment and revealing a box of salted meat. The three watched with horrified eyes as I bit into the raw meat. The coarse salt burned the inside of my mouth, but I didn’t stop. I didn’t stop until their weapons put my life to an end.
From then on, the village lived in permanent guilt for the murder of an innocent boy. Guilt that another villager fell victim to the horror within the windmill. It was a dark side of the village that would haunt all those that lived there for several generations.