Story 1: In the end, I ate myself

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In the end, I ate myself

“Hold me closer. Hold me closer. Let the nightmares fade away. Pull me tighter. Pull me tighter. Towards the light of precious day.”

There was only one man who knew where I was. Deep in the heart of the asylum, with slimy walls and thick doors that were always locked, I was found in the fetal position. This small, damp room had been my home for all the memories I still clung to.

I’m still not sure how I got here. It had to have been years and years ago, back in a time that I can’t remember. I’m sure there’s a world outside of this forsaken place. I just can’t imagine what it would be like.

When The Man came into my room missing an arm, I asked him what happened. It was only four cycles of food from the last time I’d seen him, but he hadn’t been missing an arm then. But on that day long ago, he came in with a bloodied, bandaged stump.

“How did that happen?” I asked, gesturing at the injury.

“Painfully,” was his only reply.

“Is there fighting going on outside?” I questioned him. I was careful not to overstep the boundaries that had been set up through flesh and blood and torture. Too many questions -or too broad a question- would only end up badly for me.

He considered what I’d asked, and then decided to answer. “There is not much I can tell you. Only this. If you ever step out of this place, you’ll find the world outside not so friendly as you might imagine.”

It took me a second to realize he’d left without giving me anything. It seemed that my question had unnerved him, so much that he forgot to lay down the food he brought. I called out twice, but to no avail. I missed my meal cycle for that day.

I curled up in my favorite corner of the room and began to sing the only song I remembered. Some days I could recall the entire thing. Other times I was lucky to grasp hold of a sentence. “Hold me closer. Hold me closer. Let the nightmares fade away. Pull me tighter. Pull me tighter. Towards the light of precious day.”

That was about a year ago. Since that day, The Man looked in worse shape every time I saw him. For 11 months, he would visit me once or twice a day. Over the final month, however, those visits dropped, diminished, and eventually disappeared.

It had been three weeks since I saw him when I made the decision. Unless I took some action, I was going to die. So, one day, I stood up and I made my way across the pitch black room to the wall where everybody entered in from. They always came without my knowing, and I never knew that somebody was with me until I heard them speak. But when I approached the wall, I found there wasn’t one.

I continued walking. Step after step led me down a hallway that I had no idea was there. For years, it’d been beat into my head there was a wall, and that I could not pass that wall. But there was nothing. Nothing there to block my escape, and especially nothing to punish me if I tried to get out.

For ten minutes, I carefully and methodically made my way down the hall. There were two dark walls on either side, one grimy floor under my feet. I tripped, once, and felt a pain around my waist. I’d forgotten about that pain, which was as forgotten as the place I was born. That pain was not allowed, because it reminded me of gender and of difference.

What I saw at the end of the hallway is something I will never forget, and will never make sense. Because there was no asylum, like I expected and had been told by The Man. When I walked out of that hallway, I saw grass.

There was a lush plain of grass, and a gigantic, thick wall surrounding the valley. On top of that wall, millions of people stood watching. They laughed and chuckled and pointed and stared. It took me a few minutes to move, but at last I understood.

Across the valley from me were three other people. They, also, were tired, starving, thin, and miserable-looking. I walked over and asked them what we were doing there. I knew what they would say.

“We are the ones groomed to eat and bred to feed. But now we have no food.”

I glanced around us and saw large portions of the grass were gone.

They saw my eyes and said, “It doesn’t grow back. For now, we have food. When the grass runs out, though…”

I went to the corner of the natural arena and began to sing my song.

“Hold me closer. Hold me closer. Let the night then fade away. Pull me tighter. Pull me tighter. Towards the light of precious day.”

That night, as we were all sleeping, I rose up and killed one of them. In the morning, I blamed one of the others and they eventually turned on each other, fighting. One of them died. The other was too weak to protect himself.

With food to last me for a few weeks, I settled back and began to eat the bodies before they went bad. I explored the caves where the other three had lived, but could find no entrance. One of them, however, contained the body of The Man. He cared for all four of us, yet somebody turned on him and killed him. They all hoped for food, for a meal. So I punished them with my teeth.

“Hold me closer. Hold me closer. Let the night then fade away. Pull me tighter. Pull me tighter. Towards the light of precious day.”

In the end, I ate myself.