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“This truly is the golden age for our kind,” Richard says raising his wine glass to his companions. His shimmering needle teeth glistening from the candlelight. “The covid pandemic has been a blessing of unparalleled prosperity. Cheers to you, my friends and family!”
The dozen guests in attendance erupt in applause. Their glasses clink together dashing crimson wine across the dining table adding red stains to the white table cloth. The thin, nearly translucent, material barely conceal the shapely mounds hidden beneath.
“Tonight, my friends,” Richard’s voice bellows across the room. He wraps an arm around his wife, gazing into her gorgeous green eyes. “Tonight, we brought you all together to propose a simple proposition.”
“Get on with it,” a voice shouts from the far end of the table, “some of us are hungry over here.”
A wave of laughter echoes through the room. Richard chortles to himself and holds up his hand.
“That’s why we brought you here tonight, brother,” he speaks while holding out his hands in offering, staring into each pair of green eyes in turn. “It’s time humanity learns their true station in this world, and we must regain our place at the top of the food chain. It is time we leave the shadows!”
Servants pulled back the sheets from the table revealing eight nude humans bound and gagged: Two adult men, two adult women, an elderly couple and a pair of adolescents. Their eyes were filled with wild terror, but not an ounce of resistance flowed through their drugged veins.
The guests’ glowing eyes blink at the buffet in astonishment while each of their jaws extend downward instinctively, salivating with feverish intent. The pulse from their collective heartbeat reverberates through the ether: it’s their death song, long forgotten but always part of their being. They crawl about the table on all fours poking, probing and inspecting for their preferred choice of meat.
“Never again will we hunt for what is ours by right,” Richard declares to his entranced guests. “Our time is now!”
The cacophony of flesh being torn apart, blood gushing and bones breaking fill Richard with ecstasy. He licks his lips and clings to his calm exterior with cruel desperation. He is not willing to stoop to the animalistic ferocity of his kind.
“Shall we check on the girl, my love?” His wife’s serene voice brushes the madness aside. She kisses him lightly in the cheek and rests her head in his shoulder.
“Yes, Sophia,” he responds while combing her jet-black hair with his fingers. “It’s time for our daughter to see the world.”
Despite the heat of the room and the luxurious Sherpa blanket wrapped around her turtled figure, the girl shivers as if abandoned in the artic tundra. The fever had boiled through her veins for three days; in which time, she had not been offered food and she found the sight of water repulsive. Her eyes, in constant flux between yellow and green, flitter anxiously through the darkness with perfect night vision.
She hisses into the blanket at the sound of the door’s deadbolt grinding open. Her eyes squint to see through the blinding light bleeding into the room. Two black shapes manifest with a sweet, metallic aroma of fresh blood stuck to their clothing. Her stomach churns with unconscious desire.
Sophia’s ivory hand sweeps matted hair off the girl's forehead and tucks it neatly behind her ear. “It’s alright child, you’re safe now,” her angelic voice gently sang. “We’ve come to set you free.”
Tension melts from the girl’s body and she slumps her head against the cool hand. “I’m just so tired … so hungry,” she whispers in a raspy voice. Her vision blurs with tears. “I want to go home.”
“Of course, Emily,” Sophia coos softly. “You were in quite the state when we found you. Now that you’re feeling better, we can have our driver take you anywhere you wish.”
“I think,” Emily pauses to clear her throat. “I think I'd prefer to walk. Get some fresh air,” she said coyly, blood pumping through her heart like dry cement.
“Of course, dear.” Sophia stood and helped Emily climb to her feet. “Michael is waiting for you in the hall. He will see you out.”
She gazed deep into Emily’s eyes to see her own serene smile in the reflection. Sophia pulls up the girl’s hoodie and adjusts the crinkled facemask into its proper position. She wraps her arms around the girl in a loving embrace. “Be safe,” she whispers and gesture to the door.
Emily nods and hurries out the room without a word.
Richard envelops his wife from behind and nuzzles his face into her neck. “Our girl is flying the coup,” he says, melancholy flows through his voice.
“I wish I could be there for her when she completes her transformation,” Sophia says in a monotone voice.
“Instinct will take over,” he reassures Sophia, “and her first kill will signal the end for the human race.”
“I’m suddenly feeling peckish,” she says, twisting around to kiss her husband.
“I could eat,” a smirk crept across his face.
Emily tucks her head down and swims through the cluster of drunk men. They sneer and laugh while spewing clouds of nicotine. Paws grope, tug and squeeze.
She recedes into the shadow of her hoodie. Her piercing green eyes are cat-like and hungry. They shine with desperation above her pandemic facemask.
“Hey, where you going sweet-heart?” A bearded man blocks her way. Stale beer seeps out of his pores. His predatory grin gives her the once over.
“Excuse me,” she says meekly.
He side-steps and says, “No-no-no. That won’t do.” He reaches out for her face. “Let’s see what's hiding under that mask.” A boisterous laugh rolls of out of his barrel chest. His friends cheer and urge him on.
Emily stands transfixed. Her heart pounds against her rib cage while her pupils elongate into slits. Beneath the mask, a cheshire grin is revealed to be enveloped by decaying flesh. The smile cracks open to spew forth rows of perforated daggers.
Carnage splatters the faces of astonished bystanders. Emily tears out the man’s vocal chords: his scream morphs into a gurgle. He clings to his friends’ arms for life, but he’s dragged to the cold, dead earth.
Ecstasy fills Emily and she drinks deep from the still flailing corpse. The revolting sound of slurping and suction drowns out the shrieks of terror. Her marble skin deflects pounding fists and stomping feet. Blue and red lights bounce off the crimson streaked faces of horrified men new to learn they’re simply cattle.
The world changes as a fading pulse ripples across pooling blood.
Travis was born and raised on the Canadian Prairies where he works as a professional brewer in the craft beer industry. He graduated from the BA English program at the University of Regina where he focused on creative writing. He occasionally finds himself writing short fiction exploring the nightmares and horrors hiding just out of sight. You can find his other works in Schlock! Webzine, and horror anthologies from Gravestone Press and Hellbound Books. Of course, all of this is possible because of the support of his wonderful wife, Janelle, and beautiful daughter, Emma.
Originally published on the Kaidankai podcast on June 7, 2022.
Linda Gould hosts the Kaidankai, a weekly blog and podcast of fiction read out loud that explores the entire world of ghosts and the supernatural. The stories are touching, scary, gruesome, funny, and heartwarming. New episodes every Wednesday.