This week’s story first appeared in The Ripple Effect, a charity anthology for Greenpeace. Happy almost Halloween!🙂
Warning: Contents may disturb some readers.😉
by K.Z. Morano
Our elders used to say what goes around comes around. It was written all over highway message signs and bulletin boards and print ads. The sea was a beast– a greedy giant, roaring, hissing, spitting angrily at us. And all the time we kept feeding it with toxic wastes and corpses accumulated from years and years of war. The waves became bloated with mutilated bodies of soldiers, women and children. That was how we disposed of them, chopped up their carcasses and threw them into the sea. The bodies were unidentified and unclaimed. No families. Nothing. There was no place for them in the cold ground.
The sea tried to hold them in until it got sick, sick of being our accomplice, tired of being the keeper of our foul misdeeds. One by one, the sea vomited the wastes and the bodies– from freshly rotting limbs nibbled on by necrophagous fishes to ancient skeletons of assorted body parts. They were all regurgitated from deep within the belly of the sea.
The beaches were littered with non-biodegradable matter, preserved even throughout their years of being hidden in the deepest of the deep. The sand was soiled with curious objects such as our generation had never seen before. We would bring our buckets and pick up these tiny vintage treasures as our forefathers had once picked seashells from the shore. Most of them were useless trinkets, relics of past lives and past technologies, mementoes from a golden era, from the pinnacle of human technology. They were proof that life had once been good for our ancestors. Sometimes, we felt like these articles have returned to the shore to mock us, to show us what we shall never have, we who have been born after the world’s demise. Still, the garbage of the past was better than anything that our present reality had to offer.
Then the fish started disappearing. Soon, all we found in our nets were bones, shells, faint remnants of past oceanic existence and quite possibly, the leftovers of something gluttonous and gargantuan. Something was out there, eating them all up, robbing us of our source of sustenance though it was yet to reveal itself. A few brave men sailed off on hunting expeditions. But we all trembled in our homes. For where we stood in this brand new food chain— whether we were predator or prey– was yet to be determined.
As more species of fish vanished from the sea, strange new beings started taking their place… Fish with human-like ears, crabs with soft finger-like appendages and octopi attached to semi-human heads as though they were born as Siamese twins. From time to time, one would catch a crustacean with a man’s face etched upon its casing, a shrimp with a single, humongous, undeniably human eye, an oyster with meat that resembles pallid human genitalia or bodies of what appear to be humanoid infants covered with scales. None of the new creatures ever spoke or displayed the slightest sign of intellect or humanlike behavior. Very few struggled as we captured them in our hooks and nets. When dissected, their brains proved to be either nonexistent or no different from the average fish. But they were edible and that was all that mattered.
Soon the market was alive once again. Stalls were teeming with oddities of all sorts. Tentacled cephalopods that vaguely resemble a mottled male reproductive organ became a delicacy. Miniature mermaids with their fish tails, webbed hands, hominid faces and pale pink nipples became a common favorite. We kept telling ourselves that they were animals, food, prey. No matter how humanlike their new accessories seemed, no matter how their eyes, or mouths, or in certain occasions, faces reminded us of a neighbor or a friend or a loved-one that had long died or disappeared. It was better than hunger. It was better than nothing.
Of course we came up with a bunch of theories, a rapid evolution, the mercy of a long-forgotten sea god who wished to save us from famine, or perhaps the chopped corpses have crawled at the bed of the sea, reanimated bits and pieces of flesh scuttled blindly towards each other in some desperate way to piece themselves back again. From the abyss, the deceased meats must’ve been awakened in their desire to become whole again and thus created these curiosities. None of us dared to call them monstrosities. Because if we did, that meant we couldn’t eat them. Hunger wins over fear, or conscience or any other emotion at any given time.
We found ourselves dumping more bodies into the ocean, even ones with families, even ones that were known to us. They were of no use to us in the cold ground. In some sick, twisted way, we all hoped that these small sacrifices would ensure that we— and our children— were constantly fed, that our departed loved ones would find their way back from the dead to be of some use to those that they left behind.
In the polluted environment, the new patchwork animals thrived. And the ocean’s wet womb went on with its business, birthing new species that would soon be discovered– and devoured— by us.
And then I found her, a fish with a woman’s face. I wasn’t sure of its gender or if it had one at all. But I so desperately wanted it to be a woman. She resembled the blobfish, a flabby flesh-colored gelatinous mass the size of a human head. Her eyes were as blue and brilliant as those of a village girl that I once knew. Wisps of black hair clung at the sides of her head. She had no mouth but between her eyes was a nose-like fixture, a quivering hole which sucked in the salty air like a moist genital where its lugubrious moan trickled out from. She didn’t gasp for breath. She was amphibious. The discovery fascinated me. She was the ugliest and– ironically, confusingly– the most beautiful thing I’ve ever seen. There was something in her eyes, a kind of helplessness, fear, a kind of understanding. It was aware of itself and it was aware of me.
I couldn’t bring myself to slaughter her and cook her for dinner so I decided to keep her. I procured a glass box and filled it with sand, saltwater and pebbles. I gave her a name— Cat, because of the purring sound that she sometimes made when she was full, so reminiscent of those extinct furry domesticated animals. I would dine beside her glass box and feed her with food from my own plate. I made a place for her within my cellar where I would come home to her each day. I would sit for hours just staring at her mournful face and those eyes that seemed to follow me wherever I went, those eyes that haunted me even in my sleep.
I was not a fisherman but these days all of us have seem to become fishermen. More and more people– foreigners even— built their homes by the sea. There was plenty to go around, too much, actually. There were a few self-righteous men who refused to ingest what they reasonably referred to as nature’s abominations but the majority laughed and shook their heads. What Mother Nature? That mother had given up on us a long time ago. More and more trees had stopped bearing fruits. The animals ceased to bear healthy offspring. But the sea remained fertile, almost as if it were determined to sustain us. And so the people started worshipping the sea, or the god that dwelled beneath it, the generous god, the merciful god, the god that feeds us. As for me, I worshipped only Cat. I would sleep, eat, and breathe with her in our little home.
What started out as a curious fascination developed into a full-blown obsession. I would dream about her as I slept on the floor of the basement— liquid masturbatory nightmares in which I was making love to her. Not the flaccid heap of jellylike flesh inside the aquarium but HER, the woman that she used to be, or was meant be.
I would wake up covered in cold sweat and hot semen and all day long, the idea gnawed like a rat at the back of my skull. I tried to occupy myself with other things, to push away the disturbing thoughts. Yet I found myself spending more and more time in the cellar, staring at her as she floated in her glass prison. Her perpetually depressed face grew fatter and fatter, pressing against the glass, her sad, intelligent eyes shimmering with what appeared to be tears.
In her unblinking gaze I caught glimpses of emotion— melancholy, frustration, a sense of loneliness. She looked exactly like how I felt inside. I decided that I needed to talk to her. Cat needed a mouth.
Ella Green was a back alley whore, one of the very few left. The ocean was so bountiful that most of the other girls had learned to catch fish for themselves. There was no more excuse to lower oneself in exchange for food. I suppose she was either too dumb or too lazy to even try. That suited me well. I took Ella to my house and into the cellar. She let out a half-scream when she saw Cat.
“What’s that… thing?” she asked. “That’s got to be the most hideous creature that I’ve ever seen.”
I winced for Cat. I felt sorry for her. I knew that she’d heard and understood. When I told Ella we were to make love right there in the cellar, she protested. She said Cat made her feel uncomfortable. The creature kept staring at her, she said, and swore she could sense hatred in its eyes. I shut her up, pinned her down and took her then and there with Cat watching. I stared at Cat’s eyes the whole time and her fat, fleshy face pressed harder against the glass. Tears began forming in her unhappy eyes and in them I saw something like jealousy.
I reached up and pressed my palm against the glass.
Then the wound on her neck gaped, spewing blood onto my face, my chest, the aquarium, everywhere. My knees trembled and my knuckles went white from clutching the knife too tightly. Everything seemed so surreal, as if another person were in command of my body and the real me was merely hovering above the whole macabre scene— a stunned spectator. I turned to look at Cat, her bewildered blue eyes and then at the naked lifeless form lying at my feet. It dawned upon me that it was all real and that I had to move quickly.
Carefully, methodically, with a butcher’s expertise but with hot tears of shame and guilt streaming down my bloodied cheeks, I cut Ella’s lips from her face. Her mouth had always been her best feature, that seductive crimson pout. Even more carefully, I carved along the rest of her oral cavity. I worked around her jaw, scraping off her palate, digging deep into her throat. I took everything that I thought Cat would need. I yanked out her tongue with a pair of pincers then pulled her teeth out one by one.
I fed the fresh parts to Cat. As with all the food that I gave her, she gobbled them all up with such surprising voracity. I knew then that I did nothing wrong. Ella was a jaded whore. This life and this world held no more fascinations for her. But Cat, Cat was as clean and fresh as a newborn, a miraculous being struggling to survive. She had the potential to dream, to be happy, to be something to someone. She could be my companion.
I peered inside the dead whore’s mutilated sex and thought of how it had once excited me. Now, I had no interest in it. The fleshy, slightly bent lips, the pink ruffled folds that made it look like a stepped-on meat sandwich, they all seemed dirty, obscene, overused. It disgusted me. Cat deserved better. I was to make sure that she got only the best.
In the dark, I dragged Ella’s body towards my boat and disposed of her corpse the best way I knew how, by throwing it into the sea.
My life revolved around Cat and the cellar. I turned the damp, dingy room into something between a laboratory and a love nest. The experiment, though, had been a complete failure. Cat absorbed Ella’s parts but grew a wide mouth that was grotesquely misplaced at the back of her head. Still, she never spoke a word but instead, continued to pour out her woeful whimpers through that sucking, contracting orifice that appeared to serve as her nose, her ears and her feeding and excretory organ all at the same time. Almost immediately after she had eaten, she would defecate through her mouth. A greenish-brown shit-vomit substance would trickle from that quivering hole, drawing lethargic lines in the water. I couldn’t really kiss her there and stick my tongue into that hole.
I soon realized that in order to do this, I must become more than just a mere butcher. And so I studied. I did my research. That usually involved a fresh female cadaver. I committed a second murder, and a third and a fourth and so on all for the love of Cat and for the raging lust that visited me in my wet nightmares, causing me to wake up drenched in sweat and vomit and semen.
One by one, women started disappearing. Their ages ranged from middle-age to very young girls. I did not discriminate. I vowed that Cat would get only the best and so that was exactly what I gave her, a pair of arms– elegant, slender, the perfect set of breasts, legs that seemed to go on and on forever. Cat was clay and I was her creator. I devoted my days and nights to completing the woman of my fantasies. She was my very own Frankenstein’s monster. Only she wasn’t a monster. She was beautiful and she was mine. I built her a larger aquarium and it thrilled me that with each passing day, she seemed to grow more and more human.
Of course, not everything went according to plan. Not all of the body parts went where they were supposed to go. Her one and a half breast grew lopsided, same with her buttocks. Her anus dimpled her cheek and the hole was surrounded by serrated teeth that were ill-formed. She managed to grow only a single arm– a semi-formed stump with grape-like clusters for fingers. One of her legs turned out shorter than the other, one foot was mangled, the other with supernumerary toes. Her fallopian tubes, ripped into shreds, jutted out from her corpulent abdomen, dancing gracefully in the water like flagellum. She had the anatomy of a woman, albeit a severely malformed one. And she had no skin. Yet.
At the market, I met a foreign teenage girl by the name of Ivy Jean. When I first saw her, she was wearing what seemed to be the perfect skin that was meant to clothe my beloved Cat. I also reminded myself then that I needed to obtain another set of female reproductive organs. I was to remove her uterus, both her fallopian tubes and her ovaries. I had to or else Cat could never have children.
I put something into her drink like I did with some of the others. Then I carried the sleeping sack of flesh into the cellar. Everything was ready. I was to flay Ivy that night and feed her skin to Cat. But instead of coming home to my lovely companion, I discovered that the cellar door was ajar. The aquarium was empty. Saltwater saturated the basement floor and scattered everywhere were grit and pebbles and fragments of broken glass.
“M-m-m…” The sound came from behind me, causing cold terror to creep up my spine.
I spun around and, for the first time, we stood face to face. Me– a lovesick murderer. Her– a naked, skinless, mutilated freak in all her grotesqueness in all her glory.
Then, in a wet whisper, she uttered her first word to me: “M-m-monster.”
I shook my head. “Oh Cat… Oh my love…”
I had meant to tell her that she was not a monster. I thought that she was talking about herself. But then I saw the accusatory look in her eyes. They were cold and hard and glittering with rage. Then came the moment of clarity. She loathed me with every fiber of her being. It was written all over her ill-fashioned face.
It all came back to me, everything that I had done. For her. But mostly, for myself. My knees weakened and I felt like I had been punched in the gut. Still, the only thing that I truly wanted during that moment was to be with her, to be inside her.
I leaned over and opened my mouth to kiss her quivering hole.., the wrinkled raw pink orifice clenched in revulsion. Green-brown liquid and a few garbled syllables oozed out of the talking-hearing-eating-shitting hole. Words of protest, I imagined. But I boldly drew our mouths together, thrusting my tongue inside deep and hard, eager for my punishment and my reward. Then, just like that, the sucking cavity expanded as I have seen it do so many times whenever I would feed her and she swallowed me whole.
For a while, I felt the almost orgasmic sensation of being inside her, of being one with her. I was completely engulfed, enveloped inside her wet, throbbing, pudgy flesh. Her glutinous body embraced me on all sides.
For a brief moment, I was her. For a brief moment, I knew what she knew.
I knew how the majority of humankind had been lured into living near the sea. How we’d all been too distracted by our need to survive to truly notice what was going on around us. The depraved and complacent society gorged on whatever the ocean and its invisible god had to offer. We didn’t ask enough questions, we were too busy committing and covering up our own crimes, appeasing our guilt while gobbling up whatever the sea had to offer. Too selfish, too preoccupied, too dumb and too distracted to realize that we were about to be eliminated.
While I was one with Cat, the intricate web of lies unraveled itself before my eyes and gifted me with a brief glimpse of the truth. Just before the darkness set in, I saw the world through Cat’s sad blue eyes.
I saw men, women and children swallowed by a contaminated tidal wave, an unclean tsunami that bore the odd creatures, and corpses and mementos from the past– things that should’ve taught us a lesson, things that should’ve given us a warning, but instead, we chose to ignore.
Our wise elders used to say: What goes around comes around…
Through Cat’s quivering hearing orifice, I heard screams come from every corner, in several shades of intensity. It was the sound of the end, the true end. It was the sound of humanity being washed off like filth from the face of the earth.
Copyright: © 2015 K.Z. Morano