(C) Alex Rieneck 2019 All Rights Reserved

The new one was different, he could tell. She already had more than the fingers of his hand, lying in a pile on the rock floor, howling, always hungry, but still they’d find something to push out of their bodies. He’d eaten the first one, it was the way. Swung it into the wall, thrown it on the fire to crisp. It was the way, eat the first one, or wait for it to eat you. That too was the way.
It had been one of the best meals he’d ever had, but the Gods were still harsh. The snow and ice was still as deep as his hips, too soft to walk on, a misery to walk through. He’d die out there sometime, that was obvious. A mist would come or something, he wouldn’t be able to find his way back to the hole. It wouldn’t take long, he was usually halfway dead when he got back with the bucket of snow and ice to be melted on the fire for drinking water.

He looked at the new one again, looked closely. It didn’t have a name. No-one had names now. The wind had blown through the world and taken all the names away with it. There was just him, and her, and the pile of wrigglers. He remembered where he’d started, picked up the new one and started examining it. Her made a noise of protest, grabbed at it, her eyes wild. He twisted it away from her, grunting deep. It started howling, which started off a couple on the floor. She‘d had half of the other one. What did she think?

The thing was different. The blue bits of its eyes covered the whole eye, lid to lid. Its hands were different too; Its fingers were pointed, had no nails and wriggled like the insides of an open body. It writhes around in his hands, an unsegmented worm, reached up to grasp the hard amulet that hung around his neck, the colour of the night sun, the shape of the night sun. He’d found it in the other hole where the others were. He liked it. He killed the them her and took it. It was his.

The wriggler’s fingers wrapped themselves around the amulet. tightly. Its head fell back into his palm and its mouth sagged open limply. The wrigglers pointed teeth were the same colour that the amulet had been before it started running out between its fingers as a jewelled, oily liquid. The thing mewled with pleasure

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