Dig, dig, dig, must keep digging.
The hunger gnawed within, growing more powerful with every moment. It fueled her arms, spurring her to dig faster and with greater ferocity. The earth was fresh and easy to churn away, which was good, because she could hardly stand it anymore.
It is close, so very very close, dig, dig, dig, must dig!
There hadn’t been many spoils like this recently, and her pickings had been slim, so very slim. The humans, they’d mostly left this area, clad in metal and smelling of bloodlust, chanting cries to their gods as they marched North. Her people followed, eager in the knowledge that such migrations brought fresh spoils.
She had stayed though, capitalizing on the opportunity to have this land for herself. How wrong she was, wrong wrong, so wrong. Those humans left remaining were few, and fresh pickings were slim because of it
But this one was fresh, oh so very fresh. She’d watched in the shadows as they buried it, her mouth salivating in anticipation. It was wise to wait, but so very difficult, fighting back the hunger. Her urge to leap forth into their midst during their ritual and feed was strong, so very strong, but she managed to keep it in check. Unwise to be seen by many humans, yes yes, waiting for her meal was the correct choice.
She did not have to wait any longer however as her gaunt fingers, nails ground down to nubs and caked with blood and earth, scratched upon a wooden surface. She cackled with reckless abandon, using both of her arms to lift the box free of its confinement in the earth before tearing the wooden lid off with little effort, exposing what was inside.
It was a human child, a young girl perhaps ten years old, sunken eyes closed, body cold and rigid with death. She had a soft, yet sallow face, and hair the color of fresh-spun gold. She lay slumped in her coffin, dressed in a fine tunic which lent an air of serenity to the corpse.
No… no, this wasn’t supposed to be there! She thought, eyes searching around frantically. It wasn’t supposed to be a child, no no, this was wrong, very wrong. True, she hadn’t seen what was in the box before it was interred into the grave, but she didn’t expect a child!
She grimaced, growling under her breath about the unfairness of it all when her hunger struck again. She fell to her knees, clutching her abdomen as the pain roiled through her. She had been so long without, so long, so painful…
She looked back at the child, her mind telling her to leave, to seek satisfaction elsewhere, for children were taboo to feed upon. Her mouth began to water though, body reaching forward against her best wishes, instinct taking over.
No no, this is wrong, very wrong! She thought futilely before giving in and grasping the corpse, tearing the dress at the shoulder and exposing pale flesh to the moonlight. With a howl of glee, she sank her teeth into the girl and began to feed off her energy.
All corpses have a flavor when they die, something brought on by their deaths that coalesced into an energy which could be drained by the eaters of the dead. Humans that died in battle had a powerful flavor that shocked the palate, while those who committed suicide were bitter. This girl’s flavor was sickly sweet: She had therefore died from disease.
The feeder felt the hunger recede from her mind, thoughts becoming clear once more, the aching in her stomach gone. She kept her teeth latched upon the corpse, draining it of all its energy before slowly unclenching her jaw and settling the girl back into her box.
No one must hear of this, she thought, pulling herself out of the grave. No no, they mustn’t learn, never ever. The consequences for doing so would be dire, and she might be dragged once more back into the dark abyss from whence she came as punishment. The thought of the cold blackness made her shiver, and not from the night air. No no, never again.
As she finished clawing her way out of the grave, she made ready to run away, biding her time until her next meal, when she heard a soft stirring sound behind her. Her eyes went wide and she turned slowly to look down at the source of the noise.
The dead girl was moving, her body fitfully twitching and shaking, as if possessed by some great demon. She arched her back in a manner that would break any human’s, her fingers twisting, clawing at nothing while her legs kicked wildly in all directions.
No no, this was not supposed to be! The little one was not to have been given the blessing, she was to stay in her box, her essence drained, no no NO!
She wanted to run, a primal fear coursing through her body. This didn’t happen, children weren’t supposed to be fed upon for this very reason! With horror, she realized that during her feeding frenzy, she must have accidentally unleashed a part of her own essence, the blessing which animated her, into the child. It was possibly the cruelest thing she had ever done, and she didn’t even remember doing it.
“M…Mother?!” The girl shrieked, her eyes flying open and searching about frantically. As her vision flew about, she locked upon the creature watching her from above the grave.
The woman looked down at the child, into those eyes which now burned red with an unnatural light. She was stunned by the child’s word, for she couldn’t remember what it meant, yet she had the distinct feeling that she should. Mother… mother… this word was not used by her people, but something pulled at the distant part of her mind, an intangible memory that was hazy and out of focus. She concentrated, brow furrowed, and she recalled what the word meant, but not what it meant to her.
A mother was a term for a female who… bore children? Yes yes, that was correct. Of course her people didn’t use such words, for while the entirely female society mated with human men, they did not bear children, for their wombs were as cold and dead as the rest of them. They were Ghouls, eaters of the dead, and their numbers grew by giving their blessings to the dead human women they found worthy enough to join their ranks.
Once they were given the blessing, their bodies changed, skin becoming pale and clammy, their fingers growing claw-like and strong, their mouths becoming powerful and ferocious. The changes did not end there, for their mind began to crave the energy of humans, whether through the dead, as she preferred, or through the semen of a male, while forgetting who they once were, for that person was dead and gone. Despite the changes to their bodies, they were still slim and beautiful to most human males, even when the moonlight revealed the blood and grave dirt caked onto their flesh. In the end, they were no longer human, now something more, something monstrous.
And she had just accidentally given this new life to a CHILD.
“M…mother is that you? I… I’m so cold…” The child said, huddling in on herself. “Everything was so dark and I was so scared…”
She didn’t know what to do now. There had been stories, hushed whispers about Ghoul children spread by mouth through her people, but they always ended in tragedy, the child being destroyed and her maker starved until she went mad, eventually succumbing once again to the dark abyss, a fate that made even the undead huddle in terror.
Yet as she looked upon the girl, a feeling welled up inside her. She couldn’t describe it, as she had never felt it before that she was aware. Once again the faint pulls of something at the corner of her mind made her stay put and speak.
“You are in your grave, yes yes.” She said to the child, who’s eyes widened in horror.
“Y…you’re not my mother! W…who are you? W..what do you mean I’m in my…” She looked about, her face showing an inability to comprehend what she was seeing.
“You were dead, yes yes, very dead. Sickness I think, very sick, very sweet.”
“N…no, I… I remember being sick but… but..ahhh!” She put a hand to her head, shaking it before her eyes fixated on her own, now claw-like hand. She beheld it in fascinated horror before screaming.
“Yes yes, it is always hard for the newly blessed, so hard, so difficult.”
“Wh…what do you mean blessed? What did you do to me? Wh…” Her words caught in her throat as a cloud moved away from the moon, bathing the area in bright, ethereal light that brought the older Ghoul into focus then. She was about average height with a slender, toned body granted by her undeath, with long, filthy brown hair that trailed down her bare back. Her face was beautiful, yet terrible, and it was covered in the same dirt and grime that covered the rest of her naked form. Her own glowing red eyes fixed upon the little Ghoul, who whispered, “What are you?”
The older Ghoul pondered this question. Such an open question, so very open, how to respond? She didn’t know how to deal with children, do they need a different approach? Hmm, she didn’t know, so she wasn’t sure she would try.
“I am Na, a Ghoul, yes yes. You are a Ghoul now too, though it was my not my intention, no no.”
“Not your…? What do you mean I’m a Ghoul, what did you do to me?!” The girl demanded, her eyes flaring furiously.
“It is customary to give your name name before making such demands, yes yes.” Na said, a stern expression on her face. She wasn’t certain how she knew to act like this, but it seemed to work on the child, who cringed before speaking in a more respectful tone.
“M…my name? It… it’s Marybeth Hon…” she trailed off, as if she was having trouble remembering something. “I.. I don’t know what my last name is.”
Na nodded her head. “This is normal, yes yes very normal. You will forget, always forget, but it matters not, no no, matters not.” Na knew her name was something longer in the past, but she had forgotten it. Na was fine enough for her anyway, easy to say, easy to remember.
“I don’t want to forget, I just want to go home!” The girl cried, tears streaming down her pale face.
“Home? No no, you cannot return to where you came, dangerous, very dangerous to do so. Humans hate us, so much hatred. They come at us with metal, sharp, dangerous, no no, it is best to stay away from their structures.”
Marybeth looked down at her new hands, clenching them over and over before sighing out, “I’d heard of the eaters of the dead before, stories my…my father told me, but I didn’t think that… didn’t know that I’d become one.” She hugged her knees again, “I’m a monster.”
Na looked aside, her emotions in a knot. Seeing this child, this monster, she had created sin such a state hurt her somehow. She had never given her blessing before, and although she knew it was a painful process for the newly blessed, they eventually got over it. She had, so certainly this child would as well. However, as Marybeth sat there, crying in her own grave, Na felt… sad? Yes, that was the emotion, sad.
“Child… what are you doing?”
Marybeth wiped at her eyes, not accomplishing much of anything as her tears still flowed. “I’m crying you damn monster, can’t you see?”
“Yes yes, I see, but why?”
“Because I lost my home, my family, and apparently my life.” She held out a hand, gaunt fingers shining in the moonlight. “And now this. Wouldn’t you cry?”
Na was silent for a moment before answering slowly, “I don’t know.”
Marybeth closed her eyes and put her hands on her belly. “I’m so hungry…”
Ah, of course, the hunger. All Ghouls felt the hunger of course, the urge to sate their instinct to feast upon the energies of humans. Na knew the hunger was worse for those newly blessed, their bodies needing energy to fill the void left after their transformation.
Na nodded, knowing just how the girl must feel. “Come come then, we shall fe-” She cut off abruptly, thinking over what she was about to say. For one, food was scarce around here, this graveyard having been drained or warded in the past from her kind, and most living males with the required energy having left or staying close to other humans. Secondly, even if she did find someone upon which to feed Marybeth, should she do so? The consequences were dire, so very dire, so the correct thing to do would be to abandon the girl and forget her.
But she couldn’t… she wanted to, so very, very wanted to, but she couldn’t. This girl was the product of her inability to control herself, her responsibility. She had not thought of such words before, but she knew it was the correct thing to do, even if it was dangerous.
Marybeth looked up at Na and rubbed again at her eyes. “You have food?”
“No no, but we shall find food, yes yes.”
Marybeth looked around the grave and then up to Na, about 6 feet of earth separating the two. “I can’t get out of here though.”
Na chuckled, which sounded more like a tittering noise. “Of course you can, yes yes, you are a Ghoul!”
“But it’s so high up…” Marybeth complained, standing on wobbly legs. “How am I supposed to get out?”
“Your arms girl, your arms!”
The little Ghoul bit her lip before walking up to the side of the grave. She looked at her hand before placing it upon the wall and digging her fingers into it, gasping as she punctured the earth with little apparent difficulty. She looked up to Na, eyes wide. “I… I’m so strong!”
Na smiled, “Yes yes, now climb, climb climb!”
Marybeth nodded her head and tried to sink her foot into the wall, but failed as her shoe slid off the slick earth. She considered this for a moment before reaching down and taking the offending footwear off, staring at them a long while before dropping them into the coffin. She turned once more to the wall and then sunk both her hands and feet into it before slowly scaling her way out.
As she reached the top, Na held out a hand to her. The little Ghoul stared at it with hesitation before reaching out and grabbing the dirt encrusted claw with her own, Na helping foist her out of the grave.
The two of then sat there, looking at each other, Marybeth searching Na’s eyes before putting her hand to her belly again. “You said… there would be food?”
Na nodded slowly before pondering the question. Yes, she did say there would be food, and she didn’t want to lie, no no, lying was frowned upon by her people, but what would she…
Her spine stiffened as a scent wafted past her nose, something pungent and delicious. Not her preferred scent, no no, but something nourishing, something at least provide for Marybeth.. It grew closer and she instinctively took Marybeth’s hand, dragging her behind the girl’s own gravestone, a simple little marker carved with the shapes and symbols of humanity. She couldn’t read it, not anymore, but she felt that she could have read it, perhaps long ago.
“What is it?” Marybeth asked, clutching at Na’s side.
“Food.” Na said, holding firm to the little Ghoul’s hand.
Marybeth was about to say something when Na cut her off, the sound of footsteps falling across the damp earth resounding through the graveyard. A light cut through the night, shining past the grave, and splitting around the gravestone, allowing the two Ghouls to hide in the darkness.
“Swear I heard some damn racket around here. Damn war gets called and suddenly those damn kids think it’s a good idea to come rummaging around the damn graveyard. Don’t they know there’s monsters out in them woods?”
The voice belonged to an adult male, as Na’s nose had informed her it would. He was brimming with energy, and was not tainted as to make him unable to be devoured. Well, she could have chosen him even if he had such protections, but while nourishing, it would be foul and unpleasant to feast upon him. She had learned her lesson early on, which could partially be why she preferred to feast on the dead. They were much more delicious, much more.
The footsteps stopped before the man uttered a curse, dropping something that hit the ground with a thunk.
“Oh fuck me… oh no no no no no.” The man cried, cueing Na to strike.
She slipped out from behind the grave, and in the light of the man’s lantern, her eyes shined bright red, her body hunched over, claw-like fingers extended. She lowered her jaw, which extended down far past what a human’s should, before uttering a piercing wail.
The man didn’t know what hit him. His body locked rigid in fear at her cry, the lantern held in his hand toppling to the ground where it lay to rest against the shovel he dropped earlier. He tried to stagger backward, but Na was upon him, bounding forward on powerful legs and throwing him to the ground, the man unable to so much as scream before hitting the dirt.
He tried to thrust out an arm to stop her, but she effortlessly batted it aside, using her other hand to latch upon his pants, ripping them apart, belt and all, with as much effort as plucking petals from a flower. Her motion revealed a set of well toned thighs, however the left leg was smaller than the other and twisted in some odd manner, likely why he didn’t leave with the others. This was but a passing thought to Na however, as her true goal was what lay between the legs.
Hidden in a patch of course pubic hair lay the man’s penis, still in its foreskin, as if trying to hide from her sight in the forest of dark hair. Na smiled and slid herself over and planted her backside on his chest, pinning him in place. She licked her lips, mouth already watering with thick saliva, and took his cock into her mouth.
She had not understood when she was first blessed how she instinctively knew to feed this way. The one who created her, a Ghoul named Kat, believed it was instinctual in her people, that in order to survive, it became ingrained into their very being. Even if not taught by others, any Ghoul would feel the drive to have a man’s rod in her mouth, for it was where they could draw forth energy.
“P…please! Stop! Don’t… ahng, gah!” The man tried to protest, but he quickly devolved into a series of moans as the raw pleasure of Na’s mouth permeated his member.
She used her tongue to deftly trace around the head of his manhood, feeling the intense heat of him in her mouth. Though she did not prefer this method, it had its perks, and she could see why many Ghouls eventually claimed a human male for themselves as “husbands” in order to provide reliable sustenance. Some said they even grew to love these men, although personally Na had never felt this way about any she fed upon.
The man, firmly in place and unable, or unwilling, to move any longer, she grasped his shaft and began to work in tandem with her tongue to slowly peel back the outer layer of his penis. It was dirty, like the man himself, and clogged with the accumulation of smegma and other debris. She found the taste of this rather pleasant, but it wasn’t nourishing for her, so she continued running her tongue over the head of his member, her mouth applying a gentle sucking pressure, as if coaxing him to divulge what was hidden within. It didn’t take terribly long, as no man could truly resist the attentions of a Ghoul for any period of time, and he cried out, cock twitching as it ejected a stream of hot, sticky sperm into her mouth.
The feeling was wonderful, the pressure as it slapped her throat, the heat as it slid down to her belly, the way it clung to the corners of her mouth. Best of all, the energy gained from doing so suffused her body, calmed her hunger, and gave her strength. She savored the flavor a moment longer before releasing his rod from her mouth, leaving saliva coated tip sparkling in the lantern-light.
The man gasped and shuddered, but made no effort to throw her off, not that he could. Na licked her lips and looked back to the gravestone to see Marybeth standing there, a look of pure horror on her face.
Hmm, that’s not right, no no, not right at all. Any newly blessed Ghoul would leap at a source of energy, barely reasonable until they got their fill, but not Marybeth, no no. She trembled, gaunt fingers digging into the stone of her grave as she tried to form words.
Na frowned, confused at the situation. “Come come girl, feed! You are hungry, yes yes?”
“F..food? Th… that’s food? This is what we eat?!” Marybeth cried, tears filling her eyes again.
“Yes yes, come now before it gets cold.”
“N…no! I… I won’t do it!”
Na grit her teeth, annoyed for some reason. “Child, come come now and feed, you are hungry.”
“You can’t make me!” Marybeth screamed before breaking out into a full fit of crying.
The man stirred beneath Na and she turned to see him staring at Marybeth. “M…Marybeth? Y…you died! I… I buried you!”
The little Ghoul’s back stiffened and she looked upon the grave keeper with glowing red eyes. He began to shake, his breathing becoming frantic. She held out a shaking hand toward him, whispering, “Mr. Landon…”
He began to thrash underneath Na, forcing her to work harder to keep him down. “No… no! M..monsters! Both of you, monsters! G..get off me! Let me go!”
“Let him go!” Marybeth cried, taking a step toward Na.
“No no! You must feed or the hunger! The hunger will take you!”
“I said LET HIM GO!” Marybeth shouted as she tackled Na, throwing her off the man, causing the two to collide into a pile of dirty bodies and flailing limbs.
Na pushed the little Ghoul off her with minimal effort, but not before the man had gotten up and was backing away, breath ragged, his bare legs shaking. She shook her head and made to tackle the man again when she realized a weight was holding her down. She looked to see Marybeth clinging there, eyes determined.
Na growled as Marybeth shouted to him, “Run Mr. Landon, please!”
The grave keeper gulped and nodded. “I’m so sorry Marybeth, I… I’m so sorry.”
Marybeth squeezed her eyes shut as the grave keeper ran away, eventually fading into the night and out of sight.
Na stood there, watching him go while Marybeth still clung to her leg, weeping softly. The older Ghoul felt tired, very tired, despite the energy she had just reaped. She hadn’t expected anything that occurred tonight, no no, none of it. She just wanted to slump down against the grave, and think, just think, but she knew she couldn’t. The man would tell the others, and they would return with metal and fire, seeking to destroy them both.
“Come come, we leave.” Na whispered, looking down at the girl.
Marybeth stared back up a Na, her voice tremulous. “What?”
“They will destroy us, send us to the dark abyss once more, come come, we leave.”
“No, I meant…” Marybeth wiped at her eyes. “Why would you take me with you after I just did that? Aren’t you mad at me?”
Na pondered this. She was mad, yes yes quite mad, but mostly… disappointed? Yes yes, that was it. Such strange emotions she had been feeling tonight, strange indeed. She reached out without knowing why and gently stroked the girl’s head, causing the little Ghoul to gasp.
“Do not cry cry, perhaps I expected too much, yes yes, too much. I did not mean to hurt you.” Na said softy, helping lift Marybeth up. She looked off to where the grave keeper had escaped. “There are no Ghoul children, I did not know, could not know, no no.”
Marybeth nodded her head slowly. “I’m sorry…”
Na smiled at the girl and held out her hand. “Come come, we go to safety, then we find how you feed, yes yes?”
Marybeth seemed conflicted, looking back over her shoulder toward her old home before nodding her head slowly and taking Na’s hand. “Yes Ma’am.”
“Ma’am, what is a ma’am? I am Na.”
Marybeth giggled, her voice ringing with the music of a child. “It’s a human thing… but I guess because you brought me back like this, you’re like my new Mother, huh?”
Na cocked her head, taken aback by the sudden question. She should be confused, very confused by the words, describing something that Ghouls were not. Instead she felt happy, yes yes, very happy. The thought of applying that word, “Mother” to herself made her whole body tingle with a nervous energy and the pulling at the back of her mind increased, trying to make her remember something with more intensity. She couldn’t, of course, for that part of her was dead and gone, but in the here and now there was this child who should not be, asking her to do something she could not do.
So Na smiled and bowed her head. “Yes yes, I am your Mother now.”
Marybeth wrapped her little arms around Na’s waist, burying her face against her new Mother’s filthy body. Na held her new daughter to herself, feeling a sense of calm warmth flow through her as she did. They stood there for a long while before Na gently stroked Marybeth’s head and said, “Come come, we go. We will find something for you to eat, but not here, no no, not here.”
Marybeth nodded and took Na’s hand again before the two of them set off toward the forest, to hide from the eyes of humans who would never understand them. They would depart from this place, to never return, and instead search for somewhere they could be safe. Na knew this was probably a futile gesture in the long run, for someone would find what she’d done, but for now she would do her best to protect this child, HER child, and give her as much as she could. It was only fitting, yes yes, only fitting.
“Hey, Na?” Marybeth said, looking up at the older Ghoul as they trudged through the forest.
“Can I call you Ma?”
Na considered before shrugging. “It is like Na, so yes yes, you may.”
Marybeth smiled and squeezed Na’s hand, “Thanks, Ma.”
A feminine form watched as the two Ghouls passed by, curiously studying them. It didn’t move until they were far past, rising from their hiding spot, thinking over what they just saw. They were here for a similar reason as Na, to feed, but they had come too late to grab the grave keeper she had seen about. A pity, but she had just seen something even more delicious than him.
“Hmm, most curious, yes yes, most curious indeed.” They smiled before fading back into the dark forest, glowing red eyes slowly being swallowed up by the night.