The first bite

The river churned and gargled where it collided with the rocks. A sheet of water flowed over the edge, cascading twenty-foot into the black pool below. The engine of a small boat ticked and whined as it approached. A cool mist seeped into the cabin. Water roared as it beat on the roof of the little ship, but it persevered and made it through the sheet into the concealed cavern beyond. 

The deafening roar turned to silence, broken only by a steady drip, drip, drip. 

Georgia flicked a switch, and light erupted from the boat. Every nook and cranny was illuminated. Bats flocked from the ceiling; their high-pitched squeals echoed before disappearing down a dark corridor. 

The stench of damp earth filled Georgia’s nostrils. She dropped anchor and left the cab. Holding the tattered last letter from her husband and lantern, she stepped ashore. She tentatively made her way deeper into the cave, her boots slipping on moss-covered ground. 

Squeezing herself through a small gap, her shirt snagged and tore on the jagged rocks. Something crunched and snapped under her boot. Georgia lifted the lamp higher. Bones littered the floor, mostly animal, some human. A shiver ran down her spine as she clutched at the letter and hoped her husband wasn’t among them. Movement in the corner distracted her from her spiralling thoughts. The figure became more distinguished as she crept closer. His head bobbed as he crouched, like a cat grooming itself. 


The bobbing stopped.  

“Eric, it’s me.” 

Georgia stepped closer, snapping a brittle bone under her boot. The man snarled at the sound. Georgia gasped, fell backwards, and sliced open her forearm on a fractured femur. The man crawling on his knuckles towards her was once her husband, but whatever beast he’d become didn’t recognise her as his wife. His nose was broken and dripping. The blood mingled with the that already smeared around his mouth. Georgia let out a slight squeal as he pinned her to the floor. Saliva dribbled down his chin and onto her shirt. She winced when he licked the open wound on her arm. The deformities on his forehead spread down his neck and onto his back. They rippled with a life of their own as he flexed his shoulders and took the first bite. 

Story by Stacey Potter

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