My Willing Dinner

Warm light illuminates the darkness, casting their long shadows along the high walls. They draw closer; their hushed whispers turn to familiar words.

"Are we close?" The one at the end whispers.

Foolish. He betrays their location. I'm quick on my legs and scurry deeper into the darkness.

"Shut up," the leader now, "it will hear you."

Me. I will hear them. I already do. Come closer foolish people; join your brothers and sisters in their failure.

Their voices fall quiet and all that remains is their steady footsteps and rhythmic breathing

I sit and wait; the first one passes, then the next. When the final makes his move I reach out and snatch him from the darkness, consuming him in one quick bite.

"What was that?" the first is worried. He doubles back, his light searching the area.

"What happened to Robin?" another whimpers.

"C'mon, we have to keep going. Maybe he just got scared and ran back." The warm light moves away from me.

"Or maybe IT got him."

I can't stop my smile. I did get him and he made a tasty treat. I use my claw to pick his brittle, broken bones from my teeth. Then I move on.

My cavern is huge; the tunnels snake in complex bends that the humans could never navigate. I travel with ease. They think they are hunting me, but really they've created a fun game. My long tail knocks a rock loose, sending several crashing to the rocky floor. I stop and listen for a sound.

"It's close!" Scampering feet. Several try to retreat.

At risk of losing my dinner, I scurry back the way I came, planning to head them off. Four legs are faster than two. They don't stand a chance.

My hand shoots out, grabbing the one closest. A scream, cut short, when my massive jowls close around it.

More screams and scampering feet. I reach out, snatching another. Two slip by.

For a moment, while I savour the taste of this particularly large human, I consider letting the last two go. The thought vanishes as I finish this bit of my meal and I resume my pursuit.

"It's behind us!"

I let out a long huff, breathing warm breath on them. The closest trips, the first doesn't even look back. He turns down another tunnel and I smile to myself as I scoop up my latest prize. The last is travelling to a dead end; he's lost.

This one was little, almost not worth the chase, but my mind stays focused on the final prize. My last meal of the evening. More would come when they hear of their friend's fate.

I lick my lips and start my final pursuit. I slow my steps, letting the heavy sound echo down the tunnel. He knows I'm coming for him. I can hear his blood pumping, rushing through his veins. I can smell his fear.

I pass the torch; it's extinguished on the ground. He's pressed against the stone wall, squinting in the darkness. He can't see me, but he can hear me. He knows I'm here.

"Please," he whimpers. His voice a pathetic cry. "Please."

I step closer; the ground shakes; rocks fall from the cavern walls. The last hold his hands up, wide dark eyes stare begging me to stop.

A wicked grin spreads on my lips and I cock my head to the side.

"And then there was one."

I open my mouth and swallow him whole.

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