Submitted into Contest #206 in response to: Set your story in an eerie, surreal setting.... view prompt


Horror Suspense Thriller

This story contains themes or mentions of physical violence, gore, or abuse.

Some say that meat is the most delectable gift from God.

Mankind has lived for eons, and from the very beginning we have feasted upon meat. We kill, we slaughter, we have evolved from chasing animals with pikes and instead keep them in barns and hovels, all just to taste and savor their flavor. From the thrill of the hunt, to the dripping of melted fat as fresh filets grill upon the fire: Alas! How much does our palate crave for it; the salivating aroma, the smoky taste of meat, meat, meat.

This was the philosophy of old Longsaddle, the butcher in the quietest corner of our little town named Saltlake.

In a mountain-town such as ours, where the mist grew thick and our cottages lay sparsely sprinkled amidst the gray grass, we decreed that we were, always and forever, normal. We carried this air of normalcy in everything we did: we all woke up at precisely 6AM when the cockerel cawed to the rising sun. When we met other residents in the streets, we shook their hands and said “How do you do?”. When the fog rolled in from the high mountains, we shut our windows and sat over a nice cup of tea. We ate three meals a day consisting mostly of traditional English cuisine, and we held community events every fortnight; the farmers would bring their fresh produce, and Old Longsaddle would heft out gigantic pork-legs and choice cuts of cow-rump. Everything we did was normal. Mundane. Nothing at all out of the ordinary — and old Longsaddle was no different.

It was for this reason that secrets and gossip spread like wildfire in our quiet town. They come whispering from the hushed voices of the old ladies at the market; they appeared in common conversation as families gathered for breakfast. It was thus only natural that a new individual coming to visit our backwater village came up in conversation that fateful morning.

“Did you see the news?” My father asked me on the eve of January, sipping his coffee. There was a large slab of bacon from Longsaddle. A small pool of grease lay on his plate; the meat oozed oil and heady seasoning, and sizzled softly as though whispering god-knows-what. He flipped through the newspaper aimlessly: ‘a chicken escaped from the local farm; Marianne, oldest woman in Southlake, passes away at fifty-nine; discussions of town renovations stuck in stasis. As always, there was nothing remotely noteworthy.

“No.” I replied, eyes glazed over as I stared at the cartoons on the telly.

“Oh.” He said, frowning. “Well, there’s a new bloke in town. Says he’s from the city to set up a new mall and industrial butchery.”

“A butchery? What about Old Longsaddle?”

My father shrugged. “You should go talk to him. You two are close — I’m sure he’ll need the support now.”

He crumpled the newspaper shut, and walked towards the door. My father always operated in a somewhat dazed manner. I paid it no mind.

I arrived at Old Longsaddle’s butchery at the edge of town. Clouds of mist lay low today, smothering our gray town in a wet murmur. It was quiet, save for the snorting of hogs in the back and the low moos of a cow. I knocked on the door: once, twice. It wasn’t answered, and so I simply pushed open the unlocked door and sauntered in.

There was chattering in the dining room, and I peered in to see two figures. One was hunched and sitting — it was Old Longsaddle, looking rather frail as per usual. Standing was a youthful-looking man, who seemed to be arguing with Longsaddle, his voice and hackles raised as he gestured wildly towards the window.

“—Now sir, I don’t understand why you wouldn’t sell this perfectly good plot of land. We can pay good cash, and it would be wonderfully rewarding for the both of us.”

“My business is here.” The old man grunted. “There’s good livestock in this area.”

Livestock?!” He said, leaning against the table. “You have two cows and three pigs! It’s a wonder how you’re even able to feed this entire town!”

Old Longsaddle shook his head, before turning to look at me. His eyes brightened up, and he gestured for me to enter. I shyly tottered to the front, looking at this young man with trepid breath.


“Ah.” The man said, rushing to pull something from his breast-pocket. It was a shiny plastic rectangle, and I squinted at it to read out the words etched on its surface. Humberg White. Serving you together with the Gravner Corporation. Contact Information— 

“That’s my business card. Feel free to keep it.” He gave a winning smile, but I hid behind Old Longsaddle. There was a flicker of a frown in Mr. White’s eyes, but it was quickly replaced by a polite facade. “I take it you’re his daughter?”

“Friend.” Old Longsaddle interrupted.

“Ah. ‘Friend’. I see.” Mr. White replied. “In a town as small as this, it’s no wonder that everybody knows… Well, everybody.” He let out a hearty chuckle. “Little girl, I’m here to have a little chat with Sir Longsaddle. We’ll take a while, so why don’t you take a seat, or go home?”

“She stays.” Old Longsaddle grumbled. “We usually eat lunch together, and I would not have that interrupted.”

“Old Longsaddle’s a good cook.” I piped up quietly, trying to diffuse the situation as quickly as possible. “He always makes a lot of food for everyone at every festival. He always has fresh meat.”

“Tell me.” Mr. White said, gesturing at Old Longsaddle and then the fields over yonder. The skies were quivering with thunder and lightning as it began to rain. Raindrops pattered on the glass windows and the cobblestone streets. The main town seemed so far away, and we lay stranded within the ark that was Old Longsaddle’s humble abode. “Why do you think Old Longsaddle is so special?”

“I… I like Mr. Longsaddle.” I said, fiddling with my thumbs. “He’s been here since forever. He gives me good food.”

“But what if you could have it for cheaper?” He said. “See more animals? Get a big supermarket? Have you even seen a large mall, with big windows and air-conditioning?”

“That sounds—“

“Terrible.” Old Longsaddle snapped, looking extremely crossed. His arms were folded, and there was a certain quiet ire seething in his eyes. I had never seen him look so angry, the stench of rage palpable throughout the room. Even Mr. White stammered at the sight as Longsaddle took one step forward. “We are a small town with enough people. We don’t need these shiny new… things.”

“…But I’ll show you the way out.” Old Longsaddle said, gesturing towards the door. “In the meantime, Carol, you can set the table. Please start the fire, and I’ll be back shortly.”

The two men left, Mr. White stumbling on the way out. As I fed dry sticks and kindling into the roaring fire, I heard the flutter of feathers and the loud cawing of four crows. But when I looked through the window, all that was left were a few black feathers that quickly scattered in the wind.

It took a while before Old Longsaddle returned home. By then I was sitting on my usual high-chair, eagerly anticipating my long-awaited lunch. He was carrying a large cut of meat, towering at about my height. I wondered what kind of massive cow could have given such a bounty as he set it down on the chopping board with practiced ease.

Chop went his cleaver, squelching and cracking through flesh and bone. Chop, Chop, Chop. There were flies fluttering around the countertop, but he swatted them away. Gently did he massage salt and pepper into the meat as it bled a gentle red; its blood was almost wine-like in color as it oozed across the wood. He went to the fire and threw the oblong meat-pieces into a cast-iron skillet. They hissed and roared with enthusiasm, the heavenly smell saturating the room in a thick smog. My mouth was watering as he flipped each morsel with the tender care of a parent.

His back was turned to me when he began to speak.

“Say, Carol.” He said sagely. “What do you think of eating meat?”

“Me? I don’t know. I think it’s tasty, that’s all.”

“Hm.” He chuckled, rising until he stood tall. I could not see his face, and thus could not discern the emotions running through him. All I knew was that he stood still: so still it was as though he were a petrified statue painted into the colors of a man. “Many would agree with you. I do too. But do you know the true reason we find it so delicious?”

“From the beginning, mankind has loved meat.” He said, pacing back and forth. His finger tapped his thigh in a low drum: da dum, da dum thrummed his bony fingers. The fire roared in anticipation. “The first murder — Abel brought forth cuts of meat from his flock. God preferred his offering over the crops of Cain, and thus was the first homicide born. Omophagia, where the ancient Greeks would dine on raw flesh to worship Dionysus. Across the world do people sacrifice animals to appease their gods and rulers: Ancient Rome, Ancient Greece, a thousand civilisations and counting praising this delicious thing to be something worth holding in esteem.”

“It is such a commodity that we result in savagery to obtain it. We do whatever we can to make it palatable, to say we humanely harvest it. But no, it is always the same thing, isn’t it? No matter how many frills we may drape upon this shade that blights us, we cannot change its true form. We humans live to kill.” He murmured.

“We humans live to hunt and eat — no, feast. It does not matter how we do it. It does not matter what we use. Do you understand?”

“I-I do.” I said hesitantly.

“I don’t think you do.” Old Longsaddle said, removing the skillet from the fire with a massive thud. I jumped in my seat as he slid a plate of seared meat in front of me. For some asinine reason, I could not muster the courage to look at his face.

“Eat and understand my dear Carol. Eat and feel the value of the most delectable food known to man. Eat.”

I sliced off a tiny morsel with a dinner knife. Red liquid bubbled onto the plate, the seared outer crust a deep russet. I sopped up the juices with the piece of filet on my fork. It still whispered small drafts of steam: it tickled my nose with a fragrant aroma. I sucked in a deep breath, and took my first bite.

Oh, the bliss. How wonderful it tasted: the umami; the mouthwatering heaven of salty meat; the texture soft like linen, gentle like silk! I chewed and it dissolved as though it were bubblegum, and I stabbed my fork into the rump again. I tore it apart with my grubby, small fingers, I shoved it into my mouth with gusto until the fork and knife were holding me back. I resorted to using my tiny hands, ripping into the flesh like a savage wolf, red beginning to stain my white-collar shirt. I dined and dined upon this delectable dish; I devoured it as though it were my last meal. I heaved and inhaled it with the countenance of a starved man, and when it was done, I was left crying for more.

There was nothing but grease and red stains on my plate. It was as though my meal had never existed in the first place, or perhaps had dissolved without a trace. Old Longsaddle smiled at me — it was a wide smile, one that gave no comfort but only unease. He slid my plate towards him and whistled as he walked to the kitchen, preparing to clean the dish as he did every day I came to visit.


He stopped, but did not face me. A few seconds passed, and it seemed as though we were both locked in stasis: unmoving, unchanging; waiting with bated breath.

“…Is… Is there more?”

Old Longsaddle cocked his head.

“Of course, my dear.” He laughed. “There’s always more food, if you know where to look.”

When I exited the butchery, it was already late at night. The moon had risen over the horizon, and the sounds of crickets were my only companion. My body was sluggish from fullness as I embarked on the cobbled path back home. Yet, before I could leave, I couldn’t help but glimpse into Old Longsaddle’s barn.

One, two cows.

One, two, three pigs.

“Huh.” I blinked, but somehow I could not bring myself to care. I turned away, and began walking in the direction of Saltlake proper — still thinking, still dreaming of the wondrous gluttony I had been privy to, the engorgement, the feast.


Oh, how much so do I love meat. 

July 13, 2023 16:20

You must sign up or log in to submit a comment.


Zorah Starr
00:59 Jul 20, 2023

I saw the turn coming for quite a bit and I was still absolutely mortified when it happened. The building horror as you know what’s going to happen and the disgusting feeling when it does is just amazing. Great job! I also love your writing voice and your descriptions are beautiful.


Show 0 replies
Nina H
23:53 Jul 19, 2023

This definitely takes a dark turn at the end! Nice story, Regina!


Show 0 replies
RBE | Illustration — We made a writing app for you | 2023-02

We made a writing app for you

Yes, you! Write. Format. Export for ebook and print. 100% free, always.