Sunday, May 19, 2013


The female ogre turned from the fire, tossing the rest of her half-burnt meal to her mate and surveyed Boy with more cunning than malice, which worried him all the more. “The other meal is a feisty one,” she said in a voice twin to her mates. “You will make a better meal while hunger and thirst soften that one up.”
Boy made a scared sound at that, unable not to.
“You didn’t think we’d eat you?” the ogre said, quite baffled.
“I don’t know what you are,” said Boy.
“We are ogres,” she said, though she named them without a morsel of pride.
The male ogre looked up from peeling charred flesh from bone and bristled, tossing the remains of their food into a fire and raising his voice in a terrible wailing chant.

”Oh, an ogre is a monster made of shadow, made of spite
Always in pairs of him and her yet only one is ever right!
An ogre is a creature that slow-hunts and stalks their prey
And among their many features is a desire (cruel!) to play!
Far and wide the ogre wander to seek prey with claws and teeth
If up to you an ogre saunters, death is something of relief!
For an ogre is a nasty beast, steeped in hunger, born of bile
But if made an ogre’s feast you’ll be cooked with vim and style!”

“Must you?” the female ogre said.
“It is our song, my darling,” he said, and Boy was certain the ogre had made it himself, so deep was his wounded pride.
“And if you sing it again today, I may have to kill you.”
“It is my fondest hope, poppet,” he said and they shared a ghastly smile.
“You’re going to eat me?” Boy said, more concerned with that than even how bad the ogre’s song had been.
“Of course!” The female ogre looked considerably surprised. “What else are humans for if not eating? You don’t even have any pesky fur to remove at all.”

“Are you a hero?”
“I don’t think so,” Boy said. “You have me tied to a chair,” he added.
“Real heroes are always in traps. That’s how you know they are heroes,” the other ogre said.
“Well said.” His wife smiled, and her husband drew himself up and smiled back in turn, the moment strange and private, as though smiles devoid of nastiness were foreign to them.
They were monsters, and they were going to eat him, but there was something so sad about them that Boy couldn’t bring himself to hate them. They were ugly, and they knew it even more so than he did and it is awfully hard to hate someone more than they hate themselves.
“Do you want a hero?” he said.
“Well.” The male ogre coughed. “We wouldn’t mind, as a rule. Heroes are good eating. Unless they kill us,” she added as offhandedly as they’d mentioned eating Boy.
The female – Poppet, as Boy decided to call her – let go of his chin and then tugged at the ropes binding his hands, loosening them a little. “You could be a magician,” she said. “We’d never have caught a witch, but a magician can work magic with their hands free.”
“I don’t even know what a magician can do.”
The ogre blinked a few times. “Excuse us?”
“I don’t.”
“It might not be worth eating his brain, Poppet: it seems to be very empty indeed,” the other ogre said with a sniff.
“Quite so. Quite so, indeed. But it wouldn’t matter: a magician is hardly a hero, but it would have been something. The other one just shouts a lot and claims that she is a hero, if you’ve ever heard of such a thing!” Poppet snapped her fingers. “Are you sure you didn’t drop a sword?”
“I had a fox,” Boy said.
“A fox is hardly a weapon,” she said with a sniff. “It was barely even a morsel of food.”
“Scarely an apetizer,” the male said, waving a hand to the remains of what Boy had assumed to be cooked bird.
“What?” he said again.
“Oh, dear.” The female ogre rubbed her hands together. “Maybe you’ll be a hero now? There are so few heroes out this way, you know.”
Boy said nothing. They had cooked and eaten Mr. Fox and the knowledge sank into his stomach like lead. Whatever magic was in his clothing did nothing at all in response to ropes or chairs or ogres. It was hard to hate them more than they hated themselves, to be sure, but in that moment Boy was quite determined to try.

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