Smelling bad and festering with yellow maggots and pus in the jellyfied state is how I imagine briefly Myra would look on her deathbed, laid flat on a mortuary slab in an old building with peeling paintwork. I was there looking at her while someone held a clipboard. Then I was thinking about my poster on my wall then back to the mortuary scene, before I think again of the task in hand, retrieving the dead sheep from the hill and bringing it back to the farm where it will be collected and burned.
As there are no labourers in the workforce. not that’s it’s a job entirely of labour. The sheep need a familiar voice around after the other night when the jaguar struck again. I volunteered for the job. I got the job. And seeing as how I am bust tomorrow over at Myra’s, tonight is when I am gong to do it. Shouldn’t be hard really. Just tie a bowline around the two back legs and lift mostly off the ground and drag back to the farm. A mile and a half over grass and through two fences. Should be easy. Getting there in this cold will be a challenge though hence the vodka. I can feel the warmth in all my extremities and can feel it’s giving me a buzz despite the early frost. I break into ‘Jean went out and bought some old barn, only to find it contained – another barn,’ an old song I learnt as a child and was walking along merrily blowing a great load of breath into the frigid night air. I turned a corner and heard a movement from the woods., like an animal, a big one. I stopped and swore wishing that I had bought my flashlight with me.
‘Whose in there then?’ I said into the bushes ‘Anyone in there?’ I stepped into the forest by about two metres and looked around. Nothing in the clearing up ahead and nothing in the trees. It’s the vodka playing tricks on my mind I hope I added. I turned around to go back to the path and that’s when I heard it again. A thud on the ground I felt more than heard. It then trailed off. I turned around quickly shouting this time ‘Whose there?’ but again I could see no-one.
‘HELLO!’ I shouted but there was no reply. I took another swig from the bottle to settle my nerves and shouted a threat into the darkness lest there be anyone wanting to fool around and headed on back to the path.
Bloody sheep, bloody imagination.
I saw in my head where the sheep minus its brain had lain, right up in the corner of the top field by the dry stone wall. When I got there I could have a sit down first finish the bottle then take the fastest route back home with my load.
Feeling good, I was about to round the corner to the field when I heard a shotgun blast from the top of the field nearby and shouting and screaming.
I ran towards the sound and just heard the gurgle of a death rattle in the mouth of Ted Flanders one of the men from the village always preaching about this and that and one firmly in favour of catching the Jaguar alive.
In the moonlight, I could see that half his face was covered in blood and that his jacket was hanging down between his legs. He turned and fell and I could see that it wasn’t his jacket but his entrails flowing from his stomach that had been ripped open before he fell by what I thought… A Jaguar?
Up ahead was a commotion lit by a Coleman lamp sitting on the wall that one of the men must have bought with them. I heard another shotgun blast and what looked like a man with the head of a jaguar in the flash. I threw away the bottle of vodka in disgust and grabbing a stout stick from the ground rushed up closer to see what was going on.
I saw another body lying on the ground, Aldred Baker, another village man, then I saw his son Jeff Lying on the ground missing one of this arms. And I could hear a gnawing sound and a guttural roar coming from up ahead. Someone screamed, A high terrible sound and then all went silent.
I dropped to the ground. The Coleman lamp above in the field was showing a scene of carnage but no sign of an attacker but something was wrong with me. My face and jaws ached and I could smell the blood and there was something wrong with my fingers.
I lay there in the wet grass and tried to gather my thoughts but all my thoughts were on the pain in my head and face and the feeling in my hands and feet. I tried to stand up but puked instead. I felt bad. very bad but excited by the smell of blood which seemed to permeate every thought and instinct.
I sensed, more than heard a body move above me and turned over my arms held in front of me in defence. And what I saw coming out of the ends of what used to be my hands surprised me more than the face of the jaguar/man creature who was now helping me to my feet. I had three-inch claws instead of the hands I used to have and from what I could tell I had grown fangs in my mouth that extruded from my jaws and wrapped around my lower jaw in imitation of the monster now gently mopping my brow and making purring noises. What was happening?
I was gently lead to the body of the former shotgun wielding farmer Giles May He Rest In Peace whose neck was broken judging by the odd angle of his head. I felt sad in the parts of me that were still human but also sad on a new level too aware that a ritual had not yet been completed.
My companion picked up the farmers corpse by his head and bent over him. I heard a large crack and knew that was the man’s skull be opened from the top. I knew then what I needed to do.
I tried to pick up the shotgun from the floor where it lay loaded broken but ready to fire, but my claws could no pick it up. I cried tears of blood trying to pick up the thing but then realised I could probably do more damage than I could with the shotgun through my claws and teeth. The jaguar-headed and human bodied man was now slurping over the head of the deceased farmer paying me no attention so taking advantage of my position I launched myself at its neck ripping it open from behind and felt a great pleasure in feeling its hot blood spurt over my claws. Despite its injury, the monster turned around to face me dropping the corpse and drawing itself up to its full height. Instinct took over and I launched myself again at its throat and with my teeth ripped out what was left of its neck. The creature fell backwards in a spray of bright red arterial blood and then lay silent.
I was breathing heavily through my nostrils and the smell and taste of human blood were heavy in my thoughts as I figured out my next move.
I moved over towards the dead creature that had taken so many of my friends lives and lifted it up till I held its head in my hands. I opened my jaws as far as I could as I reached down and bit hard. After it was done. I sat down and waited for morning.