I called him Bone-man, and while there was not much the say on the topic of he, other than that he liked, no, he loved bones, I did not entirely hate my time with him. But I'm ahead of myself, as people tend to get when telling an intricate tale.
To the average folk, the ones with names and a place to go at night, would have been terrified at the very sight of Bone-man. He was pretty, for what he was, and his eyelids had the inkiest coloring to them, which made him look as though he was as fond of women's make up as a drunk is to the local bar. His eyes and skin were both very light and his hair very dark. When I met him he had stubble across the lower half of his face. I honestly don't know if his hair ever grew, he never looked any different from the day I met him.
But there is nothing scary about that. What stood out was the tail. It was long and black, shaped like a whip. Hurt like one too, but I digress. In addition, though I didn't know until much later due to a hat he never took off, not in front of me at least, he had a pair of horns that followed the curve of his head. They were white. I sometimes wonder if they were part of his skull.
But to me, he was a rather common type of sight. I suppose, as a nameless child on the streets of Murdot county, that it comes with the times.
I met Bone-man many years ago, at the tender age of six. Murdot county was not, and still isn't I would suspect, an easy place to live. The variation of volatile species all shoved within a thirty mile radius was never meant to be a good place. It was meant to be forgotten by the good folk. And it was. The only people outside Murdot county that even know it exists today are the condemners and the tainted.
I, being the latter.
When I was six, I was hungry. Well, no. I was always hungry. It was at six that I first experienced being full. And that, is where Bone-man comes in.
Murdot county is not the slums city it sounds to be. It's all forest. With electrical fencing and a wall of two feet solid concrete. There is no way in. There is no way out. Unless you know the right people of course.
Food is not easy to come by. So everyone is hungry. At six, I stumbled upon a campsite. In Murdot county, to steal is to survive, and I wasn't ready to die. So I looked around looking for something to eat, and yet there was nothing. The camp was completely void of anything edible. I couldn't believe it, so I kept looking.
What a terrible idea. I searched that campsite a good two hours before Bone-man found me. He asked what I was looking for, which I thought was an awfully dumb question at the time.
I told him the truth, I mean, he had already caught me so there wasn't much good a lie could do. I told him, quite simply, I'm hungry.
He laughed at me. And it wasn't a very good laugh. It was the kind of laugh that made you want to scrunch your nose and plug your ears, to leave quickly as possible and hope you aren't forever damaged in some way.
Bone-man laughed a lot. Sometime I wonder if he did before he met me as well, or if he just did it because he knew I thought that it sounded like death itself.
When he did in fact finish, he told me that he didn't have any food, for he simply didn't need it, but would be happy to get me as much as I could eat if I did one very small favor for him.
He wanted me to go out and kill someone. Just about anyone would do really, as long as they had bones, he said. He said to bring the body back, and he'd give me food shortly after.
So I did.
It was the first time I'd ever killed, and never planned on killing anyone, but when I saw a creature that I was particularly sure did have bones, I attacked. They were skinny, even more than I, and they thrashed about. Each kick and flail did nothing more than throw up a cloud of decaying leaves and stale old raindrops. I sat on their chest, watching the life leave their fearful eyes as I squeezed their throat with my pudgy fingers. There was really nothing to it.
I dragged the creature by its ankles and found the trip back to Bone-man's camp far more difficult that the actual killing. But I did it.
He smiled when I got back, but not at me. He smiled at the creature I'd dragged along.
He said look here, kid, and I did look as he sauntered over, tail skimming the ground. It kicked up a leaf or two, which reminded me of the creature I'd just killed. You're gonna watch this, you hear? He said, and did. I watched as his whip tail easily sliced through the creatures chest, and I sat next to him while he pried ribs out of it. I hardly blinked, even when a particularly strong bone finally snapped, sending globs of partially congealed blood up to smear across my face and slide off, landing on my wrists and thighs. I watched bone marrow seep out of a gaping crack, and I watched still as he licked and sucked, swallowing every drop he could get before finally biting a chunk off and grinding it up into a paste and eating that too.
All I knew is that he would feed me, and I would not leave until he did.
He ate the entire skeleton, pausing only to tell me that you know boy, I like them FINGERS AND TOESbest before feeding me. But he did. After the creature was rendered boneless, it was thrown in a fire, charred, and removed.
I ate it, the creature. I felt what it was to be full.
I stayed with Bone-man for years after that. Some days I would accidentally kill something without bones, and he would hit me with his tail slicing my skin until he got bored. For the rest of the day he would whack me anytime I passed him, leaving horrid welts across my body. Some days I'd be unable to find anything, and he'd ignore me.
Other days, I would find a creature that had no meat, all bone and exhausted muscle. On those days he would sit with me, near the fire, and hold my hand. He'd tell me stories about the world outside Murdot county, and the many foods there were there. He said someday, someday he would take me with him to the places outside. He knew how to get out. He even had a map. I liked the stories. I didn't even mind him holding my hand a while. But every time we sat by the fire, out hands would eventually migrate to his mouth.
He would nibble my fingertips. It didn't hurt, but I hated him for it. I think every time he did, he was imaging what I would taste like. I would tell him to stop, that I didn't want to be eaten like the others, and every time he said no. He said he never eat me. He said he loved me once. Said I was like a son.
I was twelve before before the fear was solidified as anything more than a heavy paranoia.
Murdot county was getting scarce, and we'd both been without food for just short three days. I'd gone longer. Bone-man however, got real impatient when he was hungry.
So impatient, in fact, that when I came back once again bearing nothing, he attacked. He severed my hand with that tail of his and ran off to the other side of the camp to eat his bones. I don't remember a lot about how I stopped the bleeding, only that it burnt.
The next thing I do remember was Bone-man offering me my own hand. He'd cooked it.
I was awfully hungry.
He apologized, said he'd loved me me. It was the second time he'd said it. Said I was like a son. He said I was important. Then he went to sleep.
That night I stole his map.
I also set his camp on fire.
To this day I don't know if he died. I should have killed him in a more definite manner.
But he had been like a father.
I suppose I loved him.