The Wriggler – A short story


The crowd is moving away now. I don’t like it when they all gather like that; they make such a noise. I’ll just watch and wait, soon it will be all quiet again. Apart from the wriggler, that is.

Why do they hang them from the trees like that? Oh, I’m not complaining, but it makes no sense to me at all. I can understand hanging the old ones, and maybe some of the rotten ones too, but this one looks quite young and healthy. He will taste good, I’m sure of that. The last one they hung up was a young one too. I enjoyed picking at that one for weeks, and fed ’till the bones fell with the leaves.

One of the small ones is poking it with a stick, making the wriggler wriggle. I like watching the little ones do that, but I’m getting hungry, so I hope it joins the others soon. I’ll get a little closer. Sometimes it scares the little ones when they see me watching them—it sometimes scares the big ones too. I’ll sit here, just out of reach, and then…a little tilt of my head, a flash from my obsidian eyes, and a sudden burst of my ear-piercing call should do the trick—I’ve heard word that my call chills the soul. That’s it, little one, off you go. I’m sure that I’ll be seeing you soon. Okay, back to the wriggler.

My friends are starting to gather, so I’ll have to get to work soon. I don’t mind sharing, but I do like to have first pickings. The wriggler’s eyes are always the appetiser; the way they pop makes my feathers tingle, and the juice that follows…well, that is simply a rare nectar. It’s such a shame when they burn them. It’s usually the female ones they call ‘witches’ that get set alight and go up in flames…it’s such a waste. Cooked meat doesn’t have the flavour of flesh that’s naturally warm. This one is called a ‘thief’, so thankfully it just gets hung by the neck from the branch of a tree. Like so many of the ones they hang, it’s not dead yet, hence my name for them. It won’t be too much longer, though, before this one wriggles no more.

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