All Stories, Fantasy

The Eater by Tao Song

I am here. I am here. I. Am. Here.

There was a man, a psychic, a fortune teller, a palm reader. He was different, though. He read people’s aura differently. The colors of the aura, to him, were merely additives. Attractive, superfluous, and evanescent. He could not care less about them. Instead, he was far more interested in the texture, the makeup, the viscous nature of the fluffy cloud that surrounded slightly above the back of his patrons’ necks. Under all the hair of so many different shades of red, he imagined that there was always a lovely crack behind each and everyone’s skull, a seam that was never sewn up by their then-young-and-careless mothers, a defect that was never discovered by the scientists, a damage that used be to a living organism. That was where the auras would seep through, like an apparition in the deep dark night, quiet, sly, fatal. Then, there they were. Just as real as you and I are talking right now, they were there. At first, he was not good at reading them. They were always confusing to him. The alacrity, the discontent, the childish play, the bones and muscles and heart and stomach and intestines, were all jumbled together. He understood them, but he could never articulate them back to his clients. So he would laugh, or cry, or went into an uncontrollable hysteria. Then, he would be back to himself, not able to say anything. Confounded, and lost. It was that peculiar a situation that none of his friends in the sentient realm could help. Even Google couldn’t save him.

Then, one day, he found his very own solution. The reason I said he read auras differently, was because he now ate them. Within the aura, he would look for those specific pieces of memories, and histories, and secrets, and regrets, and fear, and the topsy-turvy that he found to be most palatable, and ate them, like how ordinary people in buffet diners eat the cheap puddings made of suspicious ingredients. Devour. Because he realized that he needed to curate them using the taste buds of his tongue and feel their sharp edges against the inner wall of his coarse neck, and burn them down with the gastric acid produced by his very own parietal cells, and then let them invade his bloodstream, his eyelids, and his teeth. Then, he could start telling the stories of his clients back to them. Like a cow ruminating the dated autumn grass, or a sparrow spitting out the insects they swallowed earlier so they could feed their young. And then, his clients would understand, what was causing them the sore in their bones, and then, they would move on. They could move on, you see, because the pieces of their auras that were jabbing at the back of their throats were already gone. He ate them. He was an eater. All that was left was logic and comprehension, and compassion, and understanding, and resolve. It’s like tattoos. As soon as the ink left the end of the needles, it is permanently lodged onto someone else’s skin. Gone. For good. And, his clients would leave. He let them leave because he never asked for any payment. Because you see, he ate.

He ate, because he wanted to grow back his missing rib bone. It was a piece of rib that was ripped off by someone he had long forgotten, face, name, lips. The left and right chambers of his rib cage used to be uneven. The one on the left was rounded with the bottom rib bulging out like a hill that should not be there. The chamber on the right, on the other hand, was flat. He used to be very proud of his deformity, and profited off it, because, he, a now fortune teller, was not a fortune teller before. He was a circus freak. His performance used to be prancing around a rounded stage with shouting onlookers and quiet bystanders and scared children and disgusted mothers, and he just showed off his unevenness, his uniqueness, his asymmetry to the sick and diseased audience. Night after night. Time used to be simple for him then, unlike the colossal undertaking that he was experiencing today. He seemed to remember he loved to fly a kite, which he bought using 8 dollars from his pocket. The kite was terrible. It could never fly high. But it was his kite, so he would say “All beauty and no substance” to it while caressing it, treasuring it, fixing it, imprisoning it. It was his kite. Then, one day, he woke up, and the bottom piece of the left chamber of his rib cage was gone, the kite was still there, on the wall, watching. And just like that, he had two flat rib cage chambers. And of course, he was forsaken. There was no adulation left. No shouting customers. No glitter. Darkness. So, he became a fortune teller, a psychic, a palm reader. A charlatan. Initially, he was only doing it because people were stupid, they would pay high prices for a little bit of catch-all cheer-em-up. But then, he saw people’s auras. And then, he ate them. He became an eater.

During the first time he ate an aura, while he was quietly chewing it down, he felt this unusual sensation of tingling on the part of his left rib cage chamber that was missing a bone, the hollow space he called it. It felt like a tooth was trying to wiggle itself out of its root inside of the gum. He though his bottom rib bone as going to come back. He was full of hope. But then… Then. Nothing. No rib bone. Nothing. So, he did it again. Tingling, then nothing. And again. Then nothing. And again. Then nothing. Every time, after the tingling, after the hope, all he felt was nothingness, blackness, numbness. There was not even despair or disappointment or dissatisfaction. Just… nothing. Like death. So, he was a fortune teller now. He told people’s stories about themselves after he ate their memories. He thought, maybe the person who took his rib bone also forgot about him. Then, if he became famous enough, rich enough, clever enough, perhaps the person would be lured back serendipitously, and he would eat his aura, finally understood everything that was missing in his mind. And then he would eat his flesh, and bones, and heart, and stomach, and intestines, and eyes, and eyelids, and hair, and kneecaps, and teeth. And maybe then, he would be able to grow back his original rib cage, his deformity, his unevenness, his asymmetry. His insanity. The last ever tingling on his left rib cage chamber.

So, here I am. Solipsistic. Here. I. Am. In front of him. So simple. He is looking at me, with kindness and inconsolable pain in his eyes. His room smells like patchouli. He asks me for my name. He asks me how to spell it. I tell him. Then, staring at my lips, he says: “Let’s eat.”


Tao Song

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2 thoughts on “The Eater by Tao Song”

  1. I’ve been looking at this thing for, oh, a half hour. It grows on you. To be honest, at first the quick chop single word sentences annoyed me. But then I found a cadence which I liked. Nifty wordplay too. Haven’t a clue what it is REALLY about, but it’s good.

    Liked by 1 person

    1. Hi! Thanks for your comment! It still boggles my mind that I have a short story published here (creative writing is FAR from my profession…)! I completely understand where you’re coming from and truthfully I wrote and liked this story because it is so ambiguous. The goal was to convey a kind of a feeling instead of a neat plot, if that makes any sense. Basically I am hoping that once in a while a reader will experience something in life and then think: “Ah! That’s what that story is trying to say!” That said, I did draw inspiration from a real life event, but I have twisted it so much that the end product is just extremely surreal. But if you want a little hint about what I was trying to say, the original title of the piece was “The Grownup” 😉


      Liked by 2 people

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