Coffee Break Read – The Bloodeater

From Maybe a novella by Jane Jago and E.M. Swift-Hook. You can listen to this on YouTube.

Annis leant forwards and put two fingers across the other female’s mouth.
“Must silent.”
She saw the panic being battled by something deep within the woman. Jessica’s eyes shadowed momentarily, then cleared as she found the strength needed to control her fear and swallow the questions that must be crowding her throat.
“Cats hide you,” Annis said, pushing the older woman onto the sleeping platform and arranging a black cat either side of her. Jessica looked at her in confusion, the fear was in her eyes still and Annis smiled reassuringly.  Being unable to summon sufficient human words to explain her actions, she pinched her own nose with a finger and thumb.
“No smell. Old One comes. Blood Eater. Must not smell.”
Jessica’s face cleared and she managed a nod. Annis found herself feeling the beginnings of respect for the courage being shown by somebody who obviously knew nothing of the kind of life forms that inhabit the places humanity has abandoned. The silence came then, a cold silence, like the chilling silence that came after snow had fallen deeply. As if the world held its breath, not daring to make a sound. And into the quiet crept the small sounds, creeping and scurrying, as every small creature fled out of the path of the Old One. Then it came, with multi-clawed feet and a heavy, scraping, scaly belly. The Blood Eater. It stopped. Silence. Cold and claustrophobic. In her mind Annis pictured the huge, ugly head she had seen before, lifting, nostrils opening and tongue sliding out to taste the air for blood.
She glanced at the bed, where the two big cats had pressed in against Jessica, their eyes, jewel bright. Jessica’s were closed and her face was white. Annis wondered if it was enough or if the living flesh of the human woman would call to the Blood Eater despite the felines absorbing the perfume of her blood.
Then the sounds continued, slither and scrape and tapping claws, as the creature passed the bottom of the old roller coaster. Annis could feel the vibrations through her feet. She saw Jessica’s eyes were suddenly wide and her mouth had opened into a silent gasp as she felt the presence of the Old One for the first time. Annis put a finger on her own lips and Jessica pressed her hand over her mouth, as if to stop a cry escaping, the Blood Eater slowly passed.
They sat in silence until the scraping and heavy breath had faded back into the quiet of the night and, gradually, the small creatures could be heard again. One of the cats on the bed, stretched and licked the head of the other who started a gentle purring.

Jane Jago and E.M. Swift-Hook

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