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A Devil's Hunger

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The moon is a sickle with no chain, in perpetual swing across the sky, white as bone, as Thor’s breath mists in front of him, his nose inhaling the scent of slick, wet earth underneath him and the humid air that slinks its way between the forest – tinged with fresh, fresh blood.

He follows.

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His mouth is hanging open, long slick fangs jutting out of his gums, as white as Mother Mary’s skin, his hands limp in his lap, heaving breaths from his small chest, eyes blown wide open – big black empty going nowhere –

‘My name is Thor,’ says Thor, denim knees against the blood-slick ground as the sky thunders above them in warning.

The boy breathes. A hand reaches upwards. He has rosary beads around his wrist. They’re burning through his skin, melting through paper white thinness, exposing red muscle sinew capillary bone.

‘Come on,’ says Thor. Wolf claws pick at the beads, pull them off entirely, lets them fall on the ground as the heavens open up and the rains of salvation pour over the boy’s face, cleaning him of the red on his cheek on his chest on his hands, filling his pleading, dry mouth with the diluted blood wine of his sins.

-

The boy falls asleep on a broken bench in some dead woman’s home. His priest boy clothes are drying on the table beside him – the dripping on the floor like fingers tapping on window panes.

The silver cross the boy wore has burned a mark into his naked chest by the time Thor extricates it from the skin – peeling off like melted wax and healing itself again with some use of dead man magic the boy has now inherited.

The storm screams through the decimated village – clogging up the dead bodies with water, letting them rise no more, drown in their baptism as Thor dries the boy with a dead woman’s towel, her body out on the front porch where she will fill up and bloat and float away with the rest of the untouched.

The boy begins to weep in his slumber – the last clear salt tears he will have before they tinge pink tinge red tinge scarlet lifeblood tracks all down his white cherub cheeks.

-

‘You will burn,’ says Thor, when the boy reaches for his necklace, made of pure silver, and poisonous against the half-torn open neck that had transformed him into this – bone skin, plague hair, envy eyes; human colours no use when describing the predator brilliance that slides over his body three days after the initial bite.

The boy does not whimper or yell or scream or cry his blood tears when his skin melts down his palms as he clutches the cross in his fist, muttering prayers under his breath, Mother Mary’s name leaving his tongue split in his mouth, filling his throat with sinner man’s blood.

The boy eventually chokes on his decomposing flesh and drops with the thud of a guillotine on the water-clogged wooden floors,

‘You’ll need to drink,’ says Thor, ‘you’ll need the blood of men.’

The boy spits out a chunk of his cheek onto the floor, pants out one more prayer before his eyes roll back into his skull.

-

When he wakes again two days later, he speaks to Thor for the first time, voice hushed and careful, as if in confessional.

‘I’m a child of God. I won’t drink. I will die, absolved of this.’

Thor shrugs, a bloodied rabbit haunch hanging from his mouth as he chews slowly, sitting across the table from the boy. The cross sits between them, covered in the green of molded magic flesh from the days previous. ‘They say if you kill your maker and drink his blood afterwards, you will be changed back.’

The boy tilts his head, envy eyes looking so bright in the lamplight of the home. Thor gnaws on the bone lightly, wolf claws scratching deep gouges in a dead woman’s table casually. ‘You’re also a monster.’

Thor grins, rows upon rows of milk white teeth, reflecting his sickle moon master’s light. ‘My name is Thor.’

The boy turns away, lays upon the bench and watches the ceiling. ‘I will absolve this maker of his sins.’ He closes his envy eyes, his bone cheeks slackening as he slides into the slumber of the dead.

-

They begin their travels the following night – Thor’s nose leading them deep into the dark woods around the remnants of the dead village. The boy dresses in priest clothes manually ripped short for his stature, the clerical collar starch white, a noose around his neck.

Thor’s sickle moon master fattens on Thor’s kills – drinks down the blood of squirrel and rabbit and deer, feeds on the slick gristle that stains the corners of Thor’s lips, the warmth of a good kill, fat flesh; the debauchery of not-man settling low and comfortable in Thor’s stomach.

The boy starves. The boy watches with his wide envy eyes on the lines of red painted over wolf claws, wolf chin, wolf mouth like Lilith’s lips after she slid down from the garden. The boy weakens, wastes, shrinks from life – and there is a sick pleasure in his eyes as he feels his Lord take his existence away from him.

‘You must drink if you’re going to kill anyone,’ says Thor on the fifth night as the boy arises naked from his slumber three feet under the earth. He counts twelve apostle ribs on the boy – rising from taut bone skin as emaciation settles within the boy’s body.

The boy ignores him as he is wont to do.

‘You may feed on animal blood, though I hear it does not taste as good as man blood for your kind.’

The boy turns his head slowly to meet Thor’s gaze. ‘I am my only kind.’

-

On the tenth night, Thor’s sickle moon master is fat and round on Thor’s gorging for the month and lays blessings upon the wolf disciple.

‘Will you return?’ asks the boy when Thor explains he will be drunk on power the night before he is granted such pleasure.

Thor shrugs. ‘That is the whim of the moon.’

And the moon loves Thor. Loves him with the power to split seas and slay giants. Loves him with the euphoria of the religious ecstasy – the mindless complete disarming of Thor’s inhibitions and restrictions that he cannot undo himself.

Thor screams and hunts and kills and basks in glorious, all-consuming, unending power.

-

The wolf has the boy by the neck, slamming that emaciated son of God body against a tree, inhaling the smell of fear and adrenaline, feeling the struggle against the wolf claws that hold fast.

The wolf is going to tear the boy apart, how easy to pop one limb from the other like taking apart an insect – the satisfying crack, the drip drip of blood on wet forest floor, the strangled half-scream lodged in the throat when the wolf teeth tears through the skin.

The boy kicks and punches and screams. The boy stills. The boy glares with those envy eyes, his twelve apostle ribs heaving underneath that bone skin, so so so familiar to the moon that the wolf is going to lick it clean from blood after he’s done.

The boy takes a shivering breath, and the boy yells Mother Mary’s name into the air – the desperate siren call for redemption – before the boy bites.

-

‘I will drink your blood. Monster blood. I will drink it and only it. Monster blood to absolve monsters, and I will not touch a human.’

The boy wipes his mouth the fifth time in the last minute, pressing his bone fingers against his mouth, tasting the cracked, dried blood over his skin as he has spilled it all over himself with his first drink. It paints Raphaelite portraits of sin and desire over his ribs, in the creases of his elbows, over his chin and on his neck.

Thor’s master is shirking away from the sun in the distant horizon and he wakes from his delirium with a sharp pain over his neck, on his wrist, chest, shoulder – the boy’s mouth leaving rose petal kisses of the devil over his skin, draining him out.

‘You should get into your dirt,’ says Thor in a breath, back against the earth, watching the sky lighten, and closes his eyes for slumber. The boy repeats his own lies to his ears as he digs himself down, words transforming into the lullaby that lulls him to sleep.

-

They find the monster nest five days later – in a rundown shack on the edges of an abandoned cotton factory – two tall spires flanking the long rectangle building with broken windows and swinging doors.

‘Can you recognize the one?’ asks Thor as they hide out a mile out from the nest, the boy’s small hands cradling his wolf wrist as his mouth sucks desperately at the vein, drinking in, drinking deep – the blood of his monster saviour sliding through his dead man veins.

The boy licks at his red mouth afterwards, cleaning off his milk fangs with a pointed snake tongue, and arranges his tattered cossack around his frame like the last vestiges of his faith. ‘I will absolve all of them, and drink from only one. Will you help me?’

Thor shrugs. ‘You’ll need to prepare first.’

‘I have my Lord,’ the boy says, careful to avoid naming the son of God in case his throat splits again. He can’t afford weakness this close to his target.

‘You’ll die just as they die, then.’

‘Why does the Lord not affect you?’ shoots the boy. ‘You’re a monster like the rest of them. Wolf man.’

‘I’m not born from your sins,’ says Thor simply. ‘I’m blessed by man.’

‘You’re primitive.’

‘You’re close-minded.’

The boy frowns and sheds his clothes, preparing his bed of earth. Thor watches his twelve apostle ribs and laughs at the thirteenth between his legs, the way it is bone white like the rest of him but springs upwards after each feeding.

He is ignored. The sickle moon – so weak after blessing Thor with its gluttonous power, slides downwards. Thor smells deep of the earth and blood and the boy’s scentless sin dusting the ground as he slides into his makeshift coffin – preparing to rise in only a few hours, just like his Lord and Saviour.

-

The boy has carved twelve stakes by the third night, and Thor tosses a thirteenth one in the pile – shaped by wolf claws with a smoothed handle for easy gripping. It makes the boy’s jaw clench and his envy eyes glare upwards at the man.

‘I do not need thirteen. It is not a holy number.’

‘There’s only seven of them,’ reminds Thor. ‘You don’t need twelve either.’

‘I don’t accept charity from monsters.’

‘You accept their blood.’

The boy is furious – every part of him standing on end to launch himself and sink his ten claws into Thor’s skin and lap up the blood that pools underneath his killing grip. Thor laughs and shrugs. ‘Have it your way then. I’ll keep the thirteenth for myself.’

He carves the symbols for Iscariot in the handle that day.

-

A week later and the boy announces he is prepared to launch his attack. They walk back to the cotton factory with its two spires flanking the gaping, open door maw of Hell. There are only three of them inside – the other four out hunting.

Thor knocks over one with ease and picks one of the four stakes the boy has given him from his belt before impaling the creature through the chest. They’re beautiful like the boy – all bone skin or honey skin or dirt skin, sunlight hair or tree bark hair or plague hair, envy eyes or storm eyes or cliff rock eyes. Thor kills it.

The boy has his victim on its back, flailing its beautiful hands at the boy, hissing and slashing, and the boy is muttering prayers under his breath, bleeding from his mouth, as he slams the stake through a chest, coughing out parts of his esophagus onto the dead monster.

The third rushes behind the boy, and Thor snaps its neck before it can even reach a claw forward. The boy blesses this one after he impales it as well. Finally, he limps to the third and almost pukes his tongue after his last prayer is said.

Thor carries the boy back out into the fields, crossing the mile as the boy suckles on the vein in Thor’s arm like a small child, drinking deep, lashes long and closed over envy eyes as his monster body knits itself back together. Mother Mary and her Son.

-

The four other creatures are present two nights later when they return.

There are five stakes left and one of them is the sinner man’s. Thor leaves it in the boy’s pouch for him to use. He finds it ironic.

The boy is worse for wear after absolving the four of their sins against man and God and heaven. He calls them Lilith’s sad, sad children and leaves bloodstained kisses on their foreheads, and wishes for communion biscuits to leave over their eyes.

Thor has half a mind to call him out on his mixture of manmade mythos, but it is pushed aside when the boy weeps long and loud, blood tears down his cherub cheeks, leaving scarlet on bone skin.

‘The monster isn’t here,’ wails the boy. ‘He isn’t here!’

He yells and screams as Thor carries him away from the factory, leaving seven blessed bodies to turn into ash once the light of the Lord slides through the broken windows of the factory onto their corpses, fractured squares cutting jagged lines over their pretty pretty ochre sunlight cliff rock honey tar storm ocean hair skin eyes mouths –

-

They keep travelling.

Five stakes are left, and Judas Iscariot, pagan-blessed wood carved with wolf claws – all the wrong sinner man things – hangs underneath the boy’s tattered robes, destined for one chest only.

-

The first one they find says, ‘to the south east’ before Thor knocks him to the ground and the boy sinks the tip of the wooden stake through the chest cavity, fitting neatly between the ribcage, spreading blood on either side of the hole – creating a makeshift cross on the creature’s torso.

The boy only loses half of the inside of his cheek as a bloody lump on the ground after his prayer. Thor lets him drink deep from his neck – that intimate space between collar bone and jaw line where he can feel the boy lick at his skin to catch those drips that escape his dead man mouth.

He’s repaired in an hour and they keep walking. Thor’s sickle moon master swells as the days pass.

-

The second gives them a name of a town.

‘You always get hard,’ laughs Thor against the boy’s hair when the boy’s hips shift against the wolf’s stomach. The boy wrenches his mouth away from Thor’s collarbone and scowls.

‘Don’t touch me,’ he snarls, once, final, bone fangs glinting red in the sickle moon’s light. Thor shrugs, leaves his wolf claws to gouge lines in the earth, gathering dirt as the boy drinks and rubs and drinks and shivers and drinks and –

The boy’s vows of celibacy are written in the scattered robes on the forest floor, his naked back arched forward, twelve apostle ribs jutting underneath his bone skin, but Thor doesn’t touch, doesn’t mar or creep or feel cold sinner man skin.

The drink is done and the boy satisfied. His cock juts out, as usual, after every feeding, but he ignores it and lays into the dirt for another day’s rest.

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The third gives them a building.

The boy sits in Thor’s lap, back against the wolf chest, and brings the wolf’s elbow to his mouth to stab his fangs just as easily as he slammed the stake through the creature’s chest.

This time, when he drinks deep and finishes with a slick sound of satisfaction, he slumbers lightly against Thor’s chest, his small chest drawing deep, deep breaths – the movement shifts every part of his frame: nose flaring, mouth parting, rib cage working, muscles twitching.

When the boy wakes, he is still hard, but there is intensity to his envy eyes that Thor catches and traps – certitude in the long spine of the boy, the line of his shoulders, the purse of a red-stained petal mouth between cherub cheeks that have been ghosted over with the paint brush of monstrosity.

‘Wash my feet,’ says the boy.

Thor curls his hand around the boy’s cock, has him arch and gasp, and works it gently between his grip. Slides it from root to tip and back again. Pearls of precome – scarlet like the boy’s tears – dyes the tips of Thor’s fingers as strokes him, has the boy shutting his eyes and hissing, fucking into the fist around him.

He comes with a strangled noise, as if the breath has been punched out of him, spilling blood over Thor’s claws, and sags against Thor’s chest, falling asleep.

Thor lies the boy into earth and covers his plague hair with dirt, dissolving him entirely into the ground, and leaves his robes and two remaining stakes beside the mound – one plain, the other blackened by man’s name. The Iscariot stake is smudged by dried blood and mud – leaving one to wonder what name is supposed to be written there. It makes Thor laugh long and loud.

-

The boy’s maker is drinking from a child in warehouse when they arrive.

Everything goes wrong.

‘Hello,’ says the creature, beautiful, perfect, entrancing. Practiced in its own monstrosity. ‘I know you. You’re L – ’

‘Don’t say my name,’ says the boy sharply. He slides out the two stakes and charges, Thor at his side, flushed with his sickle moon master’s fat belly – not quite full. Soon, soon.

The struggle begins. The creature tosses the child’s broken body away and meets the boy’s sprint. Though Thor thrashes out to snap the creature’s neck, he is thrown back. The creature ignores the boy altogether after that and fights Thor down, slamming him against the walls and crates of the warehouse until Thor drops unconscious.

He is sure he only wakes a minute later to see the boy’s back arched, a stake shoved through his chest.

The creature also has a stake through its chest, but it is the Iscariot that kills the boy.

Thor watches as they both crumple and breathes in the silence – the fractured light of his sickle moon master casting long lines over their bodies.

Coolly, he blesses the dead creature and lets it lie in its own bleeding filth. The boy, however, is carried out into the earth. Surreptitiously, Thor opens the cold eye lids and sees green eyes instead of envy eyes. The hair is black, the mouth is pink, the teeth flat and dull. The skin pale. The boy dead.

He buries the boy in the earth and sits and waits – tossing the blood-stained Iscariot stake in his hand and laughs and laughs and laughs.

-

Three days later, the sickle moon is fat and full and Thor goes running. His master is plentiful and generous – pressing ecstasy into his veins until he is ready to burst, ready to ascend mortality, heaven under his feet, enlightenment at his fingertips.

The wolf runs and screams and kills and hunts and rules the forest with the confidence of immortality at its roots.

The wolf reaches a boy in the woods.

The wolf traps a boy against a tree with a claw around its neck.

The wolf snarls and spits and prepares to rip apart a boy’s arms from a boy’s torso and lick its blood up and gorge on its flesh.

A boy bites at the claw, and smiles, and yells Mother Mary’s name into the air, and there is no blood in his mouth as the wolf curls in on itself in familiarity.

-

‘My name is Thor,’ says Thor, lying on his back against the wet forest earth, the humid air pressing down on his tongue, making it heavy as he watches his master light the sky.

His chest is heavy as the boy sits on it, holding the stake stained with mud, dirt, Iscariot, blood, and, soon, wolf. The boy balances the tip at Thor’s jugular and looks down at him.

‘Third time is the charm,’ says Thor, and he thinks he’s mixing up his mythos, but the boy smiles.

‘My name is Loki,’ says the boy, ‘and I’m going to kill you. But not today.’

And Loki stands up, the stake retreating, his steps sure and loud as he walks out the forest without even a glance back, and the weight on Thor’s chest is dispelled entirely. The first unhindered breath Thor takes feels sweet and he imagines it is the taste of salvation.

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