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Reversion Past the Mean

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Euan awoke to semi-darkness. He was vaguely aware that he had once been called Euan. He was somewhat less vaguely aware of the cold water that surrounded him. But all of that paled in comparison to the Hunger and against that, nothing else mattered.

Light shone down from far above. Drawn to it for no reason he could fathom, he struggled toward it, staggering up a loose slope of gravel and muck that shifted under each step. On and up he went, until he finally broke the water's surface.

A wave came up from behind him, lifted him high into the air, where wind hit him from the other direction, holding him there before another wave hit him and, in the brief space between wind gusts, threw him onto a sand spit.

He pulled his legs under him, falling four times before finally standing erect. Then he caught the scent, faint though it was, of that which stirred the Hunger. He moved slowly in that direction.

Night fell and still he walked onward. The wind stopped, and with it the scent. Uncertain which way to go, Euan also stopped. And waited.

Some time later, it became light once more and with it came the wind and with that the scent. After a while, he came to a collection of things that were not the same as the high rock surrounding the basin through which he had been trudging. He found a gap and wandered through it.

Inside was another thing, one that he had probably known from before. The scent wafted toward him. He followed it into a small void. He bumped into the back of the void. Through some impenetrable surface, he could see movement. He bumped up against it again and again. Something moved behind him, followed by a hissing sound. Still, he bumped, trying to pass through the surface. It slid away without warning.

Warm air hit him, laden with the scent. The Hunger roared within him. He stepped forward, tentatively at first. He locked onto the nearest person. That was the source of the scent and the means by which he might sate the Hunger. He lurched on awkward legs, then grabbed that person. He bit down on an arm, teeth finding flesh. At first, nothing happened. He bit harder, teeth finally shearing flesh. Blood welled out.

The person screamed. Euan bit harder, tearing off a chunk of flesh. He chewed briefly before going back for more. The Hunger sang.

Blows hit his body, over and over and over, until he fell back and onto the floor. He looked up. Other people surrounded the one had had attacked. Crying filled the air.

One person rounded on Euan, yelling at him, but he did not understand the sounds.

Euan staggered to his feet and lurched at the yelling person. He sank his teeth into the person's neck near where it met the shoulder. Blood sprayed out, wetting his face. The person screamed as he chewed, before falling away, leaving a chunk of flesh behind in Euan's mouth.

The person fell to the floor, scrabbling at their own throat, making gurgling noises.

A blow to the face sent him again to the floor. Then there were more blows to his flanks. He grabbed a leg and bit down. There was more screaming, more yelling, more blows, more biting.

Soon, the blows stopped, but the screaming continued. He staggered to his feet. There before him, people lay on the floor, each one holding whatever part of their body Euan had bitten. Some of them stared at him in horror. Others stared at nothing in particular. Still others held their eyes tight closed while they sobbed.

Euan locked onto the nearest person, one holding a bleeding leg. Euan lurched toward him, sinking onto his knees beside that person. The person said things, things Euan did not understand, but which carried strong fear. He bit down on the nearest part of that person's body, a hand that tried to push him away.

The person pulled the hand away. No matter. Euan bit down on an abdomen. There was more screaming, more crying. After a while, the person stopped struggling, stopped hitting him. Euan continued to eat. With every bite, every chew, every swallow, the Hunger stilled a little. After a while more, the Hunger had been reduced to little more than a murmur.

He finally looked up, a shred of flesh fluttering over his lower teeth, parts of organs in each hand. Some of the other people in the room stared at him. Some still cried quietly. Others lay unmoving. Blood slowly pooled out across the floor.

For a long time, he gazed unmoving, unblinking, unbreathing, at the broken people he had torn open. And they stared back in horror.

All motivation went out of him. In the absence of the Hunger, nothing mattered. And so he knelt there, slimy bits of flesh sliding from his grasp back to where he had ripped them.

After a time, one of the people huddling across the room rose up and came for him. Their arm hung limply at their side, a piece of it missing. They tried to kick him, but slipped in the blood. The Hunger flared and Euan attacked. He grabbed a leg and bit into it, tearing through fabric and into flesh. The person beat at him with the good arm. Euan grabbed that and bit into it as well. Before long, the person lay thrashing beneath him as he tore and bit and ate. At last, the person went still. As before, the Hunger eventually subsided, leaving Euan to kneel there purposelessly.