There was one step, then another. Laughter rose and died, slowly being replaced by screams. And with each laugh there was an aftertaste, a bitter feeling in the throat of restraint and of…of… A rhythm formed. It was spoken and human, yet inhumane. It screeched and filled the air, and cast a shadow over us, yet was the only thing keeping the island from coming undone. It was sung as a group, something we had never been, and it was destroying us. “Kill the beast! Cut his throat! Spill his blood!”

They formed a circle misguided by the lack of a consistent axis they could spin around. Robert squealed and moaned in… imitation pain. They freed him when it was thought the cries had become sincere. His cries had been true all along; there was no longer any pretense on the island. His body was bruised, but his spirit hardly broken. His voice could be heard piercing through their only remaining comfort, their chant. Yet he was not the loudest boy. Roger’s voice could be heard above all the noise and through the thick heat. He jumped and screamed, tearing open his mouth to let his unmistakable screech. When the center of his lip could no longer handle the strain of his insanity, gave in, and tore. Roger closed his eyes and savored the taste of the fresh blood. The beat of savagery violently continued. It rolled on like the sweat, hot, the product of human motivation. Insanity took over every note, the beat becoming a chant of lunacy, each boy screeching out his own rendition of a war cry. The rhythm pulsated on, as musical as the shrieks of the beast. “Kill the beast! Cut his throat! Spill his blood!”

A shadow emerged from the darkness, coming closer, yet still unclear. He first crept closer, then stepped with purpose near the circle, each of his steps making an impression in the sand. When he had finally reached them and he trembled, and shook as they enveloped him. Yet, as they took him to epicenter of the circle, he seemed to lead himself, as if though he knew what was awaiting him. The circle became shapely as they accepted him. The dance evoked a joy of relief now. They had found the beast. They had found their beast. “Kill the beast! Cut his throat! Spill his blood!”

Beneath my clothes, body ached to rip loose and join the madness. My clothes were my only protection from desire, from instinct. Blood curdled hot just underneath my skin, the thin veneer to my soul. Beating, thumping, pounding, the tempo quickened, the chant circling on again. It was quickly realized that there was no end nor beginning to this. Only a never ending middle in which they were all trapped. The drumming persisted deep inside me, coming closer to the surface, and skimming my chest. There it remained, finding the unbearably hot environment suitable, and feverous excitement welcoming. “Kill the beast! Cut his throat! Spill his blood!”

Our circle was smaller now as we closed in on him. He continued to speak, but his words were inaudible against the cries of an animal. He continued to preach in vain, surrounded by spears and bloodshot eyes. Then it came the first spear. It pierced his chest, killing him on contact. It was the most lethal of the groups’ spear that had killed Simon, its notches now lodged deep inside his chest muscles and its splintered peak piercing his lung. We had killed the beast but that wasn’t enough. Roger, peeled of a piece of skin slowly, revealing the emaciated muscle that lay between widespread arms. Blood rippled down the thin muscle and onto the sand. Roger then shoved the strip of skin into his mouth tore in two with his teeth, and swallowed the half nearest his tongue. Then Jack joined in, clawing at the exposed muscle until the blood flowed onto his ribcage. Soon all tore at him, and destroying flesh the only way they knew how. The blood poured on the sand and every boy’s hands were covered in red. We…they grabbed handfuls and smeared it on each other till their bodies were covered in crimson, all the while making sure every visible piece of tissue was destroyed. They tumbled in the sand around him, laughing madly. They tumbled in the red and powder until the sky was dusk blue. Tumbling, laughing… “Kill the beast! Cut his throat! Spill his blood!”

The water awoke me, brushing against my feet and returning to its origin. The sky was almost clear, but there in the sky was the remains of a moon, shining indistinctly, like a memory. Beside me were thousands of phosphorescent creatures, forming the outline of my body, just as they had Simon’s. “Kill the beast! Cut his throat! Spill his blood!”

“Tuck, Tuck!” Roger called, his lip wounded. He screamed my name and running towards me. “Kill the beast! Cut his throat! Spill his blood!”

“You forgot your spear.” He exclaimed. He held the spear tightly in his arms, gazing at its peak with an adoration I didn’t know he was capable of. He ran his fingers down its neck and sent chills down my spine. He wrapped his arms around its body and positioned the spear so that it lay parallel to his heart. Yet when his eyes met mine, he unraveled his bony hands and held the spear out in front of him like an offering. He handed the spear to me gently and cringed when I gripped it with harsh hands. There were indents where the splinters used to be. Those notches, with the remains of young flesh and blood. I took a gulp of air and I struggled to keep my vision straight. There was red all around me. The beat was returning now. At first a slow, steady pattern, it morphed into animal war cry that lay just underneath my chest, and I knew the only way to let it die. I turned the spear as the circle spun around me, finding its head to be my only point of focus. I drew it back positioning it so it was juxtaposed to the beat. With one flick of the wrist I ended it all, and let the beat, the beast die. “Kill the beast! Cut his throat! Spill his blood!”

Mia Nicenko
Age 13, Grade 8
Trinity School
Silver Key

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