Author: Regala Electra
Spoilers: S5 Dead Men Don’t Wear Plaid
Summary: She wasn’t hungry yet.
Word Count: 1,581
Author’s Note: A coda to Dead Men Don’t Wear Plaid. This is a love letter to Death or a fairy tale about dead girls or perhaps a reminder that dead things shouldn’t be children.
She died in a field where no flowers grew and by the time the police found her, her story was over, that’s all.
The obituary called it a tragedy and perhaps it was, for the only those knew the truth would have dared to alter the supposed facts and they dare not. There was horror enough in the death of a young child.
The poor little girl was a fitting symbol as any to the cruelty of death.
When she woke up in the deep dark scary place she tried to scream but her mouth was dusty and she coughed out maggots until she could force a whimper out of her dead throat, begging why.
The lean man of bones helped pull her up, for she’d always been a tiny, weak thing, sickly from birth, and the death-man brushed some of the graveyard dirt from her brow. Your family’s left this town. But you keep walking south and you’ll find them.
She nodded and wasn’t scared because when the sharp bone-fingers pressed against her skin, she got a vision of warmth and her parents no longer crying when they set their eyes on her. She could even see her baby brother grown up into a boy so much older than her.
But she was still scared of the dark and didn’t leave the graveyard until days later, watching as the dead climbed out of their graves, easy as anything, nodding when the bone-man told them where to go or how fast they scurried away before those scary claws touched their rotted bodies.
Under the grime and dirt, she watched her skin pucker itself back together like it was supposed to look until she looked almost like she was alive and soon, she took off like the rest into the town. A little lost girl was someone to be cared for and she found a family that had a little dead boy of their own so they took pity on her. They washed her and got her clean clothes but when they asked for her name, she gave one of a girl who died twenty years ago and no, her family wasn’t here anymore, she lied.
Poor child, said the mother, her arms wrapped around her son.
She snuck out in the dead of night when only the boy could have stopped her since neither of them slept, not even a wink. But he didn’t stop her, oh no, he told her to get gone. “You work for the scary man, he said so.”
“You gonna tattle on me?”
He shivered then and smacked his lips. Like he was hungry. “No.”
The road was long and hard but she didn’t need to stop for anything. Nothing could stop her now.
She’d been ten when she died and small for her age and all she knew was dying. All she remembered was doctors clucking their tongues over her saying she just had to take all her medicines so it wouldn’t hurt so bad, her momma getting scared when she coughed, and sometimes her baby brother cried and daddy took him outside to quiet down because it made her head hurt.
Her parents argued in the dark when they thought she was sleeping.
Sleeping was gone to her now since she was dead through and through. Her head only hurt when she remembered the scritch-scratch Mister Bones gave her when he helped her out of her grave.
A bargain, he said and when she didn’t know what he meant, the death-man had bent down so she’d gotten a good look at the face that wasn’t there. He wasn’t anything but what he was so that's how she knew he wasn’t trying to trick her. He didn't need to lie to the dead. A little gift to you and a gift to me. Only eat a little when you’re hungry and I’ll give you a big surprise.
But she hadn’t gotten hungry yet, no, not at all, not even when she figured out how to get all the way down to that new place her family made into a pretty home. When they let her in out of the cold that couldn’t kill her, she was expecting she’d get hungry, especially when momma began hugging her and telling her she’d prayed for anything to get her daughter back, saying that God had finally blessed them.
“Aren’t you hungry, sweetheart? Look at you, oh God... you’re so thin! And cold. My sweet girl.”
“I’m not hungry,” she said but she felt something the moment she spoke and she hadn’t felt anything until then so she didn’t know what it was, only that it felt like sort of a crawling ache in her mended bones. “I’m so cold.”
“You won’t be cold ever again. I’m so sorry, baby.”
Daddy was real quiet but daddy was always quiet because that’s what daddies do best.
The fire got started in a big fireplace in the living room and her brother little Davey, no David, that’s what momma called him, watched her closely. His eyes were wet, a little, but he wiped at his face with his sleeve.
“I’m hungry,” she said then, trying out the words like she was alive. “I think.”
“You’re dead,” he told her like she didn’t know.
“No I’m not,” she lied. She didn’t have much time. Momma was off shopping for groceries, promising that no matter what she wanted, she’d get to eat anything, even dessert for dinner. Daddy was outside, cutting more wood for the fire. It wasn’t cold to them but she was cold and they promised her she’d never be cold again. “I remember everything. I’m your sister and I love you.”
“That doesn’t make you... you’ve been dead forever.” His hands were curled into big fists and he sounded very angry like he was trying to scare her.
“You’re a mean old brother,” she said but no tears, hot or cold, stung her eyes when she tried crying. She was so empty and the hunger was gnawing at her like a living thing trapped in a hollow shell. It was how she felt when she crawled out of her coffin, only she hadn't been alive and wouldn't ever be like the living ever again.
She wasn't scared.
There was a mirror over the fireplace, just a little too high for her to really see everything, but she saw daddy creeping up behind her all the same. The axe was held high enough, after all.
“Daddy, are you gonna kill me again?”
She wasn’t very strong then, back in the dead field where he’d taken her to die and she wasn’t very much alive now, but she felt so hungry, like she could eat him all up.
“You were always a monster.”
She frowned real good then and her skin finally cracked. She’d gotten so good at keeping herself together but without the experimental medicine to keep her in check, why, shifting out of her pretty little girl-form wasn’t too hard at all. “Momma doesn’t like it when you call me a monster.”
“Your mother isn’t here,” Daddy said as the axe swung down.
But she was too fast, no longer bogged down by the fog of pain when she was alive, and she couldn’t feel a thing when she tore into her brother’s flesh as she transformed her twisting fingers into skeleton hands just like the man of bones.
Daddy used to be quicker when she was alive and scared but she wasn’t afraid of getting hurt. He could chop at her all he wanted but that wouldn’t stop her.
It took no time at all to tear out David’s throat and taste real warmth for the first time in a very long time.
David also gifted her with the switchblade he’d tucked into his back pocket. Probably heard nasty stories about her growing up and wanted to be protected when daddy told him to watch her. But he’d never grown up scared and she was so hungry.
By the time she finished with daddy, she’d painted the room red but eaten only her fair supper, mindful of Mister Bones’s request. When her tummy was full, she closed her eyes and wished, hard. She shed the skeleton hands so she didn’t have those scary claws anymore and made her face real pretty before she opened her eyes and looked up into the mirror over the fireplace.
Momma would be home soon and she was promised dessert.
I did good, didn’t I, asked the monster. She’d dressed warmly, for appearance’s sake only, the bulky clothes swallowing her thin body.
Death stood with her at the crossroads, their shadows dark against the encroaching night. Sometimes her shadow wasn’t quite a girl but with mostly-human eyes, she’d never notice her shapeshifter shadow betrayed her true nature.
She was awfully frightened of him but he paid her fear no heed, whispering his answer to his precious dead thing, shaped in a trembling human charade. How’d you like to make a whole new family? Here’s a secret for you, child, next time you’re hungry, take only a bite. They’ll become just as dead as you are but they will follow you to the very end of the world.
Will they be hungry?
As long as there are living I've not touched. Are you hungry?
A little. Her sharp, clever teeth glinted in the dying light like polished bone. I want a bite.