Speculation, Inquiry, and a Quest for Purpose



They came without warning, without provocation, and without mercy. I was spared, but not left unscarred. They came for my neighbors and my kin, all of whom were taken without a word of protest. We couldn’t understand what was happening—not at first.

The first few fell flat on their back and just lay there, disbelieving, not wanting to believe what was happening. Then came the butchering. I watched my brethren be systematically dismembered. Their limbs were chopped off with a sickening crack and fed into some abominable machine that ground them into infinitesimal pieces. Their bodies were skinned, and what remained was sliced into thin strips. I could see their hearts at the center. Some of these pieces were simply set aside, others were fed into the grinder and reduced to a pulp.

I looked upon countless stacks of atrocities no one was meant to see. My cries emerged as mere whispers, I couldn’t scream for the horror. Why were they doing this? They were indiscriminate, taking husband from wife and child from father. They decimated entire households without passion, without remorse. Corpses were stacked in full view of the rest of us, who wondered who would be next. I would have jumped to defend my people, but I was rooted to the spot. I could only flail helplessly.

As quickly as they had arrived, they were gone, and night fell upon the dead. I couldn’t leave them, so I simply stood over their bodies and mourned. Weeks passed, and they returned to stack the skinned limbs of my brethren, fashioning a kind of structure with them, some grotesque sculpture with sharp corners and harsh edges, a stark contrast to the roundness of the bodies they had defiled. They brought our infants with them and half-buried them in neat rows. They were alive, but I didn’t recognize them as belonging to anyone I knew. Who could imagine why they were buried here?

A foul stench rose over their heads from the structure behind them, the smell of burning flesh. My people had occupied this place for centuries. Some of those who were killed had been here since the very beginning, but it only took a day to halve our population, replaced by these poor half-buried children. It was a long time before I learned their purpose, but eventually I came to understand that the bones of my people were being used to build domiciles, or burned for fuel. Limbs were cut and shaped to make chairs and tables. Their appendages were ground down to a pulp that was then watered, stretched, and dried to make thin translucent sheets. These were bound together and marked with the blood of flowers that used to grow beneath my branches.

So much slaughter, so much torture, so many of our lives lost for the sake of houses, furniture, and books.

About the author

Ian Hayes

Former technical support and customer service professional, now freelance writer and entrepreneur writing Horror, Narrative Nonfiction, and Literary/Speculative Fiction.

Also backpacker, rock climber, casual biker, woodworker and armchair philosopher.

Currently living in Portland, Oregon, but also from New York, Alabama, New Mexico, Virginia, Georgia, Connecticut and Tennessee.

By Ian Hayes
Speculation, Inquiry, and a Quest for Purpose