By Lena Ng
Finally, we all got down to dinner. “My turn, my turn!” called out little Janey. She was all dressed up in her Endergore Day finery: a purple velvet dress with a matching purple bow in her hair. She was well-behaved this year, for the most part, and apologized profusely for the fire.
“Are you sure?” asked Mom, seated off to the side, hovering. “We don’t want a repeat of last time.”
“Don’t worry, I’ll make sure I hold it down,” Janey insisted. “It won’t be struggling for long.”
Grandma and Grandpa fought to move the platter to the centre of the table. How their strength held up over all these nuclear winters was anyone’s guess. And this year, no one lost an eye, so the feast was already a successful one, I’d say. How that thing glared! It was trussed up like a turkey, but bigger and more stubborn. It definitely didn’t want to be here. It didn’t appreciate the honour.
Dad got up to help. He limbered up, rolling his shoulders and bending his wrists. “Now hold it steady,” he said, positioning Janey’s arm. She held the carving knife like a champ. “Steady…steady…”
With the knife plunged in its back, the feast let out a roar. Its torso started heaving, and before we could react, its limbs had burst out everywhere. Everyone ducked the stinging tail. Uncle Bob parried with his harpoon in one hand while holding a spoonful of mashed potatoes in the other. Grandpa shot the bolt, but since he never had a steady hand, the arrow seared past my ear.
“Watch it!” I said, as I pounded the platter with my spiked bat. “You almost got my eye.”
A couple of more poundings and the feast stopped moving. Everyone was panting and out of breath. Aunt Elvie put away the weapons and rapped the lurching gravy on its wrist. It shrank back into the bowl. The crunkleberry sauce stained the tablecloth, sucking on the linen like it was a thumb. The asparagus and baby carrots didn’t even bother and meekly lay down on each plate. Uncle Bob picked up a barjyn and tried to spear one, but it rolled out of the way so the tines tinged against the plate.
“Get going, Janey,” I said. I was hungry.
Janey revved up the chainsaw and started to work. Bits of flesh flew everywhere. She cut through an articulated leg. Mom passed out each armoured segment.
I ate my piece with gusto, not bothering to wipe the blue trails down my chin. Grandma had seconds: all that machete work stimulated an appetite. Despite the blade flailing, she didn’t hit Grandpa—and thank Goat she didn’t. She would have been banned from the games.
Dad pulled out the decanter and filled our glasses. The green liquid shone with a tendril charm. “Bountiful Endergore Day, everyone!” he said as we all raised our glasses. “To the loss of no eyes!”
An offering exploded as we guzzled our glasses. I think he spoke too soon.
After a quick trip to the emergency room, with everything now sewn back up and in, it was time for our favourite part of the evening—story time! We all gathered round the tentacled fire. Dad put on his well-worn, felt-brown tale-telling hat and began with:
“It was on this very day, twenty-five hundred years ago, by following a prophetic star, that St. Endergore landed his exploratory ship,” Dad boasted, barely slurring his words. “Despite the radiation and the mutant bugs, we sent wave after wave of people, and by sheer numbers, we were able to settle this planet.”
“Hail, Nuevo Earth!” called out Uncle Bob, winking his third eye around the room, beaming at the sight of Grandma waving her segment of armored bug proudly through the air.
“And from there on out, through both sheer resilience and violence, we as a species have endured,” continued Dad, wrapping a spider arm around Mom’s Sprengel shoulders.
“But Dad, wait!” asked Janey, placing the still moving mass on the make-shift polonium altar. “You left out the most important part! Why do we have the offerings again?”
Dad ignored her completely, raising his arms in the traditional sign of a Vee and taking another hearty swig of his wriggling drink. “Happy Endergore Day, everyone!”
Outside, the night lit up with a clatter of fluorescent hail and an explosion of ripening stars.
About the Author:
Lena Ng roams the dimensions of Toronto, Ontario, and is a monster-hunting member of the Horror Writers Association. She has curiosities published in close to sixty tomes including Amazing Stories and the anthology We Shall Be Monsters, which was a finalist for the 2019 Prix Aurora Award. Her 2021 upcoming publications include The Half That You See, Polar Borealis, Love Letters to Poe, Selene Quarterly, The Gallery of Curiosities, Green Inferno, Dread Imaginings, Ghost Orchid Press, The Quiet Reader, Boneyard Soup, The Needle Drops, Dark Dispatch, Cosmic Horror Monthly, The Omens Call, The Ghastling, Murderous Ink, and Sage Cigarettes. “Under an Autumn Moon” is her short story collection. She is currently seeking a publisher for her novel, Darkness Beckons, a Gothic romance.