An Unusual Appetite (Flash Fiction)

Here’s a piece of dark humor flash fiction about a village idiot who eats just about anything. It’s about 530 words and has an estimated reading time of 2 minutes. Let me know what you think!

Ivor had an unusual appetite.

He was the village idiot, a seemingly harmless overweight man who wandered around the village picking through the garbage and eating whatever he could get his hands on. His family was poor, so we always wondered why he was of such a prodigious weight. His swollen stomach bulged over his belt line, and there was never a time we didn’t find him chewing on something: a turkey leg from the trash, a rat, clumps of dirt, anything.

Ivor often got sick because he ate things that no human was supposed to eat. The doctor in the village also told us he was a threat to everyone because he ate so many raw, uncooked animals that he could spread the plague.

But, like I said, he was generally harmless. He didn’t talk much, his mouth always full, always looking for his next meal or snack. Ivor was constantly sweating, and his disgusting body odor was legendary. Our doctor had examined him several times, and we couldn’t determine the cause of his unusual behavior. So, we typically just let him wander like he did, and as long as he didn’t bother anyone, he was simply a nuisance and the butt end of many jokes.

That all changed one October night.

We were awoken by screams coming from the Bosch residence, and we could hear Mrs. Bosch yelling at the top of her lungs. We rushed out into the cold autumn night air and found her beating Ivor over the head with a chair. Ivor was in the fetal position, with his hands covering himself.

“What in the devil has happened?” I asked Mrs. Bosch.

“It’s him! Ivor! This monster!”

“What do you mean?”

A crowd had formed around them, and Ivor glanced up with that dumb look on his face and blood all over his mouth and hands.

“He ate my baby!”

“What in fuck’s sake?!”

We were dumbfounded. Ivor didn’t appear to know what he did was wrong, and we had to hold back the crowd from beating him to death right then and there. The very next day, we took Ivor to the gallows and killed him properly.

As was our custom, the village monk scribbled the idiot’s last words in his notebook, and the church bells pealed to mark his punishment. In the notebook, you will see that Ivor’s last words were, “Rats are tasty, and bugs taste good, too, but the baby tasted the best.”

So, Ivor was unapologetic about his cannibalism, which made it worse. We are religious folk here, and we’ve tried to forgive him, especially knowing his stupidity, but we haven’t been able to.

We banished Ivor’s family from the village and don’t talk about the idiot anymore, except in whispers. The Bosch family, despite Ivor’s execution, still thirsts for revenge, but there’s not much we can do about that. We can’t bring their baby back, and we felt it unwise to further punish Ivor’s family. He was a freak of nature with an abhorrent appetite, and most of us think his punishment in the afterlife will be severe.

Or at least we hope so.

The End

(Image from Wikimedia Commons – A 14th-century butcher shop. From Tacuino Sanitatis)

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