A novella by Christina Bergling

Tattooed Savage


From Savages:

“I let the blade of my cutlass clang against the tree trunk beside me repeatedly. The child began to fuss behind me, where he was calmly watching me, but I also heard the savage shift again, getting closer. Then it leapt out from between the branches directly in front of me. It had been a man. Tattered remains of clothing clung to its waist. Dirt and presumably blood smeared all over lean flesh. Its eyes were untamed and feral, and its mouth dangled wide among scraggly hair.

I stood and breathed calmly as it began to charge wildly at me. It let out a wheezing scream and held its arms wide, wrists slapping and scraping against the trees. I allowed it to lunge at me as I stepped to the side and let my cutlass slice through its arm. The limb fell dead among the foliage as it howled, recoiled, and came at me again.

It did not learn. I simply repeated my attack on the other side. As its clumsy body dove toward me, I darted from its path and brought my blade through its remaining arm. This time, it collapsed to the ground beside its two severed limbs, rolling around and looking desperately between the two lifeless hands, forearms, elbows.

I stepped over it and put my foot on its chest. The scars of fingernail marks raked down its face. How many people had it killed? Its eyes were sunken in, cheekbones jutting out, yet they bulged from deep in the sockets, always moving around in a frenzy. I could not make out the lips from beneath the plumes of beard; I could only see the yellow, plaque-ridden teeth. They snapped repeatedly as its black tongue wriggled behind.

On its chest were the faded, flattened remnants of a tattoo. I thought I made out the sprawling wings of an eagle, but it was hard to see through the dirt.”

Artwork by the talented Sari NeoChaos of ChaosStudios. Like this print? Buy it in her store!


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