Children of Decay


Skipping among the gravestones, the little green bird—nearly invisible against the well-trimmed grass—pecks, jabbing its beak into the ground, hunting after the gorged bugs and worms that fed upon decay. Like a cruel god this gentle little bird towers over the creeping, crawling insects, and from that great unfathomable beyond, the above they dared not to gaze upon, the fowl snatches indiscriminately the uncountable children of corruption.

Such bounty the bird had never seen, but little did it note the increase. Consume, consume, was all it said to itself. And so it pecked, and gobbled until it could eat no more. The bugs swarmed, little heeding, little caring that over them an unstoppable monster flapped and devoured. They were called, called from the dankest recesses of buried coffins, called from swimming in the putrid, jellied flesh of the dead. Corruption summoned them.

They had been stayed so long. They felt, O nature, the dam finally broken that had kept them from duties you’d long ago assigned. How fortuitous that he should at this time stand upon sacred ground. He stood dazed, dumb. How had these, mere children, become his downfall?

His watch they dashed upon the tombstone: the crystal shattered, springs flew loose, and the spell broke. That ancient enchantment, that tool twisted into villainous enterprises, undone by schoolboys.

A flood rippled through the lawn, blades of grass swaying as if a great wind raced between their stalks, but it was no breeze. The boys screamed; they little realized the full magnitude of their deed. The man, he was beyond screaming. They came for him, the bugs. Through the grass they came.

They started at his feet, swarming over his loafers as a single black amorphous mass. The boys looked on his face, and watched as fat worms burst through his eyes. Held there by the pressure of those devouring mouths, the vague form of a man could be seen through the cloud of bugs circling around it. And then the job was done. With the suddenness of their invasion, the children of decay retreated to the buried carcasses they’d crawled from.

Left in their wake: a pile bones, picked clean even of crimson blood. The boys didn’t speak, but coalesced around this strange leftover.

In a tree somewhere nearby, the little green bird twittered, singing joyfully for its wonderful meal. It sang until some nagging fear reminded it of half-forgotten duties. The bright plumage shone in the early morning light like an emerald, while the bird flew hither and thither searching for the perfect place to build its nest.

And on the ground hopping, it found the half buried remains the boys had hid under an old oak tree. It flew into the skull’s eye, the eye the worms had eaten. Within the recesses of those bones the little green bird found a comfortable home. In that hole it prepared a nest, to that grave it brought its hen, and among those remains they danced the dance of life. Amid the bones its children cried for food, life from death.

The boys themselves had an interesting future ahead of them, but for now, dear reader, enjoy the sweetness of that nest built within a pile of bones. See the squawking hatchlings warm within their mother’s warmth. Imagine the small recess filling up with discarded plumage as the birds grew. See it now discarded as the season is over and done. Through all this the bones wait, knowing one day the boys return, must return, if they are to finish what they started.


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