From a writing group prompt on the seven deadly sins–specifically gluttony.

Here be monsters.

Image from WikiMedia, cropped version of a photo by Dedier Descounes

“How do you plead on the charge of gluttony?” the judge asked the wendigo chained to the chair in the center of the room.

“Not guilty,” he said.

The judge grimaced, showing a mouthful of too-sharp teeth. “You were found with the partially consumed bodies of a family of four. Enough food to last at least three months, eaten in one night. How can you call yourself innocent?”

The gallery of wendigo–man-eating creatures that had once haunted the forest of Canada and northern USA, and now settled territories left by deforestation–murmured angrily.

All of them were hungry. It was their nature, and the need for secrecy meant they had to eke out each meal, a process made easier by a deep freezer.

But this one had slaughtered his way through a string of towns, his only saving grace that he torched his slaughterhouses to hide the evidence, and ate every scrap.

He waited for the murmurs to subside. “I plead innocent because gluttony is overeating, and I have not. I was hungry, and I ate until I was full. No more, no less. What you ask me to do is the true crime–to nibble at my food, barely touching the yawning void in my stomach.”

Craning his neck. he stared at the gallery, eyes flashing yellow from the predator within. “Aren’t you hungry? Don’t you miss the rush of hot blood, the screams, the crack of bones and the rip of flesh? Of eating more than a few bites?”

Afterwords, they would say it was a sort of madness, the crowd infected by instinct and long-thwarted desires. The bailiffs were quickly overcome, and the wendigo, who had been pretending to be law-abiding humans their whole lives, fell on the people outside. Once they’d started, it was impossible to stop.

Later, they’d regained their senses, and returned to find the chair broken, the chains in a limp tangle in the wreckage. But they’d be able to find him, so they waited, full of shame and the largest meal they’d had in ages.

And the next time, they wouldn’t listen to his speech. Some crimes were beyond defending, and someone had to take the blame.

About Caitlin Stern

I have a MA in English, and have so many fantasy/urban fantasy WIPs it's not even funny. I'm an avid reader of science fiction, fantasy, mystery, romance, biography, fiction, and anything else that catches my interest. I collect books, and bookmarks I find that are visually appealing and useful.

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