He sat in the chair, left leg in a splint, propped up on a crude wooden foot rest. He watched as the sun finally sank out of sight, leaving only the lantern on the table by him to light up the Spartan room. He sat in the wooden chair wearing nothing but some leggings, holding a skin full of water. He took the occasional drink as he watched the door right across from him.
Night came on around him as crickets started their chorus and the owl that lived in the nearby oak tree joined in. Any other night he would not have minded their cacophony but this night was a special night. It just would not be special until a certain visitor's appearance quieted the chorus. Such a shame no one else would be around to meet the mystery guest.
And then the night's orchestra vanished, leaving nothing but dead silence. Dead silence and some stomping as something large approached his one-room house. He heard it come around from the back, making its way to the front door. For a moment he saw its bare, glistening back in the window. He felt shivers creep up his spine as he heard it breathing. His heart began to speed up as it slowly made its way to the door. He placed his water skin on the floor and looked towards the door in anticipation.
And then the door exploded, showering him with pieces of wood, the knob nearly knocking him unconscious. He brought his arms down from his face and stared at the monster that now stood at the threshold of his house. It stood at least eight feet tall and glistened with a layer of mucus like an amphibian.
“Greetings, human,” it said. Its voice, while still threatening, was surprisingly light and feminine. “Thanks for staying up for me. I'm hungry for some fresh meat. Are you prepared to die?”
It charged up to him and got upright, standing over him menacingly, showcasing its massive, gleaming fangs and red front claws. The young man fought back his trembling as he looked up into the creature's bloodshot eyes.
“I guess I am ready,” he said. “So, how does this work? Do you just eat me or do you play with your food like a cat does?”
The monster's teeth vanished from view and it got back down on the ground. It sat down on its haunches and looked at the young man with a tilted head for a few moments. “What?” it asked. Its voice had lost its spine-tingling tone and now just sounded like a woman the young man's age.
“I know, I know,” said the young man, forcing a smile. “Inconsiderate of me. But I've never been eaten whole and alive before. I'm not really sure how you normally go about it. Hope you can forgive me.”
The monster forced the look of confusion off her face and turned it to anger. “What's wrong with you?” she asked. “I am the horrible creature that lurks in your swamps, feeding on those foolish enough to go in. I'm the man-eating abomination that consumes children in front of their parents. I'm the terrifying... terror that's going to kill you very, very slowly tonight!”
“Well, if you have to,” said the young man. “Not like anyone else is left in the village. After you ate not only the best swordsman but also the best mage, people gave up and abandoned ship.” He sighed. “Well, at least they forgot about the man with the broken and cursed leg, right? They always do, and it's a pain to do anything without help. But don't mind my rambling. You won't get the curse passed on to you if you eat my leg. I just won't be able to struggle as much as you'd like.”
The monster growled. “Start making sense, human,” she said through bared teeth. “All the other humans I've ever eaten were shaking in horror by this point. Many were begging me for their lives.”
“Would you heed my demands if I was to beg you to spare my life?”
“So I'm not going to waste your time with that. We both know what the end result would be.” The young man found himself leaning back in his chair.
“Well, aren't you going to reach for your weapon?” asked the monster. “I've eaten countless warriors and the like, but who knows. You might be the one who will find my weakness. Whatever it may be, if I have one at all. No one knows me well enough to say. Even the other monsters in the mountains dare not approach my lair. That's how terrible I am.”
“No such luck, I'm afraid,” said the young man. “My mace got broken when this evil spirit in the mountains north of here cursed my leg. Thing hasn't healed in weeks and it's amazing I even got back to the village. I took my mace to the blacksmith but your eating everyone made him leave with the rest before he could fix it. So no weapon. I guess I could try some magic, maybe make a javelin of ice to throw at you, but I can't imagine I would get further than anyone else. Though if you want I can make some ice toothpicks for you. Just in case I get caught in your teeth.”
“Stop that!” yelled the monster as she stomped the floor. “Stop not fighting back against me! I'm going to eat you alive, so act like it!”
“I am acting like you're going to eat me alive,” said the young man. “I've already passed through all the stages of grief and I'm now at acceptance. If you wanted me more emotional you should have come before dinnertime. I was a complete wreck then.” He paused for a moment. “You know, I don't even know your name. My name's Daerick, but if you wish to call me Dinner, Supper, Meal or Snack then go ahead.”
The monster stared at Daerick sideways again. “You can call me Marshoss, human,” she said. “You're the first human, first sentient creature even, to ever ask for my name, you know that?”
“Well, as you said, most humans are so busy begging and pleading for their lives or trying to fight you or crying or something,” said Daerick. “But I figure I might as well get to know you before I become your treat. Tell me, Marshoss, you have any family?”
“I guess I have a mother and father but they abandoned my egg after burying it,” she said. “I have no mate so I haven't laid any eggs of my own and-- stop this, human! Stop this right now!”
“I'm just being friendly and hospitable to my guest,” he said. “It's been ages since I've seen my parents. I moved out into the country to try and interact with wildlife and all that.”
“Well, I'd say that really worked out,” said Marshoss, pulling herself right up in front of Daerick. She ran the edge of one of her claws down his cheek ever so slightly, making the skin tremble. “And now you're going to become part of the wildlife. But don't worry; it will be very, very painful.”
“I'd imagine so,” said Daerick. “Being digested alive cannot be pleasant. Say, would you prefer me to take off my leggings or can you digest those as well? I don't want to give you indigestion or anything like that.”
“If you don't shut up right now I'm going to make you sorry!” she roared.
“What are you going to do? Kill me?” He grinned. “I don't think you could come up with a worse way to die than what you already have planned. Like that one time you ate the town harlot and got stuck in the bar; you were in there for a good hour and she was still struggling away in your gut when you left. I'm pretty sure I was in for a long night with you even before I opened my mouth.”
Marshoss stomped off and let out a roar in frustration. She went over and smashed Daerick's bed to bits with her giant hands.
“I'd appreciate it if you didn't break everything,” he said. “Some scavenger or outlaw might move into this house after I've become fat on your body.”
She let out another incensed yell and ran over to a storage chest, which she tore in half. The clothes kept inside fell to the floor, where she ripped them apart with her claws.
“That's fine,” he said. “Not like I need those anyway. Skeletons don't wear clothes, unless you can digest bones as well. I don't know. Can you?”
She completely ignored him and moved over to the kitchen area. She smashed the wood stove to pieces with one fist before grabbing the cupboard and throwing it across the room. It crashed into the wall, falling apart into little bits. She then dashed back up to Daerick and obliterated the table by him with her claws. He looked at the carnage.
“I think that about does it,” he said. “I'm sure if my mace had been fixed you would've broken it too. Only thing you didn't break is my chair and footrest. If you want to break them as well you'll have to help me up. I can't get anywhere without assistance unless I crawl.”
“Why, you,” she hissed. “I swear to the gods, human, I'm going to eat you and digest you so slowly you'll die of starvation first!”
“Sounds interesting,” said Daerick. “More time for us to talk. So, do you eat your humans headfirst or do you like looking into their faces as you slurp them up?”
“Usually feet first but if I get your head in my mouth first it'll start to get digested before anything else,” she said. She stomped around to the front of Daerick and grabbed him by the shoulders. “Oh, you're going to pay for it, human.” She began to open her cavernous mouth, showing off her massive tongue to Daerick. She salivated madly, spilling saliva onto him.
“Me and my stupid thoughtfulness,” said Daerick. “Face-down or face-up?”
Marshoss yelled again and stuffed Daerick into her mouth, head-first, face-down. She shuffled back as she slowly began to slurp up his body, making her way to his abdomen as the human barely struggled in her throat. She dug her molars into his torso, gnawing away at him as she fit more and more of him into her mouth. She made her way to the beginning of his legs when she stopped.
Her teeth stopped falling on his body as she contemplated the human in her mouth. So many humans ran at first sight of her, even when she was still a juvenile, but this human had been friendly and had even asked for her name. No one else knew her name. She completely destroyed his house and directly threatened his life but he never so much as raised his voice, let alone yelled out the empty threats she had heard so many times.
Marshoss gagged as she pulled Daerick out of her throat and left him in a dripping, disgusting heap on the floor. He cringed in pain from all the chewing, but he was not bleeding that much. He just sat there, covered in saliva as his near-killer got upright and towered over him.
“I think... I'm going to eat you at a later date,” she said. “And don't think that's never. I'm going to make you pay, you little annoying...” She groaned. “But for now you're coming back with me. I'm going to make you take care of my cave while I'm off hunting. Oh, you're going to pay for not just acting like any other human would.”
Marshoss reached down and picked Daerick up like a husband lifts up his bride. He let himself hang loosely in his captor's talons. The most he did was lift his head up to avoid hitting the door frame as she walked out. He looked off into the distance as the monster made the trip towards her home.
Marshoss looked down at her human. She now had some company.
Daerick looked up at his captor. He now had a caretaker.