My Wonderful Mister
My earliest memories are of light and sound. Of being left here, loud weeping fading into the distance. But Mister assures me I have always lived in the cave with him. My mind sometimes plays tricks on me, but Mister always sets me straight.
In those days I was alone, crawling blindly about through the darkness. Clubbing sickly rats with chunks of stone, eagerly pawing the crushed remains into my mouth. I had to learn to locate them just by sound. Another thing Mister is much better at.
He can hear anything that goes on anywhere in the cave. It’s how he found me. Bruised, wet, shivering, face caked with dried rat’s blood. He took me in, led me to water, and taught me to fend for myself. I’d called him “Mister” then, vaguely remembering that it’s good manners, and it just kind of stuck.
“It hurts me to speak, so listen carefully. From this day forward, you will kill some of those who enter this cave, and bring their bodies deeper into the cave that I might eat. I will always leave enough to nourish you, but only so that you can continue in my service.”
I didn’t yet know what others were. They turned out to be a kind of animal that periodically enters the cave, wearing all manner of colorful clothing. Gift wrapped for Mister, I like to say. They can speak, and indeed I’ve learned many words by eavesdropping on them. Never for too long, though. Mister does not tolerate dawdling, least of all when he’s hungry.
I was so very frightened when I killed the first other. I was still small then, but by hurling a stone from a higher passage, I made it sleep. Hitting them in the head will do that. It’s how I know sleep and death are related. Mister sleeps most of the time, it makes me worry.
When I dragged it to the spot where he meets me, I was still crying. “Stop that”, he demanded. “I do not tolerate fear”. I know he cares because he doesn’t want me to be afraid. It’s just hard for him to say it because it hurts him to speak in a way I can understand.
Loud noises too. Mister has very delicate ears. When I got old enough that the others with long hair and chest bumps started to look uncomfortably good to me, I began trying to spare them. I’d kill him an extra, as I often find these ones escorted by someone much stronger.
More meat for Mister. But he knew right away that I’d stashed it someplace. He hears everything. And when it woke up, it started screaming. “I do not tolerate screaming. Get rid of the source. Quickly, get rid of it. GET RID OF IT.” I pleaded with him that I was lonely, but received only a lashing from one of his many long, slender legs. A wrathful Mister.
If I fought back, I could break one of those legs. I wouldn’t be the first. But it’s unthinkable after everything he’s done for me. Looking back, I’m the one who was wrong for trying to hide something from him. Despite that, he let me keep the head. It didn’t stay pretty for long, but I got to practice pressing my lips on it. Something I’d seen them do from afar many times.
That’s how it goes, every time I try to save one for myself. I’ve amassed quite the collection of heads now. I like to wash their hair and pretend to have conversations with them. About what I imagine they used to talk about. No doubt their own loving Misters, back in the caves where they lived.
You’d think I would learn my lesson. But I guess that’s just part of whom I am, I always have to learn things the hard way. Although he told me on many occasions not to leave the cave, my curiosity overpowered me and I began exploring for a short ways around the entry on the surface.
I took care to wear clothing I keep from the ones I deliver to Mister. Made sure to wash my face and hair in the little stream that runs down from the surface, on account of they always look so clean. But I dawdled. Even knowing what would happen. The light and sound seduced me!
When I returned, I found Mister instructing one of the others he’d captured himself. “From this day forward, you will kill some of those who enter this cave, and bring their bodies deeper into the cave, that I might eat. I will always leave enough to nourish you, but only so that you can continue in my service.”
I threw myself at the other in a tearful rage. How could he replace me? With a simple animal no less, even if they do look somewhat like me. When I finished crushing its skull with the rock I’d chosen, Mister had stern words for me. “If ever you are remiss in your duties, I will find a new instrument. The moment that happens, you are simply more meat to me.”
He’s strict, but fair. I absolutely was wrong to linger on the surface, after he’d made it clear never to venture there. Since then, because he is merciful and patient, he allows that I make short visits provided I am not seen by anyone. “Some amount of sunlight may improve your performance.”
Mister just hates sunlight. He’s fragile, you see. So very big that it is hard work to move about the caves on those long, thin legs of his. Aside from his ears, his eyes are also terribly sensitive. He can never get too close to the entrance, that’s what he has me for. To follow them in. Then to separate them if there are many, and bring him as much as he needs.
I lay awake sometimes, wondering what my life would be if he hadn’t found me. He lets me lay near him when I sleep, provided I never touch him. I’m to absorb his “waste heat”. He says it “may improve my performance”, but I know the real reason. He’s just not that open with his feelings. My shy, sweet, delicate Mister.
He’s all I need. I don’t know why I keep trying to spare the pretty ones. But I discovered in one of their bags a roll of sticky one sided material and quickly hatched a plan. If I sealed their mouth, I could prevent screaming for long enough that they could get to know me. And Mister. To see we’re not such bad guys. Maybe it would even want to press lips.
“Haha, someone left all these prop bones back here”. The stronger one shines a light on the heap of leavings from Mister’s past meals. I sometimes keep their lights. Like a small version of that big one up above, outside the cave.
I do not know how they bring little bits of that light down to use, but eventually the little bits just grow dimmer and dimmer, then finally go dark. I wonder if the big light will do that too someday. “They don’t even begin to look real. What sort of juvenile…” I hear it pick up a bone. “...I dunno if these are fake actually.”
The other comes over to inspect. “Of course they’re fake. This cave’s out of the way but if somebody were dumping bodies here or whatever, the cops would catch wind of it. Put it down, we’re almost to the end.” The strong one whimpers that his feet hurt, but is eventually goaded into it by the smaller ones playful challenging.
When the light passed over the big one it was enough to get a sense of its muscle mass. From there I worked out roughly how much energy I’d spend disabling it, how long it would take, and how far the smaller one would get in that time. It might be less work to take care of the smaller one first. The big ones often stay to protect, and nurse the wounds of their smaller partners.
But I would then lose the element of surprise and have to fight him conventionally. I have no small number of scars attesting to the wisdom of taking out the big ones first, so that’s what I did. Quietly enough that the other one didn’t realize what had happened until I was upon it.
Its mouth wrapped up, just as hoped, it could not scream. The sticky material was also handy enough for binding its wrists and ankles. I first presented the big one to Mister in hopes of mitigating my punishment. He was still quite severe. When he gets like this, out comes the stump.
He’ll wave it about, to drive home for me how easily they can hurt him if I let them get too far into the cave. Poor, fragile Mister. It’s why he needs me to hunt for him. I’m only too happy to do it. After explaining how I’d bound and silenced the smaller one, he abided the experiment.
What a patient, understanding Mister! The others may have their own Misters back in their own caves but assuredly, none are as wonderful as mine. I hear the clickety click of his fast moving mouth parts as he eats. It’s over frightfully quick. Then comes the long part, cleaning up.
He cannot stand to have our filth on him. Blood of course, but also the oils and other nasty stuff that’s always on our skin. I clean many times a day hoping it will be enough to get close to him, but it never is. I just want to touch him, to show him I love him back. But it’s enough for me that he knows.
I wanted it to work out so badly. I was patient with it, as Mister is with me. Eventually I could take off the gag without it immediately screaming but only after I showed it what happened to the ones that wouldn’t stay quiet. But that didn’t last. The minute I was gone for too long, it set to screaming for help. That was tough to smooth over with Mister. The stupid animal didn’t understand what lengths I was going to, just to keep it alive.
So, I administered some discipline the same way he does with me. I don’t like to do it but the experience really helped me understand why he has to. Sometimes there’s just no other way. It quieted down after that, but I still bind its mouth when I sleep. I thought that would be the end of the troubles.
He told me. I didn’t listen. “Never let one who knows about me leave the cave alive. It will bring others with weapons.” It somehow never entered into my mind that the pretty one I’d saved for myself would betray me so terribly after showing such remarkable progress.
I could never have made it this far without him. I dare not risk his life over my own...bodily weakness. So when I went to wash my pretty one’s hair but found it missing, I set off in chase immediately. Mister joined in pursuit just behind me, hot breath on the back of my neck. He will have stern words for me later, maybe worse. But nothing I haven’t earned.
We were in such a rush to catch up that I don’t think he realized we were nearing the cave entrance until we got there. It must burn his poor eyes terribly, I thought. All because of me. I motioned as if to look back, but he stopped me. “Never look upon me. Never. The moment you do, I find a new instrument.”
A group of others stood before me, partway through their descent into the cave entry. “Is she hurt? Wait, she looks...Did you tie her up man? That’s some kinky shit” I could not be bothered with them just yet. Mister laid into me like never before. For trying to keep one for myself. For letting it escape. Tears rolled down my face as I pleaded with Mister for mercy.
“Bro who are you talking to?” One of the others shone its light on me. In a fit of confusion, I did what Mister told me I must never, ever do. I looked back. Only empty cave behind me as far as their little lights could reveal. I cackled. Mister is an expert at hiding!
Some others in blue coverings came for me. I fought them as hard as I could and even put two of them to sleep before the rest overpowered me. It worked. They went no further. I protected Mister, just like I always have. Now I’m in a strange small cave with flat sides and metal bars, waiting.
They sent one to talk with me about what goes on back home. Saying confusing, foolish things about Mister. About desperation, coping, and my “mind”. I tell it how urgently I must return to the cave, as Mister hates dawdling.
It doesn't listen, and only continues to bore me with meaningless questions. I endure it all knowing full well that my bold, heroic Mister will come to save me soon enough. Because I’m his beloved instrument.