I thought I'd give it a go. Turns out I'm a bigoted Half-Orc from a carnival freak show searching for the perfect culinary dish. Who knew? Anyway, armed with this information, here's 897 words, my first attempt at a flash fiction challenge, a story called Grak's Grub.
I ate my father.
I know, it’s not the done thing in what you humans call your civilised society. It makes me a barbarian and, I’m sure you think, justifies your persecution of my race.
Let me tell you about myself. As you can see, I’m not tainted with skin the colour of snot - well, maybe the snot that came with the nosebleed I gave you for staring too long – I’m more a deep red like the wine Ambrose likes so much. Why? It’s heritage, my unique parentage that makes me so much better than everyone else. See, there’s this perception of my race, that daddy was a beast, part of a horde that raped and pillaged its way across the continent, leaving death and destruction and a litter of bastards in its wake.
Well, that couldn’t be further from the truth. My father – like you – was human, an ambassador to the Fringe who must have upset the wrong politician at some point and found himself on the edge of the world, negotiating with the Red Orcs for what would prove to be a fragile peace. While some men like skinny women and others those with more meat on their bones, my father preferred his with red skin and warty tits; there’s no accounting for taste.
He stayed with my mother when the lengthy negotiations were at an end, living with the tribe as one of their own. Four years the truce lasted, with me born part way through the first. Like all my kind, I grew quickly and learned much; training to be a warrior from the moment I could walk, learning to live off the land, hunting and fighting to survive. It’s said that a Red Orc knows its vocation within the first few months of its life. It took me a little longer.
Humans came back, as they do, this time with steel and fire. My father tried to intervene, taking an arrow in the stomach for his troubles. A few of us escaped, but your lot are like dogs at broth, and pursued us relentlessly. We gave you a good chase, but out capture was inevitable. My father was dying, so my mother did the only thing she could to appease the gods and secure the afterlife.
She cooked him.
The Reds were cunning. What was never mentioned in the talks was how the women eat their mates once a child is born. It keeps our numbers down, our species pure. Life on the Fringe is tough, but a human cooked at the right temperature for the right length of time is a succulent delight. How was my mother to know she’d fall in love with what would become her final meal?
You know the rest, how the Expeditioners cleansed the world of the Red menace, but not everything made it into your books. I survived, taken in by the wizard Melvyn Ambrose. He’s fallen on hard times lately, forced to roam the continent with his circus, but back then he was a man of some standing and I became his apprentice. He’s never said what made him take me that morning, but what he saw came to fruition and I too am a spellcaster.
Not what you expected, am I? A Half-Orc who can read, write and create a fireball to generate just the right amount of heat. I’m intelligent, there’s so much more that “Me Grak!” to my vocabulary, but I suspect you were correct about one thing. I am a freak, which is why I stayed with Ambrose as part of his show. Granted, it’s not the greatest – the Dog-faced Boy is a Kobold and the Bearded Lady is nothing more than a female dwarf – but we make a living, touring and searching.
That’s right; searching. Melvyn Ambrose fell out of favour because people went missing and it was suspected he was taking them for vile experiments. Nothing was proved, because he was innocent, but accusations and stigma don’t wash away. I was taking those men, you see, in my quest for culinary perfection.
My fault, which is why I’ve stayed with him, along with the debt of owing him my life. It was a long time ago when he saved me, but I’ll never forget it, nor the night that preceded it. I was young, I know, but such things stick in minds as sharp as mine. I don’t expect a lesser being like yourself to comprehend entirely, but know this. The Grak: Fringe Mage you can see in the freak-show tent is everything Ambrose wants me to be, an enigma wrapped in a mystery; how, they always wonder, can such a brute demonstrate such reasoning and talent? He taught me well, showed me how to master control, but sometimes that’s not enough. Sometimes you have to surrender to those base, primal desires. You have to remember who or what you were if you’re to rise above it.
And that’s why I’ve brought you here tonight, cousin.
You see, in all the places I’ve looked, all the towns and cities the circus has entertained, you’re the closest branch of our family tree I’ve found. You’re something special – you even look like him – and I’m sure that there are more similarities, including the one I’ve been seeking all my life.
I’ll never forget my father. He tasted so good.