Special Ingredient

Grammy Zola died, and that sucked. Now it was my turn. She had named me, had said I had the knack. I hoped she was right.

The moon blazed clear and high as I trotted through the evergreens that paralleled the highway. It had to be a full moon, that's what Grammy Zola had always said. They had to be able to see. Sight was important.

The sack I had slung over my back continued to writhe. I wanted nothing more than to swing it at the nearest tree and crush the life out of its contents. I'd done awful things to make sure this all worked out just right. How had Grammy done it all those years? She'd made it look so easy.

She'd always said it took some getting used to. Maybe she was right.

The sack was made of burlap. Burlap was important. It collected all the moisture and oils while still allowing airflow so they'd survive. The sack made for the best of flavors, she'd said.

Finally, the writhing in the sack stopped. That was enough tenderizing.

It was time.

The great pot was on the boil over a bed of red coals when I arrived. I handed my burden over to a fellow and assumed my position.

The sack was upended. Derek fell lifelessly upon the hard-pack of our ceremonial clearing. He better not be dead. Not after all I'd done.

I screamed my best scream, just like Grammy had taught me.

Derek woke and saw me struggling naked with two of my monstrous kin. His face went ashen, but he gained his feet.

"Judy!" His scream was delicious. I almost lost my composure.

"Save me, Derek!" I shrieked a good one, just for good measure.

"Leave her," he yelled. "Take me instead."

I couldn't help the smile that reached my face. Grammy would have been so proud. My kin tossed me aside and closed on Derek.

They had him ready for the pot in no time.

I changed my form and sighed as my true power returned. I'd been human too long. The smells of the night opened to my expanded senses. I huffed in the scents and howled at the sky overhead before going to help my kin with the last of the ingredients.

When the stew was almost done I gave it a taste. Mmmm. Our pot would be the hit of the clan festivities, as always.

A willing death always brought out the best in a dish.