The below short story was entered into a call by Bag of Bones. They provided a brief requesting that the entries be exactly 206 words as this is how many bones are in the human body. The genre had to be ‘horror’, but they said you could be creative other than that.

I do not read any horror and it is not a genre I enjoy indulging in generally. As the story was so short though, I figured I would have a go whilst sitting bored during chemotherapy. The result was Hunter-Gatherer.

Unfortunately, the story did not win. It was shortlisted, though. The full anthology, including the 6 winners and all shortlisted entries, can be purchased here from Amazon. If you are into horror, it may be worth the investment. I did not realise quite how many were shortlisted – it makes it feel slightly less special but oh well. Still nice to see my name in the contents of a publication!

Hunter-Gatherer by Dan Godley

“How do you know which ones are safe to eat?” He kicked his boot into the lifeless corpse and sniggered to himself. The body was cold and responded as enthusiastically as a bag of sand left out in the rain.

“Look at the tongue. If it’s got red spots or green gunk on it, you should stay clear.” The words read out like a script. She was sick of saying them.

“What if they don’t have a head?”

“They all have heads.”

“This one doesn’t.” He picked up his shovel, wielded the handle with both hands extended above his head, and ploughed it through the neck. It went in at an angle and seemed to get caught around the shoulder blade as it slammed through the flesh. She wasn’t amused as she watched.

“They were people, you know. Same as me and you. They suffered the same way we suffer. Probably more. Have you seen em when they start to get ill?”

“Fuck em. They’re disgusting. I’d rather not eat.” He was trying to pull his shovel out by putting his boot on the half-severed head. They could hear the bones crushing as he struggled.

“Seen this?” she said, swinging her shovel straight into his cheek.