By Donna L Greenwood
All I see is blood. It spills upon me tender but fulsome, splattering eyelids, cheeks and mouth. I taste it and I know her. I feel it slick between my hands, between my legs and I feel her. I breathe her in and drink up her incarnadine love and I regret nothing.
The first time I saw her she was behind bars. I was the special guest at the opening of ‘The Spirit of the Panther’ compound at Bowland Zoological Gardens. I was the person who cut the ribbon and then smiled graciously before making a quick getaway. However, before I left, I saw her, skulking behind the freshly planted foliage of her enclosure. After a fleeting glimpse of her black sinews twisting in the dying sunlight, I was bewitched. Money can buy you anything you desire. And I desired her.
After I’d paid out a ridiculous amount of cash to various people, both official and unofficial, she was mine. I could provide her with more than the zoo ever could. My house is surrounded by more than 10 000 acres of forest and, with an electric fence here and security camera there, I could give her the full run of the place.
I paid people to keep her happy, to clean her bedding, to keep her living areas filled with exotic greenery, to check her teeth and claws, but I was the one who fed her. I was the one who watched her tear apart the fresh carcasses and snuffle in the ribcages of her food. I smiled to see the blood run down her black fur, to see her lick away the little morsels of flesh stuck in between her incisors. After she had eaten, she would lie down under the shade of a large oak tree and sleep. Whilst she was sleeping, I liked to open the gate of the enclosing fence and walk towards her. Each day I got closer to her until one night, after I’d watched her for three long hours, she rolled over so that her back was facing me. I crept towards her. I knelt down quietly and lay beside her. Not quite touching her, but facing her back. I admired her strong limbs as they stretched out into the night. I knew then that I loved her. And I knew in my old heart what it was I most desired.
It would take some planning. Not many people would understand my desire, let alone enable it, so this was something that I needed to do alone. I set my plan in motion. First, I began to talk to her as I fed her. I wanted her to get used to the sound of my voice. I wanted her to associate my voice with pleasure. Secondly, I changed her food. The shoulders of goat and legs of lamb had been sufficient to keep her from being hungry, but I wanted her to enjoy her food. I wanted her to remember what it was like to draw blood and feel its fresh warmth spurt into her mouth.
The first time I watched her bring down a young goat and rip open its throat, I felt myself salivate. I could almost taste the tender, bloody flesh. As she tore the kid to pieces, I spoke to her, ‘That’s right, my love, rip it up, tear it up, feel its life gush down your throat.’ After her first live meal she looked up at me, her green eyes flashing a secret message of gratitude as she licked her lips.
The next meal was a calf. It was more difficult for her this time, she had to run faster and work harder. The calf kicked and did not go down easily, but go down it did. This time I moved out of my observation post and moved into her enclosure. I got as near as I dared, so near I could hear her teeth tearing into the muscles of the still moaning calf. My heart was racing, I moved a little closer. She picked up the calf by its neck and shook the remaining life out of it. I was splattered with its blood. I licked my lips and tasted the salty redness that splashed there. In all my sixty five years, I had never experienced a purer moment of bliss.
It has been over four weeks now and she knows me well enough to let me sit by her whilst she feasts. She knows that I love the blood, so she is especially vigorous when shaking her prey. Most nights I go home drenched in gore. Tonight will be different; tonight is the night when I will finally fulfil my desire. I take a look in the mirror in my bedroom. I look well for a man in his sixties and there is a special light in my eyes. I am naked but when I walk out of my expensive home, I know the servants will look the other way. I know that nobody will stop me because I am a wealthy and powerful man.
Tonight I will enter her enclosure and I will walk towards her with my arms open wide. I will kneel before her, close my eyes in supplication and I will wait for the blood to come.
For tonight my beautiful creature will have a much richer dish to feast upon.