Its eye stared up at me from the plywood slab that had become its sepulcher. An eye like the one that Poe described. An unblinking memento of death.
“Here,” my companion snorted handing me a knife that resembled the scimitar of an Ottoman. “Try not to cut yourself.”
My hand went to the shiny scales of the sacrifice. They glistened as gray as water and sky.
“Cut it up,” he continued. “We’ll be here all day.”
I glanced over to note that he had already gutted and filleted two of our four serial killings.
The eye kept staring. Staring.
That unholy scimitar cut through the gut of my victim as if it were clotted cream.And then the gore spilled forth. Red and round and unending, or so it seemed.Future life now tiny corpses at my behest.
“Save the roe,” he said all too eagerly while tossing me a plastic bag.
I reached out, my hand trembling. Did all killers feel like this their first time?
The thought left me when I felt the squish of roe between my fingers. It had the ooze of a brain degraded by spongiform encephalopathy. It made me sorry to know what that felt like.
Somehow, the bright red eggs found their way into the plastic bag.
“Jeez, just get it over with.”
The eye, unlike my companion, had less encouraging things to say.
“It’s just a salmon,” he said after a moment.
“You do it,” I replied at last.
And he did. Guts were cast aside for eager scavengers to fly away with. Tail chopped off and then finally the head with its tell-tale eye, all gone to feed other wild things.
“There,” he said after extracting the surprisingly translucent spine. “That wasn’t so bad.”
The salmon, like her roe, was crammed into a plastic bag.
As he stomped up to the truck to put our casualties in the cooler, I waded into the river, stooped and washed the mucilaginous blood from my hands.
While watching the vermillion ribbons disappear into the glacial water, I felt my trepidation lift. The river carried away the horror and now all that was left was a single thought.