Immortal Al Dente

“Seriously, Perry, you shouldn’t eat the Fae.” Barton’s glasses were glowing, reflecting the flames from the campfire. His head was wrapped in a black plastic bag and his face was smeared with soot. Draped over his shoulders was a thick, soiled cloak made from an old quilt. He was sharpening his machete, applying the sandstone to the blade in slow, loving strokes. “I’m serious, Perry, killing it is understandable but eating it? You’ll bring us all bad luck.”

Perry flicked his eyes from the piece of meat he was gnawing. He released his teeth and the pink gobbet of gristle he’d been wrestling snapped back to the bone. His beard was flecked with grease and charred skin. He ran a hand through his hair, spat a sliver of bone into the dirt then looked to the sky where the clouds formed a smooth, ashen ceiling blocking the sun. It was flat, featureless and cold.

“I’m eating a fucking fairy, Barton. A cute, mischievous, little Sprite that’d probably poke out our eyes while we sleep then call it’s cousin, a Troll or something, to finish us off. It doesn’t get much worse than this.”

“I don’t know, man,” said Barton, “seems like things keep finding a way to get worse. I just don’t want to tempt fate.”

“Too late.” Perry blurted. “Fate was tempted and sealed the deal when it threw a comet the size of New Jersey at the North Pole. We couldn’t possibly get any more tempting.”

“Speaking of which,” Wilson rolled his girth closer to the fire, rubbed his hands and extending them towards the heat, “did you guys get a look at that fairy before Perry took it down. She was pretty hot. Like Tinkerbell or something.”

Across the fire Luke was sitting cross-legged and sniffing the air while he whittled the ends of table legs into rough spikes. He was leaning heavily against a golf bag that was spray painted a solid matte black and stuffed with scavenged weapons.

Perry scowled at his meal, “Really, Wilson? I’m eating over here.” He looked at the remains of the fairy roasting over the fire on a makeshift spit. Her wings had curled up in the heat. The fire spat and sizzled as fat dripped into the coals. “Listen, you guys can scavenge for animals and canned food but I’m going to eat whatever comes along that doesn’t kill me first. Shall we list the things we know?”

“Again?" Barton shrugged. "Sure.”

“One,” Perry held up a single greasy finger, “the entire Kentucky coastline is crawling with Fae and they’d love nothing more than to kill us or rat us out to the undead.”

“Holy moly, I just had a thought!” Barton sat up straight.

Perry cursed. “Jeez, man, I didn’t even get to number two.”

“Mammoth Cave," Barton continued, "we went there when I was a kid. Huge network of caves here in Kentucky. I read in the Monster Manual or something that the Fae are underground dwellers and pretty much live forever. My money says they've been living in these caves since we, people I mean, really started to spread. We drove 'em underground!”

“Yeah,” said Wilson pulling his on his mittens, “it makes sense. ‘Specially now that like, people have been pretty much wiped out they can come back to the surface.”

Barton touched the tip of his nose and pointed at Wilson. His finger wiped away some soot, exposing a clean, white dot of skin. “Bingo.”

“Hmmm,” Perry considered this. “That makes some sense and it starts to explain the undead.”

Barton looked at him sharply then his face softened as he realized what Perry was suggesting. “Right! Remember we met that crazy guy a few weeks back off I-94? He swore he’d seen a unicorn. I can’t believe it took this long to figure it out.” he said smiling. The first in many weeks.

“What?” Wilson sat up looking flustered. “You lost me.”

Luke had put down the stake he’d been carving and looked thoughtfully into the shadows around their camp.

“Think. What do faeries, vampires and unicorns have in common?” Perry explained. “They’re immortal, Wilson. All these freakin’ things are immortal. That’s how they survived. They’re wet, hungry and pissed but there are just as many of them now as they’re were before the flood. It's like we never saw them before because there were so many of us. The humans who survived did so by the skin of their teeth but these freaking - things - couldn’t be drowned, starved or die off from disease."

“Um, that can’t be good.” said Wilson.

“Yeah,” Barton replied, “judging by the number people we’ve seen compared to the number of Fae and vampires we’ve been seeing...”

“And killing,” interrupted Perry.

“Right,” Barton nodded, “and killing. We’re pretty outnumbered and at least two of their kind want to eat us. I don’t think they eat each other, right? Vampires need human blood and the Fae eat, what, fairy dust?”

“It’s not much but at least we have that advantage.” said Perry.

“What?” asked Wilson. He looked at Barton. “What’s he talking about?”

They all looked at Perry as he leaned forward and pulled the roasting fairy off the fire. He planted one end of the spit in the ground, braced by his boot, and grabbed the other end with his left hand. With his free hand he used his knife, a military-grade survival blade with a serrated cutting edge, to saw the fairy into ragged hunks. Blowing his fingers to keep them from burning he tore these chunks of blackened, smoking meat off the spit and tossed them one by one to his friends. Barton and Luke juggled the cooling meat from hand to hand but Wilson held his easily with his mittens.

Perry hoisted the shank of fairy meat from his lap and gestured grandly at the others. Tentatively they lifted their dripping, pink wedges in a salute.

“Gentleman. Comrades. Survivors. I propose that, in addition to our stalwart hearts, unerring blades and steely resolve we have one additional advantage. While our enemies grow weak with hunger,” Perry looked each of them in the eye, “we can eat any of them.”