The boy squirmed out from under the corpse and rolled down the rubbish
heap a bit. Then he glanced up at the dead man. Now the boy stood
between the man and the sun, casting his own huge shadow upon the
corpse. The man did not move. The boy adjusted the rags that were
his only clothes.
The boy glanced about, searching for something. The dim light of morning now illuminated the rubbish heap sufficiently for him to see its various components. Rats scurried about, picking scraps of food from amongst the cast-offs of humanity. Suddenly, one rat raised its nose high and sniffed, its nostrils flaring. Then it scurried toward a piece of foul-smelling meat, crawling with maggots. To the boy’s surprise, the rat rushed past the meat, heading straight for the stream of blood flowing from the neck of the fallen man. The boy noticed an apple jutting out like an island from the widening pool of blood.
The boy surged forward, stepping carelessly on the porcelain head of a doll. Its glass eyes gone, blind sockets stared upward at the boy as his foot descended and cracked it. The boy reached down and picked up the apple. He shook it once, and a shower of red droplets pelted his clothing. Then, with fingers stained with drying blood, the boy lifted the apple to his mouth and bit savagely into the speckled red skin.
The boy was nearly delirious with hunger, and noticed not the bitter taste. Indeed, to him it was the sweetest apple of God’s creation. Neither did he notice the bloody remains of a worm writhing in the cavity left by his first bite. The second bite whisked away the serpentine half-worm. Blood and worm and rotten brown apple flesh -- he ate it all, and it was good. Nourishment it was, and strength at first trickled, and then percolated through the boy’s veins.
Other Excerpts From Retsamdros
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