PC048: “I’ll Gnaw Your Bones,” the Manticore Said

by Cat Rambo.
Read by Elizabeth Green Musselman.

There is a tacit understanding between a beast trainer and her charges, whether it be great cats, cunning dragons, or apes and other man-like creatures. They know, and the trainer knows, that as long as certain lines aren’t crossed, that if certain expectations are met, everything will be fine and no one will get hurt.

That’s not to say I didn’t keep an eye on Bupus, watching for a twitch to his tail, the way one bulbous eye would go askew when anger was brewing. A beast’s a beast, after all, and not responsible for what they do when circumstances push them too far. Beasts still, no matter how they speak or smile or woo.

At any rate, Bupus felt obliged to maintain his reputation whenever another wagon or traveler was in earshot.

“Gnaw your bones,” he rumbled, rolling a vast oversized eyeball back at me. The woman he was trying to impress shrieked and dropped her chickens, which vanished in a white flutter among the blackberry vines and ferns that began where the road’s ground stone gave way to forest. A blue-headed jay screamed in alarm from a pine.

Rated PG. Contains some violence, and a number of circus creatures.

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8 Responses so far »

  1. 1

    epilonious said,

    April 16, 2009 @ 4:19 pm

    I enjoyed this story almost more than I felt I should have.

    I appreciate stories that take the fantastic and approach them with a tone of “same crap different day” but still manage to put in a sweet moment at the end. To me it makes them amiable, realistic, and adds comfort without being too ‘precious.’

  2. 2

    scatterbrain said,

    April 16, 2009 @ 6:22 pm

    I simply don’t understand Cat Rambo; she has stories like “Dead Girl’s Wedding March” that border on the genius, and then there’s the stories like “The Worm Inside” and this story which aren’t up to much or perhaps have interestering ideas but are mumbled in drawn-out text.

  3. 3

    The Great Geek Manual » Geek Media Round-Up: April 17, 2009 said,

    April 17, 2009 @ 11:01 pm

    […] Fiction: Listen to “‘I’ll Gnaw Your Bones,’ the Manticore Said” by Cat Rambo over at the […]

  4. 4

    Sabre Runner said,

    April 18, 2009 @ 6:17 am

    I read this story when it was published in the Israeli magazine “Don’t Panic”. What I thought of it then, along with other readers, is that it’s an interesting encounter from what could be a great world but it seems to be missing a lot, like we’re only hearing one chapter of a much larger book.

  5. 5

    phignewton said,

    April 24, 2009 @ 3:21 am

    who hurt who?!

  6. 6

    Dave (aka Nev the Deranged) said,

    April 27, 2009 @ 9:13 pm

    I liked the world this story is set in, and I feel like this wasn’t quite a big enough glimpse of it. It feels, as Sabre Runner said, like a chapter from the middle of a novel. If it were, I’d probably read the whole thing.

  7. 7

    Zorknot said,

    April 29, 2009 @ 6:14 pm

    I think this was perfect as a short story. It started out with the question of whether certain creatures should be treated as animals or not, and it ended with a surprising answer to the question that leaves the reader asking his or her own questions.

    Expanding this into a novel would be very difficult I think, unless you made the novel a series of vignettes or something. Or if you changed the conflict to something more grandiose and less cerebral.

    I find the question the story asks intriguing, and I feel that if it was a subplot to a novel it would lessen it’s impact.

    The ending with her hand in the manticore’s mouth is so touching and yet in the context of the story raises so many questions, I don’t really see how it could be improved. Awesome story.

  8. 8

    PaulthePotter said,

    April 30, 2009 @ 9:33 pm

    Well.. I enjoyed the reading of it and the ending and all. I am suspicious of the message. I think I may not have gotten the message that the author wrote. If I did, I strongly disagree that as sentient beings, we have the right to alter other beings sentience simply because we are more evolved. I had nightmares from the whole “Ice pick in the brain thing”.
    PTP

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