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The Butcher Family

The Butcher Family

My family has a terrible curse that causes me to live in constant anxiety.

We’re butchers. We don’t run a national corporation for it or anything, but our quality has always been impeccable. Five star Google reviews, top word of mouth—we would probably even have a Michelin star if it were possible for places other than restaurants. Somehow, we have been able to produce the most delicious, soft, mouth-melting meats—better than Wagyu beef! But the story for how this came to be, and how this is, is not as happy-go-lucky as our service.

My family have been butchers for hundreds of years. Even our last name is Butcher, and somehow we have not changed professions since that was given. Let me clarify that this is my story, my explanation for why I wish I was dead yet I don’t want to die; but I must first tell the story of my ancestor. I’m not sure exactly how long ago this was, but the story goes that it was during the medieval ages. His father and grandfather always kept honesty as the shop’s top moral framework.

Because of this, they were often the choice meat shop for even lords and ladies of the nearby lands, until one day, when a new shop opened up. My ancestors were not worried, because their shop was so successful. This shop did not make a sale for days.

However, on a day no more special than any other, the town drunk somehow found himself in the other shop, thinking it was my ancestors’ family’s shop.

He ordered a cut of leg meat, drunkenly swaggered it home, and fell into a booze-induced slumber. The next day, he cooked the meat, ate it, and came running into town—directly into our shop. He asked what he had ordered in his drunken stupor, as it was the most salivating, most delectable meat he had ever eaten. The family had told him that he did not visit the shop yesterday at all! They then realized it had to have been the other shop by mistake. My family had said there was no way it could have been the other shop, so they all went over as a group—grandfather, father, son, and drunk.

They asked the shopkeeper what was ordered and they simply gestured to the stack of cubed meat on display. With furrowed brows, my family had purchased a cube and immediately went back to cook it. After doing so, the way they would cook any of their own product, the cooked meat was placed on their tongues. Within seconds, they realized they had to keep the other shop’s meat a secret to the rest of town. They told the drunk that he must never tell anyone about the other shop’s quality of meat, and he promised not to.

But a drunk would not be a drunk if they did not yell secrets to the entire town while blinded by booze.

It did not take long for people to hear about the other shop and its miraculous tasting meat. My ancestor’s butcher shop was in danger of closing within weeks.

The son could not stand to see his family at such a low point, and being the youngest at 16, he wanted to prove that he was helpful to the family. He began spying on the other shopkeeper, in hopes of figuring out their secret to the delicious cubes. Their methods, from what the son could see, all seemed normal. But every weekend, they would take their wagon out of town. The son was not sure where, as he was not able to stealthily follow beyond the trees and buildings. He asked his father and grandfather for permission to follow, and was firmly told no—that doing so would be a terrible thing, and that they were honest people and that God would help them eventually.

God did not.

Another week later, the father grew ill. Without his labor, the shop grew even less profitable, and they could not afford the things needed to help him get better—food, medicine… and time. The son could not bear it.

That weekend there was a new moon. It was the best opportunity for him to sneak into the wagon—in the dark of night. He endured the long, bumpy ride in his wooden cage until they had arrived. As soon as the wagon stopped, voices could be heard, but it was indiscernible what they were saying. The son peeked out of the cover and saw two figures heading into a building.

All became quiet. He slipped out of the wagon and made his way, as slyly as he could, into the same building. Inside, he saw the two figures carrying a bloody wrapping of meat! Finally, the son had discovered the source of the delicious carcasses—the shopkeeper's supplier. The two figures repeated this several times, and when only one figure returned inside, he knew he had to get back in the wagon before it took off to his hometown.

Just as he exited the building, the horses began trotting. He sprinted as fast as he could—the sound of his footsteps hidden by the horses—and jumped into the wagon right before his leg muscles would have reached their physical limit.

The ride back was not bumpy. He did not feel as if he was in a wooden cage anymore, but a bed of gold.

When they had finally made their way home, he wrapped a leg of lamb in his shirt, jumped out the side opposite the shopkeeper, and quickly made his way home. He let out a shout of joy when he entered his home. It was a shout that his entire family had heard, which caused them to gather. He told them his story, and showed the wrapped meat. Although his grandfather was not entirely on board, his sister and mother were jumping for joy. They knew that this meant a good future for them all, and that they could afford the father’s care. The son quickly unwrapped his treasure, and the cacophony of joy had ended.

The son had not grabbed a leg of lamb, but a human limb. His grandfather immediately yelled at him for what he had brought into their house. He took the meat and went to start a fire outside, in order to burn the meat before anyone found out about it. His sister comforted their mother, who was crying. The son felt great shame, and went to his bed.

After a long (and well-needed, from his escapades the night before) rest, he woke up to the sounds of people gathering around a busy shop—their own! He asked what had happened, and the family told him that they spoke a great deal after he had gone to sleep. They all decided they needed to do this—even the grandfather. They cooked the limb and, after trying some of the forbidden meat, called in a favor to the lords that they had previously sold to. This piece of meat was given to the king, and the word had spread quickly. Their shop had meat that the king himself had put orders in for. They had been made the king’s supplier!

My father stopped the story at this point. I thought of it as strange, but simply a folktale, a family legend. He then showed me something I never would have imagined, what he would work on every morning, while I was asleep. He had done an excellent job to never reveal the family secret.

Every morning, before even the street animals would wake, my father would chop, skin, filet, boil, and prepare various pieces of fresh, human meat. I was sick. I felt as if I was to blame. He needed to continue this horrible tradition, he needed to kill people, for my sake. To pay for my tuition. For the constant medical bills to make sure we stayed healthy. To pay every other bill that we needed to live. I couldn’t take this burden, and I couldn't deal with the fact that my father was a murderer.

I panicked and ran away.

When I saw my dad next, I had to hear the rest of the story. Even though my dad was a killer, I knew he wouldn’t kill me, because I was his reason for doing so in the first place. He was paying for us to have a good life.

He continued the story; here is the important part.

The grandfather, in order to meet the new demand for the shop's meat, went to the other shopkeeper, and explained the situation. He apologized for what the son had done, but insisted that he needed access to the supplier. He wouldn’t ask how the supplier had such fresh bodies, and he would even cut the other shopkeeper in for a 50/50 split of the money. He explained that this was needed because his son was ill, and they had to afford the medical care and supplies. Even with a 50/50 split, they would be able to afford it, thanks to all the new demand.

The shopkeeper was firm in their denial of his request.

The grandfather persisted, explaining how they absolutely needed this to help his son, who was the main laborer of the family.

The shopkeeper, once again, disagreed.

The grandfather asked if he could purchase all of the stock that the shopkeeper had right then and there.

The shopkeeper denied any sale to him.

In his desperation, he pushed the shopkeeper out of the way. He must have been a very strong man, or perhaps very desperate, because the shopkeeper was knocked back into the wall, their head striking it with a cracking sound. The grandfather, ignoring this, pushed on in his mission, grabbing as many bags of meat as he could carry.

As he was carrying them out of the store, the shopkeeper told him that for doing this, his wish would be granted. His son would be able to work and provide for the family as long as his age allowed him to. The grandfather, after stopping to hear this, simply turned away and continued to the family shop…

What our family didn’t know about that shopkeeper, was that they were a witch. One who had cursed the family in a strange way that did not manifest until the witch was long gone.

The day after the grandfather had stolen the bags of meat, his son had miraculously recovered. He went from coughing up blood, having a high fever, chills and aches, to no symptoms whatsoever.

But what seemed to be a blessing, turned out to be part of the shopkeeper’s curse. The father had no symptoms of this terrible ailment his entire life, until he became too old to continue working. The day after he “retired”, he felt a strange sensation in his throat. He started sweating. Mucus began dripping from his nostrils, then pouring. He began violently coughing blood. It was said that he even exclaimed between gasps for life that his head was on fire, that it felt like his insides were being replaced by thorns, cutting him apart!

He had died a most violent death.

The family speculated that this must have been a witch’s curse, based on what the grandfather had told them way back when he took the meat. This was apparently a fitting explanation for the time period. With the death of the father, they began to worry. They wondered if they too were cursed. Ultimately, possibly as a way of easing their racing minds, they decided that it was just the father who this would affect. They believed that the witch’s curse was over with his death.

It was not. As soon as every person had stopped working, they died an incredibly grotesque death.

Over the years, things were discovered about the curse. That it would happen regardless of if the person ever actually “retired”. Once they reached retirement age, they were at risk of the curse giving them a horrific end. It did not matter if they had spent their lives working until a certain point.

If they tried to end their lives, the curse would take them in an even more horrific fashion than the others. If they tried to show that this would happen to anyone else, it would take them before they were able to. There was no way to avoid it, or to show that it existed to those outside the family.

It was eventually discovered that the accumulation of pain throughout the person’s life would be inflicted one hundred fold onto them whenever the curse was activated. Ancestors who had been injured in wars would receive the most extreme, unbearable, searing hot pains in the places they were shot or stabbed. Those who had only broken bones in their lives would feel as if their bones were being ground into a powder. Any scrapes would feel as if sandpaper was being rubbed over, and over, and over onto their open flesh.

The only way to avoid this was seen with those who lived simple lives, without much injury or illness. They would not experience as terrible of an ending. However this is easier said than done. To avoid all injuries, aches, pains, and more for an entire life is not an easy task. Not a single person in my lineage has died peacefully on their deathbed. They have all died the most horrific deaths ever imaginable, save for the lucky few who were able to live a sheltered life.

My father explained that this is why he had always watched me like a hawk. This was why our medical bills were so high, beyond the average person's yearly checkups. He said he always tried his best to make sure I was safe and healthy growing up, but what parent doesn’t? I didn’t realize the gravity of the situation, and he didn’t want to scare me as a child, or ruin my childhood by living a completely sheltered life. This was his way of going about this. He said he did the best that he could without jeopardizing my having a normal life. He didn’t want me to live too scared to do anything. Now that I was older, and mature enough in his eyes to understand without it completely destroying my worldview, he told me.

He was wrong.

There was no way I would ever be okay with learning this truth. He should have foreseen the possible outcomes. This is why I wish I was dead, but I don’t want to die. Growing up, I had managed to stay safe and healthy thanks to his precautions. But now, death will be too painful.

Everything I had learned about my family didn’t matter to me at this point. I just wish my dad had told me before now. I didn’t want to hear anything he had to say but, like I mentioned before, I HAD to. It’s not like I could wheel my own bed away, much less past the nurses.

I already couldn’t handle the pain. I wish my attempt was successful.

Written by Night Spirit
Content is available under CC BY-SA