“A Dinner of Monsters”

“How does it taste?”

“Happy!”

“How can meat taste happy?”

“Well, you see, it all depends on the emotional state at the time of death.”

“I see.”

“Happiness. Sadness. Anger. Fear. Guilt. They all have certain tastes.”

“That’s interesting.”

“Most people love meat that comes from an unstressed death. They say that tastes the best. Happy meat.”

“How do you like your meat?”

“Guilty.”

“Well, I’m sorry I failed to give you that.”

“How did you get your hands on this meat?”

“It was supplied.”

“Like cemetery, like caretaker—you just wait for the dead to be supplied.”

“That’s my job.”

“Of course! You’re the cemetery’s caretaker. I’m the cemetery’s supplier. And you never have to pay me, though this dinner invitation was quite a pleasant surprise. It’s about time you finished giving me the cold shoulder.”

“Does a murderer deserve payment?”

“I already have enough in savings. See all those graves outside? Those are all my deposits. This cemetery is my bank.”

“This cemetery is mine, not yours. I take care of these grounds and the dead.”

“Why?”

“It’s my job. It has been my job for many years.”

“No, I mean, why do you have to take care of the dead? Are they going anywhere?”

“No, but I’ll always be here to watch over them.”

“Or is it the living you enjoy watching? Is your living room window your TV? Is watching people mourn your favorite channel?”

“You get used to that sight around here. Mourning comes as the morning comes.”

“You have a boring job. You just wait for the living to become the dead without doing a damn thing about it.”

“Death is the punctuation mark at the end of their sentences.”

“The ones that end with exclamation marks are the best! Wait… their sentences?”

“Our. Death is the punctuation mark at the end of our sentences.”

“How… old are you really, Mister Caretaker?”

“Why does that matter?”

“Young, modern exterior. Old, rotting interior. I wonder, is this house your reflection? Is this house… your tomb? Are you… a vampire?”

“I’m just a caretaker.”

“What are you really taking care of? Come on, we can keep each other’s secrets. We won’t call the men in white coats on each other.”

“There’s… a monster. Here.”

“Oh, I’ve been called worse things.”

“No. There’s a monster here, below our feet.”

“Is that foreshadowing? Are you going to bury me, Mister Caretaker?”

“For thousands of years, I’ve been feeding the giant that’s buried under this cemetery. He feeds on the bodies of the dead that are buried here. If I don’t feed him, he’ll devour the entire world. That’s the lifelong undertaking I’ve been cursed with. I’m the caretaker of the dead and the living.”

“Thank you for the joke.”

“That wasn’t a joke.”

“I thought you had finally stopped giving me the cold shoulder by inviting me here for dinner, but all you did was give me a cooked shoulder instead! Did you really think I wouldn’t know what human meat tastes like?”

“Honestly, I was just waiting for you to notice.”

“We’re all monsters—you, me, and the giant under our feet. How does that make you feel, Mister Caretaker?”