Tag Archives: Food

Lot 12A: “The Feast of the Dead” Manuscript (Fiction)

2 Mar


Original short fiction. Copyright Barth Anderson. Appeared originally in New Genre Magazine (2004). 

Lot 12A: “The Feast of the Dead” Manuscript

By Barth Anderson

Antiquary Auctions has enclosed all the information you need to bid on Lot 12A in this convenient brochure with state-of-the-art holo. Below, you will find a description of Lot 12A, pertinent documents from the War Crimes Tribunal (or WCT), and even a rare translation by its infamous founder. From the far reaches to your homeworld, Antiquary Auctions brings you the absolute strangest in alien artifacts.

Blink HERE to read about other lots in the Handrigan estate auction.

Blink HERE to bid.

Description: Lot 12A is easily the most fascinating item in this auction. This curio consists of four one-by-one-meter sheets of dark green, organic material (probably the skin of an extinct, indigenous fauna), and dazzling pictographs cover the surfaces, rendered in lustrous cyan ink. The “parchments” are in fair condition, though water damage renders some glyphs illegible. Each parchment sits in its own Icebox(TM) for customer satisfaction, integrity guaranteed by Cry-O-Matics.

Blink HERE to view holo of Lot 12A.

Blink HERE to bid.

History and Subject Matter: Outlaw archaeologist Dr. Ch’jij, whose barbaric crimes made famous her obsession with the Manuscript, excavated these parchments with her own hands (as it were!). Drawn from the Hearth Temple ruins, she dubbed her find “The Feast of the Dead” Manuscript. Dr. Ch’jij estimated that these parchments were created 1400-1800 years ago, during what the indigenous culture calls Yujich, the most violent epoch of Procyon Prima’s history. Few artifacts survived from this period, making Lot 12A an extraordinary purchase for any consumer on any world.

As you will see from the translation below, the ancient text appears to be an education manual of some kind. Its Narrator uses an ancient linguistic case, the second person parental, offering counsel in martial, matrimonial, and culinary etiquette. Gentlemen, let’s hope our brides don’t take up these customs!

Blink HERE for Rear Admiral Luther Handrigan’s account of first contact with Procyon Prima eighty years ago.

Blink HERE to bid.

Ownership: Antiquary Auctions must warn consumers that establishing ownership of Lot 12A has been problematic since two parties have claimed title to it. The original owner was, of course, Dr. Ch’jij. As a result, the notorious Moons University, where the doctor held tenure, makes claim to this lot. So does the Esteemed Estate of Field Marshall Diego Handrigan, commander of the orbit-to-surface campaign, whom Dr. Ch’jij brutally assassinated.

In its capacity over intersolar trade, The War Crimes Tribunal has named Diego Handrigan’s estate the proper owner of Lots 12A-12T. All funds earned from this auction will go to the Handrigan estate as restitution for the Field Marshall’s assassination and for the unspeakable savagery Dr. Ch’jij and her colleagues performed on his body after killing him.

Blink HERE to view Armada News coverage of Dr. Ch’jij’s murder trial. Blink HERE to read pertinent WCT articles.

Blink HERE to bid.

Translation: So consumers may better appreciate the ancient and mysterious oddity of Lot 12A, we have enclosed the only existing English translation of “The Feast of the Dead” Manuscript. Dr. Ch’jij herself completed it for offworld colleagues, shortly before the Armada’s siege of the M.U. guerrilla compound. Academic buyers may be interested in Lot 12G, a sample of which appears below.

Dr. Ch’jij’s Translation Notes, abridged from Lot 12G:

“We have never found anything like the Feast of the Dead Manuscript before. At a time when our children turn to outsider ways and prefer the infiltrator’s name, ‘Procyon Prima,’ to the proper Ul’jit, we now have an older, richer past than we ever dreamed.

“Translators have previously interpreted the Yujich picto-glyph ‘[chefs/women]’ as compound word ‘war-maidens’. But using a foreign idea such as war says more about modern, cultural pollution than it says about our Yujich ancestors.

“As this Manuscript reveals, the Yujich competed with rival, sentient predators whom they regarded as soulless. This might have the appearance of ‘war’ to offworlders, but to the Yujich women, their rivals were food first and foes second. Accordingly, I have emphasized the word chef in my translation.”

(Translated from the Hijese by Bombardier Rodrigo Toofay of the Armada’s High Atmosphere Wing; Baccalaureate, Xeno-linguistics.)

Opening bids on Lot 12A should immediately reflect its immense value to historians, linguists, and the discerning collector. Provost Marshall Beulah Handrigan hopes that the sale of Lots 12A-12T will raise funds for a second, successful orbit-to-surface campaign for Procyon Prima and draw investors back to this perfectly secure and well-defended planet.

Rest assured, the War Crimes Tribunal Article 21 protects the sale and resale of all items in this auction from future indigenous claims.

Bidding closes at Procyon Prima orbital time 1000:3:37:02, Handrigan Armada Local. All payments must be received in war dollars.

Blink HERE to bid.

“Feast of the Dead” Manuscript

Parchment One

(Extensive water damage blurs initial glyphs.)

. . . with [love/fury] in your third-stomach, hunt these dangerous [trophies/ingredients] to find the-twin-of-your-heart. For [chefs/women] in love are lucky hunters.


Your first trial and wedding-kill will —

(Water damaged glyphs)

— must seize your chosen prey at the base. If you disabled the stamen, the flower will not harm you. Pull. Allow your prey to retaliate, as it will, with muscle-roots wrapping — (Smeared glyph) — subdued by pinching the stem. Beware of the dinner-ending gas from burst stem-leaves. If you did not disable the stamen properly, the prey will now lunge for your [head/helmet]. Do not panic. Grasp the stalk like sad [?] on her mate-hunt, and bash the flower against the ground. This ruins the delicious pollen sac, which may cause you to-eat-your-own-vestigial-organs. But acting so will save your life.

A [nurse/man] will be yours if you cook the pollen sac for his children.

A [metaphysician/man] will be yours if you cook the pollen sac for his brood-mates.

[Strongholds/women] are lust-treasures, but hard for us to woo. They love our feasts, but don’t like sharing their hearths with [chefs/women]. I know what I say.



I cooked that flower for a [stronghold/woman].
But she would not wedding-feast with me.
I eat-last-at-my-own-dinner, for
Now that flower blooms in her litters’ eyes.

The [?] gland is located behind your prey’s eyes. You must kill your prey while keeping the [?] gland intact.

Do not break the prey’s spine or puncture the heart.

Do not cut the prey’s throat.

Use [?]’s maneuver to throw the prey face down and deliver the falling-axe-kick to the back of your prey’s skull.

If you honored your-beloved-ovens, you will kill the [big-eye/sentinel?] instantly. If not, Tribe will steal your entrails and inhale them in the smoking-ritual [laughter punctuation].

Now you may sever the head.

If you choose to wed a [nurse/man] who already cares for a litter, do not remove the [?] gland until you reach your-beloved-ovens. The fresh gland makes [strong/devious] babies.

[Metaphysicians/men] will eat anything with the [?] gland in it, especially ghost-brain-pie in a bread-purse.

If you are wooing a [stronghold/woman], do not make the [?] gland part of your [love/fury]-offering. She will [hit/discover] your future together and see only your quarrels. I know what I say.



I made ghost-brain-pie for a [stronghold/woman],
She dreamed a wedding-feast.
Did she see me bond-dancing her? No: Another.
Mate-hunting is a [mystery/torment].

Execute and read no further.

Parchment Three

For your first [outsider/infiltrator]-trial, the feast-markets and temple-steps of your-beloved-oven yield challenging prey. You are invited to hunt [outsiders/infiltrators], such as the hated butcher-in-the-cellars and the stranglers-who-breathe-water. Or you are invited to cannibalize [heretics/parasites]. Either —

(Water damaged glyphs)

— recommend hunting mask-makers. These liars hide among the sated-stomach-neighborhoods, usually among the temples, where the [metaphysicians/men] like to argue about constellations all day. The audacity of the mask-makers is without limit. They are known to misdirect the precious thoughts of [metaphysicians/men]. They are known to steal babies from [nurses/men].

Killing mask-makers requires strategy, for they are [strong/devious]. Here is a strategy your-ancient-teacher used: Your-ancient-teacher went to the temple-of-the-sacred-many and joined constellation-debates. Your-ancient-teacher did this over [time?] so that I, like the mask-makers, seemed part of debate-brood.

Your-ancient-teacher sought unfamiliar [metaphysicians/men] on temple-steps. I approached an old [star/savant] and called to him, “How are your people?”

The old stranger responded, “My people are [blessed/fed] by the sacred-many.” Because your-ancient-teacher was fat and beautiful, he called, “How burns your hearth, ravenous one?”

Your-ancient-teacher assured him that it burned with bounty. Then I locked-guts and called, “May we lie together on the mating-mat-of-your-brain, intelligent one?”

If the [star/savant] had covered his face, eating-his-own-vestigial-organs, your-ancient-teacher would know he was a real [metaphysician/man]. Your-ancient-teacher would have apologized and offered a feast for not permitting an elder to begin the mate-hunt.

But I knew this old stranger was a mask-maker!

My prey believed that I was [weak/easily tricked]. It responded like an unleashed-salivating-gaze-predator. It shed its camouflage as elder [star/savant]. It looked like a white-eyed water-strangler breaking the surface of a bog.

I was in-my-skin. Your-ancient-teacher attacked the mask-maker like-a-quadruped, startling it so that the mask-maker emitted [feces/clues]. Then I pinned it with high-claws and jaws.

I gutted my prey on the temple-steps as [?] gutted the moon-of-thieves, raking its abdomen with low-claws.

Execute and read no further.

Parchment Two

The purple-green prairies of [?] are bounty-turf for infiltration-hunt. Here a chef may test her skills against Tribe. These bipeds have the ghost-brain and will foresee your intentions —

(Water Damaged Glyphs)

— a delicious [?] gland that makes good wedding-feast when roasted with ocean-beast, hot-tuber, — (Smeared glyph) — and [extensive list of unknown vegetation]. This dish is precious-food during the constellation-debates of the [metaphysicians/men].

In preparing for a Tribe-hunt, do not make ghost-brain-technique. Your [contemplation?/affection/soul] will alert Tribe. Leave your trained-gaze-predator leashed at camp. Walk through the low-green-grass like-a-biped, so that you can gaze-hunt Tribe.

If the grass extends above your [head/helmet], you are in danger. High-purple-grass is where Tribe hunts thoughts of the fat-crazies-with-no-ghost-brain. In high-purple-grass, Tribe will [hit/foresee] you before you infiltrate.

Find the high ground and the lone individual serving as [big-eye/sentinel?] for Tribe. Seek high-purple-grass as soon as you identify your prey. Nose-hunt. Stalk the [big-eye/sentinel?] from behind like-a-quadruped. Your chef-tools of speed and stealth will be tested, but do not be too cautious. Individuals are [weak/easily tricked] when separated from Tribe.

I cut and removed the tongue, placing it in my satchel. I had three [metaphysicians/men] initiate-mate-hunt with me before the last sun set. But that one lust-treasure still tempted my memory so I refused all three.

Most [chefs/women] woo [metaphysicians/men]. Make the memory-perfume from mask-maker tongue. Cook this dish for your mate-prey’s important thinking.

Many [chefs/women] want a [nurse/man], so he may father while they hunt. Cook memory-perfume, and you will convince him.

Here is the secret to wooing a [stronghold/woman]: Do not cook better than she cooks. She must always be the more tempting one.

I know what I say.



Cook for your satisfaction,
Satiate your loved ones,
And make the manner of your wedding-kill
A digestive-aid for the sacred-many.

Execute and read no further.

Parchment Four

Your final wedding-kill is a ghost-brain-hunt. You must [locate/identify] your prey without following its [feces/clues], nose-hunting, or exposing its [den/confidence].

For this hunt, you must let a [heretic/parasite] make you her prey. Be in-your-skin. [Heretics/Parasites] are chef-trained, and while they no longer cook at the hearth of the sacred-many, they will use their chef-tools to end-your-dinner.

But don’t [worry/self-delude]. Ghost-brain-hunting [heretics/parasites] is as enjoyable as cannibalizing them. Use ghost-brain to locate a [heretic/parasite]. Lure her to your hearth with [strong/devious] hallucinations of beast-meat-smell and stewed-[fruit?]-fumes. [Heretics/Parasites] cannot resist free food.

When you see [heretics/parasites], you may feel [pity/scorn]. Remember that they are [strong/devious] challenges to [you-all/my-beloved-children]. They eat but never feed the people. They kill in order to take. They do not have [contemplation?/affection/soul].

You are law. [Guard/save] your people from [outsiders/infiltrators]. Pounce with rampant-heart, twenty-four-claws-unsheathed and scream like [?] did when she slew perpetrator-of-the-ransack.


Present a lung.

[Crush/Clap] the head before her corpse collapses.

Kill and cook. Grind the leg-bones for bread, [chef/woman]. The sacred-many will [bless/feed] you for placing an [outsider/infiltrator] in the funeral-urn of your stomach.


Read further only after executing.

Beloved-child, when you return from your final-kill, sing the songs of your greatest appetite! Spill [contemplation?/affection/soul] on the twin-of-your-heart, and the wedding-[stringed instrument?] will scream!

For now you have accomplished all four trials, and these dangerous [trophies/ingredients] have led you to your bond-dance. Your hearth will burn with bounty and every lazing-mat at every table will be [overflowing/heaped] with your satisfied people.

But remember this:

Your-ancient-teacher danced no bond-dances, nor did I wedding-feast. My mate-prey [fled/parried] me, but I have not eaten-my-own-vestigial-organs. [Utter-refusal/Zero/Futile-hunt]. I require no mate-mat, for I cook with bounty, too much for only two. Either my dinner will end while trailing delicious prey, or hearth-bricks will heat my fat corpse (laughter punctuation).

Until that end comes, I cook with [love/fury], a [chef/woman] serving the enemy to her people.


Blink HERE to bid.

Blink HERE to exit.

Copyright Barth Anderson

New Blog and The “Food Mystery”

30 Jun

I’m Barth Anderson, and welcome to my new blog Con Gusto.

Con gusto is a lovely junk drawer of a Spanish phrase that can mean anything from “to taste” (as in, adding a spice to meet one’s liking), to accomplishing tasks with pleasure, eagerness, relish. Comer con gusto means to eat with a lusty appetite.

Some of you know me from Fair Food Fight, where I write under the name “El Dragón.” Y’all know that I blog con gusto.

Unfortunately, it’s been a long time since I’ve blogged about writing and books, two of my great loves. I miss writing about writing and reading, so that’s what I’m going to hit here on Con Gusto.

Well, that and food politics. I’m pretty obsessed with that, whether I’m writing at Fair Food Fight or here. And I’ll still write about issues facing small farmers. Oh, movies, too. And, music, probably. And stuff that makes me laugh. There’s a lot that I do con gusto.

I’m also starting this blog because I’ve begun work on my third novel (you can read about the first two books here), and I’m hoping to have a first draft/treatment finished in the next six weeks. This book doesn’t have a title yet, but it’s about a murder that takes place on a dairy farm and the shock waves its discovery sends through the food world. Let’s call it food noir, with a jaded organic inspector, an emergent super-flu, a supertasting clairgustant, and dead bodies getting dredged up in manure lagoons.

These are a few of my favorite things.

So throw me on your blog-reader and you can track the growth of this book from seed to store. Bueno? Claro. Thanks for stopping by.