The Ethical Cannibal
Dreamed 1993/7/25 by Chris Wayan
Night. I'm walking with a woman in a lonely place, dim-lit. We pause atop a gentle, brushy slope, looking down on an open field. A moonlit man glides toward us across the flat, as if skating. He wears a ragged 19th century formal suit and black top hat. He's luminous, a faint greenish glow. I think "I know that color. Bioluminescence, not magic." He beckons to us. I'm shocked he can even see us in the brush. Now I'm not so sure he's not magic. I notice he's carrying a skeleton. He beckons again. Is he alive, or a ghost?
We follow him out onto the field and find we too can glide across it like ice. It's very flat. I wonder, uneasily if the field's really a frozen lake. Is the ice thin, will we fall in?
He leads us to a sheltered grove. The trees hide cave-mouths. Here, he shows us the skeleton. "This was my nephew"... He's not a ghost. He has a secret that "You won't want to hear. I'm on a special diet. It's kept me alive a long time." How long? Since the 19th century? I suddenly regard the skeleton with a new unease. Suppress it. "I follow an all-meat diet." I know, suddenly, what kind of meat.
He says "Don't worry. I don't kill people. I have ethics. I only eat people who've died in accidents. Roadkills, mostly. My cousin here's an exception--a sudden, noncontagious syndrome. I couldn't let his body go to waste."
He has a proposal: he wants me to eat human flesh too.
I'm reluctant. "I have no ethical problem with eating roadkills--but I'm a vegetarian, my stomach won't handle meat after all these years."
He beckoned to us for a reason. He has a problem. He's sick. He believes that at long last he may be dying. For his cousin didn't have the syndrome he thought, nor a virus... but was poisoned! And the Ethical Cannibal ate the entire body except the bones, over a long period it's true, but everything that killed his cousin has gone into him.
I ask about the poison. It sounds like rattlesnake venom or some other protein-based toxin, deadly in the blood but harmless to eat. I try to reassure him he's probably not going to die from it. Try to encourage him to eat a more varied diet, to get more vitamin C and A and greens.
NOTES ON WAKING UP
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