The gentleness of the night was torn open with the unmistakable sound of horrific screaming.

“Help me! Help me! It’s eating me alive!” The shrill voice was panicked, choking out the last word across the desolate farmland in the remote countryside as the moon hung placidly in the sky, either oblivious or apathetic to the person in distress.

I bolted from the warmth of the sleep crumpled blankets and ran from the bedroom, the candle in front of me already out with the speed of my descent from the second story bedroom in the dusty manor house I had inherited from a mad uncle who had finally passed away last spring.

My bare feet nearly slipped in the dew of the grass, the candle long since abandoned at the back entrance as I ran towards the screaming that came from the long abandoned animal pens. The moon glowed brightly for a brief moment before being obscured by ominous clouds that crawled across the ill-omened sky. The stars hid their faces from view.

“Help me! Oh GOD!” As I neared, it seemed as though I could hear the grunting of hogs, a thick meaty sound as it tore into living flesh, gobbled it down with fiendish glee.

I reached the pen, out of breath, my robe fluttering open revealing my pallid, sweat soaked flesh beneath.

The pen stood empty, the rotting wood nearly giving way beneath my startled hands. The ghost scent of farm animal still hung in the air, though it was as empty now as it had been for the past 20 years.

I felt my breath leave me. A thin wretched feeling began to fill my chest as the clouds parted again, the moon revealing the rotted structure that once housed two large hogs. Hogs that had eaten my aunt alive after she’d fallen while feeding them one morning and broke her foot in the pen. The prize-winning hogs crushed and gutted her, feasting on her warm flesh for hours before anyone realized what had happened. The hogs had been slaughtered soon after, and their bodies thrown into a great pyre. A great stench of burning bacon filled the air, I was told. People remarked on smelling the crisp scent of bacon in their hair and clothing for weeks after. No one had wanted to eat the animals after they had feasted on human flesh, however. That thought sat uncomfortably in their bellies as the villagers watched the pig’s skin bubble and crackle in the flames.

The gruesome murder of my aunt was now the stuff of village lore.

I turned and trudged back towards the house, the clouds once again sweeping over the moon and pitching this corner of the world into bleak obscurity.

I wondered briefly, as I settled back under the heavy coverlets in the old manor house, if I would continue to hear those terrified screams night after night, as I had been the entire week I had been here. I wondered, as I pulled the now cool blankets over my head, if those ghostly screams were the reason my uncle had lost his mind. How long, how many times, had he heard those gruesome screams and the childlike squeals of delight as they gorged themselves on human flesh?

Somewhere, in the chill of the night, the grunt of an animal could be heard, that snuff and snark as it chewed on tender flesh in the dark.

Natalie Sierra is the editor-in-chief for Disquiet Arts. She has authored several collections of poetry and short stories, including Nadine: Love Songs for Demented Housewives (2015), and Medusa (forthcoming from DSTL Arts). Her work has been featured in dozens of publications, including Dryland Lit., South Broadway Ghost Society, and the Los Angeles Times. You can keep up to date with Natalie by visiting her website or on social media Instagram: and Twitter: