Monsters That Munch

What would be the worst death you could meet by another person or even other animals?  Getting shot or stabbed? While gruesome, they’re also comparatively quicker than what could happen. What about being beaten? You’re just lying there in agonizing pain, bones broken and you can only let out a pained croak. Not to mention, your face swells up something fierce.

Not only did someone kill you, they also didn’t even have the decency to make you look presentable. That’s plain rude if you ask me. Speaking of presentable, how about something that may have coined the phrase “Saved by the bell”? I am, of course, talking about being buried alive. I bet that’s up there.

Even with something like burning to death, someone may not even feel it depending on how deep their burns are, Being trapped underground and having nobody hear you, while it gets hotter and hotter is a different matter. Yeah, it’s not a fun time, but at least your hypothetical killer is more generous.  They made sure not to alter your appearance and they even saved your family burial costs. Isn’t that nice of them?

What I ask you, could be worse than that? Well, there are a number of things I could answer with. However, with it being the month of Thanksgiving in the States, I think it’s fitting to talk about role reversing with Thanksgiving dinner. What I refer to is getting eaten.  Now, don’t worry. This won’t turn into some long spiel about why you need to go vegan and feel guilty every time you eat a Quarter Pounder.

Although, I may consider it if it weren’t so costly. Anyway,  what makes the death of getting eaten unique is that it can come from multiple sources. You don’t typically see a bear with a gun shooting someone or a coyote trying to use dynamite, at least not outside of cartoons, but eating? That’s something every animal does. They just have different ways of going about it and some are detrimental to other species or even their own.

Cannibalism is fascinating to me. It’s something that also extends across species.  Certain insects will eat each other. Certain reptiles will even eat their young, We can’t forget humans have also engaged in this past time. Granted, it can be under different circumstances.

Like reptiles, it can be for survival. One documentary showed some sort of lizard eating its young so it could survive longer in the desert. Similar things have occurred throughout human history where people’s backs were against the wall and someone drew the shortest straw. Then you have people doing it for less understandable reasons. Jeffrey Dahmer is probably the first person to come to mind when it comes to this matter. Serial killers are another topic, however, and I don’t want to get too far off track. When it comes to ones like him, though it’s interesting where the difference lies between it and people doing it for survival.

It’s a matter of need vs want. A group may do this because of the necessities for survival. On the other hand, he did it because he wanted to. Maybe he did think he needed to. It’s not as if I knew the man nor do I claim to be any kind of criminal psychology expert. Whatever his reasons, we as a society can all agree the act of eating another person is inherently horrible or can we?

Well, it depends on which society you are talking about. Several tribes across the world engage in cannibalism. I don’t mean in a strictly malicious way either. Some see it as a way to honor the dead. I think the idea may be that if they consume someone, they’ll always be a part of them which sounds kind of touching, albeit morbidly. 

Like many things, it comes down to a matter of perspective. Do I find it disgusting? Absolutely. Do I understand the mentality of these societies even if I know it doesn’t make any sense? Kinda. The thing is,  humans are currently at the top of the food chain. Through our ingenuity, or rather the ingenuity of certain individuals, our species as a whole has risen to the top.

Whether that’s a good or bad thing is another matter. What if something appeared that we couldn’t contend with, that yanked us from the top? What if it was something we were responsible for creating? Yes, there’s nothing like imagining yourself getting torn apart by a horde of zombies to get you in the mood for turkey and cranberry sauce. At least in both scenarios, there’s plenty of chunky red stuff.

They symbolize several things ranging from commentary on fear of social change to humanity being stripped away from people leaving only the need to consume. The latter seems fitting given it’s also the month of Black Friday. Stay strong my retail friends.  The silver lining, in this case, is at least there’s a sliver of hope to fight back.

Zombies can be shot. Hell, potentially,  they can also be cured or at least that disease can be kept at bay. That’s easier said than done, though when they are hellbent on making anyone living their main course. You could argue they would be the scariest since they would be a mistake solely on our part. There’s no outside influence, just humanity being humanity.  They represent our self-destruction.

Think of the snake eating its tail. You can have millennia of advancement and only takes one foolish action to undo it all.  Then again, what if there was something out of our control? What if it was much harder to deal with on the basis that it was far more advanced than us and even far more ancient?

I don’t want to fearmonger about aliens since that’s probably part of the reason they haven’t bothered returning our calls. All I’m saying is if they showed up with weapons that made atom bombs look like squirt guns and were like “We’re going to eat you” there wouldn’t be much we could do. That doesn’t sit well with me but for the sake of cool space stuff, it’s a risk I’m willing to take. Again, there’s hope here. If a species is that intelligent, there’s a chance, no matter how minuscule,  that they may listen to reason.

The same can’t be said for ones beyond our perception. Imagine being a shrimp scuttling along the ocean floor.  The next thing you know, you’re in a net and coming face-to-face with something so far removed from what you’re familiar with you have no basis of comparison for it. Not only that, you’re going to become their dinner later. You can’t fight it due to it being so much stronger and reasoning won’t work either since communication wouldn’t be a possibility or would it?  Let me ask something else.

Is a monster more frightening when it consumes on instinct or pleasure? In my view, the answer is yes. Say what you will about us, but at least we have somewhat humane ways of putting animals down. Others, though? They like playing with their food and dragging things out. That won’t stop us from loving cats. 

My point is that need mixed with pleasure can be a horrifying combination. Talking about Stephen King again, arguably the character that embodies this the most is none other than Pennywise The Dancing Clown. The whole reason it goes after kids is because they are easier to scare. In fact, it’s more the fear it feeds on rather than the children themselves. If you’ve read IT, you’d know what Pennywise really is.

While it’s highly intelligent and capable of communicating, it chooses to use those skills for sadism. It pries into people’s heads and even manipulates all to make its meals a little sweeter. I’m sure we can all think of a few people who behave similarly, maybe not to that extreme. Still, to me, there aren’t many things more harmful than someone capable of reason who can’t be reasoned with.

I think that’s what’s scariest. Pennywise and people like it do what they do because they think everything revolves around them. Neither has an ounce of introspection. The main difference is one wants to consume something living and the other desires power. It’s not the need or want so much as the entitlement. 

Don’t get it twisted. I’m not saying we need to go the monk route and forsake all material goods to mediate at the top of the mountains. Wanting things is fine. It’s a part of our nature. The issue is when people go too far in pursuit of satisfying those desires. If we want to evolve as a society, I think that’s something we need to move past and learn to be more appreciative of what we have. 

On that note,  I hope you all have a happy Thanksgiving.