Cannibalism? Well, not exactly. It depends, you know.
In this excerpt from my science fiction “comedy of bad manners,” SIDESHOW IN THE CENTER RING, Tosun (a native of the planet) tells Connie (a native of Terra — that is, Earth) that the resort they’re visiting along with a group of guests hosted by Connie’s worst enemy, Darryl, is in cannibal country. Connie speaks first.
IN CANNIBAL COUNTRY
excerpt from SIDESHOW IN THE CENTER RING
by Marian Allen
“What’s the Omata?” I asked.
“That’s the name of a people, like I’m a Mocskan. Omata means ‘man-eat.’”
“Translate that a little more clearly, please.”
“They eat people.”
Clear enough. “Cannibals? You mean they eat people like you, or people like me– Terrans?”
“They eat anybody they can get. Not very often, though; you have to volunteer to be eaten, and not many people care to do that anymore.”
“You surprise me. –Are you making this up?”
Of course he wasn’t making it up.
“Ask the Manager – she’ll tell you. This resort is almost in the exact center of the Omata reservation. In fact, ‘tammi’ is the Omata word for river. Also for noodle, which makes sense.”
I could hardly wait to tell. Either Darryl knew, and I could torpedo his surprise; or he didn’t know, and I could drop a live grenade in his lap at dinner. I could hardly wait.
“Isn’t this enchanting?” asked Hanna.
“I’ll tell you after I see a menu,” I said. “Good thing we have a translator here. I don’t want to order something with a fancy Marneri name and then find out I’ve been eating Roast Leg of Insurance Salesman.”
“What are you babbling about now?” Darryl asked from two tables over.
“I’m saying I may go vegetarian until we get back to Muimmea. Didn’t you know?” I made my voice loud enough for everyone to hear me. “We’re in the middle of cannibal country here. So help me. Ask Tosun.”
Darryl’s smile became fixed. He hadn’t known. He had probably sold the Society on Tammi Resort because it had offered him the biggest kickback.
“How colorful,” he said.
“Ordinarily you wouldn’t have to worry,” I told him. “They’re man-eaters. Unfortunately, Tosun tells me they aren’t that particular.”
~ * ~
SIDESHOW IN THE CENTER RING
A WRITING PROMPT FOR YOU: A character learns that something he intended to be a treat that would boost his position has a serious downside.