God Forgives This
The sun was high, never ending, a gold disk in the sky. It lorded over everything and baked his flesh, stripping it from his bones, leaving him raw and red and bleeding, flies buzzing lazily around the open wounds, sand whipped up by the wind and stinging like salt. The sky was a pale pathetic blue barely there or recognizable, as thought the sun had scorched away the colour.
Beside him, Francis hungrily shovelled the rotting flesh of a dead Muslim into his mouth, eyes wide and scared. Panicked and beastly and sort of terrifying. His fingers squelched in the wet muscle tissue, taking just a moment to chew and swallow before another bit was being shoved in his throat.
Arthur looked to the sun again, squinting. His own stomach growled. But he would not sink to the animal that Francis had become. He would not kill a man just to eat him with the ravenous need that Francis displayed. He would not give into such base carnal need, as Francis was wont to do.
There was something poetic about watching Francis eating another man's flesh raw, so hungry he didn't whine or complain about the awful taste. He was on all fours, using both hands to eat, face and hair smeared in congealing blood. It covered him all over, dripping from his mouth, the scent assaulting Arthur even from where he sat, a scent Francis either didn't mind or just didn't notice. Eating. Always eating.
He retched silently every time he swallowed, and then forced more food down.
No, he would not become the same animal as Francis. Not when he would need Arthur later to become sane again. Not when this night would give Francis nightmares, and he would dream he was drowning in the blood of the man he killed just to do something as simple as eat. Not when Arthur would be the one holding him at night.
"You're depraved." Arthur murmured, lips twisting into a disgusted sneer as Francis retched again, fingers twisting in the sand beneath him, body curling to hold in the raw flesh, breathing deeply. He smelled like death and hell and an eternity of torment. "A depraved, lustful glutton. That's a sin, you know."
It took Francis a long moment to reply, still retching and trying to keep the raw flesh of another human in his stomach, before flopping to the ground beside him panting softly, wiping the blood off onto his tunic, another stain to match so many others. "I was so hungry." he whispered, eyes pleading with Arthur to understand, to know that he was an animal. "I was so hungry….I just had to…"
Arthur snorted, looking away from him into the pale coloured distance, nothing but sand as far as he could see. "You kill a man to eat his flesh, like a creature. Like an animal. " Like a demon. He didn't tell Francis how much he resembled a creature of hell when he fell upon the body like a vulture, teeth tearing what his knife didn't cut, desperate and insane, clawing and retching and eating. The god awful eating. Didn't tell Francis how much he looked like Lucifer himself, smiling up at Arthur with blood smearing over his cheeks.
But he thought Francis knew.
"I almost wish I had been eating you."
Arthur shivered, and didn't look down at Francis, because he knew he was smiling. That lustful little smile he got when he wanted, and wanted, but had no idea what he wanted so badly. That smile terrified him. That smile crawled deep inside, because when he smiled like that, and he wanted, the want was infectious.
"If it had been you, I would have eaten every last bite." Arthur didn't doubt it. Didn't doubt that Francis had become such an animal, so feral, so wild that he would enjoy shredding his skin and tearing at muscle and ripping at eyes, obliterating his physical self, debasing him on such an extreme and intimate level. It was a terrifying thought. "Besides….." His whisper then was soft, and he sat up, staring at the body he had devoured.
Arthur studied it too. He could see where Francis had sliced him to get at the soft bits. Where he had bitten when he got impatient. Where he had crunched and broken. He wondered dully if Francis would think he could look 'beautiful' like that, torn apart. Would Francis find it aesthetically pleasing to crack open his ribs and reveal his heart, flesh going grey with death and eyes wide and bitten and crushed and eaten, roiling inside Francis, sustenance? Would Francis want to see him gasp his last, only to eat him, take his life within himself?
Beside him, Francis was retching again, shaking his head to dislodge the nausea.
"God will understand, won't he?" the whisper was quiet and fearful, and for a moment, Francis looked like a child, younger than him. Not fifteen. Not a mature, beautiful fifteen year old, still growing into his body, cheeks still plump with baby fat. He looked small and frightened and tender. Like a baby demon, with all that blood splashed over him. "God will understand why I did it, won't he? I was hungry. He was dying. All I did was…. All I did…" He crawled away quickly, and retched again, everything spilling out onto the sands, half digested. Arthur wondered how that used to be the flesh of a living breathing man. A human being.
What was he doing here? What was he fighting for? For a demented god who demanded war? For this insane god that Francis sought the approval of. For a god who condemned someone as lustful and immoral as Francis to hell? What was he doing here, fighting for a god he didn't believe in?
"No." he said calmly when Francis curled next to him again. "God won't understand. You killed, you ate, you sinned." Francis laughed softly, voice hoarse as the sun bore down and birds of prey wheeled overhead, ready to pick at the open insides of the Muslim man.
"I really do wish it had been you." Francis said, murmuring it against his leg, one bright blue eye staring up at him, hungry and sickening. "You'd be soft and sweet. And I could eat all of you and never get sick." he made a soft despairing noise, between a laugh and a dry sob. "Promise, won't you. You'll let me eat you if you die, if I'm hungry."
Arthur didn't answer, staring instead into the sun as it scorched and peeled away layers of skin. "You're depraved." he said instead, picking at the sand, ignoring the body just a few feet away, the same body Francis had consumed with no hesitation. A depraved, immoral, gluttonous, lustful demon.
And they were both acutely aware, there would be no forgiveness for this. Not for the eating. Not for this war. Not from god. Not from anyone.