It was a bright and sunny Friday morning when Carlo and his brother
Antonio Benedretti packed their backpacks. They wanted to take
advantage of the weather on this extended weekend by going hiking
in the mountains.
Carlo was 24 years old and Antonio only 19. Carlo put together
a list of the things to take along. He now went through that list
with his brother. "I think we've got everything. Gas lamp,
clothes, food, ropes...", Antonio counted. "After all
we will be glad too if the backpacks are not so heavy. After all,
we also have to carry the tent." He was right. They indeed
planned on spending the night up there. They also had to be prepared
that up there at 2500 meters above sea level it could be cold
and possible still have snow.
In any case, they were still in warm sunshine at home in their
bachelor pad in Sora, a small village about as far from Rome as
it was from Naples, and checked everything one more time. Everything
seemed to be fine. They were ready to take off. In a few minutes
the train would leave. Therefore they went down to the train station.
Next to Carlos a German shepherd called Nero trotted along. It
was very trustworthy. Even if it was Carlo's dog, Antonio liked
it just the same. The dog would accompany the two. His great instincts
would be able to lead them in the case of an emergency. Besides,
the healthy mountain air was going to be good for the dog too.
The train station appeared up ahead. The station sign reflected
the sun with a silver glow, the trees sparkled in the most beautiful
greens and birds sang and flew around; truly a nice spring day
for a trip into the mountains.
The three nature lovers had reached the station now. Except for
the more modern ticketing machine everything was quite old and
hinted that the station was pretty unimportant. The beams were
rotting and there was moss growing on the roof.
They were lucky, the train just entered the station. They boarded
and made themselves comfortable. They could barely conceal their
excitement. Excited they started out the window. The dog whimpered
and wagged its tail.
After an hour and a half of riding through initially well known
scenery they had arrived. They left right away. So far the paths
were well marked and well constructed. Carlo went ahead followed
by Antonio who carried the tent and behind him was Nero. In spite
of the low grade they started sweating under their load.
After long hours of hiking and climbing they had found an ideal
spot to rest. Since it was almost evening already they decided
to put up the tent. They were dog tired and fell asleep immediately
after they had their dinner out of cans. They dreamed about this
marvelous day. From the excitement that most of the trip was still
ahead of them, they didn't sleep too deeply.
A new day dawned. Already at 5:30am the sun rays woke up the three.
A little drowsy still they got up and stretched. Happily they
collected wood and a few minutes later two eggs fried in a makeshift
pan of wood and aluminum. A tasty breakfast in the great outdoors.
Nero too got his share, a chunk of meat. With their tummies filled
they packed in order to go on. This time Carlo carried the tent
and Antonio and Nero went in front of him. Far up they spotted
mountain goats and an eagle that got ready for an impressive dive;
nothing new for the two villagers since their dad had taken them
into the mountains often when they were kids. Yet they were at
awe. They were now at 1800 meters and could look over a wide area
of Italy. They were proud of Italy and the progress they made
on their outing. Even Nero wagged its tail again. All alone up
here they tried to spot their village but it was impossible. Eventually,
Carlo reminded everybody that they had a ways to go today and
urged to hurry up a bit. Antonio looked up to the top of the mountain
but was unable to see it and agreed with his brother.
In the meantime they had gotten a lot farther as the first clouds
pushed themselves in front of the sun: a change in the weather
that can occur from one moment to the other in the mountains.
The three anticipated the thunderstorm and tried to hurry even
more. Maybe they would be able to find shelter in time.
As the first lightning came down following a tremendous thunder
and brought down the first rain, the three started to feel a bit
queasy. They put on their raincoats and marched on. Their good
mood was spoiled. They now took turns carrying the tent, cussed
silently until they spotted a half collapsed hut at the side of
the path. Nero ran ahead and barked but it drowned in the rain
and Carlo and Antonio too ran for the last few feet. The rain
was coming down so hard that one could hardly see each other anymore.
Their enthusiasm came to a halt when they discovered that the
door was locked and no one was home; who would live at 2100 meters
anyway? But in front of the building was a well covered spot where
they took refuge and brought at a small snack. The rain just didn't
want to stop. One could also see that in the worn-out faces. For
the first time on their trip they felt abandoned and depressed
when Nero started barking and ran out into the thunderstorm. "Nero!
What are you doing? Come back!" Carlo yelled but was overpowered
by the rain. At the same moment Nero and a silhouette peeled out
of the wall of rain. The silhouette that Nero found was an older,
tall man in new, modern clothing. He wore a shining but dull coat
that seemed to be made of hair. One couldn't fail noticing his
well-fed belly and his teeth. Carlo and Antonio were surprised
finding a human up here and Nero even let itself be petted by
the person. After a hello the man invited them all to the village
he claimed to live in. He spoke in an odd dialect that seemed
to be ancient. His tribe seemed to have lived here for centuries
but the Benedretti brothers had never heard of it. They wanted
to be taken by surprise and followed the smiling man. The rain
Columns of smoke appeared in front of the; the village was close.
Another little hill and behind darkgreen pines a small village
unfolded consisting of simple wooden huts. The people had almost
dog-like heads and the same strangely conspicuous teeth - what
was so terribly odd about them the two didn't notice - like the
man who found them. He was probably the chief of the tribe. As
he brought Carlo and Antonio into the village everybody was licking
their lips and jumping around. The two brothers didn't realize
the really horrible about it, it just seemed odd to them for now.
The village truly offered a strange sight: Little children ran
around on hands and feet, women prepared a steaming goo in a rusty
cauldron or wove hairs into fabric and men sat in front of huts
that looked like wooden tee-pees and carved figurines and tools
out of beige material. Suspiciously our hikers entered the village
center where they were offered a hut right away. Watched by sly
eyes they entered their hut. Nero was whimpering because it smelled
of meat. Immediately they were served a platter with the finest
of natural foods. Even though those creatures seemed friendly
- almost too friendly - the two thought that their behavior and
looks were rather peculiar. Without worrying about it any more
they fell asleep, saturated. The moon was shining outside. In
two days there would be a full moon and a certain village celebration
would take place. Our guests were suddenly wakened by the howling
of a dog. Right away a succulent breakfast was served by a person
with eagerly gleaming eyes. Two hunters returned from the forest
with their prey, a deer. The deer was bleeding from the throat
and the teeth and lips of the hunters were smeared with blood
but Antonio and Carlo didn't see this. They came out of their
hut and stretched into the sun. After they had eaten they noticed
that Nero was nowhere to be found. They went looking for him and
called his name until they heard a bark and spotted their dog
in the direction the sound was coming from. He was in a hut with
a woman and was drinking a red liquid. What Carlo noticed was
a nail file in the hand of the woman, a white stick and the sharpened
teeth of Nero. Carlo and the woman started at each other blankly,
then Carlo asked confused: "What do you think you are doing?
Come here, Nero!". Reluctantly the dog obeyed.
Back in their hut they packed their belongings and proceeded to
see the "mayor" where they proclaimed they had to travel
on and thanked for the hospitality. But he just smiled slyly.
They barely made it to the edge of the village as several men
with prehistoric spears barred their way. "Step aside, we
want to continue on," Antonio begged. However, the men showed
no intention of retreating but rather forced them back to the
hut. They kept the dog.
With a bang the door was shut and locked then the men left, obviously
"Damn! We are locked in, we are prisoners!" Carlo swore.
"Does this make sense? Have you ever seen such strange creatures?
Even though they don't let us leave and are hostile in a way,
they feed us well and take care of us." "It's best to
just wait," Carlo mollified, even though he had a cruel hunch,
and laid down on the ground in order to sleep. Antonio bit into
a juicy apple and leaned against the wall. Both missed Nero.
After they had dozed for a few hours the door opened. The red
light of the sunset entered and there was a silhouette of someone
with a bowl of food who advised to get stuffed one more time.
The creature was grinning and pointy teeth showed. A chill ran
down Carlo and Antonio's spines. They were scared and thought
they were going crazy.
Upset they tried to sleep again. The moon shone brightly through
a small window. Tomorrow would be a full moon. Tomorrow would
also be Monday and Tuesday they had to be back at work. Everything
but was on their minds. But they still couldn't picture their
fate. When they woke up the next morning there already was a plate
with fresh fruit in front of them; the door remained locked. In
order not to have to think they continued to sleep.
After some time a noise woke them up. It sounded busy and crowded
outside. Antonio peeked through the small window I the hut and
observed. On the village plaza was a pile of wood and everywhere
people were scurrying around. He noticed the sharpened and pointy
teeth, teeth of carnivores. It looked like preparations were made.
There was no chance to escape. They laid down to sleep again.
As they woke up they found themselves on moist ground next to
the pile of wood and were tied up. The full moon stood on the
horizon, bright and shining, and illuminated what was about to
happen. The men and woman gathered around. Their sharp teeth stood
out white and pointy. The initially nice man walked with a torch
in between Carlo and Antonio and lit the bonfire. Flames shot
in the air and the two started getting hot. Their fear almost
killed them already. They thought of themselves as meat on a grill.
Every inhabitant had a plate and silverware in front of him. With
a horrible chant they rose and started to walk around the fire
and the two. The ritual had begun...
Then they squealed childishly: "We put the knife in one hand;
we put the fork in the other hand. We are hungry; we like to eat."
One more time the man stepped forward; with a knife in one hand
and a fork in the other hand, and started to cut and serve the
two bodies. They weren't alive anymore to witness how their stomachs
were served like stuffed goose, how their blood provided a warming
drink and how the rest was devoured with much lip smacking.
They had pointy teeth and stared with hungry eyes.
Copyright © July 1980, Wasty, With Knife And Fork
German title: Messer und Gabel
Reading time: approx. 14 minutes
Last updated February 12, 2001 by Martin Mathis, e-mail lastbandit.com