The Tale of Sawney Bean
A story by
Kevin J. Kennedy
Copyright 2015 by Kevin J. Kennedy
I lay that night with Isla wishing I could speak to her about our problems. It had never really been an issue that my family had a limited capability of communicating but at a time like this I wished I could share my worries and plan ahead but it just wasn’t an option.
I had a restless night and the next day decided that we needed to move much further into the caves. Over the years we had learned to navigate our way around miles of caves that went deep into the mountain but we only ever went so far as there was no real point in going much deeper. Things had changed now though and the benefit of going deep into the caves was obvious. We gathered our belongings and the women carried the younger child and we left behind what had been our home for longer than I could remember now. It might not have seemed like a home to most but it was where we had raised our children and I had many happy memories.
I knew lots of families lost their homes but living deep within a cave was a whole different story. There was no sunlight whatsoever and the air was different. There was a constant dampness and it was always cold. We had plenty of clothes to keep us warm but depending on where we were in the cave depended on whether we could have a fire or not but there were several massive caverns within the cave that you could burn a fire all day in and it was almost as if you were outside due to there size.
It was one of these caverns where we eventually settled. It was two hours from the cave mouth and I knew there was no way that anyone would come this far in. I took the boys back with me to the cave entrance and cleared away any sign that we had ever been there.
I sat alone that night in our new home, looking around at the fire light flickering on the walls. Everything was quiet apart from some sounds coming from the area the woman had set up for the babies. It took me a long time to fall asleep but I knew I had moved my family away from any immediate threat.
When I woke the next morning I knew I had to take the boys with me today to bring back more supplies. It was two hours up to the cave mouth from where we were and two hours back so things were going to take a lot longer now and I didn’t want us leaving the cave too often any more so I though us all going at once was the best idea. It was only ever me or the boys that went out anyway.
Although it took a while the three of us got into town, got our supplies and started making our way back to the cave in a pretty uneventful fashion. Looking at my boys made me feel proud. They might not have been the cleverest lads around in a conventional sense but they were seasoned hunters, extremely strong and fast, amazing at moving while making no noise at all and they had a fierce love for their family. I knew that a lot of children turned out a lot worse when brought up in better circumstances so he was proud of the job that he and Sarah had done, especially considering how fragile her mind had been in the early days.
As we walked down to the beach my mind wandered thinking about the early days with Sarah and how her mental state deteriorated. It left me wondering what parts of a person that we fall in love with. Sarah had lost the power of speech quickly and over the years had went through fazes of being withdrawn and others of being more outgoing within our family. I was never able to work out what was going on in her head or what set her off after all those years but I knew I had never stopped loving her. I would kill every man in town to protect her if that is what it took.
We rounded the corner to where the sand started and in our path stepped 6 young men. They were probably aged between thirteen to about seventeen as I could best tell and each carried a weapon. All nine of us stopped dead. I knew the young lads had been searching about the caves after hearing all the talk in town but I’m not sure that they actually expected to find us there or that we even existed in the first place. Looking at us however, there was no mistaking who we were, even the boys and me were milk white from very rarely going outside, our bodies were hardened from the life we lead and we were dirtier than your average person with old worn clothes. I think if it hadn’t been for the fact that people were looking for a wild family I would have been able to talk our way out of it but standing here with my two boys who couldn’t talk facing six fiery but scared young lads I knew where this was going.
My boys stood on either side of me, tensed like two pieces of granite, not moving a muscle because I was their leader and they would await my orders. I couldn’t bring myself to have them attack these young lads. They were just boys and on top of that one of my boys could be injured badly or killed. Without saying a word one of the bigger boys lunged at Wolf and thrust his spear straight at his chest. Wolf merely turned his body, leaning back and let the spear pass by him, grabbing hold of it and pulling hard, the boy came flying towards him. Wolf snapped the boy’s neck with ease and dropped him at his feet. That set the group off and they all attacked at once. As they came towards us I saw a blur out of the side of my eyes as Wolf and Hawk leapt further than any man should be able to, landing behind the attackers they grabbed one each and done something that shocked me to my core. They both sunk their teeth into the boys necks and ripped out a massive chunk which they chewed on as they quickly dispatched the other three. I rubbed my eyes and looked at the carnage in front of me that had lasted a few seconds at most and then at my blood covered boys who stood there finishing the raw meat that they were chewing on.
It took us a long time to get the boys buried and cover our tracks. I had no doubt they would be found but what could we do? Six boys going missing wasn’t going to go unnoticed. We kept two of the bodies and I thought it would be hard bringing them so far into the caves as it wasn’t the easiest going route but the boys just flung a body each over their shoulders and marched on as if it was a piece of cloth they were carrying. By the time we got back and got everyone fed I had never felt so exhausted. I tried to think back to how high and far Wolf and Hawk had jumped and the image of them biting into the boys necks but I was asleep before I knew it.
The next day I went up to the cave mouth myself. There were footsteps. That was a really bad sign considering we had used branches to cover ours behind us so someone had made these in the very short period of time before the tide came in the night before or had been here earlier this morning. Either way it was bad. I went straight back into the caves and checked on our stock. We were pretty well set up to be here for a long time without any risk of starving. We had fresh water available to us in the cave and there wasn’t much else we needed so I tried my best to let the boys know going outside was off limits and they seemed to understand.
A few months have passed since I last updated you on what’s been happening. We haven’t been found by the town folk yet but I have no doubt they are still looking for us. Karry, Annie and Susie have had babies, our first born in this part of the cave but that’s not why I’m returning to my tale now. There have been some changes since we moved down here. I knew things would be different but I had no idea what would really happen and I still question myself as to what’s real and what isn’t. Changes started happening to some of the girls in the family. The first signs of the change were expected. The meat in our diet had lessened and we had all lost a little weight, we were all extremely white and for some reason we all started to lose our hair. I wasn’t sure what was causing this but thought it was probably either linked to our diet or lack of sunlight. As the weeks passed some of the girls skin started to turn scaly, their skin covered in little hexagon greyish tiles while others became almost slimy, their skin having a wetness to it and becoming more pin, almost like a worm.
I knew we couldn’t go back up to the surface and there was less chance than ever to move my family somewhere else now. I made my mind up that I would take one last trip to town to see what I could learn and have a last attempt at formulating a plan that will keep my family safe. I would just leave it a few more weeks in case anyone has been watching the cave mouth.
The weeks passed by slowly as I watched most of my family change. It was as if they were adapting to suit there surroundings. Here we were buried in the earth and my girls were taking on qualities that looked similar to worms and lizards. The most heartbreaking of all was Isla. The others acted as if they didn’t notice what was happening. Either that or they just didn’t care but Isla was different. She was always the most human of the lot and was taking it hard. She cried a lot and very rarely left my side but there was nothing I could do to stop what was happening to her. I’m not sure if it was because she was one of our first children or because she was the oldest but she was changing quicker than the others. As she became less like herself my heart broke completely and I distanced myself from the others spending every waking minute with her.
I awoke one morning to find her missing along with some of the others. I roamed the caves for hours and never found her. I knew what had happened. She had changed too much and either didn’t want to be seen by anyone or she was now more animal than person and I had left her thoughts forever. I just didn’t know. I still didn’t even know why this was happening. I had never heard of anything like this in my life but I had been young when I moved here so I missed out on a lot of learning. I wondered if this was what happened to people if they had no sun light at all. Similar to the way our eye sight adapted. I wondered if this was our bodies adapting but then why wasn’t it happening to us all. Myself, Wolf, Hawk, Sarah and the younger children seemed to have no signs of any change. As I wandered the caves I heard what sounded like bare feet moving across rock quickly and rocks skittering across the floor but I still never managed to find any of the missing girls.
As time passed by more of my family changed and so did the younger girls. It turned out that when they turned around seven they would start showing signs of the change but it would happen over a much longer period than it did to the older girls. It was heartbreaking to watch my family disappear before my eyes and I wondered if we were any better off down here now that our numbers were dwindling anyway. Would we have been better standing our ground and fighting? I still didn’t think so.
I had taken to spending most of my time roaming the caves now in the hope of one day seeing Isla again. I missed her most of all and not having her to lie with in difficult times made everything that little bit harder. I think everyone needs someone. A few of the girls who were changing slowly had started coming to me in the night for sex, now wanting there own babies and although I took no pleasure in it I gave each of them what they needed hoping that my family would once again grow. The new babies however were born with their skin already pink or scaly and their eyes were different to ours, completely black and less round. There was something about them that made them seem like they were born for this life but I wondered what they would be like when grown.
Some days I wondered if I should slit all their throats in their sleep and put and end to it all but how could I? They were my family and I loved them, no matter what we had become and I wasn’t sure I could take my own life before seeing Isla one more time anyway, just to know she was okay wherever she was.
One morning after waking up before everyone else I got the fire going and put some food out for the others to have when they woke. I went walking deeper into the caves than we had ever been before. After an hour or so of walking I stopped for a rest and sat on a rock, I lay my torch against another and had a drink of water. As I sat daydreaming about what my life may have been I heard a skittering on the roof of the cave across the other side of the large canyon. I looked up, straining my eyes, trying my hardest to find what had made the noise and then I seen her. Isla. I knew it was herb straight away. I could tell by the way she tilted her head to look at me. Her body had changed more and there was no way any normal human being could be clinging to the rocks hanging almost upside down the way she was but it was definitely her. We held each others gaze for a long time and I wept, I wiped my eyes and she was gone. I stayed where I was for a while hoping that she would come back but she never did.
I made my way back to the cave to join what was left of my family. I know there are less of us left now but I also feel in my heart that my girls who have changed and left us will always be part of our family anyway. They may be different now but we are all different. I lie here tonight wondering what the future holds in store for my family and I can only hope we manage to keep going on. I don’t know if we will all die out in the caves we live in now or if in years to come descendants of the Bean clan will live on here or somewhere else. There is no way of knowing. I’ve done my best to keep my family safe and provided for them like all good men should and like most men I regret the mistakes I’ve made along the way so I will leave it for you to judge if I was a good or a bad man but before you do I would ask you to look deep down at yourself and the decisions you have made along the way and ask yourself how moral you really are. I hope this isn’t the end of my story or my family but only time will tell.
Sawney Bean 1708
I’ve always loved the Legend of Sawney Bean and everything related to it. Jack Ketchums Offseason is one of my favourite books and the original Hills Have Eyes was a movie I watched over and over growing up. My introduction to horror literature was the late Richard Laymon who always seemed to have mountain men, cave dwellers or some kind of mutant people in his books and this just furthered my love of that type of horror. The thing with this book was I didn’t want to stray too far from the Legend which meant I couldn’t go wild with some ideas I had. The details of the Legend are sketchy at best but I wanted my story to fit within the claimed details you will find online if you look Sawney Bean up. You will see that opinion differs and some people say it’s a legend and not a myth. Whatever you chose to believe the myth/legend lives on anyway. If you have made it to the end of my first novella I thank you and hope you enjoyed it. I did my best. It is the first work I have written over 4000 words. All I ask is that you share it somewhere or leave a review. Go on. Click Google share. If the book is well received there will be a few side stories to it as well ranging in length from flash fiction pieces to possibly another novella in the future.
The legend of Sawney Bean has long been discussed and adapted into other stories. There has been discussion on which parts of the tale are fact and which parts are fiction. This is the story from the mans mouth himself. Sawney Beans journey from a twelve year old lad into the leader of the most notorious cannibal family to ever live. He tells the tale of how he met his wife and how they ended up raising a massive inbred clan in a secluded cave not far from the very people they were killing for food. Here Sawney's side of the story and the true facts of what actually happened. Was he a cold blooded cannibal or just another man trying to do his best for his family? Follow the Bean clans rise from the very first meeting of the founding members in this fantastic series by Kevin Kennedy