The Tale of Sawney Bean
A story by
Kevin J. Kennedy
Copyright 2015 by Kevin J. Kennedy
That year we had our worst winter since moving into the cave, we all made it through the winter but there were many points when I thought we may lose some of the children. The boys had been amazing, stealing us extra blankets and clothes along with the food they could get but this again led to them coming back with a body. This time I wasn’t so sure they had been caught, I got the feeling that this kill had been more than that. I’m not ashamed to say we used this body for meat. Many people in survival situations have been known to eat people as a means of survival and my families survival was the only thing I was concerned with.
I’m sure to this day that I was the only person that felt any sort of turmoil about eating this person but it did make me question if our behaviours were really what human beings were meant to be or if we just went along like trained monkeys to fit into a society that didn’t really provide us with anything we wanted anyway.
On the times when I went into town I had started to hear rumours and whispered stories about the Wildman who had been seen roaming in the woods. I knew this must have been one of my boys but I knew people didn’t believe the story. It was like when people told stories of the bogey man or the ghost that haunts the old castle. A tale to pass on but no one gave it much thought. It did bring me more worry though as if it happened to often the story would find some merit and then we could be in trouble.
I explained as best as I could to the boys and they seemed to understand. They might not have been the smartest lads about but they had good instincts and neither wanted to bring trouble to the family. The body we cooked and shared that winter wouldn’t be our last but the boys were definitely more careful than they had been before.
I often imagined that our existence must have been similar to the cave men of days gone by but I knew it would have been much harder for them. They couldn’t just nip into town to steal supplies and they probably faced a lot more dangers than we did on a regular basis. I did wonder if cave men ate each other and imagined they must have. Any source of food when you’re stuck is better than none. Part of me wondered how we had made it this long without being discovered but I knew that most people didn’t see what was right in front of their face and it wasn’t like we were making family trips into the village.
Every time we ate another person I cared less about the person and only had the niggling worries I always had that this person going missing would be what got us all caught and put an end to my family. I knew there would be no prison or anything similar. My children were wild, feral almost and would never be accepted by normal society. They would be killed or worse, raped and killed and I couldn’t have that but if the townsfolk found us I didn’t think I would be able to protect my family.
As the years continued to pass by with the body count racking up and no one coming any closer to finding out about us the tales in the towns changed, it seemed that the tavern owners were the ones under suspicion. The boys were smarter than I had ever imagined, they were targeting people staying in the taverns from out of town I imagine knowing they were less likely to be missed. There had been investigations into some of the missing people and as they had mainly all disappeared while staying in taverns the suspicions began to grow that they were maybe murdering their customers and robbing their belongings.
My family had gotten wilder as they had grown too. It seemed the more of them there was the more they devolved. Not all of them changed so much. Some of the younger children were born with deformities due to the blood lines being too close I think. I’m sure I had heard of something like that before. Almost all the children and grandchildren were mine but I knew a few were down to Hawk and Wolf. Although both boys outsized me by a good bit and were our main hunters I always stayed the head of our little clan. They never once challenged me in all their years.
Isla, although unable to have conversations with me stayed the most normal of the girls for modern day standards. She didn’t seem to have the savagery of the others but she was the only one. I think most of our girls, including the stolen ones took after their mother but Isla always stuck close to me. We had became closer as the years moved by, her mother taking more to do with the younger children and Isla becoming more like my partner than Sarah had ever been. There is many things I could question about my life and have done in the past but all I can say is I’m happy, my family is happy and that’s all I care about. Living a normal life I could never have had as many children and I doubted all the ones I had would have survived. Death among infants was common and here I was with a family now with 18 members including myself and Sarah and we were surprisingly well off in my eyes, not in monetary terms obviously but I didn’t feel having it would better our situation.
I now didn’t really know which children were my kids and which were my grandkids. I also didn’t really know which ones were Wolfs or Hawks but I didn’t really care. I loved them all the same. Maybe Isla and Sarah the most but other than that they were all my children. I did worry about the defects some of the kids had but again in our little world I wondered how much they would impact the kids lives. They would be well looked after, never ridiculed, loved unconditionally and have lots of other kids to play with. It again seemed like we had taken away problems that we could have faced had we tried to fit in with everyone else.
The day the boys brought back the body of a man wearing some very fine clothes and with money in his pockets I knew it was probably the start of the end. Most of the people that had went missing were the type of people who didn’t have anyone to miss them. This boy however would certainly be missed. I sat all night at the caves entrance while the others feasted on the boys body but I ate nothing as my stomach turned over on itself. Wolf brought me down some meat but I waved him away. He looked hurt. He knew I was unhappy but couldn’t work out why. He had no understanding of money or wealth and no way of really knowing how different this meal was from the others.
The next few days I spent sneaking around town in the shadows trying to hear what the townsfolk were saying about the missing boy but it didn’t take long before everyone in town was talking about it. There were missing posters everywhere and it seemed to be the hot topic on everyone’s lips. People had been going missing for years now but because it was no one of importance it had always been forgotten quickly. Now that the boy of a very wealthy Lord and Lady had went missing something would have to be done about it.
Heading back to the cave my brain was running a million miles an hour. I couldn’t speak to my family about it for obvious reasons and I didn’t really see how I could move them from the cave without being discovered so we were in essence trapped.
Isla could tell something was up and stayed by my side. Although we couldn’t talk her warmth pressed against me was still soothing. I worried about her most. She could almost step into the normal world and make someone a fine wife. She wasn’t like the others but she still couldn’t talk and would never leave her family so it didn’t matter.
I tried to tell myself I was the master of this family and it was my responsibility to keep them safe but I had never intended my family to get so big or to stay at the cave for so long. When we came here I was so young and I had only wanted to be with Sarah but I had never really had a plan. I had just taken everyday as it had came and here I was now.
The more I thought about it the more I knew we had to stay where we were. It was our home and I couldn’t think of anywhere else in this world where we would fit in. I knew what we had done was wrong killing others for food but I still kept going back to all the rules of the modern world and wondering if any of them really made sense. We were still animals after all and all the rules were made up by Kings and councils that had no understanding of the average man and his needs. Whether I planned my life out or not here I was with my family and here I would stay. If the townsfolk were coming for us then they better be well prepared.
Over the next few days all was quiet and although I was constantly sneaking up to the mouth of the cave to see if anyone was near I spent most of my time sharpening long sticks I had collected. The boys had seen what I was doing and joined me quickly. I think they both knew something was coming too. We had moved most of what we had deeper into the caves hoping if anyone came as far as the main cavern and seen it was empty they would just leave.
The girls never left the cave anyway and the boys were being extra careful when going out to get anything we needed. They both knew to stay well clear of town and I had tried my absolute hardest to explain the dangers of killing anyone else. I’m sure they understood but they didn’t have the same sense of consequence that most of us have.
Although I lived in a constant anxious state now, worrying every waking minute that a mob with pitchforks would storm the cave it never came. I had avoided town for a while but I knew I had to go back to find out more.
On my first trip back into town I had never been more nervous or cautious. There were far less people talking about it now but I still heard pieces of conversation about the missing boy. It turned out a lot of money had been offered to find the boy but no one had known much about what had happened. The worrying thing this time was that more and more people were whispering about the Wildman that was sometimes seen in the woods but the most frightening thing I heard that day, that I’m sure made my heart stop was when one woman was whispering about ‘the wild family who lived in a cave at the beach’
Note from the author
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You can also keep updated on what I have in the pipeline and what I’m reading on my blog along with the odd freebie.
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