Maneater: the creation
of a people long extinct
transcribed by Carl Pfluger
First of all you should know that Man was the last being to be created.
The days of creation were almost over, and all the other gods had made
each their own special creature to serve them and nourish them, all except
Yahui the Feeble, whom in our tongue we call Maneater, the meanest and
most contemptible among the gods.
Now, all the gods crave meat—everybody knows
that!—but they want it young, healthy, and
freshly killed. Yahui Maneater walked hungry over the face of the earth,
because he was too weak to kill any animal. In fact that’s exactly why,
before his greatest accomplishment, he created so many of the nastier small
animals, too. He made centipedes and worms, and moles and voles, and mice
and lice and rats and such—because he hoped
that if he made them small enough, he would be able to kill them and eat
them. But even these little creatures were too strong for Maneater, and
he never had much luck hunting them. Yet weak as he is, Maneater can create
anything he wants, just as well as any other god, for he is very patient,
and has great skill in working with the elements.
Maneater suffered great hunger and endured the gibes of the other gods
for a long time before he realized what he had to do. It came to him suddenly,
during one of his long and fruitless walks through the world. He stopped
short, overwhelmed by his own cleverness, and he said: “I shall make a
creature who destroys himself, so that I need not take the trouble of killing
him. But he shall not eat his brother when he has killed him, for then
I should be deprived of my meal. He must kill his brothers without knowing
why, and leave their bodies lying on the field. Then I shall consume them
when I go forth by night over the green earth.” Maneater was alone when
he spoke these words, and no other god heard him, or surely they would
have stopped him. But Maneater went to work right away, and with his slow,
skillful fingers he created Man, his chosen food. First he made us as tasty
a treat for his palate as he could, and then he planted in us the desire
to kill without reason, so that we would do his hunting for him. Now at
last Maneater was equal to the other gods.
Thus did we come into the world—or our ancestors,
anyway. Maneater wrought us very cunningly. He knew exactly what he wanted,
for, just as it often happens among us, the weak among the gods often surpass
their stronger fellows in cleverness. Have you never noticed, for instance,
that we alone of all animals have such large, fleshy buttocks? That is
because Maneater is especially fond of those hams: he gave them to us so
we’d please him better. That is also why Man is so much more sex-driven
than the others, and why we mate in all seasons—because
Maneater knew that his creatures, with the habits he gave them, would soon
exterminate themselves unless he made them especially zealous for procreation.
And so, as the numbers of men increased despite their unceasing slaughter
of each other, Maneater gorged himself as never before. And he grew immensely
fat and gross, until at last, it is said, he was able to crush all the
other gods, his old tormentors, beneath his sheer weight. So that now he
is the only god left in the world, and we continue to serve him unstintingly.
Whenever we kill, in private murder, or public execution, or in general
war, we give another morsel to Yahui Maneater, our Father and Maker. Therefore
does Maneater abhor all men who refuse to kill other men—and
he doesn’t care a straw for any of your reasons or excuses, whether you’re
a pacifist, or a coward, or just plain too weak. But even more Maneater
abhors cannibalism among men, and he has of course planted the horror of
it in our souls. For he knows that if men would only kill their fellows
to eat them, Maneater would go hungry again, and he would waste away and
shrivel up to a wretched, feeble little wisp, as he was in the beginning;
and at last he would die, and we would be free of him.
Copyright © 2001 by Carl Pfluger.