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WARNING: Stories on this site may contain mature language and situations, and may be inappropriate for readers under the age of 18.

YEAR OF THE CARNIVORES by Kristine Ong Muslim
October 10, 2011  Short stories   Tags:   

We let the second-generation creatures get away with it. They stole the wings off all our butterflies so they could fly, so they could claim their share of what was left of the irradiated skies. We held our breath as they drank from the undulating pitcher plants, wishing we had long ago learned to adapt to the predatory movements of those plants.

There should be nothing in their caves that would have allowed them to grow. There was only moss, exposed bedrock, volcanic debris, and small insects. But somehow, they did grow — stronger, more disfigured as they holed deeper and deeper inside the subterranean caverns.

It started with four missing children in the village. They swore to never being near those kids, swore with their inch-long incisors and the yellowish glow in their eyes. We believed them. Weeks later, we found the four corpses in the marshes. The nails and hair were longer. The rib cages were ripped open. A bloodied portion of a butterfly wing was clutched in the hands of one of the dead children.

The first of the creatures we killed during the weeklong hunt was unrecognizable. The darkness must have transformed it to point that even its eyes, when fully opened, were just pinpricks of light. In time, we realized that the second-generation creatures would outgrow the use of their eyes. In time, they would have no need for eyesight. When they retreated away from our spears, there was nothing inferior in their gait, nothing harmless in the protrusions on their stunted wings.


  1. ???????

    Comment by neecey on October 10, 2011 @ 3:07 pm

  2. ehmmm,hate to be negative,, but what??

    Comment by jacksdad on October 10, 2011 @ 4:08 pm

  3. Ok…what the heck was this?

    Comment by EmpoftheEarth on October 10, 2011 @ 11:06 pm

  4. ?? What the ?@#@ was this story about, Nothing to do with Zombies.

    Comment by racouple73 on October 11, 2011 @ 12:33 am

  5. How did the editors let this through?

    Comment by EmpoftheEarth on October 11, 2011 @ 1:34 am

  6. not my favorite on this site

    Comment by Brett on October 11, 2011 @ 4:25 am

  7. AND my shit gets deleted ???

    Comment by FRANK on October 11, 2011 @ 4:57 am

  8. Hmmm … that’s what you get when you mix crack cocaine with opium.

    Comment by Eljay on October 11, 2011 @ 5:39 am

  9. thank you for that, whatever that was…..

    Comment by dougie on October 11, 2011 @ 6:26 am

  10. Interesting start, however it seems to have nothing to do with what we do here.

    Comment by gunldesnapper on October 11, 2011 @ 7:54 am

  11. Sorry, but this is like being served an intricately decorated birthday cake that’s nothing but frosting. Lots of individually nice bits of prose and atmosphere, but taken as a whole.. Dude, seriously?

    Comment by T.J. McFadden on October 11, 2011 @ 9:16 am

  12. I read the story 4 times looking for any hiden meaning… I found none. I vote to delete this story from the site since it has no bearing to what this site is about.

    Comment by Richard on October 11, 2011 @ 10:23 am

  13. Can I Have my 60 seconds back please?

    Comment by Jamie on October 11, 2011 @ 11:33 am

  14. At first, I thought “Okay, nuclear fallout changed the WWZ survivors and they were taking parts of other creatures and adapting them to their bodies.”. However, as the story went on, it made no sense and then ended fairly abruptly, leaving me wondering where it was headed. The writing was skillful, just not sure what the purpose was.

    Comment by JamesA on October 11, 2011 @ 12:20 pm

  15. Ong. We’ll written for sure. No lack of skill, definetly.
    A little heavy on the stylized aspect of what the ‘short’ story was about. Less style and more substance.

    Comment by luke on October 11, 2011 @ 3:16 pm

  16. One more thing. I dont quite get why you wrote Muslim? Was it religious or is that your name? The other writers dont note their religion.

    Comment by luke on October 11, 2011 @ 3:18 pm

  17. I’m actually a little annoyed with some of the comments on this story. I think it’s an insult to both the author and the TOWWZ editors.
    I didn’t really get the story, but I’m not going to bitch about it and demand it gets removed. Personally I’m not a fan of any story which doesn’t stick close to the old school, slow moving, infection spread by bite, zombies but I’m not going to instantly dismiss anything that has running Z’s or howling Z’s etc. Sure it’s different to 99% of everything else on this site, but so what. I’m sure it’ll appeal to some people who from this story will read the others on this site, making this site more popular. If you don’t like the story, fine but at least try to give some productive feedback why, and not just “It’s shit”. If you read the bio on the authors other submission you’ll see she has actually had many of her works published in multiple formats. How many of us can say that?
    The editors of this site get hundreds of submissions and I have confidence in their decision to publish what they think is appropriate to the genre. If you feel they don’t know what they’re doing then go ahead and no longer read the stories that are published on this FREE, public website.
    Rant over.

    Comment by Nick Lloyd on October 11, 2011 @ 3:54 pm

  18. This story was all about mood and it worked. Thanks for an excellent little vignette. Very nice to see something a bit out of the ordinary.

    Comment by abe1927 on October 11, 2011 @ 4:03 pm

  19. I agree with not just saying “that’s crap” andd letting that be the totality of your comments. However, whether it’s published on a free or charge site, when something is submitted to a site with a public forum, you have to expect all manner of opinions. I’m not saying you are totally wrong, Nick, just not saying you are totally right, either.

    Comment by JamesA on October 11, 2011 @ 4:17 pm

  20. I have to agree with Nick to a certain extent. I don’t think its fair to ask for a story to be removed just because you don’t like it, or have a go at the editors for letting it through (although I must say I didn’t read this one so its all Ryans fault hahahaha….what a coward).

    Anyway I don’t think you have to wrap every story up with a neat bow, personally I liked the fact it left many more questions than answers. It kept me thinking, and if you ever read Ray Bradbury he rarely wraps it all up and he is the master of short stories. Especially as I doubt there is any kind of follow up. As for Zombies, who’s to say Zombies don’t use butterfly wings? You ever seen one?

    As for hidden meaning. Hell. Maybe there isn’t any, maybe its an acid trip for a survivor who knows?

    If I’m honest there are quite a few stories on here I don’t like, and a couple I detest, but have loads of glowing comments. I just don’t comment on them myself(or don’t finish them), but don’t rubbish the author for daring to be different.

    Vive la difference I reckon.

    Oh and people can have names the same as religions. Christian for example.

    Comment by Pete Bevan on October 11, 2011 @ 4:47 pm

  21. I think there is a difference between not having everything tied up in a bow and a story making you wonder what you were reading. If this was not posted here on a zombie site, I would have had no clue that it was supposed to be tied into zombies at all. I think if it was a tad bit longer and/or fleshed out a bit more, it would have been better. It was well written and I would like to see a longer, better explained version. This one is a bit too vague for me.

    Comment by Linda on October 11, 2011 @ 5:24 pm

  22. I would like to clarify my position a little as my previous response was written at stoplights in my car. Nick’s rant has definite merit in that just because we don’t understand it doesn’t mean it should be deleted. I am by no means an editor or publisher and am in no position to determine something like that. My previous opinion still stands, mainly because it was MY opinion and is meant to be only that. I could tell from the writing that the writer is definitely more skilled than I am. I was just expressing my opinion on this one story, not her entire body of work. Again, I wholeheartedly agree that non-productive or blatantly mean criticism is unnecessary and the poster should keep their comments to themselves. I stress SHOULD. At the same time, this being a public forum, one should expect a rough crowd. I recently submitted part 1 of a story and, if published, I fully expect some harsh comments. Hopefully coupled with some good ones, too 🙂

    Comment by JamesA on October 11, 2011 @ 5:41 pm

  23. This abomination stinks. The “author” should seek a career in writing labels for condiments. Into the outhouse it goes.

    Comment by John the Piper's Son on October 12, 2011 @ 12:03 am

  24. Wowsers.
    Well, this IS a zombie-stories site. So this story is pretty much expecting stew and getting half a polaroid picture of a carrot. I agree with above comments that zombies should not be limited to the Romeo kind of Zombie (regardless of your own preferences), but this is a LONG way of. I’m all pro open endings, I don’t mind settings that aren’t very clear and stepping in into the middle of a story and stepping back out again before it ends can be awesome. But combine all of that and you end up with the IDEA of a story, but nothing more, published author or not.
    I know by experience that the editors are damn stringent (and rightfully so, let’s be clear about that), but I can’t help the feeling this one slipped through the net …

    Comment by David_VDB on October 12, 2011 @ 3:53 am

  25. I should definetly have asked Kristine what she was wearing !!!

    Comment by FRANK on October 12, 2011 @ 5:37 am

  26. Hey all, your main editor/admin here. We loved this story, short and ethereal as it is. Don’t think we didn’t know it was loosely part of our genre, but we found it poetic and scary and a refreshing change from much of what we see in the submission folder. We can only post so many ‘first day of zombies and this is how I survived’ stories before our eyes start to fall out.

    That said, you’re all entitled to your opinions, but we stand by this yarn and will not be removing it. We hope Ms. Muslim has a thick enough skin to bear the slings and arrows, as it were.

    Comment by Editor W. on October 12, 2011 @ 7:47 am

  27. This feels like a prologue for the set up of an epic story. Plus I’m a fan of zombie-killing without modern firearms so I’ll be waiting for more 😀

    Comment by j.tchaikovski on October 12, 2011 @ 11:22 am

  28. This isn’t a story. It’s the first 3 or 4 paragraphs of a story. I seriously thought it was simply a posting mistake and once the editors got around to it would add the rest of the story so I come back a few days later and find out, no.. that is the story.

    Its a great beginning, but where is the rest of it?

    Comment by Patrick Turner on October 12, 2011 @ 3:26 pm

  29. Attention. Like I commented before. NO doubting the skills and talent! I felt it was a little heavy on the style aspect. This does not mean I enjoyed it any less or more. Three cheers to the publishers. I love to see and read a mixed bag of stories to enjoy.
    PS Good to have some health debate’s

    Comment by Luke on October 12, 2011 @ 3:32 pm

  30. Anyone who can’t tie this into the “zombie genre” is lacking in imagination. The beauty of this tale is that it had me trying to do just that while reading. It provoked a bit of thought and I enjoy and am grateful for that. Editor W’s post summed it all up.

    The discussion is nice though, once we throw out the obvious flamers. I also hope Kristine has a thick skin and I thank her for the story.

    Comment by abe1927 on October 12, 2011 @ 5:41 pm

  31. I’m sorry guys..I stand by what I say. This does not belong in this category and perhaps is more of a poetic bent.

    I also shared the same thoughts like Pete and though this was an accidental mispost and numerous paragraphs of “Mothra’s Children” wou;d surface. Alas, like a moth to a flame, it died before it had merit. Puff, it went up in smoke, so please send out the yoke…

    Comment by EmpoftheEarth on October 12, 2011 @ 9:42 pm

  32. of course it shouldnt be deleted,, i dare say the writer put some time into doing so and should be commended for being able to get anything published,, and for that good luck to her…. but, i really feel i should apologise here for obviously being a bit thick,, i really dont get it,, every time i get an update that someone has posted a new story it cheers me up no end,, and having read it again, i must refer to my earlier comment,, What????

    Comment by jacksdad on October 13, 2011 @ 5:04 am

  33. Leave a comment Gorgeously eerie–this is the kind of tale where the images linger with us, the sense that we could evolve into this kind of carnivore, feeding coldly. And turning butterfly wings into something grotesque and deadly is a brilliant contrast to our usual perception of them. It makes me feel things are happening under my safe ground!

    Comment by Patricia Esposito on October 13, 2011 @ 8:32 am

  34. Umm, this gets through and my epic tale doesn’t… whats going on??

    Comment by Alex on October 13, 2011 @ 1:45 pm

  35. the only thing wrong with it is that it doesn’t seem to be complete.
    It has a beginning but the middle and the end
    especially is not whole.

    It’s not a matter of tying things up with a bow.

    Like there is only one shoe when there should be a pair since your all into analogy so much.

    I think you all know what a short story is supposed to be.

    According to wikipedia:
    A story with a fully developed theme but significantly shorter and less elaborate than a novel.

    Is the theme fully developed?

    Where is the other shoe?

    Comment by bong on October 13, 2011 @ 1:59 pm

  36. I’ve read this twice now and have to say, I really like it, as a stand alone subject. The authors got some serious talent. You can’t read this story with a fixed concept or expectation. Say, if your expecting zombies in ANY classical sense you’re going to be disappointed. Granted, I like my zombies as some of you do and many of you don’t, but i greatly appreciate someone who can tear the butterfly wings off of my expectations and stick them onto something else and wow me. I read this the first time with my expectations in place and was disappointed; impressed, but disappointed. I read it again with a clean slate an thought it was great. Is it something I would purchase if it was marketed, probably not at first. But once it had time to grow legs i’d give it a shot and be pleasently surprised. I think the call to delete it is a bit much. Just to have your words presented to a mass market (this site for one) is a great feeling for any of us lucky enough to be featured here. I take a lot of pride in the notion that the editors of TOWWZ feel my works are worth posting alongside some of the other talents here. It allows me the courage to keep working on my writing and makes me want to write better. Just read some of the story’s here and yes, you’ll see some you think stink. But you’ll also find some on here that are gold. Trouncing this author for something that YOU didn’t like or understand isn’t something to take out on her. PM the editors directly or poke fun of it privately among your friends and simply post “not my thing” or “didn’t like it.” I’ve gotten nay-sayers before, and i take their comments under consideration. Between them and the praisers, overall the both of them help make us better writers. If you want to criticise something, critique her grammar or composition. But since you can’t (because its good) you go for the low blow of, and i’m paraphrasing here “it sucks.” Well, if you think it sucks, do better and let us be the judges.
    On another note, because of the inspiration and encouragement i’ve gained from this site I’m happy to announce I got published in Dark Moon Digest’s Special Zombies Edition that came out in September. And what i’m EXTREMELY surprised and honored by is that my short story Gingerbread Man is featured with another great work (who I don’t feel i’m even in the same league as) you can find here on TOWWZ; I, Zombie by A.E Stueve. Read I, Zombie then reread this story and tell me that there isn’t talent in those works. Neither of them are comventional zombie stories, but each of them is good in their own rites.

    Comment by BarrettS on October 14, 2011 @ 2:19 pm

  37. I read this multiple times, and I still don’t understand it. I wont say that it should be removed, because it is very thought provoking, which is what all literature should be. Maybe the poster will add more so we can really get a glimpse of what this means. I am hoping we can get some insight. It does seem like a fascinating scene!

    Comment by Ashley on October 14, 2011 @ 7:34 pm

  38. Love the mystery here. We don’t even know what the creatures look like, but they’re scary nonetheless.

    Comment by Leo Godin on October 16, 2011 @ 12:03 pm

  39. While I’ve never posted a comment here, I’ve lurked in the shadows a great while. I find that the real shame in posting one’s writing on the internet – especially a public forum – is the sheer virtual anonymity one has in attacking another virtually anonymous writer.

    Do you really believe for one moment that this gifted writer – and her prose is magnificent – will ever attempt to post here again? It took her three years to post this story after her last submission.

    My mother always told me that I should shut the f**k up if I didn’t have anything nice to say. Constructive criticism is often helpful for a new writer – which she isn’t considering that she is a multiple award winner and published in numerous well renowned publications – but this criticism was far from constructive.

    I had all but finished a somewhat unorthodox look at the WWZ world, but I wouldn’t dare post it now. Shame on you.

    Comment by TequilaSunrise999 on October 18, 2011 @ 6:48 pm

  40. Could be just me here, but go back and read it again. This may not necessarily be a zombie story, but the ending tells you more than we may think.

    The creatures–whatever they may be–killed the four children. That’s a given. But, look closely. The creatures in this story seem to be constantly changing. They were harmless at first with their butterfly wings, then the first one they killed was barely recognizable. By the end, those harmless creatures are not so harmless after all.

    What we see in this story is the evolution of a creature and the author eludes to the fact that those creatures are dangerous, maybe more so than zombies. I know, I just committed a major sin by saying that, but the story isn’t so much ‘out there’ as it is right in front of us.

    I think the wording is beautiful and somewhat misleading. I believe the author fully intended for the story to leave you wondering what the hell just happened.

    And, you know, 38–39 now–comments is a lot of comments, even for a story that some deem crappy. Go back through the site and see how many stories have that many comments. Not many, so the discussion this piece brought about may speak more about the story and our expectations than we think.

    Just my couple of coppers…

    Comment by AJ Brown on October 19, 2011 @ 7:07 am

  41. Not my cup of tea, but if its yours cheers

    Comment by Nereida on October 19, 2011 @ 12:07 pm

  42. Really guys this story is about when zombies first came to earth, they look just like us not all bloody and dirty, they were fresh with some scratches and cuts, but then at the end everyone could see how bad they where because they became covered in blood and rotten and all the damage they had done.
    The Butterfly was just an example of a zombie. Guys don’t give people crap for a post. I scrapped my story I spent months on because of all these terrible posts I’ve seen.
    Bravo for writting this, just to bad your writing style can only protray to the smart people. Of this country.

    Comment by Kunk on October 24, 2011 @ 12:56 am

  43. I think it is well written and the writer has an interesting style. I however see it fitting in here like filet Mignon fitting in on the McDonalds children’s menu. As an independent act of random writing, I liked it. As an addition to the zombie genre, not so much. And as for kunk, being one of the only “smart people of this country”, I wonder what makes you qualified to include yourself in such an exclusive club? I felt this an insult to myself and many other people on this site who posted our opinions. OUR opinions. And our opinions didn’t include bashing any other posters even the “really super duper smart people like you of this country kunk”.

    Comment by Hijinxjeep on October 26, 2011 @ 12:16 am

  44. Oh and BTW its portray! And it was used in incorrect context in the broken sentence you so intelligently wrote.

    Comment by Hijinxjeep on October 26, 2011 @ 12:21 am

  45. @Kunk – Don’t scrap a story you spent months on becuase of a few negative comments on another story. Thats a bit daft tbh.

    Comment by Pete Bevan on October 26, 2011 @ 1:33 am

  46. @ luke: Ong Muslim IS her name.

    Comment by Janie on October 26, 2011 @ 6:59 am

  47. I agree with Pete on this one. Not submitting a story becasue of callous remarks from people is going a bit far. If you’re afraid of peoples criticism’s then writing isn’t something you should be persuing. Criticism comes with the trerritory and it’s something you have to deal with, good and bad, even the bone-headed ones too. Now are all critics adept; certinly not. But criticism is something that can help you as an author, even if your just dabling. Often times it can be very helpful. It’s the sandpaper that you use to hone your skills, or toughen your hide. The criticisms I’ve recieved have definately helped me improve my writing, and even challenged me to try different things with it as well. Gingerbread Man, my story published in Dark Moon Digest, is one such example. Seeing what others have written on TOWWZ and reading their comments helped me try something new. I don’t know much (if anything) about sports, but Gingerbread Man has a sports element to it that I would have never tried had it not been for the comments and storys here on TOWWZ. Seeing what did and did not work for others can help you see past your story once its done and find faults that you wouldn’t have found otherwise. I know I read and reread Gingerbread Man and thought how it could be poked at here and there, often time with some of the worst comments i’ve seen here on TOWWZ in the forefront of my mind, looking for a way to silence the naysayers. I think it’s the best work i’ve done sofar, and look forward to being able to post it, or something better, on TOWWZ when I can. Don’t let bad and negative comments dissuade you from writing or posting. Do what I do, use them as a stepping stone, or as toilet paper.

    Comment by BarrettS on October 26, 2011 @ 10:06 am

  48. I liked it

    Comment by ShaSha on November 8, 2011 @ 8:45 pm

  49. Damn the comment section is longer than the stanza tryin to pass as a short story. LOL. I’ve never seen so many comments on this site. Hun, maybe it wasn’t so great after all.

    Comment by neecey on November 17, 2011 @ 12:08 pm

  50. […] when the piece is good and rejected when it is not. As for readers, I think I’ve got a fair share here on the comments section. Fortunately, being discriminated is not something that bothers me. The […]

    Pingback by Wednesday Writer – Novy Interviews Kristine Ong Muslim on December 28, 2011 @ 7:10 am

  51. Sounds kind of like a takeoff on “Day of the Triffids”, or maybe to Morlocks from “The Time Machine”. Cool, but not really zombie-related.

    Comment by chumash99 on June 3, 2012 @ 7:20 pm

  52. Out of all the stories I’ve read on this site (I’m working my way back from January of 2014), this one is in my top 3. Horrifying, but not gratuitous in its execution. Very well done.

    Comment by Lai on January 31, 2014 @ 10:07 am

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