Exotic Meats Club

I found a prompt called “Each month, a member of the Exotic Meats Club hosts a dinner and tries to one-up the last month’s host. Ever since Karl hunted and served a Yeti, things have started getting… weird.” I got a little liberal with the story. Of course, my initial instinct was to have things progress until they finally ended up eating humans, but I saw that the other responses to this prompt already had that pretty well covered. I decided to change it up a bit, and I deviated from the prompt a little bit, but I still think it turned out interesting enough.

Exotic Meats Club

Mike lived a relatively quiet life in retirement in a pleasant cabin in the woods in Northern Montana. It was quiet, and after a long and exciting life, it was exactly what he wanted. In violation of his peace, his daughter, her husband, and their 2 kids, his grandchildren, were to come and visit him for a weekend while they were driving across the country on a road trip. Mike wasn’t very thrilled about it, but it had been almost a decade since he saw them, and his grandchildren were just babies of 1 and 2 years old when he last saw them, so he grudgingly agreed to let them stay at his place for a few days.

It was about noon when their car pulled up into his driveway. A trail of dust followed the car from the bumpy dirt road they had to take to get to his house, and Mike couldn’t help but smirk knowing that Michael, his daughter’s husband, would be upset that the car was now dirty as he prided himself on looking sharp at all times. The car stopped and Michael, Amy, Mike’s daughter, and their 2 children, Ricky and Logan, all got out of the car. The children started running around the car, eager to get out and stretch their legs. As Mike anticipated, Michael closed the door and looked disapprovingly at the car and mumbled about needing it washed. Amy instantly went up to her father, excited to see him.

“Dad! It’s so great to see you! How have you been?” Her smile radiated as she embraced him.

“Hey there doll, it’s great to see you too.” Despite his previous apprehension, he was genuinely happy to see her. Mike didn’t dislike Michael, but he definitely enjoyed pulling on his leg. Loud enough for Michael to hear, Mike loudly asked “And how is ‘little Mikey’ doing? Fretting about the car I assume?” Only 1 minute, and he already had to start.

“Oh stop it dad! You know he doesn’t like that.” Amy laughed while playfully hitting his arm.

Michael had to resist rolling his eyes before he came over and shook hands. “Hello Mike, how are you doing?”

“Oh, still alive, still fighting.”

“Kids, come here and say hi to Grandpa!” Michael shouted at his kids. They both obediently came over and greeted and hugged Mike before hurrying off to run around some more.

“Come in! Let me show you guys where you will be sleeping.” Mike escorted them inside where they wound down, cleaned themselves up, and mildly conversed until dinner when they all sat down in the dining room. Mike had prepared steaks with potatoes and corn on the cob, which was laid down in front of everyone.

Like most younger people, Ricky was picking at his food after they started. “This meat is weird, what is it?” He inquired.

“It’s just a normal steak Ricky, be grateful and eat it” Michael snapped at his son.

“Oh it’s not just any steak” Mike began, “have you ever had bear?” Mike questioned Ricky. Ricky shook his head, causing Mike to laugh. “Well you have now, this is a black bear that I hunted myself a few weeks ago!”

“Wow, cool!” Logan was previously indifferent to the meal, but upon learning that it was bear he became much more enthusiastic about it. Seeing his enthusiasm, Ricky also started devouring his meal. Michael let out a slightly disapproving grunt, not excited to be eating a bear.

“Oh dad, stop it! We all know that you just bought some steaks from the store.” Amy was used to some interesting tales from her dad, and while she knew that he did hunt, she didn’t think he still had it in him to hunt a bear.

“Oh I did, I could show you the garage where I cleaned it up, but I don’t think the kids need to see that.” He was mildly annoyed that they didn’t believe him, but he was also used to it. A lot of his stories seemed to incredible to others, but this was just the tip of the iceberg.

While eating, the conversation turned to more benign topics like the family, work, retirement, and all of the other catching up they had to do. As dinner was winding down, Mike caught Logan staring at a mounted jackalope above the entryway to the dining room.

“Do you know what that is Logan?” Mike was obviously eager for an answer.

“Well…” Logan was unsure of himself. “It looks like a rabbit, but rabbits don’t usually have horns like that.”

“Aye, that’s correct. That’s because it’s not a rabbit, it’s a jackalope. Very similar, but jackalopes have antlers, and not horns actually.”

“I have never seen one before.”

“You probably haven’t, they are really rare. I hunted that one actually.”

“Really?!” Both Logan and Ricky were enthralled. This was new, exciting, and a bit odd for them.

“Oh stop it dad! You’re always messing with people.” Ashley was trying to calm down the kids before they got too caught up in Mike’s “stories.” “Ricky, Bobby, he’s just messing with you, you can buy those at souvenir shops, they don’t really exist.”

“Oh they most certainly do. They’re actually pretty territorial too. I had one chase me away while I was peeing too close to his den too.” That remark got Bobby and Ricky laughing.

“Did you eat that meat too?” asked Michael, somehow eager to get in on this conversation, which resulted in Amy rolling her eyes.

“I most certainly did. They don’t have too much meat, but it was some good jerky for sure!” Amy decided to get up and take the dishes to the sink. Even after so many years apart, she had heard so many stories while growing up she didn’t feel like hearing anymore. Michael got up to follow her and help with the dishes, leaving Mike and the children alone.

“What other meats have you tried?” Logan was slowly getting wrapped up in hearing his grandpa talking.

Mike couldn’t help but let out a very hearty laugh before growing somber. He looked happy, yet sad at the same time. “Funny you should ask that actually,” he softly said before resuming his normal volume, “let me tell you kids about the time I spent in the Exotic Meats Club.”

Both Logan and Ricky became very attentive and looked at him with greedy anticipation. “As you both know, I used to hunt a lot, and I still do. I like to be able to catch my own food and reap the fruits of my own labor. In my many years, I had joined various clubs and organizations devoted to hunting and food. I eventually found the perfect club, which merged exotic hunting with exotic foods, and it was called the Exotic Meats Club. It was there that I met a few good friends, namely Karl and Steve. All three of us enjoyed hunting and eating various animals. We tried it all: ostrich, llama, lion, camel, kangaroo, crocodile. We thought we had tried about everything crazy we could that we could hunt, but then Karl, Karl got something amazing. A Yeti! He was on a hunting trip in the Himalayas, hoping to get a rare snow leopard, but instead, he found a Yeti!”

“A Yeti?” asked Logan incredulously.

“Yes, I know, it sounds crazy, but he really did. He even managed to get a photo standing over it. One second, he gave me a copy and I have it somewhere.” Mike wandered off into his room for a few minutes while he searched for it. The kids silently looked at each other, but before either of them could say anything, Mike returned with a box filled with some of his most treasured items. He fumbled through it for a minute until he found the photo he was looking for. Mike carefully handled the picture as he showed it to them. It was an old black and white photo, grainy and worn out, but it did depict a man with a gun standing over a lightly colored, hairy, ape-like man in the snow.

As if that proved everything, Mike continued his story. “Yes, so Karl shot a yeti and managed to bring us back some meat for myself and Steve, as well as the other club members. We had all heard of yetis before, but much like you, we figured them to be the topics of folklore and nothing more. How wrong we were though. It was after Karl shared his yeti meat with the club that we met Steffan.

Steffan was a peculiar guy. He was German, had short hair, but a long beard, and he spoke flawless English except for the fact that he could never properly pronounce his ‘th’ sounds.” Mike had to chuckle to himself as he recalled Steffan speaking. “Anyways, Steffan approached us. You see, Steffan was also an exotic animal hunter who enjoyed trying various meats. Steffan was far more experienced than anyone else in the club though. He used to be in other even more private, secretive and exclusive clubs of a similar nature, but he didn’t care for the pretentious people, so he opted to hang out in more relaxed clubs like ours. Nobody else in our club even knew of yetis except for Steffan because he had indeed already hunted yetis before. There was a whole world of super rare animals that one could hunt, you just had to know where to go and how to find them.”

The Jackalope

“Alright you crazy bastard! I didn’t even know that such a thing existed, how are we going to top that for next month’s meeting?” Steve was besides himself. He was super excited to be eating yeti, but there just wasn’t any topping it.

Karl simply laughed. “I don’t know man, I was surprised by it myself. I guess I have achieved the magnum opus of getting exotic meats for our club.”

“Excuse me gentlemen.” Mike, Steve and Karl all turned to face the man who had approached their table they were sitting at with dirty, but empty plates in front of them from the Yeti steaks. “I couldn’t help but overhear you guys, and I must personally congratulate you, Karl was it?, on your recent find. Zat is something that not everyone gets to do.”

Karl, getting slightly cocky with all the compliments, boasted, “well I can’t imagine that anyone else has done this before,” finishing off his sentence with a triumphant laugh.

“I wouldn’t be so sure of yourself. While I can’t say zat I have personally ever shot a yeti, I have got some other more exemplary animals.”

“Such as?” Steve asked, almost sneering at him.

“Oh, we have different animals in Europe, I have hunted animals like Wolpertingers and even Werewolves, and I am now touring the Americas for other animals.”

“Who are you?” Mike asked. He found this mysterious man’s story hard to believe, but then again, they had just finished eating yeti steaks.

“Forgive me! I have not properly introduced myself. My name is Steffan Bergheim, I am from Germany and am also an avid exotic animal hunter and eater. Like I said, zere are many exotic animals, and I would like to show you more.”

“Why?” Mike asked, not out of suspicion, but solely because he didn’t understand why Steffan would want to show them these things.

“I find you 3 pleasant, like most people in this club. I have been a member of various other organizations that focus on more exotic, almost fairy-tale like animals, but I did not care for ze ozer members, so I more or less ‘retired’ to zis club. I figure I should pass on some information zough. As such, it would be my pleasure to invite you 3 out to a hunting trip in eastern Wyoming next month.”

“What is there?” Karl had hunted there before, and there wasn’t anything too exotic. “I have hunted antelope there. Bison tend to be a little more west, but we might find that there? On the other hand, bison aren’t that rare, and we have all had that.”

A grin crept across Steffan’s face. “Of course, but have you had jackalope? It’s like a rabbit, but with antlers.

“A jackalope?!” Mike laughed. “Those don’t really exist, they are just made up!”

“You do realize that you just ate a yeti, or?” Steffan was almost smug, and the other 3 grew quiet.

They decided to go hunting together, and after meeting up in Sheridan after a few weeks, they all went camping. Steffan made sure the location was right, the bait was correct, and all other variables were as needed. Sure enough, at midnight, prancing across the prairie was a small herd of jackalopes. They all got one, and the following Exotic Meat Club meeting was celebrated with a roast of jackalope stew and potatoes.

Interrupting Mikes story, Ricky posed a question to Mike, “Is that where the mounted jackalope came from?”

“Exactly,” Mike cheerily replied. “I didn’t buy a fake imitation, I actually hunted it, dressed it, stuffed it, and mounted it, along with eating the meat. But back to my story.”

The next month, they decided to get a little more adventurous. Steffan invited them all to Mexico. Again, Steffan knew how to find their next target, the elusive Chupracabra. They had to use goats as bait, which they bought from a rancher. The traps were correct, and they all managed to trap a Chupracabra each.

“I thought these were only made up, but now I am actually eating one!” Steve remarked at the next meeting. The Chupracabra meat had a consistency like cow tongue, and it was cut into thin fillets and friend in a pan with olive oil.

The other members were furiously curious at how these 4 were getting animals that they all previously thought had never existed. The 4 kept their secret to themselves though, and despite constant attempts at getting answers out of them, whether by coercion, tricking, or just following them, nobody managed to find out where they went.

Again interrupting Mike’s story, Amy and Michael had finished the dishes and had come back into the dining room.

“OK kids, I think you have annoyed your grandpa enough” Amy chided them.

“No really, I am enjoying myself” Mike declared.

“We want to keep listening!” Ricky and Logan simultaneously protested.

Amy and Michael looked at each other. “Well, if you want to keep them busy for a while dad, I think we will just go for a walk alone for a while if that’s alright?” She looked at Michael, who also seemed excited to have some peace from the children.

“Most certainly. Take a flashlight, they are by the door!” Amy and Michael left, leaving the 3 alone again. “Come on boys, let’s go in the living room where the fire is at.”

The boys hurriedly ran into the room while Mike prepared hot chocolate for them. Shortly afterwards, he entered the living room, handed his grandchildren the hot chocolate and sat in his chair in front of the fire, looking at the couch that the 2 boys sat on, sipping their drinks. Mike opened a beer he had brought into the room with him, took a sip, and then continued.

“So, where was I? Ah yes, we had found and eaten Chupracabra. It reminded me of snake actually, but a bit irony tasting for my taste. Anyways, Steffan invited us out again.”

Bigfoot and Europe

“One of ze more exclusive animals I would like to try is Bigfoot” Steffan explained to the other 3 at lunch one day while eating parboiled Koala.

“Bigfoot?” Karl was unsure of himself. “Is that different than the yeti that I shot?”

“A little, but zey are very similar. I am told zat while zey are not much different, ze bigfoot is unique to north America, and zat is part of the reason I am here, touring ze Americas.”

“Well we would gladly join you in that, if you would allow us to join?” Mike was eager to try anything new.

“Oh of course! It would be a delight, and a help, to have friends along.”

They assembled a week before the next club meeting and flew to Flagstaff, Arizona, where they would scour the Rocky Mountains for the elusive Bigfoot. This was also Steffan’s first time, but he had guides from other people, and although it did take a few days, they eventually did manage to find a Bigfoot, albeit just one. Steffan shot it, and they all posed in front of it for a picture, and in time for the meeting, the next Exotic Meats Club was presented with Bigfoot burgers.

While eating their meals, Steffan decided to break the news to the other 3 “It has been a pleasure hunting with you guys, but I have more or less tasted what I wanted to taste in America, and I zink I will return to Germany.”

“No way!” Steve was visibly upset. “It has been too amazing learning about all these new animals and trying the meat, we don’t want you to leave!”

“I know, but anytime you guys can come to Germany or Europe, I would be glad to show you around.”

They looked at each other. Steve, Karl and Mike all had jobs that allowed them to work anywhere. A silent confirmation between them happened, and then Mike asked “And what if we came next month, got the meat, and came back to our meeting? In fact, we could all fly out to Germany for the next few months if you would like to show us some European animals that we could taste.”

“Zat would be wonderful!” Steffan was excited to have them all join him in Europe on a regular basis.

The next few months went by as planned with Steve, Karl and Mike all going to Europe on a regular basis, hunting with Steffan who showed them a new animal, and then returning for the monthly Exotic Meet Club meetings. They hunted wolpertinger in Germany. It reminded them a lot of the jackalopes and rabbits of North America. They hunted centaurs in Scandinavia. They were tricky and dangerous. More intelligent beings that worked with tools and traveled in packs, they were all lucky to get out of there without any harm. The centaurs tasted unsurprisingly like a mix of horse, but also pig. They got bolder and Steffan got more comfortable showing them more dangerous things. They hunted werewolves in the eastern European Alps. Very tricky, they can only be hunted during full moons, and they are extremely violent and dangerous. Karl actually got clawed by it while they hunted it, but luckily nothing serious happened as a result. The werewolf was like dog, stringy, and tough. They started practicing with harpoons and eventually went down to the arctic circle and hunted mermaids. They needed scuba gear, and had to be very careful not to rupture their gear while underwater if a mermaid attacked them. The mermaids were quick, but they eventually cornered one and got it with their harpoons. The mermaid was like a very dense tuna, and they smoked it over oak planks.

Ricky and Logan were fixated on his stories. What he related to them was so incredible, they were in awe. Additionally, the descriptions of the different dishes they made with these new animals made their mouths water. At this point, Amy and Michael had returned from their walk and wanted the kids to go to bed.

“We don’t want to go to bed!” Logan protested. Ricky was less vocal as he was growing tired, but he still didn’t want to stop listening to Mike.

“Aw come on Amy, I am almost done. What about another 15 minutes?” Mike tried to barter with her over the right to keep telling his story to the kids.

Amy sighed. “Fine, whatever, we’re on vacation. Fifteen minutes. We are going to go get ready for bed, but I want you two brushing your teeth in 15 minutes!”

“Yes mom” Ricky and Logan obediently complied.

Mike let out a chuckle. “Yes mom!” he called after her sarcastically. “OK, so we have 15 minutes, but,” he hesitated for a second, recomposing himself, “luckily this story is almost over.” He paused and breathed in deeply. “So, Steffan wanted us to go after one of the biggest prizes an exotic animal hunter and eater can go after: a kraken!”

Kraken

“You see, not many people can take on a kraken” Steffan explained to them while dining over hippo confit. “You need a capable team, one that works well together, which is part of ze reason that I wanted to take you all under my wing at ze very beginning. I wanted us to get aquatic experience, because we will need it to get one of ze highest prizes you can get.”

“Wow, sounds exciting!” Steve was enthralled. Mike was cautiously optimistic.

Karl was much harder to persuade. “I don’t know,” he began. “It sounds dangerous.”

“Oh of course it is!” Steffan reassured him. “I know you got hurt while we were in the Alps, but I trust that if we work together, we could get a kraken!” There was such passion in Steffan, such a desire, that it infected the others. “Zey say that kraken meat is some of the most buttery and savory of meats that one can find” he decided to add on.

“OK, let’s do it then. The others in the Exotic Food Club will be so angry at us” Karl had to laugh about it, and eventually the whole table was laughing with anticipation, but also a healthy dose of nervousness.

The time came. They had rented a decent sized fishing boat and had equipped it with the necessary harpoon systems. They sailed into the northern Pacific Ocean. The bait was correct, the harpoons were right, everything was perfect. And yet, tragedies can happen, and so they did. Karl hesitated when the kraken surfaced, he froze up. The kraken came at them, and without Karl’s harpoon hindering the kraken, it hit the boat, wrapping its tentacles around it. Steffan, Mike and Steve all tried frantically to use their remaining harpoons, but it was too late. Steve slipped on the icy deck, the kraken grabbed him and pulled him below. Steffan loaded up his harpoon gun and fired it time and time again, no longer focusing on effective shots, but shooting wildly in a frantic haze. The harpoons didn’t do much other than anger the kraken, which then smashed its tentacle into Steffan.

The boat started to roll, getting tipped over so that it was upside down. With that, the kraken lost his grip on the boat, and with its injuries, it let itself float back into the water, away from these attackers. Steve was taken down to the bottom of the ocean with it. Steffan was still in the boat when it had rolled over. The kraken had crushed his ribs when it hit him, and with water flooding everywhere as the boat flipped over, Steffan had also met his end as a result of his injuries and the cold water. Karl had got enough of his wits about him as the boat started to flip to signal an SOS signal before he and Mike clambered on top of the overturned boat.

“I knew this was a bad idea, and now we are going to die out here” Karl said, huddled in a ball to ward off the cold.

“We were so close…” Mike started to cry and Karl just looked at him before lowering his head onto his knees.

Mike shifted his head away from Ricky and Logan as he was telling his story, hiding a tear rolling down his face. “And with that, Steffan and Steve died, and I stopped hunting extremely exotic animals and decided to be like Steffan and only hunt more commonly known and accepted animals, like the bear we had for dinner. Karl also retired, now fairly skittish of animals.”

The kids were awe struck. They were young enough to believe in fantasies, but old enough to not believe everything one said. Ricky wordlessly went up to mike and hugged him after seeing him sniffling, but they still weren’t sure. There were so many photos that he had though, which he had been showing them throughout his story. And he told it with such detail.

As if on cue, Amy came into the room, ushering the kids off to bed. “OK boys, go brush your teeth and go to bed, it’s bedtime!”

“But that was so amazing” Logan started to protest.

“Yes yes” Amy wanted them in bed half an hour ago and was getting impatient. “All of his stories are. Did he tell you how he used to race clouds, or how he got in trouble for accepting bribes from trolls to make unnecessary bridges, or how he used to teach crabs karate, or how he used to sell tree-hole permits to squirrels?” She looked at the kids and then at her dad with smug grin and raised eyebrows.

Mike just laughed. “I have had some odd jobs and hobbies in my days, I admit that. I have retired though, and I just hunt on occasion and still sample exotic meats.”

The kids were a little disappointed that his story might not be true, but they weren’t surprised in the end. Amy and the kids went to bed, and Mike sat there on his chair, watching the fire burn out while he reminisced about the past.

“My life has been full of extraordinary events, I give them that.” Mike was thinking out loud. “I can prove it to them though.”

Mike then went and oiled up his hunting rifle and prepare a lot of snacks. Wendigos usually came out at the early dawn, and he would use himself as bait. Wendigos fed on the gluttonous, so he would gorge himself in the field until a wendigo came. Then he would shoot it and show his family the dressed corpse, and also have a great dinner. Wendigo meat was a little gamey, but very tender, and quite fatty, and it was excellent when grilled with a lemon-herb spice. He set an alarm for 5 in the morning and then went to sleep. At 5 his alarm went off, he grabbed his warm clothes, his snacks, and his loaded gun and headed out the door.

I haven’t had wendigo in a long time. Mike though to himself. I am really going to enjoy this.

Posted on November 25, 2016, in Short stories. Bookmark the permalink. Leave a comment.

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