In the belly of the beast…


When you put your hand inside a dead animal not long after it has passed, you can expect to find the heat of its body still present. Cut open a still warm belly on a winter’s day with a light dusting of snow hardened on the ground beneath your knees as you work and you will feel the heat on your face.  Steam will rise from the still warm intestines of the recently deceased beast. Your breath will grow heavy with the effort and the vapour cloud that gives it away, will mix with the steam from where you have cut open the poor creature’s, fresh warm belly.

Reach inside and you will feel the moist, discomforting awfulness and if you nick the lining of its gut, the foul stench will draw you back and away as it catches your breath and makes you wretch. You might well look at your hands and feel the cold on them as the winter air chills the wet, bloody red mess that they have become. You know that you have to go back in again. That texture, that thick squelch of limp jellied offal still clinging to the warmth of life, turns your stomach. You know that moments before, this was a vibrant beautiful creature, a beast of the forest free and wild, alive and vibrant.

Where its heart once beat now lies a limp organ, blood thickening and cooling with every second that passes but with just enough heat to remind you how close you two are, separated only by a spark of life. But you have no choice. Time is against you and the barest sound makes you cast a nervous glance over your shoulder. Desperation has overtaken all other things. Logic is gone and you are driven by need. You must reach back in no matter how much the thought repulses you. And you are repulsed. This is a vile act. It is not just unpleasant, it is sickening. You take off your coat and roll up your sleeves and the cold air on your skin reinforces the contrast as steam continues to rise from the gaping wound. Soon you know, your arm will be as your hand, covered in a congealed mess of blood and worse. The place where you nicked the stomach is oozing, leaking its contents right where you need to slide your whole arm inside. You have no choice and you lean forward.

You delve back in, reach deeper, pushing against the resisting innards and your arm becomes enveloped in the heat of the mass of organs unrecognisable to you as you turn your head to the side to avoid the stench. There is something damp against your cheek and you know your face has touched something all too repugnant for you to want to think about and you close your eyes and press on.

You can’t find what you’re looking for so you begin to panic just a little. What now? Do you need to peer inside? Pull the flesh apart and place your red-cheeked face close to the opening in the animal’s belly? Will you stretch the skin and place your face ever closer so that your nose feels the warmth of the last remnants of its life force, while your ears are nipped at by the cold of the winter morning? And what can you smell as you try to see inside? What is the sight before you? Can you see what you are looking for? Is it really possible that just there, embedded in the thick pink lining of the creature’s intestines you have finally found it?



You don’t even know what you are looking for now do you? But you were looking. You were stretching your arm inside and you could smell that vileness? Such is the power of the written word. From nothing life is brought to an empty moment in the mind’s eye. It can be a writer’s wish to make you see the sparkle and shine or if they so choose to bring you with them on a journey to despair.

I can’t speak for anyone else but it is really the only reason why I do this. I love telling stories. In my head I am quite literally telling you the story as I write as though you were sitting right in front of me. It is very odd because I love engaging with people. Normally I love to exaggerate or twist a story when I meet people to see their reaction. I am a demon for it. It has been said of me that you shouldn’t believe a word I say but I’m not a liar just a spinner of yarns.

Telling stories face to face is my television. Writing is my radio. You have to listen to my voice on the page and fill in the blanks for yourself. Sometimes radio is better. When I write I don’t get to see your face but I do get to imagine it. When you read the opening part of this piece, did you fill in the blanks, were you listening to my radio of words? What was the animal in your minds eye? Was it male or female? Where were you? Who killed the beast?  How did it die?  So many questions can arise without you noticing and you simply fill in the gaps for yourself.  Now, do you really want to know what you were searching for as you knelt in the snow shoulder deep in that carcass, or would you rather decide that for yourself?…


Max Power’s books include, Darkly Wood, Larry Flynn Bad Blood and Little Big Boy

You can find more details about Max Power’s books here : –


twitter @maxpowerbooks1

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Read free previews here;

Little Big Boy

Darkly Wood

Larry Flynn

Bad Blood



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