Kevin MeeksThe TangleShe opened the door. Or, at least, it might have passed for a door some time ago. Now it was little more than a charred, decrepit old piece of junk that pitifully attempted to cover the opening she crawled from. Her robes, torn and ragged,covered her closed circuit suit. What colour they had been before was entirely subjective to an onlooker. Perhaps blue or green, or maybe they had always been that sickly yellowed brown. As haphazardly as they appeared to be thrown over heremaciated form, she made sure to check herself at any possible interval for anygaps in coverage. Thin, long fingers probed her body for any sign of a leak. After a minute or so she appeared to be satisfied and slowly moved on. Crumbling pillars cast deep shadows over the hills and canyons of rubble that she crawled through. Red-brown sky and sizzling rain beat down on her whenever she moved outfrom beneath the webs of tangled, rusted girders. Spikes of rebar brushed against her hood and threatened to uncover the patchwork suit that was her livelihood.That suit... it was the line between life and death. Were a leak to ever springin it for more than, say, a minute, her body would seize up and she would die avery painful, unpleasant death. She’d seen it before, back at the nesting dugout.One of her kin had been out for a while, hunting for scraps, or possibly a livekill, and had come back some time later. Blood was seeping into his outer clothing, and his face was contorted into a horrid grimace of pain through the clear plastic visor of his mask. Others of the dugout drew closer, and she watched in fascinated horror as his body convulsed in shock. The eldest kin parted the young, and with a quick movement, made a quick incision with the blade in his hand. The others sat back patiently, but she knew what would need to be done. There wasno food from this one, and she was ever so hungry. The eldest was frail and slow, and she was so hungry.She’d made up her mind at that moment. She would wait for the meat to cool. She pounced forward and tore at the suit before the draining body had finished twitching. A sharp wedge of glass cut the flesh easily and she tore at it with such zeal that a good chunk of muscle came off as well. The other younger kin hissed angrily. This was not the way things were to be done! She knew full well that she would have starved had they buried the body, and for a moment some regret passedover her thoughts, but the hunger tore that away in an instant. She quickly wrapped the meat in a spare cloth from within the folds of her robes and dashed outof the den. Fingers clawed for her, but she was away without much trouble. She had always been the quickest of the younger ones.And now... she was still alive. She’d returned to the den a few days after her hasty departure. It was not quite empty, but her family was certainly less well offthan she. Gore splattered the walls and floor, and she was able to count everymember of her kin. Entrails spewed from suits ripped by desperate claws, and themost recent death, one of the burliest of the young ones, seemed to have been caused by self-inflicted injuries. Perhaps he’d come back from a hunt to find themin this state. Or maybe he had killed them himself in his hunger and has not been able to live with the guilt. She felt a sick feeling rising in her throat, butshe pushed it down. They were no longer her concern. She had ensured that she would at least never stoop to killing her kin, and now she would no longer need to worry about the opportunity arising. However, these ones were dead, and theirmeat was as clean as anything that could be found in the Tangle. She set to workimmediately.