Freezer Burn

     “Tell me when you start to feel the burn.” I look over at him with stopwatch in hand like he was conducting a professional scientific experiment.

     “But, Dad, the measurements won’t be accurate. We are much bigger than rabbits, and they have fur,” my big sister says. He had told us that he was trying to find the amount of time it would take before trapped rabbits meat would become freezer burned.

     “Shut up!” He snaps. I look over at her. She is tied to a fencepost as I am; snow up to the knees, with coat, hat, scarf on, but no gloves like me.

     I vow quietly that I will not tell him. I’m sick of these experiments every time he runs out of meds. He reads off each minute. Seventeen minutes: my fingers are on fire from the cold invisible flames.

     My sister tells him at nineteen minutes. “Joey, just tell him,” she urges. But I still refuse.

     At twenty-three minutes: my dad comes over to me fuming. “I needed both results to calculate an average! Well, I guess we are going to have to chop these off,” he says.

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Metamorphosis of a Mermaid

The water was green. Eyes bobbing below the surface. I turned her over gently so as not to rub the molten scales off prematurely. She was comatose in my arms and almost dead. The pain of shedding her thick tail skin almost killed her. They tell me that most of them don’t make it to the next stage of metamorphosis. The liquid fire they have to anoint to the scales sends most of them into shock and convulsions. She isn’t shivering yet, so I carry her carefully to shore and wait. This becoming human is a dangerous thing.

Holodomor

She looked over at her Andrei’s gaunt old man face. He was only eight. She was his mother in the mother motherland. The great motherland who had abandoned her children and made them starving orphans. Little Viktor had died as a premature skeleton the prior week. Andrei had unknowingly eaten the stew of his brother’s organs to last a week longer. She had nothing left to feed her last living son. The rat feast ended about a month ago. She choked on tears as she remembered little Andrei and Viktor playing in the wheat fields singing “Without a pipe, without a pipe,my feet are walking the wrong way” while the sunshine danced on their cherub cheeks. Now her son was too weak to greet the sun. She sliced into the fleshiest part that was left on herself, and cooked some stew. Andrei could now last another week she hoped.

Nepenthes (a short story still in progress)

     She looked up at the sky and laughed. Laughing, laughing, laughing, and then growling. Growling, growling, growling, and then screaming. Screaming, screaming, screaming, and then weeping. No more tears. The hunger won’t wait. Running. Running, running, running; faster than the sun. The sun orbiting this place at the same rate that it takes a mayfly to die on other planets (thirty minutes). Time is a useless concept here. Shadows dancing in circles, mocking stagnation. She must always move if she doesn’t want her shadow to catch her. No place to escape the shadows. No hole in the rocks. No rocks.
Just orange grass licking her legs. She collapsed into it. Sleep again. The shadow of her sleeping body circuiting her twice. She awakens and nurses the babe whom she carries wrapped and tied to her back.
Now, barely enough time to find red berries in the grass. She knows this; ignorant of other possibilities existing. Here, sleep is the timekeeper. Everything revolves around that master.

She woke up. More running. In the distance was the horrifying place she thought she had escaped. Hopelessness sets in.

“The vultures eat our babies here.” Her voice underneath glowing orbs curtained by blood clotted hair.
Tarantula-like arms cling to the babe; alien veins transplanted externally to the infant’s not yet diseased skin, encircling and pulsing with dangerous and ugly rhythm. Somewhere in the stagnant air are scented boulders of burning flesh; sacrifices to a starving landscape that is apathetic to the tortures inflicted upon her inhabitants that were not her daughters or sons anyway.

“Give the baby to me,” I mouthed to this beautifully narcoleptic creature.  It didn’t matter if she refused, as she would soon be dying that revolving dark death that consumed most of her time.  They were all narcoleps here.  A sort of visceral adaptation perhaps.  There was no purpose in being awake here.  She tilted her head back and forth in futile refusal.

Bitter drops of dust had not yet frozen on the tips of the cactus-like vegetation.  I waited.  Her dusty tears carved her grimy face into an asymmetrical pattern.  Five more drops of her encapsulated stoic hatred of me until her untimely collapse. Her deciduous body crumpled painlessly-habitually into suspended animation of a fetal position.  Stasis hacked her into guts of silence and surrender.  The infant rolled out of her betraying limbs into my prepared arms.

She was almost right. Sometimes the vultures do eat the babies here; when the mothers fall into their unfortunate slumbers. I looked up into the burning yellow sky. Already, giant shadows of death circling her; a habit. Sometimes they are disappointed, though; like now.

I start running in the direction she had come. Away from the mocking village of death. I know that I can make it. I chew guarana berries to stay awake, as a preventative for the narcolepsy that has not yet taken me.