Thursday, March 8, 2018


By Chila Woychik

The day was dead. I’d killed it—routinely and without flinching—like I did every day, every single day that thrust itself upon me like a gigolo set on draining off life. There it lay, the day, exhausted, behind me, a memory of pulses and feelings and at least one mistake, probably more. I jabbed at the fire, added a log.

Adago used to be home, but not any longer—I had left, and my landscape became volcanoes silhouetted against a yellow-grey horizon. Ash puffed under my feet with each forward step, and me scrounging for enough water to stay alive.

A fire was spreading through a forest not far from where I camped. The crackling alerted me while I slept; it was the combination of crackling and high-pitched screams. I watched the trees burn, spear in hand, ready for whatever ran toward me, away from the flames. I got three giant beetles out of it, and a centipede the size of a python. I took them to the drop-off point one at a time, and worked till dusk.

Whenever I got paid, I’d go back to Adago and buy ammunition. It wasn’t good to be without ammo there; the hunter quickly became the hunted—the predator, the prey. I’d outlived most hunters in that dag-forsaken land; made a few enemies. I know how to use a gun.

I really don’t care what they call me anymore: butcher, baker, bug-steak maker. Who’s to say the crunchy carapace I lanced and dragged for miles wasn’t worth it? They who ate its contents and lived? Used its remains to make shelter or medicine?

No, they looked at their fat little children and thanked me. Their fat little children with their spider-hair clothes. If only they knew…

“Tane, bring us more scorpions; higher prices paid.”

“Tane, some government official’s wife wants a caterpillar rug.” A caterpillar rug, for gosh sake.

“When can you get those fire ants, Tane? We hear they’re great marinated and batter-fried.”

And Tane, while you’re at it, will you lasso the Whale Star and drag it down to us too? We want a night light to comfort us while we sleep on our soft-pillowed beds.

Sure, I’ll lasso them a star, just as soon as justice has been done. And when all the idiots wise up and realize what’s happening there, the corruption of one group and the misplaced trust of another. But why worry about that when they can sit in their staterooms and circle their planet? Their staterooms with private bars and movies, games. Or sit in their protected cities under the sea, the children close by while their mama watches—while their beautiful mama watches, with her beautiful blue eyes and silken brown hair …

Why would they worry? We were the hunters; we found the good deals for them. They knew they could count on us to keep the food coming, the food for their healthy fat children, the food for their beautiful mama . . . in their staterooms . . .

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Chila Woychik has recent bylines in journals such as Portland Review, Stonecoast, and Tahoma Literary. She was awarded the 2017 Loren Eiseley Creative Nonfiction Award and the 2016 Linda Julian Creative Nonfiction Award. Currently, she edits the Eastern Iowa Review.


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