Thursday, October 17, 2019


By Janet Shell Anderson

The moon had set when the alarm sounded for dire wolves last night. I saw them from the dark house, from the upstairs window as they crossed through the sketchy windbreak, three rows of old, twisted junipers and cedars. The wolves slid into the yard like shadows, almost invisible, as I watched through the spidery glass and thin lace curtain. They’d come for me, sat in a group near the bridalwreath spirea. A drone came down suddenly from the stock shed, and they left.

I’ve been out here in the Rainwater Basin since March, and it’s May now, I think. Now the sky’s velvet grey, sirens are quiet, the drone and wolves, gone. Day’s begun, and the rising Moon’s like a broken cookie above wide, empty fields. The people here went out on their enormous yellow and green machines a while back just at Moonrise. Since you can’t see the drivers on the machines, the huge things seem to be running themselves. A robotrain cuts across the far horizon.

No other people come here. The roads are dirt or gravel. Sometimes when it hasn’t rained, the roads raise their own dust that swirls in here to Utica Rainbasin as if it’s come to find someone. Maybe me. The wind talks long words, its own language.
I wear dusters now, long pants, boots, my hair twisted in a bun like people a thousand years ago. Or green and yellow gear if I ride the machines. These people here are like people a thousand years ago.

I don’t think the people back in DC where I’m from know they’re here. I think the people in DC think everyone out here’s dead, that the farms are run by AIs, the robomachines and robotrains take care of all of it, produce sorghum, X-milo.

We don’t have lights on at night. We have kerosene lamps in the day, no cars or trucks on the roads. Drones, though. Weird stuff. We eat at noon, sleep at sunset.

We have stock that talk. They have a lot of opinions, don’t know anything. Like cows, but bigger, they’re hairy, have humps, beards, big eyes. Their breath smells sweet. The dire wolves eat the stock if they can catch any, usually a calf; the stock kill the dire wolves if they can catch any, stomp them to death. I’ve seen bones of dead calves, smashed bodies of dead wolves out on the flat prairie. The wind sings over them. Oglala words the people here say. Storm words.

I’m Jesebeel Hanson, hiding out here with what might be my relatives--except they’re so strange--so no one from DC can catch me. I got a couple of questioners killed, probably. Back home. There’s war back home. DC was burning. I don’t know if these people here know it. I haven’t told them. I said someone wanted to hurt me, and they took me in.

I asked one of the people if the dire wolves might have cell phones, because I’m sure they’re after me. The woman, whose eyes are the same color as mine but look a thousand years old, said nothing.

One of our buildings says “Prairie Green” in faded old letters. When I asked the old lady why, she said, “The land is worth everything. Everything. None of them understand that.”

I don’t understand it either. It’s just mud or dirt under a broken cookie Moon, where the wind says crazy things.

- - -
I have been published by Farther Stars Than These, 365 Tomorrows, Vestal Review, decomP, FRIGG, Grey Sparrow and many others, nominated for the Pushcart Prize, included in a collection of short works with Joyce Carol Oates. I am an attorney.

Help keep Farther Stars alive! Visit our sponsors! :)

- - -


The Thunderune Network:


Weirdyear Daily FictionYesteryear Daily FictionClassics that don't suck!Art expressed communally.Von Singer Aether and Steamworks.Resource for spiritual eclectics and independents.Pyrography on reclaimed woodartists featured weeklySmashed Cat MagazineLinguistic ErosionYesteryear Daily Fiction