Thursday, January 2, 2020


By Janet Shell Anderson

I’m nowhere. Utica Rainbasin.

I’m Jesebeel Florencia Delilah Hanson, from DC, which is probably on fire. There’s no news here. The Second Civil War’s not happening here. Nothing’s happening here but the wind, the “stock,” the birds, the dire wolves.

I’m sitting on a pile of something, hay, maybe, in Flyover country, watching the “stock”. Wild Jack Bisonette’s the biggest, kind of like a cow and goat combined, huge. Has two calves, big as buses. Frankie’s another one. They talk in weird accents but don’t say much, and I’m warned not to get close because they have tempers.

Another thing here when I came were giant white birds, whooping cranes, thousands. Five feet tall. Scary. But they’re gone now.
And there are dire wolves, far out, by Lincoln Creek. An alarm will sound if they come too close.

Why’m I here?

I think a couple of guys are missing back in DC who went to my room to question me a couple of weeks ago because they thought I knew too much. I’m a professional entertainer, a Lollapalooza Class II, sixteen years old. So these guys were not cool. My turndown service, which eats anything that shouldn’t be in my room, like crumbs or dried flower petals or whatever, probably ate them. So the thing is, I can’t go back.

There isn’t much call for an entertainer out here.

The prairie--they call it--is huge. Right now, except for the animals, it’s almost bare, kind of wet, the ground’s black and makes a mess if you walk in it with heels.

So I have to make sure the people here--all twelve of them--don’t get any ideas about sending me back. Have to make sure they don’t get any ideas at all. Not so hard. They talk less than Wild Jack and don’t seem to care I’m around.

But the dire wolves do. I’ve a feeling they watch me. I dream they do.

I’ve a feeling the people here are really, really old. They don’t look old, don’t act old, and I don’t really know anybody who is old, but they feel old. Their eyes are old. Their eyes have seen too much. They have huge green and yellow machines that “put the crop in.” I don’t know what the “crop” is. I asked Wild Jack what it was, and she said, “Stuff to eat.”

The sky’s low and grey, and the wind howls. A robotrain crosses far off. Machines like insects sit in fields. No cars. The cloud’re pleated like the belly of the whale that hangs in the hall of the Natural History Museum in DC.

I’m in the belly of a whale, hiding out, nowhere--with dire wolves.

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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.


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