Field Notes, Found Later
by Elizabeth R. McClellan

"Angry Disturbance"    Veryal Zimmerman                                           

after @notaleptic



light across the geothermal fields, rolling through the

             world in black and white,

all teeth and sinews, listening for heat,

looking for a regular gait. it does


not stop, or rest. it wants to devour

everything it can sense standing.

nothing survives the great desert

say the old people, and sweep


every hint of the sand from their doorsteps.

criminals are sentenced to go into

the dunes, bloodless execution that

no one observes. No one comes back,


and that is enough for the people but

we have to prove it's not just a story.

our word is good enough, but not theirs

who live outside the desert and know it


like a closest enemy. xenobiology is

rude like that, know it all off planeteers

checking to see if great local monsters

are myths to keep the outside out, or


warrant staying away. once they realized

we intended to feed the desert they

stopped talking to us. it is bad luck to speak

to the dead, or soon to be dead, for


they might give you false courage to

lure you to your own death. The ungulates

we brought are tired of staying on ship,

and the old-timer on board thinks we are


wasting our time. Nothing that big can live

without a food supply, you silly fools,

the criminals die of exposure, not teeth.

Still, we ready the experiment, lower


our sacrificial test subject to the ground

with recordings running, watch it sniff

at the sand and begin wandering, until

I see the distant waves rippling, cry out


before the maw of teeth comes up hard

below us, the animal screaming in terror

not so different from ours. The shock wave

sends our craft sideways, circling drunkenly


until the black and white hide disappears

and we can breathe again. We got it, and

everyone cheers but me. I saw its eye

useless, big as a crater, and aware. It saw


my face. It knows me now, like the taste

of ripe goat, a new fascination, and stone

under my feet helps not at all with my dreams.

My colleagues talk of funding, sponsors,


new papers. I eat only toast and

feel seasick on level floors. The medikit

recommends antidepressants with

increasing urgency. I decline. I see


the great unseeing eye everywhere.

When I have moments without terror

I wish I had time to write about the feeding

taboo. The desert calls, though, and I


will ultimately give in, I know. This

is the hunting mechanism, this is

how the great sightless thing survives.

I will be food, and later, a footnote.


Osnat Tzadok                                           

Elizabeth R. McClellan's work has appeared in Star*Line, Dreams & Nightmares, Apex Magazine, Goblin Fruit, and many more. She is a multiple time Rhysling nominee and previous winner of the Naked Girls Reading Literary Honors Award.