Episode 220: Dinovember! Raptor Boy by Elise Forier Edie

Show Notes

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A special thank you to our audio producer Jeremy Carter for the excellent photo in this week’s episode artwork. Check out his Etsy shop, On The Edge Photos.


Theme music is “Appeal to Heavens” by Alexye Nov, available at MusicAlley.com.

Read along with the text of the story.


Raptor Boy

by Elise Forier Edie

I am running between cornfields on a dark country road. A rifle, slung on my back, pounds my spine. The moon rises ahead, gigantic and golden. I think of werewolves, of holes in the sky. I picture my spine unzipping, and a giant lizard crawling out of my skin. My foot snags on a tuft of grass. I stagger and catch myself before my chin hits the ground.

Behind me, in town, my older brother Arnie rallies with a troop of redneck warriors. They are frenzied on drugs, eager to maim. Their loud laughter circles the lone streetlamp, shining above Happy Dak’s trailer park.

Earlier on Happy Dak said, “The Sa’id family needs to be taught a lesson. You gotta show them camel jockeys who’s boss in McCall.” He promised untold rewards for every drop of blood spilled. And when Silvie fired up the Sparkle pipe, and Happy Dak started chanting his pagan charms, I grabbed my gun and split. I don’t know what I’m going to do with the rifle. I can’t imagine shooting Arnie, or even any of his hyenic friends. But Happy Dak said the words “fire,” “rape,” and “blood.” So I’m running my feeble feet through the cornfields, a tottering Raptor Boy, trying to be a hero.

Asim Sa’id was once my friend. We swapped comic books, studied constellations. Summers we camped in fallow fields with Claire-Dawn Yellow, tracking the Perseid meteor shower. I learned the words “saponification,” “Salat,” and “nebulae,” at his home. He learned the words “ademantium,” “velociraptor,” and “ectrodactyly” from me. We haven’t spoken for more than a year. But the thought of an attacker tearing down his door, of Asim’s cheekbones shattering under iron hard jaws, makes my own face cringe in sympathy. Asim’s house will crackle in flames. The goats will be slaughtered. His family will be scourged. I’ve eaten supper at his table. His baby sister A’isha used to tug on my fingers. I’ve worked for Asim’s mom, helping her make soap, in a shed by the house. Her hand used to warm my shoulder. “You are a good boy, Tiger.” She would tell me, “I am glad Asim has you for a friend.”

Now I whisper, “Stay with me, stay with me,” as I lurch down the road. I don’t know who I’m talking to. I don’t think it’s Asim or his mom.

At a crossroads, I turn and head towards Claire-Dawn’s house. A sprinkler hisses in a field and a patch of cooler air wafts over my skin. Through a copse of fir trees, a lighted window glimmers. I pray Claire-Dawn will be awake. I won’t make it to Asim’s farm in time without her.

From Claire-Dawn, I learned these words, “scaphism,” “pillory,” and “camshaft.” She taught them to me the summer before we turned fourteen. She had been rebuilding her first car engine, a wrecked Toyota her dad bought at auction. She used to regale me with graphic descriptions from books with titles like A History of Torture, and The Big Book of Pain. She made a of study human cruelty, she said, so she’d never be surprised if someone poisoned her horse or stole her land. I listened to Claire-Dawn’s stories all summer, while I handed her tools.

“My ancestors used to cut off the fingers of their enemies. Then they’d make them eat them, one by one. You should tell people that’s what happened to you, Tiger. Pass the ratchet driver, wouldja?”

I held my hands out. The finger bones fuse to make three misshapen digits, like claws. It’s called ‘cleft hand.’ The condition warped my toes too. I keep my feet safely wrapped in orthopedic shoes. But my hands are always visible. They gross out everyone in town.

I said, “I didn’t eat my fingers, Claire-Dawn. I was born this way.”

“But you could tell people. Make you seem like a real bad ass.”

“I’m already a bad ass. I’m Velociraptor Boy.” I crouched and cocked my head, making a little predatory noise, like a clicking in my throat. I’d perfected this sound while watching dinosaur movies over and over. Half the little kids in McCall were firmly convinced I was part raptor. That was fine. It fobbed off teasing pretty well.

“That’s just your freak show handle,” Claire-Dawn said. “But would you really kill somebody, Tiger? Torture them? Eat them?”

“No way. I’m a force for goodness.” My summer reading had been full of graphic novels, all with morally upright antiheroes. I asked her, “Would you?”

She paused in her work, wiping a sweaty lock of hair from her cheek and leaving a streak of grease behind. “I might kill someone. If I was mad enough. If they were taking my home.”

“Well, I’d negotiate.”

She grunted. “Not everything’s negotiable.”

Asim found Claire-Dawn’s obsession with suffering and torment a little disturbing, too. But when she got that Toyota running, she’d haul us to Outlaw Lake whenever we asked, using dirt roads and private pastures, so she wouldn’t get pulled over for driving without a license. We traded graphic novels, and played complex, day-long board games, with tiny plastic pieces and instructions that took sometimes hours to figure out. My brother Arnie and his friends started calling us “The Three Freakateers.”

“It just makes it worse for you,” he told me once. “Hanging around those two. Why don’t you at least try to be like everybody else?”

I didn’t bother answering. Arnie, tall and handsome, the perfect high school quarterback cliché, would never get it, why outsiders band together, and how the three of us fit, like a superhero team—Claire, mechanic and death-master, Asim, mathematician and stargazer, myself, the wordsmith, the Raptor Boy.

Or that’s how we were before Silvie Magnusen slithered into my life.

Now I stumble up Claire-Dawn’s driveway, startling a calf dozing by a fence. He dashes off, hooves rumbling. A volley of low moos follow, as the rest of the herd rouses. I worry the ruckus might disturb Claire-Dawn’s parents, sleeping in the house nearby. But the cows settle down quickly and the farm stays quiet.

I sneak in the yard. A light is on in Claire-Dawn’s second floor window, so I kneel and grab a handful of gravel. Three small tosses on a lower pane, a pause and then two more. A minute later, out pops Claire-Dawn’s head. I wave my claw. She hesitates, then waves back. When she disappears from the window a second later, I know she’s on her way down. I lean up against a fir tree, while my heartbeat slows. A minute later, she flits from the house.

“What are you doing here, Tiger?” Her whisper sounds angry and scared.

“Happy Dak’s sending Arnie and them to Asim’s farm tonight.”

“And you’re not going?”

I don’t bother to defend myself. I just say, “It’s for some Asatru ritual, and–“

“Yeah, yeah. I get it.”

“They’re on Sparkle,” I tell her. I swallow reflexively at the memory of warm blood clots sliding in gobs down my throat. “So who knows what they’ll do once they get there.”

Claire-Dawn nods. She doesn’t know about Asatru magic or holes in the sky, but she knows about drugs and Sparkle. It’s a lot like meth, only with creepier side effects. One guy ate off some girl’s face while he was on the stuff. Another dude dumped lye on a baby. The sheriff has called Sparkle a “county scourge.” The Asatru Brotherhood call it “awesome.” Under Happy Dak’s wizardry, I know it’s both. And it’s as dangerous and awful as building a bonfire in your living room.

Out loud I say to Claire-Dawn, “You don’t have to come. I just need your car.”

A smile shifts one side of her mouth. “Think I’d let you drive my ride, Raptor Boy?”

With that, she turns and heads to the old corncrib, where she keeps her vehicles. I follow, my legs shaky from relief.

Claire-Dawn’s bought, rebuilt and sold several cars since that little Toyota back in eighth grade. She’s got a bank account all fat with cash, and plans to apply early admission to Harvard. She’ll get in, too.

I have no such account in my name. Any hope of attending college was cut off by a series of unexpected events: the solid job my father lost two years before, the subsequent cancer treatments my mother needed with no insurance to pay for them, the stalled progress of the Canatrek pipeline, the last economic hope of my home town. Now Dad flogs the graveyard shift for minimum wage at a pet food factory two hours away. My mother is dead, with nothing but a pile of unpayable bills left behind. Arnie and I don’t have jobs. No one in town does. In fact, Claire-Dawn’s and Asim’s families are about the only two still making a decent living in McCall. And this is what sticks in Happy Dak’s craw. The richest families in town are headed by an Ojibwe Indian and Muslim widow.

“Norwegians and Germans built this place,” he’s said time and again. “And the Asatru Brotherhood must restore it to its rightful heritage.”

I used to think Happy Dak’s speeches were inspiring. But I also used to think his magic was like aromatherapy candles and rabbit feet, essentially harmless, rooted in the power of suggestion. The last thing I expected to happen was something real.

In Claire-Dawn’s corncrib I smell engine oil. She unlocks a black Jeep, shiny as a beetle. I climb inside. The leather seats are smooth, oiled to the softness of rose petals.

“Do you have a plan?” she asks as the engine grinds and fires.

“I can tell you about Happy Dak’s.”

She nods and shifts the Jeep into gear, easing it down the dirt road.

Happy Dak laid it out in the dust by his pick-up truck: First, Arnie and his friends will divert McCall’s three-person police force, by starting a fire in an abandoned business park next to the highway. At the same time, another group will trip the alarms of three different pivot irrigation systems, thus tying up available county forces as well. When the beleaguered dispatchers finally get a call about malicious mischief on Mrs. Sa’id’s farm, the police will be far too busy to respond. Arnie and his friends will have enough time to slaughter the goats, hunt down Asim’s family, destroy Mrs. Sa’id’s self respect and get away, free and clear.

I don’t tell Claire-Dawn there will be no incriminating evidence left behind. That all law enforcement will ever find are the scales and talons of impossible beasts. That the case will go to Fish and Wildlife, and then nowhere at all. I just say, “I don’t think we can stop Happy Dak’s crew from messing up the farm. But we can get Asim’s family away before the posse shows up–“

“And then you’ll turn your brother in, right?”

Everything stops for a second. I think, It won’t really be Arnie . It will be his hamr-form–

But Claire-Dawn misunderstands my hesitation. Her mouth hardens as the Jeep jutters over a cattle grid. “Didn’t you used to be a force for good, Tiger?”

I say, “I thought I was.”

When Happy Dak and his daughter Silvie first moved to McCall, my mother had only just died. Dad sat motionless at the kitchen table nights, not even eating or watching TV. Arnie still had a job driving truck for the pipeline, and was away a lot. Asim was struggling with AP Physics, his focus firmly fixed on M.I.T.’s astronomy program. So I was alone all that spring, limping my way through the halls at school.

And right then, when I was feeling low as worms, Silvie Magnusen slid up to me. I was fumbling with my books by my locker. She swirled her silver hair on one fingertip. She purred, “Hey, Tiger. Is that really your name?” She said, “Hey, Tiger. Do you have one in your tank?”

My body vibrated like a tuning fork. I followed her home. We talked on her back porch. She touched my hands. She asked if having them made me feel angry. Then she asked if having them made me feel special. “I think you’re special,” she said. The load of sorrow in me floated off on honeysuckle-scented air. I never thought I’d get to touch a girl like Silvie, but she let me, and she was soft as sorrow.

Now Claire-Dawn hunches over the wheel, as we crest a hill. Wind ruffles moon-tinged grass. She brakes. We stare down at Asim’s farm, dark and peaceful below.

It looks safe and snug, like always. There’s a tree in front, where Asim and I put up a tire swing for A’isha a few years ago. I almost toppled twenty feet trying to sling the rope over a branch. Asim and I laughed about it afterwards and told the story over and over. “Remember the tire swing? How you almost fell?” “I screamed like a girl!” “You did, man! It was awesome.”

Claire-Dawn’s voice interrupts my thoughts. “I’ll keep watch up here. If I see Arnie and them coming, I’ll text you. Once we get the Sa’ids away, I’m calling the police.”

“No–“

“Yes.” She turns to me. “Tiger. They can’t get away with this.”

Except they will. I can’t explain. I’ll just sound crazy, and then she might drive off. So I grab my gun, slide out of the car and head down the hill, leaving Claire-Dawn behind me in the dark.

Not long ago, I looked up Happy Dak online. I had never thought to do it before. His handsome, charismatic face came up. Same gray crew cut, same crystalline eyes. Dag Magnusen a.k.a. “Happy Dak” had spent time in jail for assaulting Mexican farm workers in Eastern Washington. He had also written some publicly posted treatises about Nordic paganism and Asatru magic. In a piece about berserkers, I found reference to the Eigi Einhamr, Viking shape shifters. Happy Dak wrote nothing about his theories, how strong psychotropics coupled with ritual, could literally transform a willing warrior into a beast. But I felt that zipper in the back of my spine tingling. I saw the hole in the sky open up. And I couldn’t get away from my computer screen fast enough.

It was Silvie who taught me the words “Teutonic,” “metagenetics,” and “lycanthropy.” Her stories of Viking shape shifters sounded like a fairy tale, at first. When she said her dad was a wizard, I imagined some eccentric hobby, like Tarot or meditation. When she touched feather light lips to my earlobe, and suggested Happy Dak could make me stronger, I just nodded and thought, What could it hurt? I thought, Sure, I’ll smoke those drugs, Silvie. Yeah, I’ll invite my brother and his friends over, too. You want me to pray to pagan gods? I’ll do that. Just keep touching me. Just keep making my deformed body feel good.

Once Canatrek went belly up, and Arnie and his many friends lost their jobs, Happy Dak had us all where he wanted us. He’d amassed a little army of country boys, former high school football players, and me. He could start darkening the land with his hate crimes again. Only this time he’d found a way to never get caught.

I’m limping by the time I make it to Asim’s house. The risen moon spangles his front yard with silver. I pass A’isha’s swing, Mrs. Sa’id’s flower garden. I hear goats murmuring in the pen behind the house. Their bleats sound like the cries of lost children.

I knock on the door as loud as I can. “It’s Tiger!” I yell.

A light blazes inside. A second later, Asim appears. There is no welcome in his dark face. We just stare at one another.  I say, “Happy Dak and them are headed this way.” And right on cue, we hear police sirens, speeding in the other direction.

Asim steps aside to let me in. I give him a rapid run down of what’s going on. He doesn’t say anything. He just dials the telephone to call the police. I explain how help might come later than he would like. I tell him we have to protect A’isha and his mom. But he’s not listening. He speaks to a dispatcher and replaces the phone in its cradle. “I’ll take it from here,” he says.

I keep babbling. “I was thinking we would drive you guys someplace safe. Claire-Dawn’s up the hill waiting with her Jeep–“

He says, “I will defend the farm, Tiger. You can go.”

I manage to croak, “What are you going to do?”

“I have my bow.”

“You can’t shoot them.”

“I will not run like a child. This is my home. And I am in the right to defend it.”

By then, Asim’s mother is awake and dressed, in a hijab and trousers. A’isha apparates too, brown eyed and fragile-boned. Her purple pajama top has a Disney princess on it, Jasmine and her tiger.

I say, “Asim. They want to hurt you–You’ll lose everything –”

“I’ll lose more if I run.”

Asim’s mother draws close and squeezes my arm. But my old friend’s eyes are cold as tombstones.

What would they say to me, if I told them the truth? Happy Dak’s found a way to change boys into animals. It’s berserker magic and when they come, they won’t be gun-toting rednecks. They’ll be Eigi Einhamr, and they will feast on your blood with no remorse.

Asim won’t believe a thing I say. I gave up his trust a year ago, the first time Silvie called him a camel jockey and I just laughed.

He has pulled his crossbow from the hall closet. I remember when he bought it, a Barnett Raptor. We thought that was funny, how his bow had my nickname.

I say, “At least let me take A’isha and your mom. At least let them go with Claire-Dawn and me.”

Asim’s black eyes shimmer as he nods. I take a deep breath and nod back.

Mrs. Sa’id starts protesting while A’isha wraps her arms around me. She’s warm and skinny as a cattail. I’m hugging her back when my phone buzzes. It’s Claire-Dawn, letting me know she’s seen the posse. They are only minutes away.

I heft A’isha on one hip and say, “I’ll let the goats go on my way out.” While Mrs. Sa’id implores Asim to come with us, I slip out the backdoor, A’isha still clinging to me like a monkey.

The goats are housed in a good-sized pen. A’isha calls each one by name, the syllables soft in her mouth, “Kahlila,” “Rabab,” “Qamar.” The latch is complicated and my claws clumsy, but finally the gate swings open. Most of the goats, moved by curiosity or mischief, will drift from the pen. Once the monsters arrive, they will run. Most can be recovered later. It’s the best I can do. I hitch A’isha tight against me and head back towards the front of the house.

As I round the corner, Mrs. Sa’id joins us. She is alone and we exchange a helpless look. We both know how stubborn Asim can be. She grabs my elbow, so I can lead her in the dark. The mob’s headlamps, all in a row beyond the fields, snake their way closer. Behind us, the house goes suddenly black. I picture Asim, crouching alone by the living room window, his crossbow armed and ready. I remember crouching by the same window with him years ago, trying out a new telescope, marveling as he pointed it at Arcturus and Mars.

When exactly did I let him go? I don’t know, and that’s the worst part. Silvie didn’t like him. She said he was standoffish and proud. That his people were naturally violent. That I could not trust someone with an Arab name. And I made no attempt to defend him. I didn’t explain the Superhero Code he and I had written in sixth grade. How Asim had stood by my side when we buried my mother. How he called me first, when he won the National Merit Scholarship. That we had started to design a computer game about Lysithea and Jupiter. Instead, I just let Silvie say horrible things and I laughed and joined her. The truth is, it felt good, sitting with a pretty girl, our warm bodies pressed together, her smoky voice in my ear, even if we were just hating people. Hate feels good, as long as you don’t do it alone. That’s the biggest secret buried in the pages of Claire-Dawn’s torture books. Not that people are awful to one another, everyone knows that. But no one explains how being awful is so much fun.

“We’re here,” Mrs. Sa’id says, startling me. “We’re right here, Tiger.”

I realize I’ve started whispering again, as we plod up the hill. I’m chanting, “Stay with me, stay with me,” and Mrs. Sa’id thinks I’m talking to her.

“I’m so sorry.” I don’t know if I’m apologizing for the past year, or for what’s happening tonight. In a way, it’s the same thing.

Mrs. Sa’id says, “This is not your fault, Tiger. You would never do such a thing to us.”

I think of Silvie giggling and calling her a camel humper. I open my mouth to tell Mrs. Sa’id I already did. But right then I hear footsteps and turn, startled.

It’s Claire-Dawn running down the hill. She grabs me by the forearm and says, “Where’s Asim?”

“He wouldn’t come. He’s in the house with his cross bow.”

She looks down the slope. The headlights are turning up the driveway.

“He called the cops. Did you?” I ask.

“Yeah. But you were right. They might be awhile. And he’s all alone down there.”

Mrs. Sa’id says, “What can we do?”

Claire-Dawn and I look at one another. She says, “Arnie’s your brother. I get why you can’t fight him. So you drive these guys to my dad’s farm. And I’ll go down and help Asim.”

“No. They’ll kill you, Claire-Dawn. I mean it.”

“I know what people do.” She doesn’t know anything. “But I won’t stand by. I can be a witness, Tiger. I can film this. Put it on the Internet. No one will ever say it didn’t happen, and everyone will know who did it.” She holds up her phone, like it’s a light saber.

I want to say, Claire-Dawn, they’ll think your video’s a joke, even if you live to tell the tale. But out loud, I tell her, “It’s dark. You won’t be able to see who’s down there.”

“I have to try. Don’t you see?” She says, “It’s Asim’s place tonight. It’ll be my dad’s farm tomorrow. Every brown-skinned person in McCall’s going to be a target. Right?”

Before I can say anything, she presses the Jeep keys in my hand, then runs down the hill, warrior-brave. Below me, trucks spin into the yard, horns honking. The Brotherhood whack bats and sticks on the sides of the doors. The hullaballoo sounds like it comes straight from hell. Arnie’s strong voice bellows above the others. He still sounds human, but he won’t, for much longer. Claire-Dawn becomes a spot of darkness, swallowed by shadows. I’m sure she already has her phone held up, recording everything for posterity.

You make a million choices every day. Every one of them matters.

Quickly, before I can think about it, I press A’isha into Mrs. Sa’id’s arms. They both make little sounds of surprise. There’s a glimpse of dark eyes, trusting. Then I drop the Jeep keys in Mrs. Sa’id’s hand.

I head down the hill after Claire-Dawn at top speed. I yell as loud as I can. I try not to think about how much it will hurt when they sink their teeth into me.

Instead, I remember how it was when I transformed. How Happy Dak had the Brotherhood sit in a circle. I was ringed by crew cuts, blue jeans, big grins. Sparkle smoke curled down my throat as I passed a pipe, and Happy Dak chanted. I told myself it was just a ritual, like baptism. It wouldn’t change me, any more than my twisted hands could be changed. Some things are unchangeable, I thought. Reality, for instance. Human nature. Bones.

Someone coughed. Across from me, Arnie’s green eyes gleamed. Nearby, his behemoth friend Lars Strickland laughed and pointed. The pipe had not yet reached them, but I had already started to transform.

A shiver rivered down my spine. I told myself it was the drugs, tightening my muscles. When I looked up and saw a hole gaping in the sky, like a giant throat, I dismissed it as an hallucination. Then my tongue split into a fork. Talons sprouted from my fingertips. I went cold everywhere, my blood congealing into pure iron and salt. It all sounds scary, but I wasn’t scared. Instead, I was filled with wild, gleeful rage.

Lars kept laughing. I stood, and the clicking whirred in my throat.

I flexed my digits, now enormous eagle talons, sheathed in wrinkled skin and topped with tough claws. I stalked across the circle, while light and smoke made shadows dance around me. No one said anything when I knelt and grabbed Lars’s hand. No one stopped me as, quick as a snake strike, my jaws clamped down on his fingers.

I’m yelling, “Stay with me, stay with me,” as I plunge down the hill, arms pinwheeling. I know who I’m talking to, now. I glimpse Claire-Dawn’s shocked face as I shoot by. I drop my gun in the grass. I bet I look crazy. But I pretty much feel okay.

My shouts catch the attention of the Asatru hoard. They stop their terrorizing to stare. I am encircled by hamr-forms, a Rottweiler snout, a wolf’s white teeth, an anteater tongue. They look like they’re wearing masks, but they’re not. I yodel and scream to ensure their full attention, even as my heart shrivels in fear.

“Come on!” I say. “Here I am! I’m the freak! Catch me. I dare you. Catch me.”

They are beyond recognizing friend or foe. They are simply filled with bloodlust, as I was. I force myself to stand my ground a little longer, until Cody Isenhaur, half-bear, half man, lumbers forward. He is soon joined by a crocodile, and a lion. My brother lopes up, unrecognizable now, his arms covered with coarse fur. Before they lunge, I turn, running from the farm, leading them off. They are immediately hot on my heels, howling with delight. I wonder which one of them will catch me first, how long it will take for them to tear me to pieces. Above the tree line up ahead, the throat in the sky is wide open.

I didn’t kill Lars Strickland, although I might have. In the end, I focused only on his fingers. Blood fountained all over. I rolled and danced in it. My wrath was like fireworks, exploding gloriously.

But I awoke the next morning, naked and alone, with the taste of iron in my mouth. Flecks of bone still grated on my tongue. Dirt and blood coated my body in a Jackson Pollack collage of gore. Only then did I think of the tears on Lars’s face, as I snapped his fingers and tore them away. How he begged me to release him. How he had screamed when I forced his jaws open and then made him bite down. How someone had to pull me off. How even then I shrieked, snapped and shouted, my whole body convulsed with lust and rage.

Someone else took poor Lars to the emergency room. I heard he told the doctors he’d caught his hand in a saw. Days later, I visited him in his mother’s kitchen. His round face was slack from painkillers. My whole body felt rigid with shame.

“I’m sorry.” I told him.

His hand looked like a giant white mitten, swathed in bandages. He held it aloft. “Now I’m like you, man.”

“It was the drugs, Lars—“

“Oh, naw.” He waved his wounded arm in dismissal. “I shouldn’ta laughed.” He looked at me. “You’re one bad ass mother, ain’tcha Tiger? Gonna do us proud in the race wars.”

“But I don’t want to do that again, Lars. To anyone.”

“Dude,” he said. “You gotta. Or what’d you make me eat my fingers for? Huh?” He held his bandaged hand to his mouth. “Make them eat it, dude. Make them eat it all up.”

Sometimes I think I will never get the taste of raw flesh out of my mouth.

Now the animals are gaining on me. I feel hot breath on my back, hear pants and whimpers, getting closer. I remember almost falling off Asim’s tree. I see meteor showers streaking above fallow fields. I hear Mrs. Sa’id calling me a good boy, and feel her warm hand on my shoulder.

My foot snags on a tuft of grass. I topple and the ground drives out what’s left of my breath. Teeth, claws, fur gallop all around me. I try to crawl away, but someone sinks their claws in my back. A set of jaws clamps on my scalp. They yank up my head. The world tilts and wheels. Will they snap my neck first? My back? It doesn’t matter. My spine is still human. My mind is still human. Even my claws, clenching the earth, are still human. I’m still here, even as they start tearing me to pieces.

 

END

 

About the Author

Elise Forier Edie

Elise Forier Edie is an author and playwright based in Los Angeles. Her speculative fiction has been published in anthologies and magazines, and her plays have been performed throughout the US and Canada. Recent works include the short story Lucy in the Sky, about a little girl at war with the fairy queen, published this summer in The Enchanted Conversation, and the forthcoming, Backwater Saints, about rock bands and necromancers in the Florida everglades, due out in Disturbed Digest in December. Her play The Pink Unicorn, about a Christian widow grappling with her teenaged daughter’s announcement that she is genderqueer, will be playing in Pittsburgh in January 2017 at Off the Wall. You can follow her online or on Twitter.

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About the Narrator

Alex Hofelich

Alex Hofelich is Co-Editor of PseudoPod, the longest running weekly short horror fiction podcast (and our creepy older sibling, but don’t hold that against them). He is currently re-reading the Three Investigator series, which was one of his entry points to the horror genre. He recommends hunting down a copy of those or Roger Zelazny’s A Night in the Lonesome October to help your journey.

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About the Artist

Jeremy Carter

Jeremy has produced audio for the Dunesteef Audio Fiction magazine, Far Fetched Fables, the Journey Into podcast and StarshipSofa in addition to Cast of Wonders. By day, he teaches physics and maths in the beautiful Peak District. He is a husband, father, photographer, cook and very occasional runner.

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