One night, when he was seven or eight, she read her son a story from a book called These Bad Things. It was surprisingly scary, and she knew she should stop, but they were so far in. She wanted to see how it ended.
At first it was a pale shrimp curled pink inside V’s belly; now it is a mammal the size of a small cat. V feels its gnawing paws claw at her ribs, feels the burrow of its skull between her legs, a thrashing angry animal fighting at the cave where it’s been kept.
The sun was ruthless, impressing a sense of danger with each step I took away from the road. The heat was primordial, baking through my skin, drying my muscle and bones, desiccating everything but my darkest, wettest core.
He ran his fingertips over the walls as he passed, as if it were a new wall to him and he wanted to learn about it, as if it kept him attached to earth, as if he might otherwise lift up slowly and never land again.
There was the time I found an entire horse or cow skeleton laid neatly on top of the shed roof. When I asked my brothers what it was doing there, they looked at me patiently and said, We found it in the desert.
Maybe I fell asleep or maybe I was abducted by aliens or maybe the drugs hadn’t worn off, but I lost myself and only came back when Quipster unzipped my tent. “The Man burns in an hour. Can you be ready?”