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I turned around to face the mother, because I knew if I didnít, she would eventually have us both.

The mother was dragging herself towards us, gyrating like a freakish broken slug. I remember a hollow breeze, choked, inarticulate breathing, thick leathery skin scraping at the dust, an exotic screaming bird call, and my own dry mouthed swallowing as being the only sounds in the world. The mother was using itís front leg to pull and her two back legs to push, and her wounded leg was twisted uselessly and sickeningly out to her side, forgotten, a mess of corded ripped muscle and gleaming bone. Her intestines, purple and yellow and already mostly dried, hung out of her side and formed a rubbery trail back to where her family lay, dead, their dirty gray hides stained obscenely with purplish dark blood and folded all over one another, their eyes wide open and staring, leaking tears. The father and the son were still linked by a nose and a tail. Death for them had been quick. The father lay on his side in a pool of syrupy red while the baby still half-sat with his front legs collapsed in front of him, his face in the dirt, tiny tusks splintered, his dead wet eyes and mouth undoubtedly caked with earth.

Behind all of this the sun was rising, glinting off the muddy water, throwing holy shadows onto the dead, outlining the mother with some kind of golden halo, framing the entire scene in a bath of radiance and splendor. I could see the tiny hairs on the motherís head and back moving with her dying undulations, glinting in the sun like fishing wire. Her eyes were glazed over, her trunk now dragging along the ground with her ears. The sagging folds of her mouth were the color of rotten meat and saliva dripped from them in frothy strands. The sun bled all over the entire scene, saturating any shell that darkness had left clinging to the new morning.

Your first female, I heard my father say as I passed carefully from the negligible shade of the fallen tree and out into the sunlight of a full new day, brandishing the giant glinting knife in front of me with both hands, squinting against the refracted shards of light it threw into my eyes.

Mike Mellish is currently a student at Allegheny College in western PA. He only recently began looking into publishing his work, and has published one work of short fiction, 'Exhale,' in The Writer's Choice E-zine, and one poem entitled 'for my father' in Golem magazine. He is 20 years old and spends his down time reading, running, playing lacrosse, and lifting weights.

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